The Writer's, artist's & reader's Guild

W.A.R.G

Welcome to the Writers, Artists & Readers Guild The aim with this blog is to promote popular culture in all public spheres, whatever they may be. It is also meant to be a vehicle for writers, reviewers and artists of all kind to promote themselves, ideas and accomplishments, a commune if you will. We share our stories, review movies, books, music, comics and TV shows, talk to authors or entrepreneurs. We also promote and discuss projects we enjoy and upcoming events, as well as different wrestling shows. If you are interested in becoming part of the Guild, click on the About button and find out who we are and email us at: stoughe@gmail.com

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Review: Breaking by Cold Wrecks

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Breaking is the first album from the Brooklyn based band Cold Wrecks, well that’s not the whole truth. This is a new version of the band Eli Whitney & the Sound Machine, which leaned towards the Ska genre. In this new iteration the band has garnered comparisons to Modern Baseball, Weakerthans and Against Me!, but that is to simplify things a bit. This is not going to be a knock on the more or less repetitive world of modern American nondescript  punk, but there is reason to have it in the back of your mind while talking about Cold Wrecks. For bands that classify themselves as punk rock today, or the even vaguer term emo, it is easy to fall into the trap that is the aforementioned style and doing so one runs a risk of sounding more like Sum 41, New Found Glory or a myriad of other forgettable bands. To truly stand out in the world of punk bands just might need to look elsewhere to find inspiration and that might just be what the Brooklynites have done.

Th opening salvo of Breaking is called Price and is truly promising, a musical nod to British post-punk like Smiths, Joy Division and more modern counterparts like The Courteneers. Unfortunately it ends there. Most of the album falls back into a punk sound. It is the same problem bands like Fightstar’s album Be Human where the best track by no means represents the other songs. It’s as if Cold Wrecks don’t quite know what they want to be. The tracks on the album are everywhere without a real cohesiveness and with a disjointed feel. One could argue that the need for a unified collection of tracks is unnecessary in the digital age, where listeners concentrate more on individual songs than  the sum of its parts, but for new listeners consistency is key.

This said Cold Wrecks style of punk rock is by no means bland. There is heart here and a willingness to experiment with the form, especially when it comes to content and themes. It’s more than your run of the mill punk and deals more with heart ache and loneliness instead of high school angst or parties.

Cold Wrecks show that they are a band that have a bright future in front of them and if they continue to experiment they can go far.

– Andrew Tobias

Andrew Tobias is a music collector, musician and cultural scholar as well as the Guild’s resident music reviewer. His former girlfriends also describe him as perpetually broken.

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Review: 4001 A.D. (Valiant Comics)

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Writer: Matt Kindt

Art: Clayton Crain

Publisher: Valiant

 

In the vary distant future, New Japan is in trouble. The kingdom, these days orbiting earth, is ruled by the omnipotent artificial intelligence Father, who commands New Japan with an iron fist through various channels and pacifies the people. His son, Rai, incites a rebellion and after apparently being defeated by Father and believed dead his partner Lulu infects the A.I. with a virus. This cause Father to lose control and begins to drop parts of New Japan back to earth in order to get rid of the virus, killing thousands in the process. And that’s just the prologue…

As Lulu continues to fight the good fight while her section of New Japan is set for demolition and her parents beg her to turn herself in, Rai is still alive, trapped on Earth. With the aid of two companions and a mech-like ship the trio ventures back to the orbiting nation for a final confrontation with Father.

There is quite a bit that goes on in 4001 A.D. and at a very high pace. The few issues that the collection is comprised of tells a very compressed tale that flashes by in colorful art. It isn’t very intricate, the story, a science-fiction version of a trope we have heard before, but that in no way makes it dull. The context and society that has spawned it makes for very interesting social commentary. Father numbs the people of New Japan with entertainment, which makes them uninterested in the world around them, very much like the unnamed government in 1987’s Running Man. What Father’s motives actually are remain unanswered as such, but a misguided love, like the one Stalin might have had towards the Russians. He and Rai seem to be fighting towards the same end goal, but with a very different view of one best reaches it.

Rai, who like the monster in Frankenstein has been created by a mad entity, becomes confronted by humanity and love and that is what shapes him, that is what causes him to rebel and in turn inspires others to join the fight. There is much to be discussed between the pages of 4001 A.D.; friendship, loyalty, love and parenthood and as a reader one wishes, when it is all said and done, that there had been more, more to sink your teeth into.

As with most Valiant titles the artwork is beautiful, filled with vibrant imagery and intense colors. It moves the story along and hints at a bigger picture and a wider world. It makes the entire 4001 A.D. world more mysterious and interesting and even though the four issues only treat a small portion of the story, a quick glance of a greater whole, it becomes exciting and furious.

