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Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week, I’m sitting in on the Damaged Viewing Podcast with Louis Fowler!

This time around, Louis and I dove into a bit of early 90′s nostalgia with “Pet Sematary Two”, and it was fun. Sleepy fun, as Louis states, but fun all the same!

“It’s been what? Twenty-five or thirty episodes since we’ve had our good friend Casey Criswell on? Well, to quote a very popular commercial for Picante sause, that’s too long. So, for this episode of DAMAGED Viewing, Louis weclomes back the host of the Dad and his Weird Friends Podcast for a sleepy discussion of the oft-forgotten, mostly-ignored Stephen King sequel PET SEMATARY TWO, starring Edward Furlong, a zombie dog and the requisite chubby kid. And you can’t forget Clancy Brown, having more fun that anyone else. ”

Hop on over to Podomatic and give it a listen!

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Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

One of my favorite past times…well, beyond reading…is to make lists. I love making lists! This little hobby works well with my reading as it allows me to have my little ‘trophy’ after completing a book. Sure, I don’t *need* a trophy for completing a book, but in the days of my paperback addiction, this trophy was a new title added to the book shelf. Since I’ve put those ways behind me and sold my soul to the Kindle gods, I don’t have that little mental satisfaction. Until I stated keeping track of how many books I read in a year is. Now, I see the number go up and I get a brief sensation of smug satisfaction…then it’s on to the next book.

Less dusting, less clutter, more books. I think it’s a win-win over all.

I’ve been trucking along fairly slowly for 2012; I set a goal of knocking out 50 books this year, but I’m a bit behind schedule. It’s okay though. It’s not a contest and there’s no real prize and I still get to read a crap load of good books. Still; behind where I thought I’d be. Winter is coming though, as that Martin guy says, so I know the reading will increase greatly when I’m inside more often. Normally, I keep track of my books read on Goodreads profile, but I figured since I opened this here blog up, I’ll start here as well. (Note: Feel free to add me on Goodreads if you haven’t!)

So, here we are at book #22 for 2012; Laird Barron’s “The Croning”! I stumbled across Barron on one of my forums reading up about the ‘cosmic horror’ genre. You see, I’m woefully under read on the Lovecraft mythos. I’ve read quite a bit and enjoyed it; I’ve not ventured out into the worlds of other authors that dip their toes into Lovecraft’s world however. Barron came highly recommended in the world of cosmic horror but until recently, he was mostly a short story writer. I started off my introduction to Barron’s world with “Occultation and other Stories” and I was hooked pretty quickly. Seeing as “The Croning” was Barron’s first full length novel and receiving quite a bit of praise from other fans of his short stories, I was pretty eager to get to this one. By the end, I was quite happy that I skipped it to the top of the to-read pile!

As with many cosmic horror stories, “The Croning” is a slow burn. It’s not horror that is going to jump out and slap you in the face with your own severed arm; it’s horror that’s going to seep into your joins and give you chills, make you run from the dark living room when you turn off the lights for the night. The novel is not fast paced by any means and you will be hit with a deluge of detail from the get go. Barron spends quite a bit of time setting up atmosphere and character development throughout much of the book. We get to know Don Miller in exquisite detail by the end of this novel, but it all pays off eventually. While this makes for a fantastic story in the end, it can definitely be a bit of a hurdle to get started. You trudge along wondering where the weird stuff comes in and you start to wonder if you’ve made a mistake. Luckily Barron sprinkles in minor touches throughout that make you sit back and wonder, “What the hell?” and then forces you to keep reading to see if he’s going to reveal the impetus behind that moment.

Adding to some of this confusion is the fact that our main narrative jumps around quite a bit in the time stream. We go from the 1980′s to current time, back to the mid-50′s and them sometimes back to the 80′s again. Like I said; in hindsight you see why this was done and it makes perfect sense. While reading the first time, it can be a bit confusing. If I had one complaint for “The Croning”, I would say that at times Barron makes the Don Miller of different eras quite similar to each other. This makes the jump in time a bit confusing. Sure, he labels the beginning of each chapter with what time period we’re diving into, but when you’re caught up in the story and blazing through pages at a pretty good clip, this can often get overlooked. Again, this was always solved with back tracking a couple pages so when I say ‘complaint’, what I really mean is ‘minor annoyance’!

