My Horror Realm Experience…

Many of my friends and co-workers were surprised (and amused) when I told them where I spent last weekend – in Pittsburgh, PA attending a horror conference called Horror Realm.   Ben and left The Squish at home with a close family friend and spent three days at a hotel attending writers panels, networking events, and hanging out with some pretty cool people.

A lot of you know that Ben is writing short stories / novels of the zombie and post-apocalyptic genre.  His ultimate goal is to be able to quit his 9-5 job and support our family by writing full time.  I’ve been supporting him by serving as his first reader slash copy editor, support team, and motivational source.  We went to Horror Realm to meet people, try to get contacts in the industry, and get any tips on writing that we could.

Honestly, I headed into this endeavor with a sense of dread.  Seriously – a HORROR convention?  But it turned out to be not-so-bad and I ended up not hating it.  Got there on Friday, met some people from the Library of the Living Dead forums, and snagged some dinner.  Attended an awesome panel with Jonathan Maberry, James Melzer, and Rob Fox.  We skipped the movie panels but also attended the author panel containing David Dunwoody of Empire fame, Steven North of Dead Tide repute, and Kim Paffenroth, PhD who has a new novel coming out with Dante Aligheri as the main character.  Yes, he will run into the zombie horde. I hit the hay early and fell asleep watching Boise State dominate Fresno State.  Hooray for having ESPN at the hotel!

Saturday I skipped out on a lot of the festivities.  Ben and I took a detour to IKEA (did you think we wouldn’t sneak in at least one trip while we were there??) and then I dropped him off at the hotel so he could geek out.  I stole the car and tooled down the freeway to the (extremely rural) area where I used to live.   Stopped by my Grandma’s grave site; believe it or not but there were still flowers alive in her floral arrangements two weeks after her interment.  She always did have a green thumb.  Went past the old farm on the mountain (Mt. Joy) and wound my way through gravel covered dirt roads where I was chased by a pack of dogs – 2 German Shepherds, a cattle dog, and some mutt that could have had some beagle in it.  Drove past the old homestead and found that the trailer (with an addition) had been replaced by a more modern mobile home that was neatly anchored in place with a brick ‘foundation.’  I was shocked; I thought that our old place would stay the same forever.  I guess things change over 23 years, huh?

Got back to the hotel, changed into my bathing suit, and prepared to hit the pool because it was a 80+ degree day.  Uhhhh, the pool was empty.  A bit misleading to have a POOL PARTY on the schedule later that night, eh?  I ended up sitting at a table by the empty pool soaking up some sun.  Forgot my sunscreen so I got a little extra crispy.

Met back up with Ben and found out we had plans for the night – dinner and then a brief excursion to the cemetery where they filmed scenes from Night of the Living Dead.  No biggie.  Michelle, a friend of Ben’s from the LOTLD forums, doesn’t have Bob Evans down in Louisiana where she lives so we stopped there and then headed up to the Evans City cemetery.  At this point my internal “WTF’ radar starting going off because it was <i> getting dark </i>.  I don’t *do* dark, especially in creepy areas like cemeteries.  It took us about 1/2 hour to get there and we pulled the car up, killed the lights, and hopped out.  Creepy Central.  Found some tombstones from the movie, took some pictures, and then helped Mike (Michelle’s husband) look for a geocache spot.  Didn’t find the first one even after searching in the bushes so we headed down to the second one near the entrance to the cemetery.  It looked like it was in the woods close to the gravel road so we let him search while we took pictures of the sign and poked around.  All of a sudden, Ben saw something moving on the hill making the dry leaves on the ground rustle and we all started running like the devil was behind us.  I banged my finger off the trunk of their rental car and stowed it.  We hopped in the car and took off; we started laughing once we hit the main road again.  We’re idiots.

Got back to the hotel just in time for the deceptively named Pool Party to start.  Hung out for a bit, got pissed at cigar smokers, and went back to the room to watch more football, this time it was Texas and Texas Tech.   Hey, I had to take advantage of having ESPN, right?  Ben hung out down there for a while longer and then came to bed.  Slept in the next morning (hallelujah!) and got the car all packed for the trip back home.  Hit two more author panels with Rhiannon Frater of As the World Dies fame, Eric S. Brown, and Kody Boye.  Kody’s short story ‘Jade’ was pretty awesome.  If you want to read the best opening to a novel, check out Chapter One of Rhiannon’s ATWD’s  ‘Tiny Fingers.”  Eric Brown gave Ben lots of writing advice, encouragement, and told me to get him to finish his stuff.  He and Stephen North (they co-wrote a book together) were Ben’s biggest supporters. 

Sunday brought  more writerly panels.  My favorite reading of the weekend was Scott A. Johnson’s “Epiphony.”  That guy is crazy, but awesome.  Imagine that know-it-all teenager that has everything figured out in the event of the zombie apocalypse actually confronting it with his own family.  Classic.  I think he was my favorite author of the whole weekend, followed closely by Kim Paffenroth.

Headed home, reunited with The Squish, and unpacked a whole lotta laundry.  Caught the first quarter of the Giants / Cowboys game and shuffled off to bed to start the workweek over.  All in all, the weekend wasn’t too bad with the exception of being separated from Squishy.  I might take her next year en route to the beach for a vacation with my family.  Spend the weekend at Horror Realm (a treat for Ben) and then the following week at the ocean (a reward for me for being such an awesome wife / mom / all around good person).