All in all, a book like 4001 A.D. really shows the strengths of Valiant as a publisher and universe.

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman

RaSa

The Face of Fear: Chapter 2

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Chapter Two

It all started, like it always did, with a shipwreck. This one ended up happening in Indonesia, off the coast of Bali in fact. Johnathan Hill, who had been in the British navy, was a confident swimmer and easily saved his wife and their infant son and they crawled onto the beach and into the arms of the Dutch rulers of the island. Luckily for the Hills that they were headed to Bali as Mr. Hill had been sent there as a cultural attaché, so once they were cleaned up and leant clean clothes they were presented to the ruler of the Dutch East Indies. The family, which consisted of Johnathan, Patricia and little Anthony, were soon moved into one of the islands finer homes made from wood, with a wraparound porch and a straw roof held up by intricately carved pillars. The house was situated on a grassy knoll shortly after their arrival dubbed Busut Busut, Busut being Indonesian for Hill, and Mrs. Hill would sit in a rocking chair on the veranda gazing at the sun reflecting in the meeting of the Pacific and Indian Oceans before her. It was a perfect existence for her; the climate, the culture, the native servants there at her beck and call and she loved the food, which was surprising because of her sensitive digestion. It was a very different lifestyle than she was accustomed to, but had become more comfortable with it following her marriage. She was of a lower caste than her husband, who came from a long line of barristers and whose family was in great standing in London.

Mr. Hill spent most of his days in Batavia in close proximity to the Governor-General, assisting him in administration, but he managed to see his wife and son more than most government officials. All in all the first years of young Anthony’s life were filled with warmth, love and tropical adventure.

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Garfield Teague stepped out of his car and tried to straighten out his coat in the process. He had never understood why his wife kept insisting that he have it pressed when it always creased as soon as he climbed into his vehicle. He removed his hat and ran a hand through his red hair; trying to make sure the part was in place, he had been very generous with the brylcreem this morning to ensure his coiffure stay in position. He fished a silver case from inside his blue pinstriped suit jacket, but thought better of it before producing a cigarette and let it slide back into the recesses of fabric. He walked over to the parking structure on the corner of Main and 7th and halted by one of the three black and whites parked on the curb, blue lights flashing almost indistinctly in the morning sun. Teague gently placed the fedora on his head and followed it by stroking his neatly cropped beard as his hand slid into a pant pocket.

‘Detective Teague’ a young officer called him over to the parking garage entrance.

‘What have we got here, Officer Boden?’ Teague asked as he approached and realized that he had taken out the cigarette case again.

‘Well it seems to be some kind of mob hit Sir’ the young man eyed his notebook. ‘Lang was first on the scene and is still down there. All I know is that there is blood everywhere, casings all over the floor and one survivor.’

‘Got it’ Teague replied and headed through the glass door and down the stone steps. His black patent leather shoes echoed in the stairwell and was slowly drowned out by chatter from the lower level. He toyed with the case and flipped it over in his hand, a nervous tick he had developed the same week his dying father had placed it in his hands. As he descended he watched his hand turn it from the back with its fleur-de-lis pattern to the front with his father’s initials; R.T.

Another street cop opened the door for him when he reached the basement floor and gave him a quick two- finger salute by touching his digits to the brim of his cap. Teague did not return the gesture, maintaining his reputation as arrogant. The otherwise so sparsely lit lower level was completely illuminated by various lamps and floodlights. In the center two vehicles were parked, a well-cared for Chrysler and a not- so- well tended truck of unknown make. They faced each other, like two lovers about to share a kiss and the symbolism made Teague miss his wife. The closer he got, the more sinister the scene before him became; Officers and medical personnel surrounded the silent cars that were both riddled with bullet holes and six white sheets littered the floor. Stains of various sizes and shapes cover a large area, reminding him of one of those Jackson Pollock paintings he had seen in the paper once. He wasn’t much of an art coinsure and most of what he had seen on field trips as a child had never tickled his fancy, but that painting, Cathedral it was called, had spoken to him. It forced him to think, like a crime or mystery that needed to be solved, he liked it, but the splatter across the grey concrete painted a very different mystery.

“It’s one hell of a scene Teague.” The voice woke him from the trance-like state he had ended up in. It was Detective Greg Glade, a rotund man wearing his brown beard and hair cropped to the same length and a nervous disposition.

“Glade,” Teague forced a smile. He had never been especially fond of the younger Detective, whom he found trying, mainly due to his defeatist attitude. “Where you the first detective on the scene?”

“Yessir. It looks like we’re working together on this one.”

“Great,” Teague turned to the rest of the scene instead and tried to survey the area.