The ending of “The Croning” is where our grand payoff is and the payoff is quite splendid. If you have spent the first 2/3′s of the book wondering, “When is this going to get weird?” It definitely gets weird. It gets weird in a really good way as well. Of course, I’m not going to bother to give you any details because that would take the fun out of it. You can trust me though and consider this one definitely worth your time.

If you’d like to learn more about Laird Barron, you can find him over on Livejournal and you can find a list of his books over at Goodreads as well. He doesn’t appear to have an ‘official’ website outside of Livejournal however.

Coming up soon, Carly will be joining me on the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Club to discuss The Croning and from what I’ve seen on Twitter, she’s getting into it as well. Should be a great show! We’ll definitely go much more in depth than I have here, so be sure to watch for that!

Friday, August 10th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

We’re back once again over here at the Weird Friends podcast with a whole new episode! This time around, we go with some fairly light horror fare with Chuck Wendig’s “Double Dead”!

This book was a pleasant surprise for myself. I have a good friend that I’ve traded books back and forth with for years. Said friend, Ak, hit me up awhile back with an article on Chuck Wending stating that he had been hearing quite a bit of buzz on him and the plots of his existing books grabbed me fairly quick! I’ve read a lot of zombie novels here as of late and while I do enjoy them, they tend to get a bit too heavy and in some cases, a bit too repetitive. Wendig’s version of the undead apocalypse was a nice change of pace that moved quick and wasn’t too heavy with ennui, melancholy, and stoic rambling.

Wending has some other books that look really good too, Blackbirds and Mockingbird. Both of these have catapulted up to the top of my to-read pile after reading “Double Dead”, so should be cool!

As always, the Dad and his Weird Friends show can be found on Bloody Good Horror Feed and iTunes! Give us a listen, let us know what you think! Feedback is welcome and encouraged, send your missives to!

Finally, come join us in the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Club on Facebook! We like to talk about books and if that’s your thing, we’d love to have you with us. It’s been a bit slow here lately, but that’s because we don’t have you there to help spice things up!

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

It was slow there for a bit, but I’m now getting back into the podcasting groove here at Fromage central and you know what? It feels good. My guest this episode, Colleen, the First Lady of Fright, will tell you that I still read slow as all hell, but that’s okay!

If you haven’t been able to tell after these last two episodes, the Criswell household is a well read household. The trick is, Colleen and I’s taste in genre fiction doesn’t always meet up eye to eye. I love me some hard core sci-fi, Coll likes urban fantasy and paranormal romance type stuff. The beauty is that when it comes to horror and zombies especially, we tend to see eye to eye. In addition to this, Colleen and I have been a pair for nearly twenty years now. (I know, right?) She knows me *quite* well. In fact, she knows me better than anybody else out there. So when Coll finishes a book and immediately turns to me and says, “OH MY GOD you gotta read this!!!” I tend to take notice, and it generally pays off in my favor!

Which leads us to Episode 12. Coll was very excited by this book and it was brought to her attention by a simple recommendation on Goodreads. (You can follow Colleen on Goodreads here!) It just goes to show that Goodreads is a handy resource! If you like zombies and good characters, this one’s definitely worth checking out.

As always, feedback on the podcast is always welcome! Shoot me an email at, anytime! We have a discussion groupon Facebook as well, so come join us and geek out on some books!

The Dad and his Weird Friends Book Club can be found on the Bloody Good Horror Podcast Feed or you can download directly, here!

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Monday, June 25th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

It took a long time, but I’m finally getting back to watching movies for watching movies sake. To some extent though, this return to movie watching tends to be dependent on whatever is on Cinemax or HBO while I’m playing Diablo 3! I’ll be damned if I can stop long enough to change the channel!

But seriously though, it feels good to get back to watching movies simply for the sake of it being fun to watch movies. This weekend found me with some extra time, so I indulged quite a bit.

First up….

Abraham Lincon: Vampire Hunter

For a more indepth review on this one, you’ll have to be sure to check in to the upcomng Bloody Good Horror Podcast. For our purposed here, I’ll just go ahead and say: I enjoyed the hell out of it! In fact, my comment to Colleen afterward was; “that was dumb as hell, but by god I loved it!”

