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When I graduated high school in the late eighties, the gothic-industrial wave was in full swing.  Not only were bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode experiencing huge swells in popularity, but the blooming nightclub scene featured regular hits from Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, Sisters of Mercy, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and the list goes on.  This was all new back then, and it was amazing.  Each weekend was a promise of another night or two of dark adventure as we hit up various clubs in the city.

Having such close access to a metropolitan area the size of Houston was a boon.  I remember no less than a half dozen nightclubs all competing for attention, and they all played great music.  Still, always room for more, right?  Even if not in the expected area.

A long-time friend of mine and I were approached by a guy we somewhat knew from a nearby neighborhood.  He came from a quite well-off family, and he had some money to try a business venture.  We were all very young – late teens and early twenties.  This guy wanted to open a nightclub and try to get in on this surge of popularity and potential money.  One big wrinkle was his general ignorance of the nightclub scene and what worked in it.  He had heard that my friend and I were members of this subculture, and to top it off, my friend was an aspiring deejay with great skill and an amazing music collection.  Because of this, we were approached to work as “consultants” for this guy and help him to open a proper club.

Except one thing – he wanted to open it in Rosenberg.

Now, for those of you not familiar with the area, Houston is a nice sized city with a large surrounding metropolitan area.  Still, the major action happened more in the center of the city, and if not, then still in the city proper or close to it.  Rosenberg is a country city, and it’s not very big even today.  Obviously, the overhead to operate a nightclub there would be considerably less than in Houston, but who would go?  Not to mention the general populace in Rosenberg was somewhat conservative and rural, so even with their limited numbers, what people would choose to frequent such a place?

We weren’t the “money” of the operation, so even though we strongly suggested putting the club in Houston, that did not happen.  A place was found off one of Rosenberg’s main avenues, a place of generally small size but not too cramped.  We helped to decorate on the inside, showing up to add some avant-garde painting to the black furniture.  We used day-glow spray paint, because such bright tones were also hugely popular at the time.

Oh, and the owner had decided to call it Club Zoo.  I do not recall why he chose that, but I do recall not caring for it.  It was also going to be an all-ages club, because the theme he was going for held appeal to younger patrons.  What this meant, though, was no selling of alcohol.  My friend and I were baffled at how he planned to make any real money.

The place finally opened, and we would come down every weekend (we were attending college in Austin at the time) and work at the club.  My friend spun the records, and I handled the lights.  They did have a decent lighting system, and I had rigged up the various color cels to work on separate switches.  I could fill the dance floor with smoke, then just turn on the red lights, working them to the beat and melodies, creating a surreal, spooky ambiance.  This worked particularly well with the extended version of Skinny Puppy’s “Testure”.

The place did get some good crowds, though I don’t recall anything too huge.  The owner tried all sorts of gimmicks and giveaways to generate interest.  I guess he hoped the place would somehow manage to get popular and bring in people from the city.  That didn’t happen.  Still, we had some of the best music going at the time.  Not just the expected either, but we also Karen Finley, MC 900 Ft. Jesus, Meat Beat Manifesto, even N.W.A.  It was great.

It amuses me to think that for a brief period in the late eighties in Rosenberg, TX, a little known gothic-industrial, new wave nightclub called Club Zoo was playing some of the best music available at the time.  It’s a nice memory, and I’m glad I had some small part in it.


If you enjoy my writing, please check out my Amazon Author Page for my published works.  I very much appreciate it.

“So, in Finland, witches are not automatically treated as bad?”

“No.” She shakes her head once, more of a slowly shifting movement. “Witchcraft is a very big part of Finnish history, culture, and religion. Though we had good witches, and black magic was not allowed.”

“Where is Mount Kyöpeli?” asks another, not waiting to be called upon but pitching the question in the ensuing silence.

She turns her eyes in that direction, still meandering as she talks, the images on the large screen changing in a series of slow dissolves, giving backdrop to her words.

“You can only get there by flying and magic. It is said to be located in a secret place, close to the border of Tuonela, the Finnish land of dead.’