“We’ve got six bodies laid out both here and there and that goes for the different parts as well.” Glade snickered as he mentioned that tidbit. “Most likely a mob hit or a drop off gone awry. Maybe buyer and seller couldn’t agree on a price.”

“So they took each other out?” Teague rounded the truck and inspected the crates, bent down and removed one the blood stained sheets from a body. He quickly rose and stepped back and dropped the fabric back on the headless shape. “Doesn’t seem likely” he stifled his urge to vomit. “The crates being left here would maybe indicate that, but this man was decapitated and unless you have found a sword, machete, axe or a large kitchen knife here something else is going on. Have you found such an item?”

Glade thumbed through his notebook. “Not that I can see.”

“Well then, something sinister is going on here. I would assume that all these guys pissed off the wrong person and paid a high price for it.”

“There is one survivor” Glade interrupted. “He’s at St. Mary’s I guess.”

“Right,” Teague flipped his cigarette case over in his hand again. “Not much more to do here, you stay here and spearhead the investigation on the bodies. I’ll head to the hospital.”

 

===

Tony Hill stepped into the offices of WRJN News Radio Station it was 11:30 a.m. He had thanked his lucky stars that he had managed to find a job that checked so many of his boxes. It was fun, challenging at times, allowed him to start later in the day and became a vital piece in the puzzle he was trying to lay. He slung his coat across his right arm and removed his hat, quietly placing it on the coatrack, followed by the coat.

“Good day Mr. Hill.” The sweet voice of the leggy Lindsey Jones greeted him as he turned around. “Here is the sheet for the one o’clock broadcast. Big things happening.” Tony raised an eyebrow and grabbed the piece of paper. “A shooting downtown, several dead.”

“Well our listeners will get their money’s worth today. Is there any possibility of getting a representative from the force into the studio for a word?”

“I don’t know” Miss Jones replied. “I will get right on it Mr. Hill.” She hurried off at a controlled pace.

Tony kept his eye on her for as long as he could, until she rounded a corner and was out of sight. He glanced at the paper again and ran his fingers through his blond hair, making sure everything was in order.

“Hill!” A burly man in a tight-fitting beige suit and vest with a red and white tie askew stepped in front of him and slapped him on his arm. Tony tried not to wince as the ham hock of a hand hit the spot where the bullet winged him the previous night. Vic Linden was the station manager of WRJN and answered directly to the owner. His management style could be described as rabid and his conversation always came screaming with a side order of saliva. “I see you have been given the five o’clock new report already. This is a big deal, shit is hitting the fan, mark my words; we are going to have a war on our hands mics and scandihoovians.”

“You think so Sir?” Hill replied while keeping his eyes on the sheet. Linden was a visage that would cause a nauseous reaction to anyone who stared at him too long. A face full of craters, a constant sheen of sweat and a tie that was never tied properly because he was unable to button the top button of his shirts.

“Details are still coming in. We don’t know exactly who has been killed, how many or why, but sources at the precinct say it’s a blood bath and that can only mean one thing: the mob.” Linden put a frayed cigar in his mouth and tried to light it, but couldn’t get his Zippo to ignite. He looked at Hill and shrugged at him in an expectant way, but Tony shook his head to show that he didn’t carry a light.

“Anyway,” the station manager said in a frustrated tone. “You need to present this report with all the gravitas it requires. Dig deep, speculate, you know, that whole spiel.”

“I have sent Miss Jones to inquire about the Chief of Police. Too have him on the show.”

“Excellent, we’ll have them glued to their sets as if it were the President’s State of the Union.” Linden once again tried to light his cigar, met with the same difficulties and then flung the Zippo into a nearby garbage can. “Make this good Hill, I’m counting on you.”

Tony waited for his boss to head down the corridor and then walked in the opposite direction towards his own office. Having the Chief on the news would serve him two ways. One, it would be great for the ratings, improving numbers that would already be stellar for the show based on the content alone. Two, it would give him the answers he needed to persue his next move. It was all going to fall into place.

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Review: Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu

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Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: DAW Books

 

Prequels are an interesting cultural affair. In movies the have been used to extend the life of a franchise, maybe the actors are too old or just not interested in continuing, maybe it is a promise once made to fans that the background story will one day be revealed, only to fall short i.e. Star Wars 1-3 or Prometheus. In literature it is something different; a device an author might use to further explore their created world, to tell those tales merely hinted at in a fleeting moment between two characters or to widen the intrigue. In his Tales of Egg and Dunk, beginning with The Hedge Knight, George R.R. Martin gave his readers a taste of his world before A Song of Ice and Fire takes place. He explained those things his original series could not, for such a departure would have made little to no sense.