Let’s be fair here: The premise is down right zany. The book was pretty zany too, although quite enjoyable. To expect anything less that zany in the movie version is just setting yourself up for disappointment. The crazy wire fu antics an over the top action scenes are this flick’s bread and butter. The story is secondary, yet still fun. For those of you coming from the book, this story is fairly different. Overall it is very condensed chopping out a good portion of the middle such as the Speed family and Abe’s rise through politics. It still hits the major points though! The ending however, is fairly different. Still, good fun all the same.

Safe House

BEEFCAKE! Er…Denzel and Ryan Reynolds. The commercials for “Safe House” pretty much spell everything out for you; there’s reall no big mystery going on here. For an action/spy flick, this one’s pretty by the numbers. However, Denzel is star caliber and Reynolds is getting there, so the acting makes this pretty watchable. The action sequences are pretty rote as are the twists but…it’s engaging. That’s really all I can say. Denzel’s Tobin Frost character is a good one and Reynold’s green behind the ears CIA agent is pretty solid as well.

That said, I can honestly say that I’m glad that I waited for video on this one (read: Screeners!) as opposed to shelling out ticket $$ for it when it was at the theaters. It was pretty good; not really $12 good though.

Project X

This flick promised a lot with it’s trailers. The crazy party, hints of some truly out of this world events taking place at said party, yadda yadda. Being a fan of the handheld trope when done right, I figured this would be worth a shot since that was the main gimmick they were going for. In a lot of ways, this worked in “Project X”; it had some really solid moments and some cool stuff going on from time to time. None of it really turned out to be mind blowing though. In the end, I sat through this expecting something outrageous to happen but instead I was given….”Animal House” as shot by handhelds. This still makes for some good laughs and a decent flick but it was just somewhat anticlamtic by the time it was all said and done.

The characters were are main driving force in this one and really, “Thomas” and “JB” did a pretty decent job. I’d have to say “Costa” did a decent job too, but if I was Thomas, Costa would have been murdered pretty early on. Then again, that just means that the kid play Costa was doing his job right!

All in all? I’d watch it again.

American Psycho

I watched about half of a lot of movies while playing Diablo 3, but most of them I’d glance over at pay attention to for 10-15 mintues at a time. It shows the power of this classic that I actually pushed the keyboard and mouse away and sat and watched “American Psycho” through to the end. Especially considering I’ve seen it three or four times already!

There’s much to say that hasn’t been said before about “American Psycho”. Christian Bale was simply fantastic at the role and there’s not much arguing it. I can say that having read the book in the time since my last viewing, it was pretty cool to see how well they did adapting it to a film. There’s a lot of idiosyncracies that were spelled out in internal monologues in the novel that actually translated well to the big screen. My first viewing, I’m not so sure I caught all of the subtleties, but they definitely stood out post read.

And finally….

True Blood 5×3: Whatever I Am, You Made Me

This season still can’t make up it’s mind if it’s going to be any good or not. All I can say is that so far, it’s better than Season 4. Man, they’re getting a bit long winded in parts though. Then again, I’m biased. I can ‘t freaking stand Tara and I’m still pissy that they didn’t keep her dead after Season 4. I honestly don’t know home much more I can take.

On the plus side? The Pam history lessons are fantastic! (As is the Pam.)

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Friday, June 22nd, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Man, one moment it’s June 5th and I’m blogging away, then I step away for a moment and June’s almost over! Bad blogger Casey, BAD BLOGGER!


Though June’s gone by in a blur, but things have been going on in the background. The Dad and his Weird Friends Podcast had gone silent for a month or two, but we recently started polluting your airwaves once again with Episode 11 where my lovely wife joins me to talk about Ransom Rigg’s “Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children!”

In the past week, this next round of episodes has started to take shape as the list of books and guests has been coming together pretty quick! It’s shaping up to be a good one with a good mix of books and a great mix of guests.

Here’s what you can expect so far, in no particular order:

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter with Mike Chiseck

Redshirts by John Scalzi with That Ghoul Eva

Emperor Mollusk Vs. The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez with John Shelton

Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds with Jon Schnaars

The Croning by Laird Barron with Carly

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler with Andy Helmkamp

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis with Bryan White

Hemlock Grove by Brian McCreevy with Sebastian O’Brian

Double Dead by Chuck Wendig with Joe Charnews

The Cold Dish: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson with Amy from NotLP!

