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A Nightmare on 6th Street

It’s been a bad week Mad Hearts, it’s been a nightmare. Many of you have probably heard news or been vaguely aware that something was going on in Texas. I wanted to give a run down, so people could understand what the week was like.

  • Sunday Night (75 inside, 36 outside) – We dripped our faucets, made sure everyone was tucked in, turned off most everything but the heater. It was fine.
  • Monday Morning (1:57 am, 10 outside, 75 inside) – Our power goes out.
  • Monday Morning (6 am, 9 outside 50 inside) – We wake up to find all our power off and the temperature inside quickly plummeting, in part due to the dog door. We cover the dog in blankets, we cover our snake’s cage in blankets trying to keep some warmth in his cage. The three of us hunker down together with our Nintendo switch and phones and hope the power comes on soon.
  • Monday Morning (11 am 19 outside, 47 inside) – I realize that there is no way we’ll get our food delivery, so I go to clear off the windshield of my car and get to the store to buy some meat and veggies, both of which we are out. assuming of course that the power will come on sooner rather than later. I discover that my passenger side window has shattered from the cold.
  • Monday Afternoon (2pm 21 degrees outside 43 inside) – Cell towers are down. We cannot check for any updates, I have the sinking suspicion that cell towers are going down because Austin Energy doesn’t want to field more complaints and threats. We manage to get a call out, and Desiree’s father comes and gets us and brings us to San Marcos. We pack everything, including animals up, we put our snake in a pillowcase and under our jackets, desperately trying to keep him warm enough to stay alive. We shut off our home’s water while we are gone.
  • In San Marcos (Monday-Thursday afternoon) – there are rolling blackouts, the house we are in has very little insulation, and is heated by space heaters. The air is dry, the electricity is going out on a schedule of 3 hours off, 45 minutes on. The temperature in the house drops from 60 to 45 every time this happens. We don’t sleep. We are the lucky ones.
  • On Tuesday – the pipes burst in San Marcos.
  • All over the city, I see reports of people going 90+ hours without electricity, I see reports of people melting snow over a propane camping stove just to have something to drink and try to stay warm. I see hundreds of accidents.
  • But what does everyone in the public Eye think of this?
    • Austin Energy – Continues saying we should conserve power we don’t have, set thermostats that are off to a temperature we can’t see. They claim to be rotating power, but no one has any. Despite people literally dying of exposure in their own homes, Downtown Austin is well lit and empty businesses and car lots stand like bright beacons of lights. They have no projections of when power will come on.
    • Austin Water – They update regularly with the status of water pressure in Austin. Water went out because burst pipes led to a massive dip in reserves (minimum needed is 100m gallons, we had 20m). They share a chart detailing production vs usage vs storage. Pretty good so long as they don’t price gouge. We are on a Water Boil notice, so if you do have water, you have to boil it before using.
    • RICK PERRY – Says that Texans don’t mind living in this hell so long as we don’t get our energy grid regulated. by the federal government. (The same government he was the Secretary of Energy for)
    • TED CRUZ – Went to Cancun, leaving his dog and his constituents behind to die.
    • ERCOT – that organization we have other than federal regulation, approved massive and painful price gouging for power, leading some people to bills of over $6000, after a week of no power. (The yellow is where they raise the price by more than double)
  • Greg Abbott – Is opening an investigation into the price-gouging of ERCOT (good) blames the loss of power on Wind Turbines (bad), despite the fact that Canada, Finland, Sweden, and other extremely cold, below 0 reaching countries get their power from these sources. The issue isn’t the wind turbines, the issue is that the Texas Government decided to skimp on making sure they were up to snuff.
  • Mayor Adler – Who knows? He once gave a press conference on why we all needed to respect travel restrictions and pull together for Covid-19 from Baja Mexico. Haven’t heard anything important regarding this mess.
  • Coryn/Doggett – More promises to investigate the price-gouging. No promises to sack shitty Texas Government officials who allowed this to happen, due primarily to greed.
  • Steven King – Tweets about how people who vote red have to blame themselves for their shitty leadership, despite the fact that more Texans than New Yorkers voted for Biden, despite the fact that the majority of people affected by the storm live in big cities, which means despite the fact that Texas went red, the primary places suffering were very, very blue.

That last one hurt. Steven King is a member of our horror family, hell, he’s practically a patriarch. And it fucking sucks that he would be so cold and so cruel to those authors and artists’ living in a place simply because the place has been gerrymandered into a red leaning state.

