Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And our final winner is...

Our final winner in the Undead Bar Association blog Anniversary give away is Linda K. of Austin, TX!

I've received feedback from two of our winners, Jeff F. and Linda K.

Jeff F. writes: Whoa. I've never won anything before. That's freakin' awesome.


Linda K. writes: I won something?! Holy crap, I never win anything! Woohoo!!!!

Messages like that make me think we should do it again next year.

No one correctly answered the first quiz question about the law firm featured in the stories, but someone did answer the second question - Doug F. of Baltimore.  The question was, "What science fiction reference is made in the title of the current story?"  Doug actually answered the question before I asked it, in a message to me just after the current story launched.  I gave him credit anyway and gave him two entries in the drawing.  He didn't win, but congratualate him anyway on his sci-fi knowledge.

I'm a little behind on the current story.  Some ghosts from the past materialized, and had to be dealt with.  The plan is still to wrap up the current story by the end of July.  It may require double posts for a while to get us caught.  Tune in tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

And Our Second Winner Is...

Second winner in the blog's anniversary giveaway is Jeff F. of New York!  He has won the Classy Classic prize package.

It really is the perfect prize package for Jeff.  He's a man who knows how to work a hat.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No Fracking Way - Part 9. Maryanne Wells.

This is Part 9 of a serial story. 

“Are you all right?” the man asked. He grabbed my elbow to steady me. Good thing, too, because I nearly fell...but it had little to do with our colliding outside my office door.

The man was gorgeous. Like if someone convinced Michelangelo’s David to climb down from his pedestal and put on a suit. And that rich, deep voice...so masculine. This guy was a throwback to another age, a time when men were men and Sean Connery was James Bond.

He was staring at me, waiting for an answer. Crap. Say something, Maryanne. Anything, I thought.

“Hmmmagh,” I gasped. No, idiot! Say actual words!

I tried again. “Hello,” I managed.

He smiled. “Hi. I'm Bradley Obsert.” He offered me his hand.

“Maryanne Wells,” I said, and slipped my hand into his. I hoped he would never let go.

“I've heard of you,” Bradley said. “You're the kid genius, right?”

I hate that, I really do. I'm no longer a kid, so no one should call me a kid genius. “Something like that,” I said, retrieving my hand and joining it with the other holding my empty coffee mug.

“Where did you go to law school?”

I told him and watched, amazed, as the smile disappeared from his face. “It's a great school,” I said; “Academically great, I mean.”

“Oh, I'm sure it is,” he said quickly. “It's just that the only other person I've met who went there was a real jerk. Another kid genius, like you, but with a real attitude problem.”

“Huh. I knew some jerks in law school, but none of them were geniuses or prodigies.”

“Maybe he went there after you graduated.”

“Could be. What was his name?”

“Joe. Joe Capri.”

The luster of Bradley Obsert washed away, and I saw him clearly. The man was an egostistical a-hole. He had to be, because he'd just insulted one of my closest friends.

Joe Capri, know affectionately to his fellow Undead Bar Association members as 10-key, was a great guy. Yeah, he was super smart. He blasted through high school and college, and started law school at the tender age of 18. He finished up a Master's in Accounting the same time he was in law school, and passed the CPA exam within a year of passing the state bar. Brilliant and driven, yes, but that didn't half describe Joe Capri. He had a sharp sense of humor, a great outlook on life, and deep convictions. He could also drop a zombie with a single shot at 75 yards.

If Bradley Obsert found fault with Joe Capri, there was a good chance something was wrong with Bradley Obsert.

“Joe Capri is a friend of mine,” I said crisply. I pushed past Bradley and walked down the hall to the coffee pot.

Once again, there was no coffee made. Sometimes I wondered if I was the only one in the office still drinking caffeinated beverages. It was like the rest were on a mutual health kick or something. Weirdos.



A dark chill fell over me as I waited for the coffee to brew. I turned around and sure enough, there was Samuel A. Drake.

“Addictus,” he murmured, looking at my waiting coffee cup; “Origin of the word addiction. Are you familiar with the etymology, Maryanne?”

“Addictus is the past participle of addicere, meaning 'assigned by decree',” I replied. “You're suggesting that my physical form is assigned to seek coffee, driven by the decree of my dependency on caffeine.”

“That is precisely what I am saying.”

“I couldn't agree with you more.” The last drop of coffee splashed into the glass carafe. I grabbed the carafe by the handle, filled my mug and smiled. “Anything else on your mind, Mr. Drake?”

He stared at me mournfully. “I have decided that your rudeness to Bradley was driven by your caffeine addiction, and forgive you accordingly.”

“Why do I need to be forgiven for speaking the truth to a random guy in the hallway?”

“He is not random. Bradley is a brilliant attorney, who has decided to leave the EPA and pursue a career in private practice. His knowledge of oil and gas law, especially fracking cases, could be very useful to this firm.”