As you can see, we have a pretty varied list! Hopefully, you’ll see something that trips your trigger!

The guests and books are still trickling in too, so the list is only going to get bigger. Be sure to stayed tuned for more updates as they come! While you’re at it, come join us in the Dad and his Weird Friends Book Club over on Facebook and come chat about books!

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Tuesday, June 05th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Friend, cohort and confidant Derek M. Koch from over at the Mail Order Zombie and from some other spiffy little podcast I heard about called 1951 Down Place has released his new Kindle e-short “Granny and the Hole”! Derek’s been working on this for a bit, so it’s exciting to see it on the shelves! I’ve had the pleasure of reading it already, so I can say…you’re gonna like it.

“Granny and the Hole” is available exclusively on the Kindle at the moment and will cost you a mere $1.29. That’s a bargain!


Derek M. Koch, producer of the long-running zombie movie podcast Mail Order Zombie, released his zombie short story “Granny and the Hole” on June 3, 2012. The story, a tale of a man who refuses to let death stand in the way of a relationship between his mother-in-law and his daughter, is available for Amazon Kindle as part of the Kindle Select program, or for purchase for $1.29.

In addition to producing Mail Order Zombie, Koch has directed an award-winning zombie short film, appeared as a character in other authors’ zombie stories, and has seen his own zombie stories previously released in other publishers’ anthologies. “Granny and the Hole” is the first story released by Koch’s Black Sombrero Publishing.

“Granny and the Hole” can be found on at “Granny and the Hole” will be released for other e-reader formats later this year.

About Derek M. Koch

Derek M. Koch lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, his cats and his zombie movie collection which forms the basis of the award-winning podcast Mail Order Zombie ( The movie collection is for the podcast. His wife is “patiently” supportive. The cats are waiting for dinner. He can be found online at his website Plan D at

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Monday, June 04th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve not heard of Branded until I stumbled across this trailer on Google +. At first blush, it looks pretty fantastic though! You could say it looks like it was here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and it’s all out of bubble gum.

Okay, that was cheesy. But…you can’t deny that this looks like the spiritual successor to “They Live” from this trailer! Subliminal commands, some kind of weird alien stuff going on under the ‘surface’. All in all, this really strikes a chord with my inner dystopian sci-fi geek! Casting Max von Sydow is just icing on the freaking cake, man.

Sunday, June 03rd, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

Allrighty. Enough silence, back to what I do best.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved “Men in Black” and “Men in Black 2″. They both have the elements of classic summertime popcorn flicks. They have a lot of laughs, a lot of special effects and explosions, some solid talent and decent action. Mix in this whole pseudo universe they’ve created, one where aliens are common and well varied and there’s a top secret government agency out there to police them? Well, it just plays straight to a science fiction nerd’s heart.

Over the years, I have in fact thought to myself, “I wish there was another Men in Black movie out there”. Not because I thought that there was a particular story that needed to be told, but simply because they’re fun and Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith make me laugh. And honestly, isn’t that exactly what movies are supposed to be for? So when “Men in Black 3″ came out of nowhere, I was pretty surprised. Granted, I’ve slipped away from the movie news scene a bit, but I’d never even heard that this movie was being considered. As you can understand though, once I did hear about it, I was pretty damn excited. Here we are a week or two after release, I’m sitting in the theater when that familiar Danny Elfman theme starts to spin up and I start to feel a bit giddy as I get ready to visit some old friends I haven’t seen for awhile.

The trailers for “MIB3″ don’t leave much to the imagination. The pretty much outline everything for you right up front. Yes, this is annoying, but I was still prepared for some fun. We kick off the film with Nicole Sherzinger in a pair of pretty amazing thigh high leather boots coming to visit “Boris the Animal” in jail. It’s a super high tech jail, so it’s pretty obvious that it’s a “MIB” unit, so we know we’re getting right in to the nitty gritty as far as our film’s bad guy goes. With this being the third film in the franchise, we’re ready for this. This is how they all start out. Our big bad for this film is played by Jemaine Clement from “Flight of the Conchords” to a bit of success. In comparison to past villains, he’s not much standing next to Vincent D’Onafrio in a dead Edgar suit. He’s suitable though. He’s big and ugly and has some pretty gross alien features, so he fits mold. After learning that K has done Boris a great injustice in brief monologue, chaos ensues, Boris is on the loose and away we go. Bad guys vow to travel through time to nefarious ends, good guys vow to follow to thwart plans and *bam*, there’s your movie.