Bradley P. Beaulieu, perennial favorite at the Guild office, has now also released a prequel to his Arabian Nights fantasy Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and is therefore subtitled The Song of Shattered Sands 0,5.

In this book the reader is treated to a tale from Çeda’s past, before the events of Twelve Kings take place. She has already made a name for herself in the fighting pits, and is referred to as The White Wolf. Çeda becomes involved with an ehkreh, some form of demonic entity, by the name of Rümayesh who lures her into her lair in order to steal her memories. Çeda finds herself fighting to not reveal her inner secrets, ones that may very well ruin her, to the crowd that Rümayesh has gathered. She’s in luck and is saved by two godling children; Hidi and Makuo and that is where she thinks the adventure ends, but alas that is not so. The White Wolf finds herself drawn in deeper and an intricate part of the ehkreh’s destiny.

Of Sand and Malice Made is a fun foray into Çeda’s history. It hints at some of her secrets and the conflict within her and the community in which she lives. The world of Twelve Kings comes alive in a vibrant blend of smells, colors and sound that complements the first book in a wondrous way. Çeda becomes somewhat of a classic picaro in the desert landscape and guides the reader through her reality filled with mischief, dangers and exotic people, like a child showing off her new room to first time visitors. Beaulieu’s world complements his protagonist and she does the same to the backdrop that houses her. His descriptions of places and people has been his strength throughout his production and without it his fairly fairly simple intrigue would fall flat. He uses tropes more common in the setting of a 19th century coming of age novel and places it in a world foreign to that kind intrigue, taking a page from Stephen Donaldson.

To those who have read Twelve Kings Of Sand and Malice Made is a welcome return to the dry climate of Sharakhai and satiates the thirst whilst waiting for the next installment. For a new reader it may well be a good starting point before delving into the complexity of the Shattered Sands series. The book is shorter than most fantasy fair and the story less elaborate, but nevertheless enticing.

Of Sand and Malice Made cements Beaulieu’s position as the next big thing in fantasy and makes us hunger for more; more Çeda, more Sharakhai and more hot desert sun.

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman

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Artists You Should Know: The Hardy Boys

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Between reviews of new music our intrepid music reporter Andrew Tobias would like to recommend an artist he believes you should know about.

If this had been anytime during 1990 to 2010 recommending the band The Hardy Boys might just seem foolish seeing how the band broke up in 1990, and you would be right. Although there is nothing idiotic about discussing a band, no matter when they disbanded, plenty of people will still talk about Nirvana or the Beatles, as long as the catalogue is timeless. Luckily for us this particular act reformed in 2010 and released their second album in 2011.

The Hardy Boys, not to be confused with the band/TV show of the sixties, were formed in 1985 in Greenock, Scotland and broke up due to problems within the band members in 1990, not long after the bands debut album was released. Songs From The Lenin and McCarthy Songbook  was a collection of the songs the band had produced from the inception and contained remastered recordings. The break up of the band did not diminish the interest from the public, rather the opposite and the they would become labelled as a cult indie act; a lot due to the oft cited fact that their 12″ single Wonderful Lie would sell on Ebay for quite the high sum. It seemed as if The Hardy Boys would forever be lost in the sea of bigger name Scottish acts from the same era.

But they returned, came out of indie obscurity and strengthened by the vocals of Karlyn King to release the second album British Melancholy on Bubblegum Records. They did release an E.P. in 2009 containing one new track called under The Picadilly Clock, so they had resurfaced a bit. I’m not here to write a review of the two albums, but there is an interesting aspect that needs to be lifted. With a span between albums of 22 years there is more of a difference between the first release and its subsequent follow up, more than you might see from other bands. While the first album strongly resembles The Smiths in composition with a quick melodic pace, but with a great deal of cynicism in the lyrics, dark music that one can dance to. A more polished Joy Division and a style that would dominate the American market in the mid to late nineties with bands like Everclear or Third Eye Blind. British Melancholy is slower and to quote singer King; The new album is a darker affair than “Songs from the Lenin and McCarthy Songbook”, exploring the meaning of the arts amid heartbreaking love. 

It seems as if the development that fans usually follow from one album to the next, the tweaking, the maturity in lyrics and vocals happened during the hiatus and that the follies, the experimental albums were conveniently skipped. Not saying that every band should leave fans hanging for two decades, but for The Hardy Boys it has worked and the transition is seamless.

 So why should you know about The Hardy Boys? It’s the collection of delicate lyricism, fueled by witty sarcasm at times and true feelings of heartache and being on the outside. They have managed to epitomize the music of the post punk of their contemporaries and brought it into the new era of music without compromising. They are a fine blend of The Smiths, House of Love, Joy Division and even Deacon Blue and they curate this mix like a wine aged to perfection. So make your way to Bandcamp or Spotify, for physical copies of the albums will be hard to find, and give them a try, I think you’ll be happy you did.

