Scary Music: Tales From The Palomino, Vol. 1

Errera/Zampella Tales From The Palomino, Vol 1
Errera/Zampella, Tales From The Palomino, Vol 1. Only $3. Cheap!

I have a new project with ambient music artist and longtime friend Mark Zampella. Basically, I read four stories from my collection, Sensual Nightmares: Tales From The Palomino, Vol. 1 over Mark’s weird music beds. The words and music work together to create a listening experience like no other — beyond conventional spoken word albums or ambient jams.

This is something truly different.

Here’s what you’ll find on Tales from The Palomino, Vol. 1

  • The Glue Trap — (RT 35mins)   “No one knows how deep the well is, or what lives at the bottom …”   Some creatures will chew off a limb to escape from a trap. What will Lloyd do to escape his gambling debts and tyrannical father-in-law?
  • The Hole — (RT 10mins)  “There is a hole at the bottom of the Earth, in the deepest part of the world…”   Suspense, strangeness, and ancient legends meet in the darkest depths of The Hole.
  • Black Fire — (RT 15mins)  “There’s a robbery in progress at the QuikMart…”   This is Mark’s chance to be a hero, and stop a crime. But today just isn’t his day …
  • Park, Bench, River, Gun — (RT 10mins)  “It was a beautiful day. Tom sat on a park bench by the river. A gun sat next to him.”   A bittersweet plan to end suffering unravels in a sad folly of forgetfulness and sorrow.
Check it out! Only $3!
Perfect for the Halloween holidays, or anytime you want to get creeped out!

The Shining by Stephen King

I re-read Stephen King’s The Shining recently in preparation for the release of its sequel, Doctor Sleep. I’m glad I did.

The Shining by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining is a beautifully written novel, simple, elegant, and powerful. There are only four main characters: Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, his son Danny, and the Overlook Hotel itself.

At its core, The Shining is an update of the classic “trapped in a haunted house” tale. It’s also the story of a family coming apart at the seams, strained relationships blowing up like the ancient boiler in the basement of the Overlook.

Jack and Wendy are clearly drawn, easily identifiable, sympathetic characters. Danny, with his ability to shine, propels the story forward. His psychic abilities awaken the hotel’s wicked past, and the Overlook preys on the weakest link — recovering alcoholic Jack.

Stanley Kubrick turned The Shining into an iconic film (which King himself hated). While Kubrick’s film is a classic, don’t forget it was Big Daddy Steve who created this nightmare in the first place. King was the one who created such memorable lines as, “I’m going to bash your brains in, Wendy. I’m going to bash them right the fuck in,” and, “Your wife and son need correction, if I may be so bold, sir.”  All this and Redrum, too. And don’t forget the wicked witch in Room 217.

I read The Shining for the first time in 1980 when I was 12 years old. This book has lost none of its impact over the past three decades. It’s still a magnificent artistic achievement.



True Tales of Road Rage: Here’s Egg On Your Windshield!

I was attacked by an Evil Lumberjack in 1993 … but frankly, I had it coming.

Road rage.

It’s the hip, politically-correct buzzword of the 90s. The media trumpets it. Congress is studying it. President Clinton is soon to speak out on it.

But what is it?

Simply put, it’s getting ticked off at other drivers. When was the last time you blurted out the phrase; “Hey, you $#!@!. Why don’t you watch where you’re going, you dumb $@#!

Powder Keg On Board

If you’re like me, it was probably the last time you drove your car. I suffer from road-rage. Driving brings out the worst in me. Whether I’m cruising a highway, looking for a parking spot, or driving the local streets, I’m bound to encounter a person who annoys me. I will mentally curse this other driver. If provoked, I will spew profanities. WHY ARE THESE HORRIBLE DRIVERS CLOGGING UP MY ROADWAYS!

Admittedly, this is a terrible personality trait, and one I’m working hard to correct. Road-rage leads to big trouble. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that two-thirds of the 41,000 annual road fatalities are linked to road-rage. (That’s 27,333 Angry Motorists Found Dead for you non-mathematicians). Here in North Jersey, where there are more cars than anywhere else in the country, the roadways are a powder-keg of road-rage.

True Road Rage Confessions

I  experienced the wickedness of  road-rage first-hand.

In 1993, I was driving along Route 23 when a guy driving an “evil lumber truck” accused me of cutting him off. He announced his accusations through obnoxious honking and obscene hand gestures, including use of the Magic Finger.

I returned his gestures, and added a few clever variations of my own. After cutting me off, the Evil Lumber Truck sped off down the highway.

Magic finger
The Magic Finger — Official Salutation of Road Ragers Everywhere!

I proceeded to the drive-in window of my bank, not noticing the Evil Lumber Truck had pulled into the lot behind me.

As I stuffed my paycheck into a plastic tube, the Evil Lumberjack crept up beside my car, reached in the driver’s side window, and punched me twice in the head. Meanwhile, an Evil Passenger appeared, and smeared an egg sandwich on my windshield.

I wanted to be big and brave. Replaying the event, I wish I had grabbed the Evil Lumberjack’s arm and floored the accelerator, dragging his carcass through the parking lot before fishtailing around to catch the Evil Passenger beneath the grill of my mighty Geo Prism. Crunch!

But at the time of the attack I merely fumbled for my glasses on the bucket-seat next to me, and shouted something tough and witty, like, “Hey, okay!

The smack in the head was a wake-up call. As a longtime road-rager, I got a taste of my own medicine. The Magic Finger used to play a major role in my driving routine. Now, I rarely employ it. Sure, all other drivers are inferior to me, but I try not to let it get under my skin.

I follow and endorse these three simple steps to curb road rage:

  1. Mellow Out. If another driver cuts you off, or otherwise annoys you, remain calm. When in traffic, have some of your favorite music handy. Do deep breathing exercises.
  2. Keep Your Eyes On The Road, Your Hands Upon The Wheel. Besides being a cool Doors’ lyric, this old adage is a basic tenet of safe driving. Eyes on the road will prevent making eye contact, and hence conflict, with the subhumans driving next to you. Hands on the wheel will prevent you from delivering vulgar gestures.
  3. Stay Home.


Originally published in Wayne TODAY, July 1997