“You're thinking of hiring him.”

Drake smiled, an act protested by his own lips. “It is being discussed. You should get to know Bradley better. In fact, I have decided that you will be his tour guide Friday evening. Drive him around and show him the sights of our Panhandle.”

“That won't take all evening. That won't take more than a couple of hours.”

Eyebrow arched disdainfully, Mr. Drake said, “Then take some case files with you and discuss business when you're done driving around. My point, Maryanne, is that you will be with Bradley come Friday.”


I hate this boss.

© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mutant(s) of the Week - Friday, June 17

Two more fantabulous Mutants from the brilliant mind of Jesse Garson.  How brilliant is he?  He invented Quantum Duck...the duck that quacks, "Quark! Quark!"




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prize Giveaway: Our First Winner is..,

The first winner in our anniversary prize giveaway is Dena W of Texas!

Dena, you won the Silent Terror Prize!


- M. M. Wells

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Fracking Way - Part 7. Maryanne Wells.

This is Part 7 of a serial story. 

Robert walked into the living room and said, “I'm moving Belinda's body into my car. President von Niederhausern will meet me at the university. We're going to make it look an accident, and arrange for the police to find her body.” He looked uncomfortably at Roger then back at me. “He wants to talk to you, Maryanne. Wants to know exactly where you found the body and how."

I'll drive out to the university in a little bit. Do you need any help moving her body?” I asked.

“No, I got it. Thanks.” Robert shut the door behind him. I turned to Roger, forcing myself to face the anger in his eyes.

“Yer helping von Niederhausern? What the hell is wrong with you, girl? He's a vampire!” Roger shouted.

“Is he the Inceput Vampire that won my mother in a poker game? That's what I want to know,” I said.

“No, yer daddy killed that one real quick. But House Seara knew yer daddy was in the area, and they made targets of him and yer mama. Came after Brooks and me, too, 'cause we got in the way of that first poker game. A House Seara newbie had been facing off against one from House Inceput. The latter couldn't have cared less, but the former was almighty pissed. We had a hell of a fight on our hands.”

“Surprising that House Inceput didn't target mom and dad too,” I murmured.

Roger slapped his hand against his leg and stood up. “No. Surprising was Robert Brooks, Senior going to work for a blood sucker like von Niederhausern. After everything yer daddy and mama did fer the man – yer mama once saved the man's life, Maryanne! How he could betray the Wells family after that, and take the sfi vow. Robert Brooks is fated to burn in hell, and he deserves to.”

“Wow,” I said.

“Yeah, wow. Now you answer my questions. What are you doing helping von Niederhausern?”

If Roger didn't think it was good for a friend of the Wells family to take a sfi vow, he'd be even less pleased to learn a member of the Wells family had done so. It was time to lie. “Remember the zombie bindweed incident?” I asked.

“Hell, yes. I can't sell my cows for beef because of it. Even though the university sent medicine over that cured the cows, people are still scared they might be zombie beef. I'm stuck with those cows until they die.”

“Yes, that zombie bindweed incident. Well, my friend Absola and I were trapped on the campus by the bindweed. So were Robert, Charlotte, and Charlotte's brother Matt. Robert's dad and von Niederhausern rescued us. The vampire decided we owed him for that. I said I would owe him a favor. Just me; I made sure the others weren't involved.”

Roger looked skeptical. “It don't make no sense. Why would a vampire save the bunch of you?”

“Because we were all trapped together, and Robert Brooks was with us. The vampire was coming to save the son of his sfi slave.” Like hell he was, I thought. He never would have saved Robert if it hadn't been for me.

“I guess that makes sense,” Roger said slowly. “But you still shouldn't help him. Yer playing with fire, Maryanne.”

“I know, okay? I...have my reasons. Its a calculated risk.”

“Ya mean you got a plan? To stop a new vampire war.”

“Yes,” I lied. “Please don't press me for details, Roger. I'm still getting everything lined up. When I'm sure things are set, I'll start telling people what I'm doing.”

“Yer daddy know about this?”

“No, and you can't tell him,” I said quickly. “I'll explain it to him in my own way. Crap, until tonight I didn't know he was aware vampires existed.”

Roger pulled a fresh toothpick out of his shirt pocket and stuck it between his lips. What happened to the first toothpick? I wondered. Ew, he must have dropped it in the living room.

“Don't git why yer daddy hasn't told you 'bout yer family history,” Roger said.



That makes two of us.
© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gettin' Pics on Route 66











































- M. M. Wells

Route 66 Festival

Big festival on 6th Street (old Route 66) in Amarillo, TX. 6th Street Massacre Haunted House is open. Come on out, y'all!

Just saw an old Amarillo tourism brochure that read "Welcome Stranger!"