-Andrew Tobias

Andrew Tobias is an avid record collector and hobby musician who hasn’t read a single Hardy Boys novel in his life and was horrified by the TV-show he accidentally watched on Youtube.

The Face of Fear

 

On June 27th of this year (2016) Tim Ellis of CKRTLAB announced on facebook that he was interested in drawing some mashups based on Public Domain superheroes. He asked his followers to suggest two PD heroes every week and he would create a mashup to the best of his ability. One of these creations was Death Mask, a mashup of Matt Bailey’s The Face and Jack Binder & Jack Cole’s Daredevil. The image intrigued me and I immediately began thinking of a story to accompany this character. I will try to update this story as often as I can, but with All the Children Shall Lead and other writing assignments I am uncertain how often that will be, but for now enjoy…

-C. Marry Hultman 


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Prologue

He wasn’t nervous, that was what was odd about the whole thing, that he wasn’t nervous. Throughout the preparations and the decisions leading him to this point his heart had been racing. At night, when he lay on that lumpy mattress on his rod iron bed frame and the light from the neon sign filtered through the Venetian blinds, cutting the darkness of his studio apartment the pulsating of his blood played on his eardrums like an old man plays a Kendang. At first the lack of sleep and the stress of it all had affected his work, causing several reports to be late, him losing his train of thought when reading the news and his colleagues suspecting him of having caught the flu, it had even gotten so bad that the station manager, a Mr. Cosgrove, had called him in to the office to have a word with him. A weekend of R&R and the blowhard Johnny Summers filling in for him and he had been right as rain. The past week had seen him back to his old self, managing to work, train and put the finishing touches to his suit. He had finally managed to figure out what to do with the twin Kris he had decided to use. Traditionally the sheath, or warangka, stuck in a warrior’s belt, but he had found that the wave shaped blades only fell out when he moved around. He had constructed dual warangakas into the suit itself, placed on his back for easy reachability.

He leaned his back against one of the many thick stone pillars that kept the lower level of the parking structure from being crushed by the three levels above it and slowly slid down to a seated position. He placed the mask on the concrete floor next to him and sighed. The Face looked back at him, the grin with fangs protruding from the lower jaw, the red eyes and the horns on either side of the crown. It was as if it was challenging him; You do not have the fortitude for this endeavor. You do not have what it takes for what is to come. It seemed to say and he looked away in response to this attack on his person.

Then there was a sound, the unmistakable noise of a car reverberating through the empty level. He swung his head round the pillar, making sure most of his body was still hidden behind the safety of manmade stone. Two round headlights cut through the sparsely lit area and headed for the center of the structure where it came to a halt. The engine cut out and the lights faded as three men exited the Chrysler Imperial and headed to the front of it. They were all wearing trench coats and hats. It was hard to tell, but he was fairly confident that at least two of them were hiding machine guns, the others were armed as well he had no doubt. His fingers were twitching, he was ready to pounce, but had to bide his time. And then it came, the sign he was looking for; another vehicle cast its headlight through the gloom of reinforced concrete and painted outlines. It was larger than the Chrysler, the sound bouncing off the walls told him so and it was headed towards the waiting party, only fifty or so feet from where he was hiding. He cracked his knuckles and twisted his head from side to side, he had limbered up for a good hour earlier, but the wait had stiffened him some and he hoped it was not going to hinder what he needed his body to do in the coming moments.

As the truck swung around and stopped, facing the Chrysler he grabbed the face and pulled it over his head. He gently flattened it out over his scalp and tugged at the chin to make it sit comfortably and to make sure that it appeared flawless, like his second skin. He moved his jaw and the mouth of the face moved as his did and he could see perfectly clear through the eye sockets, heightened in fact. It was time. He gently patted his outside thighs for luck and bounded up the pillar to the rafters.

 

Chapter One

Peterson, Anderson and Camp climbed out of the Chrysler as soon as Hammer had cut the engine. Anderson pulled a pack of smokes from deep inside his grey coat and Camp made a similar motion, but instead produced a hand full of chew. Peterson eyed them both and raised a skeptical eyebrow, which he always did whenever something struck him as against his code of normalcy. He was wearing a fedora and with a thumb pushed it from his forehead so he could get a full view of the parking structure.

Hammer, the youngling of the group had climbed out of the driver’s seat and leaned on the hood trying to impress his elders by rolling his own cigarette, without success.

‘What the hell you doing?’ Anderson snarled at the young man with his own cigarette dangling from his lips. ‘You’re getting most of the tobacco on the floor.’