When I spell it out as such, “Men in Black 3″ sounds like it could be problematic. Pretty basic and rote. In truth, it is, but again it’s propped up be fun performances and some crazy action scenes. Will Smith has a certain schtick that he goes for in his role as J. It’s a tiny bit Fresh Prince, a whole lot of “Independence Day” “Welcome to ERF” swagger and a bit of some new stuff to round out the character. He’s got lots of zany facial expressions a even more quips, but that’s what I paid for. Tommy Lee Jones has limited play here. He’s got his gruff persona down pat; hell he’s made a career out of it. That’s what we love him for. The real star of “Men in Black 3″ is Josh Brolin as the young Tommy Lee Jones. This cat’s uncanny!

Josh Brolin has had a weird career you could say. He was great in “Goonies” and then was kind of quiet for years. (At least to me anyways, maybe I just wasn’t watching his flicks.) Then he blasted back in to prominence in “Grind House”. When he returned, he had a particular brand of cool that was akin to his father’s and started to dive in to a lot of genre flicks. Here, his aping of Tommy Lee Jones is pretty astounding. He’s got the cadence of his voice, the gruff deliver, even the steely eyes. It’s seeing this performance of a young Agent K that makes this movie pretty damn fun. It’s also fun to see a lot of the past years of “MIB” and such in the typical franchise fashion of what culturally prominent people were aliens, which were aliens, etc. but they could have done even more to be honest.

Yes, it’s popular to hate on time travel plots. They’re pretty cheesy and typically ham-fisted and typically do nothing but create plot holes and present themselves as a glaring MacGuffin. For “MIB3″, it’s a thin time travel plot, let’s face it. But, it’s pretty straight forward. They don’t pull any zany plot twists that involve people popping up out of nowhere, there’s no weird space time continuum confusion that makes your head hurt to figure out. It’s simply Agent J going back to 1969 to stop a bad guy who went back to 1969 to murder Agent K. Easy peasey, just like the trailer spell out for us. With them keeping the time travel conundrums at a minimum, this leaves us to focus on the laughs and Will Smith making faces and keeps things light and entertaining.

Is “MIB3″ perfect? Nope. There are many scenes that come across as awkward pauses in the general flow of the film. The camera tends to linger a bit too long on these moments leaving us wondering what we’re supposed to be catching in the background. (There typically wasn’t anything going on in the back ground in these moments.) It’s a lot of fun though. My family and I laughed pretty hard and enjoyed the 3D antics. It felt great to see Smith and Jones working together again and Brolin made a great addition to the mix. Ultimately, this movie left me with a good dose of closure for the franchise, so that I could walk away and feel that the whole package is nice and complete. I’ll look forward to the eventual Bluray box set and watch them periodically, with gusto!

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Friday, May 25th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

It’s story time boys and girls! Here’s a brand spanking new serial that *may* get woven in between the ongoing episodes of “Trouble Gum” here on CF. Give this a read, if you’ve been around here for awhile, these faces may not be all together unfamiliar ;) .

Long Time Gone Part 1: Unfamiliar Faces

Clomp, clomp, scritch, scratch, the stout man and the burly dog at his side trudged in silence over distant hills. The man’s shoulders hung low with an unseen weight, his back bent into the pressing breeze, away from the sun that set behind. The dog walked with head slung low, nose pressed to the packed dirt beneath, its ears cocked forward as he snuffled away in concentration.

The duo spoke not a word, nor even spared each other a glance. Yet it was clear in their matching strides, the matching dour looks that rode upon their faces and the way they moved as one that the two belonged together. This man that stood just a hair over six foot tall and stared into the distance ahead with steel black eyes that saw forever would on occasion reach over to give the dog’s sagging ear a quick but gentle tug. The dog, standing nearly to the man’s waist with a chest as broad as a wine cask, thick black fur that stood patchy at best would pause in his nasal search to touch the mans hand with his nose. Nothing more passed between the two.

On and on they marched through the grasses and hills outside the Village Noble, their path always straight ahead and never straying. One foot in front of the other they marched, never pausing to gather their bearings or for a bit of respite and rest.

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