“It is also said that it is actually possible physically, or even mentally, to travel in Tuonela and go have a chat with your dead friends and relatives and other people,” she carries on, a curve to her lips. “There are tales that witches and sages have traveled there to learn long lost lore and spells. Only problem is that it’s very hard to get back from there. There are many guardians. Cats are but one example in our own world.”


I draw from many sources and lore in my book, Dance of the Butterfly.  It was important to me to show varying perspectives.  This is also part of why I chose to set it in a very cosmopolitan city.  There are many subtle (and not so subtle) references that weave into the overall puzzle of the story.

Please visit my Amazon Author Page for both books in the series.  Thank you.

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When I was a kid, there was no cable at my house. To give some perspective, this was well before the internet was invented. We lived out in the country, so lacking cable was not a financial issue. There just was no cable television possible.

We had a VHS player, and that was a big deal. These new contraptions had not fully made their way into so many homes, and the battle with Betamax was only beginning. Our video library was rather scarce, though. This resulted in our being reliant on regular, live television broadcasts.

I eagerly looked forward to every Saturday morning, and I would sometimes wake before the sun. I loved being the only one up in the house. There was something of a comforting feeling, as though I had the whole world to myself. I’d pour a big bowl of sugar-fueled cereal and watch Saturday morning cartoons.

I most fondly recall Scooby Doo, the Bugs Bunny/ Road Runner hour, and some other Hanna-Barbera efforts. I particularly enjoyed the Smurfs when that came out, and I held a fondness for Wacky Races. I’d dig out my Hot Wheels and other toy vehicles and envision races of my own.

Sometimes, a morning of cartoons was not enough, and I’d watch the dubbed martial arts movies that would come on afterwards. This would really get me going as I’d often be up off the couch, mimicking moves I was seeing, playing along with the film. Eventually, though, I’d move on to other things.

With cable, the internet, and so many other on-demand options, this sort of thing just doesn’t seem relevant anymore.  I don’t lament its passing, but I do still have many fond memories.


If you enjoy my writing, please check my Amazon page for my published works. I do hope you explore and enjoy. Thanks!

During my trials and travails as a substitute teacher, the experience that affected me the most was when I was called in to work at the Alternative Learning Center.  Now, some of you may already be reacting, and that would be because you know what such places are.  At the time, I did not.  I thought it might be some progressive school with a different sort of curriculum or paradigm or some such.  How wrong I was.  For those of you who do not know, Alternative Learning Centers are where students are sent when they get in serious trouble.  It is meant to be a step between expulsion and/or juvenile hall.

The kids there were largely a rambunctious lot, and that is my being polite.  I spent my time being as unobtrusive as possible as there was another teacher in the class with me.  It was explained to me that these kids all had a certain amount of days they had to satisfy before going back to regular school.  If they did anything against the rules, they were simply sent home and did not get credit for that day.  I did not offer my opinion on this, just kept my head down and did my own time.

At one point, we gathered two classes into one room to watch a movie.  One student, a male who held as much size as a full grown adult, began to get into it with a teacher.  He eventually threatened her, basically saying she’d better hope he never sees her outside the school.  He was sent home.

One afternoon class was a chance for the kids to mess around on computers.  This was in the early 90’s, so you can only imagine what amazing machines found their way into the ALC.  The kids, though, loved this time.  I had some familiarity with computers, as I had taken quite a few relevant classes in high school and college.  One student had trouble with the software she was running (I don’t even recall what it was), and I was able to solve her problem.  The students seemed to warm up to me then.

It was at that point that a teacher poked her head in the room, and she was shocked to see I was alone with the kids.  She quickly explained to me that there are always supposed to be at least two instructors in every class, especially if one is a substitute.  They finally found someone and sent them in with me, but there had been no trouble.  The kids were transfixed on their computers.

As I was leaving for the day, I was approached by the principal and another teacher.  They offered me a job on the spot.  I was taken aback.  I didn’t even have a teaching certificate, which I pointed out, and they waved off.  Apparently, I was the first substitute at that center to ever make it through the entire day.  I was flattered, but I did not take the offer.