And know this, Mad Hearts, a lot of us do live here. Madness Heart Press is based in Austin, Texas. Death’s Head Press is in Houston Texas, Susan Snyder, Lemons Clemons, John Baltisberger, Lucas Mangum, Wile E. Young, Gabino Iglesias, Wrath James White, Patrick C Harrison III, we all live in Texas. For those keeping track, that’s at least SIX authors that are on the ballot for Stoker or Splatterpunk awards. Death’s Head Press alone has 8 books on the ballot. So understand that when you bash the state, Texas is a home for horror.

HERE IS A LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS HELPING PEOPLE.

If you donate any money to any of these organizations I will send you a e-book in any format you like of any book you like. Just send a picture of your donation receipt to john@madnessheart.press, and tell me what book in which format.

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Nicolas in Wonderland

S A L T C I T Y S H I V E R S

“Once upon a time, a little mouse moved into St. Marinara’s orphanage. He loved to play games with all the other orphans. But most of all, Chuck E. loved learning to play music. He especially loved the song ‘Happy Birthday.’” – The Story of Chuck E. Cheese

“We’re all mad here.” – Alice in Wonderland

On a recent episode of Wandering Monster, John, Lemons, and I had one of our many discussions regarding monsters – specifically, in this case, monsters from video games. On this occasion, I happened to bring a game to the conversation called Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF). For those who have not had the pleasure, FNAF is a game in which one plays as a security guard who keeps tabs on the security cameras in, essentially, a haunted Chuck E. Cheese in which the animatronic performers have come to life and will do creative and terrible things to your body, given the opportunity. The point of the game is to use security doors and your watchful eye to prevent this outcome. FNAF was a monster hit for an indie game, and went on to inspire so many sequels that the creator held the Gunness World Record for “Most Sequels Released in One Year.” I’m sure this was a proud achievement for a guy who launched FNAF based on the spectacular failure and frighteningly bad character design of his previous games. Those game also happened to be exclusively Christian, and thus did not center on homicidal automatons.

I mention this because there’s a great deal of FNAF in the DNA of a truly delightful film – starring Nicolas Cage in full badass mode, no less! – called Willy’s Wonderland.

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Masks (Part Three): The Mask Behind the Face

S A L T C I T Y S H I V E R S

The second post that I ever wrote for Madness Heart Press, way back in March of 2019, was a review of The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 10, edited by Ellen Datlow. It’s an excellent collection that is well worth picking up, and is the venue in which I first encountered a short story called “West of Matamoros, North of Hell,” by Brian Hodge. There were many top-notch exercises in horror in Best Volume 10, but “West of Matamoros” is the one that has stuck with me the longest – haunted me, you might say. In particular, I often think of one sequence in which a very frightening, violent fellow (I won’t spoil the story for you – you ought to read it for yourself) has a calm conversation with another fellow about, and I quote, “the mask behind the face.”

Continue reading Masks (Part Three): The Mask Behind the Face
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Sky Sharks: Absolutely, Beautifully Bonkers!

See? I’ve been waiting since 2017!

Flying sharks with machine guns, jet engines, invisibility and ridden by zombie Nazis? YES PLEASE!

Folks, I have been waiting for this movie to be released for years. I heard it was out on VOD yesterday so I ran to my wallet and mashed $4.99 into Amazon Prime’s face hole so I could finally watch this damn thing. Why was this movie causing my tummy to flutter with such anticipation? Did you read the first sentence of this blog?

Continue reading Sky Sharks: Absolutely, Beautifully Bonkers!
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All the Things People Say

People say I’m prolific. I also start a lot more projects than I finish.

People say they can’t imagine collaborating with another writer. Collaborations have kept my creativity alive these past couple of years.

People say I’m underrated. I’m always pushing forward.

People say extreme, transgressive art is problematic. That problematic shit has saved my life.

People say my work is triggering. Imagine living through the things that have inspired it.

People say lots of shit. Social media has turned everything into a worked shoot.

People say wrestling is fake. A plethora of injuries and premature deaths say otherwise.

Most of what people say is bullshit. But to them, the subjective is reality.

I’m not interested in what people say. But the people I love speak gospel.

Shut up. I’m talking.


This was originally posted at lucasmangum.com.

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Reed’s Horror Review, Castle Freak (1995) and (2020), a Comparison.

A low bar, a lower accomplishment…

Don’t get me wrong, I like the original Castle Freak (1995) but it never really merited a full review. Compared to the other works of H. P. Lovecraft that got turned into movies (Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Dagon (2001), Color Out of Space (2019)), it’s just ho-hum. The other movies are balls-out bonkers and way more entertaining. Effectively, for Castle Freak (1995), there is nothing to review.

Continue reading Reed’s Horror Review, Castle Freak (1995) and (2020), a Comparison.