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Ah, insomnia…

It’s 3:27 and I”m wide awake.  I’ve BEEN awake since about 2:43 and finally decided to get out of bed.  Typically when I wake up in the wee hours of the morning it’s because my brain is turning over something related to work or as soon as I wake up my mind starts racing about work-related stuff.  I’m at a loss this morning because it’s Saturday and my mind is pretty blank (no comments, please).

I’m torn between doing something useful (organizing or updating my Quicken) or something that just might let me drift back off to sleep (reading).  Turning on the TV is a definite no-no… a friend of a friend has blogged about the dangers of watching late night/early morning infomercials and I refuse to let myself be sucked in.  Ben is still upstairs peacefully sleeping while I’m relegated to the chilly confines of the living room.  He heard me get up, asked if I was okay, and started snoring again with his next breath – I wonder if he realizes how lucky he is?

Not sure if this insomnia is some fun new aspect of my pregnancy or just my body telling me that I’ve had too much sleep in the last few days.  After all, I *did* set a new record for falling asleep during a football game on Thursday night during the BCS Championship game – 5 minutes into the first quarter (around 8:20 or so) I was snoozing away sitting upright on the couch; I woke up Friday morning around 6:30 for a grand total of close to 10 hours of sleep. 

What does this mean for the future?  No idea… but I know that in the short term I will drift off to sleep today during one of the NFL Playoff games.  Want to take bets on whether it will be the 4:45PM game, the 8PM game, or both?

I think Browns fans need to pay me not to watch their games…

Seriously, the city of Cleveland needs to take up a collection to pay me NOT to watch their team’s games.  I’ve missed watching the last two games and they won.  I tuned into the game today shortly after halftime while I was making dinner (mmmm.. homemade beef stew) and the Browns were ahead.  Shortly thereafter the Ravens mounted their comeback… then tied it up… then intercepted a Derek Anderson pass for a touchdown.

Make it $1,500 a week and it’s a deal.  Otherwise, I’ll set the DVR and make sure I don’t miss a single one.  Bwahahahahahahahahaha

Week 3 Picks

Week 3
SUN, SEP 21 TIME (ET) TV    
Kansas City at Atlanta 1:00 PM CBS ATL  
Oakland at Buffalo 1:00 PM CBS BUF  
Tampa Bay at Chicago 1:00 PM FOX CHI  
Houston at Tennessee 1:00 PM CBS TEN  
Carolina at Minnesota 1:00 PM FOX CAR  
Miami at New England 1:00 PM CBS NE  
Cincinnati at NY Giants 1:00 PM CBS NYG  
Arizona at Washington 1:00 PM FOX WAS*  
Detroit at San Francisco 4:05 PM FOX DET*  
St. Louis at Seattle 4:05 PM FOX SEA  
New Orleans at Denver 4:05 PM FOX NEW  
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia 4:15 PM CBS PIT  
Jacksonville at Indianapolis 4:15 PM CBS IND  
Cleveland at Baltimore 4:15 PM CBS BAL  
Dallas at Green Bay 8:15 PM NBC DAL  
MON, SEP 22 TIME (ET) TV    
NY Jets at San Diego 8:30 PM ESPN NYJ  

Football is life…

I’m the type of girl who watches all three football games on Sunday – the 1PM CBS, either the 4 PM CBS or the FOX game (whichever looks to be the better matchup), and of course, the Sunday Night game at 8PM.  However, I skip the grotesque Bob Costas debacle, “Football Night in America” even though it means not being able to see Jerome Bettis.  Sacrifices, sacrifices. 

So this past week was Week 2 of the NFL season or as the guys on the Fox pre-show – Jimmy, Terry, Howie, Strahan, and the guy who replaced the one guy who went to CBS – were referring to as ‘After Week 1.’  I watched the horrific Titans / Bengals matchup while trying to get some other things done.  Finally, in the third quarter I sat down and really started looking at the screen, amazed at the strength of the wind whipping the trash around the stadium.  My husband gets home from his weekly golf tee time (hallelujah – it’s my five hours of undisturbed freedom!) and changes the channel during the commerical.  Before I can blast him for his blasphemy I notice that the sound of the wind that I previously thought was on the Bengals game is continuing during the program he’s watching. 

 Uh Oh.

Tuned to the Jets game hoping to see Favre-oh in his new uniform.  Right as  the game started we lost all power.  I figured that I could miss seeing the Jets, but the countdown began to the Sunday Night Game… the quintissential showdown between the Steelers and the Browns.  Of course, there was no doubt about the final outcome of the game but it would be clearly distressing not to see it happen… play-by-play. 

Needless to say, I missed the Steelers Browns game due to the power outage but I *did* manage to catch the first quarter on the radio (woo hoo – kickin’ it oldschool!) on the way up to the local Emergency Room to check on my grandmother who had fallen.  Of course, not only was this was the right thing to do but it also passed through my mind that the hospital was the only place in the entire county that had power!  If they admitted her then I would get to see the game!  Of course, they made her wait in the ER for what seemed to be an interminably long time (over 3 hours) but I guess people with broken collarbones, split open heads, and other more severe wind-related injuries came first.  I finally made it home around 2AM – still no power.

I then started the mental countdown to Monday Night Football…

Poor Potsy got a $7,500 fine… don’t throw Browns fans the bird…

James “Potsy” Farrior got fined $7,500 by the league for an ‘obscene gesture’ made to Browns fans during Sunday night’s game.  Apparently, fans were celebrating a minor injury to Safety Ryan Clark. 

Well, at least he showed restraint and didn’t body slam the guy like Harrison did a few years ago (see video below – priceless!)  You would have thought Browns fans would have learned their lesson by now.