Not "welcome friend" or "glad to meet ya." nope. Welcome stranger. As in, "you're here, and we're hospitable, but we both know you ain't staying."

That's Amarillo!








- M. M. Wells

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mutant(s) of the Week - Friday, June 10

Still catching up with the Jesse Garson's Mutants!  So...close...must post 2 this week...

The first mutant is...


I think that I shall never see, a giraffe as wet as this one before me.

And the second...

Wait, a July Beetle?  In June?  Huh.  Maybe we're not catching up on Mutants.  Maybe we're ahead!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Blog! Let's give some stuff away...

The Undead Bar Association blog in one year old today!  To celebrate, some of us went out for a nice dinner.  We went to a Japanese restaurant, in honor of Naomi, who is in Japan.  We feasted on traditional Japanese foods:
Texas Sushi, Monkey Balls, and Viagra.

Just kidding.  Most of us ordered chicken, one person ordered shrimp tempura and one person ordered a bento box (Texas sized).

But that's not the only way we're celebrating the anniversary!  The blog's got a whole new look, starting...now!

Best of all, we're giving away prizes!  Starting next Tuesday, we'll give away one prize a week for the rest of June 2011.

Here's a look at the prize packages:

1) Giveaway for Tuesday, June 14 (drawn from all entries submitted by midnight of June 13) - SILENT TERROR

Includes: a classic silent film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; The Terror starring (a young) Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff, and an I Love Zombies magnet.









2) Giveaway Tuesday, June 21(drawn from all entries submitted June 14 - June 20) - CLASSY CLASSIC

Includes:  The Bat, starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead; a travel chess game; and a magnet with a legal pun.







3) Giveaway Tuesday, June 28 (drawn from all entries received between now and midnight, June 27) - CAMPY and VAMPY
Includes: The Ape Man, starring Bela Lugosi; American Vampire, starring Carmen Electra as a vampire and Adam West as a vampire hunter; a magnet with a diagram of what to do in case of vampire, and a handmade cross bookmark (generously donated by reader Michelle R. of Texas.  She also donated the chess game in Giveaway #2).

We make no guarantee that your items will arrive upside down as pictured.

HOW TO ENTER:

Send an email to mamcwells at gmail dot com (replace 'at' and 'dot' with appropriate symbols). Title it "Anniversary Contest". In the body of the email list out your name and city / state of residence, and swear that you're at least 18.

Winners will receive an email asking for a current mailing address. Drawings will be at noon on the days listed above. Winners will be announced on the blog by first name, last initial, and city / state.

RULES:

Giveaway open only to residents of the continental US. Must be at least 18 years of age. Prizes can't be exchanged, and I vouch for the quality of nothing.

One entry per person...unless you are the first person to correctly answer a quiz question! Quiz questions will post on this blog June 7, 14, and 21. Answer a question correctly and you could double or triple your chances of winning a prize.

QUIZ QUESTION #1:

First person to answer this question correctly doubles their entries:

What is the significance in the name of the law firm featured in the stories (Deitrick, Egbert & Drake)?






Saturday, June 4, 2011

Book Review: Dead Beyond the Fence

We frequently review classic horror books at the Undead Bar Association. Newer material has been seeping into the office, and there's now a neat stack sitting next to Black's Law Dictionary and our three volume set of Contracts – Restatement of the Law. Top of the new fiction stack in Dead Beyond the Fence, by Brian Kaufman.

It's a zombie story; the cover and the title give it away. Knowing that, the reader doesn't need the story to open on guts and gore...and it doesn't. Instead, Kaufman opens his tale with elegant brutality. He uses symbolism and metaphor to introduce the reader to the main characters and their post-apocalyptic world.

Dead Beyond the Fence is a well-paced, quick-moving, page-turner of a zombie tale. What sets it apart from other zombie novels on the market is Kaufman's writing style. His metaphors and descriptions are always vivid. Sometimes they're aggressive, as in the opening. At other times they verge on subliminal. Example: Kaufman's description of one character at the end of the book is written in brutal, gory detail. It's easy to get lost in the picture he paints, but underneath the details is a symbolic summary of the dying character's life. She has shunned motherhood, and learned to distrust anyone who would bring new life into the world. She has lost true smiles, only forcing cheerfulness when it serves her ends. She has become paralyzed by fear, immobilized and locked in the building that will become her tomb. Kaufman reminds us of all these things as the character dies. Its a miniature of one character’s life, painted with her own blood.

The Book

So, what's it about? There are zombies and they're eating people. Some people are trying to survive, and some are trying to figure out what caused the zombie apocalypse. Some are trying to do both.

The main characters are Angel and Kevin, once co-workers and now lovers. Angel is beautiful and sweet, the kind of person others are drawn to in dark times because of all the light she represents. Kevin's the guy you want on your team when the zombie apocalypse comes. He kicks zombie butt, knows how to make and execute a plan, yet is able to cling to the things of the world that make him – all of us – human. The story tracks Angel and Kevin as they leave one shelter and seek new ones.