Hammer took off his flat cap and scratched his head. ‘My Pa always makes it look so simple’ he replied, noticeably flustered. ‘But I can never get the hang of it.’

Anderson held out his pack of Luckies and offered it to Hammer, who gladly accepted it, pulled one out and lit it. Camp patted the side of his coat and eyed the others. His hand touched the hard surface of an automatic carbine under the fabric, Anderson was carrying a shotgun while Peterson who was, for all intents and purposes, the point man on this particular operation had always favored revolvers. The kid was probably carrying something as well, Camp did not really care. He was not especially fond of that little punk; he was no more than a goon that Peterson had saved from the streets. He had been a hockey player of all things, a failed one at that. Trying to make his fortune on the ice, but had lacked the skills and more or less spent more time in the penalty box than on the skates. At least that was the word going round. What was the business coming to when any old kid could be picked off of the streets and welcomed with open arms, no questions asked? Camp spit on the ground and gave a snort.

Peterson picked up a pocket watch from his vest and eyed it carefully. It was just about one a.m. and everything was so far going according to plan. He tapped his wing tipped shoes against the stone floor and eyed his companions. ‘These late night pick-ups are going to be the death of me’ he ventured a smile in Anderson’s direction. ‘We sure ain’t as young as we used to be, are we Rosy?’ Anderson shrugged his shoulders and lit another cigarette on the butt already hanging from his thin lips. A wet splat echoed through the desolated building and Camp wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his beige coat.

‘So when’s the merch coming?’ he asked once he noticed that the others were eyeing his behavior.

‘Well if everything goes according to plan and they don’t get ambushed by the coppers or rivals they should be here any minute’ Peterson replied.

Before Camp could make a statement about the tardiness of others, he did have a wife and five young kids he would much rather be with then standing in a cold parking garage waiting for some micks with a truck, when he heard them approach. Anderson dropped his cigarette and stepped on it, placing a hand inside his coat, while Hammer snapped to attention and headed to the passenger side of the car in case he would need the cover. Peterson remained still, with a calm which can only come from a man with twenty years of experience with back alley drop offs and pick-ups, but in the corner of his eye he could have sworn that he saw movement deep in the dim recesses of garage.

The truck, it looked like an old farm truck from the 1930s, parked in front of them the headlights lighting up their forms and casting ghostly shadows on the back wall. Peterson fingered the snub nosed revolver holstered in the small of his back. He may be blinded, but if shit hit the fan he was damn sure going to take some of those bastards with him. The lights shut off and they were blind once again, their eyes now unaccustomed to the darkness.

Three figures appeared once sight returned to normal, two from the front and one leaping off the bed of the vehicle. They were all dressed in a similar fashion; black slacks with suspenders over white dress shirts and caps on their heads. Peterson rolled his eyes and whistled at the clichés walking towards him. The man who had stepped out of the driver’s seat stuck out his right hand in greeting and scratched the red stubble on his chin with his left one.

‘Hi there, buddy’ the man said in a low voice, Peterson nodded and took the outstretched appendage. ‘Name’s Flanagan and those guys are Norwood and Connors’ he threw a thumb in the direction of his companions, who touched their caps with a finger to acknowledge the introduction.

Peterson assumed he was to return the favor, but was uncomfortable using their actual names. ‘Hello, call me Baz, that’s Rosey, Asa and the guy behind the car we call Maury’ their nom de plumes were enough he felt. And Flanagan seemed pleased with it.

He pulled out an old chewed cigar and placed it between his teeth and smiled. ‘Baz, huh’ the crow’s feet around his eyes revealed him to be older than he looked, maybe close to forty. ‘I’ve heard of you.’

‘Most people this side of the underworld have’ Peterson smiled back and secretly hoped that he wasn’t revealing his age. ‘You got the stuff?’

Flanagan nodded and gently waved the trio to approach. He backed up with his eyes squarely on Peterson and moved towards the bed of the truck. The men named Norwood and Connors climbed in the back where a cloth tarp was covering most of the content. Flanagan snapped his fingers and Norwood pulled back the cloth to reveal wooden crates. Peterson eyed the boxes and then looked at Flanagan.

‘You wanna check the content?’ he said and produced a crowbar from beneath the tarp. Peterson took it and handed it over to Camp, who jumped up to the crates. With some effort he opened the top of the closest box and it let out a creak that reverberated through the building, very much like a groan. Anderson tossed him an electric torch and he proceeded to dig amongst the straw hiding the contents of the carefully nailed together container. He found what he was looking for, weighed it in his hand, put it up to his eyes and carefully assessed it. Peterson gave a short whistle to catch his attention and when he got it he shrugged and Camp threw the object back into the crate and gave a thumb’s up.