Substitute teaching was a great learning experience for me.  I learned that I don’t want to teach unless it is at the collegiate level.


Thank you for reading.  If you enjoy my writing, please check out my Amazon Author Page for my published works.

There was a time when I considered a career in teaching.  I still am drawn to the idea, and who knows, maybe someday I will.  The issue is that my idea of teaching does not necessarily conform with reality.  I found this out in a very practical way.

When I was freshly graduated from college and unsure what I wanted to do, I looked into educating.  With only a bachelor’s degree, I’d be teaching elementary or secondary.  My dream was (and still is) to teach at the collegiate level, but that was not an option.  I received some amazingly valuable advice when I was told to spend time as a substitute to see if I liked it.

I ended up “teaching” everything from elementary to seniors in high school.  It was an eye-opening experience.  I had surprisingly persistent trouble-makers in one third grade class.  It was clear they were acting out to gain the approval of their classmates, and they were quite adept at not being too difficult.  Still, they kept pushing.  I finally had to threaten the duo with having them spend time in the principal’s office instead of computer lab to get them to shape up.

I had a junior high class where one student immediately jumped up when realizing there would be a substitute, and he began drawing what looked like gang-style graffiti on the chalk board.  I diffused this by calmly walking over and erasing what he had done, and I drew a Chinese-style dragon.  His reaction went from angry to a mixture of perplexed and impressed.  I encouraged him to try to draw what I had.  Also in middle school, I subbed on Halloween one year, and though the district did not celebrate the holiday, I showed up in all black and sporting a necklace made from bones.  One student tried to faze me by asking if I had ever killed anyone.  “Not today,” I replied.

The most advanced students I had were a group of seniors in an AP science course.  The lesson plan was to hand their tests back to them and let them group up and go over the questions they had missed.  They were self-motivated, obviously, and they all but forgot I was there as they hunched over their exams and discussed the questions.  I surprised them by interjecting and helping.  It so happened the test was on genetics, and I had taken a few classes on that very subject when I had been in college.

It felt rewarding working with some of these children, though all of them, no matter their age or discipline, made me earn their respect.  It didn’t always work out that well, but it did work out.  I typically ended most days feeling like I had just tread water.  Still, that is better than being eaten by the piranhas.


If you enjoy my writing, please buy one of my books.  Feedback and comments are always welcome.  Thank you!

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“There is sufficient lack of blood volume for what is expected in the human body,” she repeats.

He throws up his hands, scoffing, turning away. The other gives her something of a sympathetic look. She is not needful of either reaction.

“Detective Pasztor, I am the coroner. You are the detective,” she reminds him.

“I know that,” he snaps, turning, glaring at her, “What did the killer do with it? Are we dealing with a vampire?”
__________________________

The savage serial killer continues to plague the City. Is it some sort of human-animal hybrid or worse? The carnage left behind is unsettling, confusing. The local police have no idea how deeply this goes.


One of the core elements to the plot in my first novel, Dance of the Butterfly, is something of a murder mystery.  It is not handled in the traditional sense, mainly because it is only one of the myriad facets making up the overall “secret” within the story.  It was very enjoyable exploring this vein of the tale, especially leaving out all the little bread crumbs for readers.

I humbly invite you to see for yourself in Dance of the Butterfly, the first novel in my urban fantasy series. For 18+ readers.

Dance of the Butterfly – print version
Dance of the Butterfly – electronic editions

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And Now for Something Different

Posted: May 11, 2017 in Blog
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I’d like to dust off a post I made on Facebook toward the end of last year, and here it is –

“I watched the trailer for Rogue One. It looks intriguing, serious, exciting, and many other things that would make me intensely interested in a science fiction film, but …

I am not understanding what the point is of showing us something that boils down to an episode in the overall story to which we already know the ultimate outcome. I am not trying to be a naysayer. I don’t trash movies before (or even after, really) release. I am a firm believer in everyone gets their own opinion. I am not a paid critic, so if I don’t like something, I just move on.