The Novella

Kaufman has included in the book a novella that covers events after the main novel ends. You can read it, or skip it. If I had it to do over, I'd skip it. It's well written, but unnecessary. Arguably, its counterproductive to the things Kaufman achieved in the main book.

In the author's note, Kaufman explains that he included the novella to answer questions from people about what happened next, questions he thought were answered metaphorically by the gun in the final pages of the novel. But the gun wasn't the dominant symbol at the end. It was overpowered by the promise of a better tomorrow, told to us through the first sprouts of spring grass and the promise of new human life. I finished the novel feeling hopeful; I finished the novella feeling depressed.

To be fair, my disappointment in the novella is largely the result of liking Kaufman's characters from the novel. If he hadn't written them so dang well I wouldn't have cared what happened to them later on. But I did care. And I didn't like the way the novella ended.

Conclusion

The novel is a great read; definitely worth getting the book. And yeah, the included novella's well-written. I just refuse to call it a great read because I didn't like it.

What? Hey, I have never claimed to be the perfect reviewer. Direct and honest, yes. Perfect, no.

Dead Beyond the Fence is available through Dark Silo Press.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mutant(s) of the Week - Friday, June 3

We're catching up on Mutants from Jesse Garson's collection at eYE iN tHE hAT productions.  Here's two for the price of one Friday!!





Book review of a great zombie novel, Beyond the Fence, will post tomorrow (unless there's another wildfire, in which case I'm going to give up blogging, move into a swimming pool, and learn to breathe under water).  New episode of No Fracking Way posts Monday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Fracking Way - Part 2. Maryanne Wells.

This is Part 2 of a serial story.  The story began here.

I was both glad and angry to see Robert Brooks' car parked in front of my apartment when I pulled up. Glad, because he could help me decide what to do with Belinda's body. Angry, because if Robert was here it meant my landlord Roger had called him. Dang it, I told Roger I could handle it on my own.

As I parked the truck the door to my silo apartment swung open. Roger stood in the doorway: corpulent, bald, and pissed. I looked past him and sure enough, there was Robert.

Roger walked down the stairs and strode over to the truck with a grace that belied his distended belly. He crossed his arms, shifted the toothpick between his lips to one side, and glared at me.

“Git out of the truck,” he bellowed. The soggy toothpick waggled in agreement.

I stepped out in what I hoped was a dignified manner. “You said I could borrow the truck anytime, Roger.”

Roger's face turned a shade between fire engine red and apocalyptic purple. “For reliable transportation. For hauling things. Not for taking off in the dead of night, alone, to some god-forsaken spot in the middle of nowhere,” he retorted, growing louder with every word. “I promised yer folks I would look out for you, and that's what I'm gonna do – even if it means locking you in your apartment and standing guard at the door.”

It was a long speech for a normally laconic man. Roger wiped the sweat from his forehead with a faded red bandana he pulled from his back pocket. He shifted the toothpick around some more and muttered, “You don't know what's out there, in the night. Pray ta God you never do.”

“You haven't told him?” Robert asked, coming down the stairs.

“Told him what?” I asked. But I knew what he meant. My fingers reached up, unbidden, to the cross at my throat.

Roger caught the gesture. “You never where that sort of thing,” he said, pointing a pudgy finger at the cross. “Why've you got it on now?”

Robert drew closer and looked where Robert pointed. His mouth fell open and he took a step back. “How can you wear that? How is that even possible?”

“Why would it be impossible?” Roger asked. His eyes narrowed to slits and he looked from me to Robert and back again.

I didn't like where this was headed. Fortunately, I had an effective way to redirect the conversation. “There's a body in the truck bed,” I announced.

The two men looked over the side of the bed at the blue tarp wrapped form. Roger hurried to the back of the truck and lowered the tailgate while Robert vaulted into the bed.

“Is it anyone you know?” asked Robert.

“Belinda. We work – worked – at the same law firm.”

Robert peeled the tarp back from Belinda's head and stared at her bloodless face. He touched her chin, turning her head gently until he saw the two red marks at her throat.

“G—d--- vampires,” Roger cursed.

I stared. “What the hell do you know about?” I demanded.

“What do you know,” he shot back.

“We all know to much,” Robert said glumly. “Maryanne, you shouldn't have brought the body here.”

“I know her,” I said impressively. “I wasn't about to leave her body to the coyotes and vultures.”

“There's a disposal site -”

“For House Inceput victims! They didn't do this, Robert. This is the work of a vampire from a competing house.”

“You mean to tell me we're in the middle of another G—d--- vampire turf war?” Roger shouted. “I ain't having it! Not again!”



Again?
 
© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.