‘Well it seems as if everything is in order’ Peterson said to the Irishmen and this time stuck out his hand.

‘Completely’ Flanagan responded ‘Everything in exact order.’

Peterson called Hammer and the two others over to help unload the crates; they had a truck of their own waiting on the second level that they would load with the stuff. Once the bed of the truck was empty the men congregated around the stack of wooden boxes wiping the sweat from their brows with handkerchiefs and Anderson lit another cigarette. Then, all of a sudden they heard a light thud and noticed in the corner of their eyes how the truck dipped and in unison they turned to it.

At first it was impossible to tell what it exactly was. A shape, what appeared to be a curled up person in a mass of red and blue, was in the center of the bed and as the springs of the truck slowly stilled it rose to a standing position. Anderson froze as the figure, dressed in a tight body suit half red and half blue with a spiked belt around its waist, but it was the face that made his blood run cold. Red eyes, fangs and horns stared at them, but before he could get a closer look the micks opened fire.

The figure somersaulted over them as bullets ripped through the back of the vehicle. Camp and Peterson, who weren’t shooting, quickly turned around both with weapons in hand and held them at the ready. The figure’s eyes intensified with red fire and a roar came at them, momentarily paralyzing them all; Flanagan and Peterson, grizzled vets, where the first to recover, but it was too late. A flash of steel and Flanagan fell backwards screaming as his right hand landed on the ground, still clutching a Smith & Wesson. The demon faced person had slid across the floor and had clipped Peterson’s legs from under him with a swift kick, sending him hard into the floor. They were forced to spin around again as the figure leapt to a crouching position. Two lightening quick movements and Norwood and Connors collapsed on the floor with blood flowing from nasty gashes in the abdomen and face. Anderson could smell the pungent aroma of human waste as guts spilled on concrete alongside teeth and parts of a tongue. Camp let a cry escape his lips and with brown chew flying everywhere he unleashed his automatic rifle in a vicious spray at the enemy. Anderson followed with his revolver, but the figure flipped around avoiding every single bullet. It stepped off one of the pillars, spun in the air and planted a boot on Anderson’s forehead. It sent him flying a short distance in the air and he landed hard on his back, knocking the wind out of him. Camp reloaded his rifle as Peterson began to stir on the ground and Hammer came running from behind the Chrysler, revolver raised and firing as he moved forward. The figure dropped  down to one knee and swung his weapon low, slicing Hammer’s lower leg clean off sending the appendage one way and the owner of it another. The smoke from the gunfire enveloped the figure as it rose and turned at the same time and revealed two waved swords in each hand, blood dripping from the point of the one on the right. Peterson threw his revolver to the ground and came at it with a baseball bat, which he must have taken from the truck. He swung at the head, but the figure parried with the left blade and let the right one separate Peterson’s head from the rest of his body. Without hesitation Camp unleashed another barrage of bullets that tore through Peterson’s body as it fell, limply, to the floor, but the figure was already gone. It landed behind the inattentive gunman and let sharpened steel pierce him through the back.

Anderson, still on the floor, but now on his stomach, fired his gun and struck the figure in the arm, no more than grazing it. He continued to pull the trigger, but without results, he was out of bullets. The figure, that face, walked towards him, the eyes glowed at him and it felt as if they were burning two pinholes through his skull. There was a shriek and Anderson was no more.

Faceoffear1 (chapter one in PDF)

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Review: Moving the Goalposts by Chewing on Tinfoil

 

“And despite, despite yourself, You’ll be the last good thorn on the rose.
And in time, in time you’ll see, You’ll make those fucking petals look like plastic shite you see in shops, Or graveyard bins. Where the pointless offers made to long dead lovers means nothing, To cold dead bones. You’ll be the last good thorn on the rose.”

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  1. Charlene
  2. Give it up
  3. G’Wan So
  4. Stray
  5. Marching in time

 

 

It was in 2013 that the Irish punk band Chewing on Tinfoil released their last album; Marrowbone Lane and to satiate the fans they have now released an E.P. called Moving the Goalposts. The E.P. contains five tracks with the bands typical mix of punk, ska and rock. For those of us who enjoyed the previous release this one will not disappoint. Chewing on Tinfoil quickly show, on the first track Charlene, that they master the fine blend that is legacy of Clash-brand punk rock, Frank Turner- style folky rock and American third wave ska.

Like the mix of musical styles that the quartet displays so is the E.P. similarly blended in lyrical content. The listener is thrown between love and social criticism all in cleverly worded phrases and delivered with right amount of sentiment, anger and joy that the songs require.

All in all Moving the Goalposts is a perfect example of what Chewing on  Tinfoil can do when they are on the top of their game and should make fans excited about what might come next.