I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. I am certainly low on the enormous ranks of fans, but I do enjoy it. I saw the originals in the theater, and they hold a deep sense of nostalgia for me. I even saw all the prequels in the theater, though I cannot say they have earned any hallowed place in my thinking.

The Force Awakens was nice, too, but much of it felt like a rehash or serving the same dish with a few different spices. I would love to see something new, creative, exciting, risky. Why continue to just redress the same plate over and over?

Anyway, thank you for your indulgence, those of you who have read this. I really don’t ever make these kinds of posts, but I felt a certain need upon viewing the trailer. I hope the movie surprises me, but I find myself leaning to a degree of skepticism already.”

Well, it took me a long time (apparently), but I did finally see Rogue One.  I then promptly watched it again.  I loved it.  My hesitancy was unfounded, though thankfully I did not let it keep me from seeing the film.  The movie was intense, and I was surprised at its body count.  The story still revolved around the Death Star, but even with this continued element, it felt new and exciting, and dare I say risky?

I also enjoy the whole force aspect of the Star Wars universe and how it is examined in the Jedi and Sith.  Those usually end up being my favorite parts, and it is interesting to note how little of that was in Rogue One (though the bits of Darth Vader we got were wonderful).

It wove quite well into A New Hope, and it quite pointedly showed the cost of how everything got there.  A well done film, and I wish I had seen it in the theater.

“He lies upon the thin mattress, the meager offering upon the rickety metal frame, staring up at the ceiling. He sees patterns there, images resolving within the texturing of the sheet rock, mingling with the tiny cracks of age and disrepair, the flaking of paint.”

Who is this strange ex-college student from South Africa who has come to the City as if drawn by a lodestone? He holds no conventional employment, and he is seen frequenting the areas plagued by the serial killer. How long until the light of suspicion falls upon him? Will that scrutiny be warranted?


I know it may not be considered the best practice in crafting a story, but I love introducing new characters late in the tale.  This one, Ernst van Zyl, does so in Dance of the Butterfly, and he plays a pivotal, multi-layered role in the story.  He is also an homage to one of my favorite writers.  I wonder who many will figure that out.

Please buy and read Dance of the Butterfly (for 18+ readers), the first book in my urban fantasy series to find out exactly what part Ernst plays in the unfolding saga.

Dance of the Butterfly – print version
Dance of the Butterfly – electronic editions

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The City is plagued by sex-trafficking, victims kidnapped and used against their will.  The ages of these women vary, but it is clear the criminals are not concerned with using those who are very young.  They use drugs and violence to gain compliance, even offering some of them back to their families for exorbitant ransoms.

A masked vigilante decides to do something about this, but is one person enough?

Unaware of the deeper, darker energies manifesting, this crusader unwittingly engages far worse than ever imagined. Will they be able to help, or will this consume them?

Find out in Dance of the Butterfly, the first book in my urban fantasy series. For 18+ readers –

Dance of the Butterfly – print version
Dance of the Butterfly – electronic editions

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The City in which the majority of my first book takes place ends up becoming quite important.  It is an urban center with a swarm of energies, a nexus, and thus it attracts much unto itself, good or bad.  Of the myriad things happening, one of them is the presence of serial killer, a savage murderer displaying a deep degree of barbarity.  The identity and purpose of this criminal is central to the goings-on within the story.


“The thorax has been rent quite savagely, initially torn open by three large wounds, ranging from ten to thirteen inches, the condition of the flesh indicating this was not a bladed weapon, nor were they done by the same hand.”

“What?” Mahler asks, looking up from viewing the printed report which lies bound in a heavy stock covering.

“It wasn’t a knife or dagger or similar bladed weapon. I consulted an old friend of mine who ended up getting into veterinarian medicine, and she agrees that this looks like it was caused by claws.”

“Are you saying an animal did this?” Pasztor chimes in.


Does this have anything to do with the valuable book in the university’s secured collection? Does the young librarian Lilja have any clue as to what is really going on?

Find out in Dance of the Butterfly, the first book in my urban fantasy series –

Dance of the Butterfly – print version
Dance of the Butterfly – electronic editions

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