Moving the Goalposts is available to stream for free at https://chewingontinfoil.bandcamp.com/album/moving-the-goalposts or to download at your own price.

– Andrew Tobias

New Story Coming

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It has come to this. While still working on All the Children Shall Lead I have decided to begin a new writing project, even though that project isn’t moving forward at the rate I would like. This tale, entitled The Face of Fear was inspired by Tim Ellis of CKRTLAB. On the company’s facebook page Ellis decided to put out a Public Domain Superhero challenge, allowing followers to name two PD heroes a week that he would then put together into one new hero. What peaked my interest were the mashups of The Face (my suggestion) and Golden Age Dare-Devil who became Death Mask. I have always wanted to write something that takes place during the 50s and have had a story in the works for a longer time, but this inspired me. So, by the end of this week the first chapter of The Face of Fear should be up, keep a watch for it.

-Chris

Robert Kirkman adapting Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber

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According to The Hollywood Reporter Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead and Outcats, and his partner Dave Alpert have decided to bring The Chronicles of Amber to TV. The books were written by Roger Zelazny and have been, along side authors like Terry Brooks, Stephen Donaldson and Robin Hobb part of the canon of fantasy since first written in 1970.

It is no big surprise that Zelazny’s epic work, spanning ten books, there is a lot of source material to pick and choose from like A Song of Ice and Fire or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time with several layers of intrigue. The story centers on Corwin and his family who can travel across dimensions and has its starting point on Earth.

If Kirkman and Alpert are looking to capitalize on the success of Game of Thrones is not completely clear, but one can speculate. Zelazny has more in common with Brooks’ Shannara series, which was given a surprising second season by MTV (the disappointment of that show was indicated here at the Guild already when it was announced), but Skybound may be the company needed to bring the right air to the coming show.

We hope so!

Read The Hollywood Reporter’s article here

Opinion: Going All the Way by Meat Loaf

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When it was announced that Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf were once again teaming up to make music my interest was naturally peaked. Bat Out of Hell, as well as their sophomore project Dead Ringer and the long awaited follow up Bat Out of Hell II are some of my favorite albums ever and I often times view them as two of the most complete works of rock ever constructed. Meat Loaf’s production outside this collaboration has not left any lasting impression on me apart from the odd tune here and there, 2003’s Couldn’t Have Said it Better has become a perennial top ten listen.

Going All the Way is the first single from the upcoming album Braver than We Are a project in development since 2013. The upcoming album will contain tracks written by Steinman, new and ones that have been previously recorded by other artists. For a Meat Loaf/Steinman trifecta fan this indeed sounds promising.

But if the lead off single Going All the Way is any indication most of us who fall into that particular fandom will be sorely disappointed. Meat has enlisted some old friends; Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito, who both performed on Paradise By the Dashboard Lights and they are unfortunately the saving grace. For gone is the bombastic grandness that captured the heartstrings of the teenagers of the nineties when I Could Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) would start playing at the high school dance, well at least in my neck of the woods. Instead we are quickly thrown into the song like a child thrown into a cold lake on the first day of summer, and a similar shock ensues. The strength of a Steinman tune is the intro, it sets the mood and tone more than most songs do. It’s the way he constructs it, like a piece of a musical number, the audience gets to feel what the performer is feeling and we are usually in step with Meat Loaf as he serenades the world. This experienced is completely lost and as a listener you are left confused and bewildered about how to feel.

Meat Loaf himself can give no comfort or guidance in the matter either. Whether it is his hectic touring schedule, his recent health scare or just plain old age, but his voice isn’t what it has been in the past. I once read in Time magazine that they very nearly, not quite, but nearly compared him to the old opera singer Jussi Bjorling and Steinman’s epic tunes would not be complete without his voice. When that voice has seemingly lost its potency, well then the entire illusion falls.

Last, but by no means least the compositions itself just doesn’t make it all the way. Steinman’s ability to write a great tune has already been discussed, but his lyrics have always been the heart of the affair. Part nostalgic throwback to a simpler time with outdoor movie theaters, the smell of motor oil, lost loves and reckless youths and part general rebellion, all melded into a baroque anthem. This is not it though. Going all the way is a jumbled mix of nonsensic words and the result is such a mess that one has to step back and say; huh? If this is one of Steinman’s older, rejected songs recycled, then it should have been left on the editing room floor, much like Prince’ later production should have been.

So, is my love affair with Loaf/Steinman over? Only the release of Braver Than We Are in September can answer that question, but this single does not make it look promising and in saying that, this is not a fitting end for Meat Loaf or Jim Steinman.

-Andrew Tobias

Andrew Tobias is a songwriter, music collector and writer who generally believes that Two out of three ain’t bad.

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