Archive for the Last Writes with… Category

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with…Sara Frazetta

Posted in Last Writes with... with tags , , on September 4, 2020 by Occult Detective

TODAY’S DEPARTED:

Sara Frazetta is the granddaughter of the legendary Frank Frazetta and co-founder of Frazetta Girls, an online web-store which deals in official Frank Frazetta merchandise.

She is also an accomplished artist in her own right, having recently been commissioned to illustrate a Vampirella cover, following in her grandfather’s footsteps, for an exclusive, and Sold Out, Black Flag collectible titled Trial for the Soul.

Having had the pleasure to speak with her on many occasions, Sara is simply one of my favorite people. She is creative, enthusiastic, and talented…and it’s an honor to call her a friend and collaborator… and, of course, to have her join us here for the latest installment in our Last Writes series.

LAST MEAL

A NY Pizza and a NY Bagel with cream cheese, and if it’s not too much to ask, an authentic Philly cheese steak and maybe a Publix Italian sub.

LAST BOOK

A Sidney Sheldon novel.

LAST MOVIE

Can it be a show? Dark on Netflix.

LAST SONG

The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony

FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE

Grandpa Frazetta

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Michelle Belanger

Posted in Last Writes with... on August 28, 2020 by Occult Detective

TODAY’S DEPARTING:

Michelle Belanger should be no stranger to anyone with an interest in the paranormal. From A&E’s Paranormal State, to appearances on Paranormal Lockdown, Portals to Hell, and others, Michelle is a familiar and welcome face on Paraentertainment TV.

She has authored a number of books on the occult and paranormal, including The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide, Ghost Hunter’s Guide to the Occult, and, my personal favorite, The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned.

A Limited Edition Hardcover edition of The Dictionary of Demons, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, is available for pre-order from the publisher, Llewelyn Books, or through Amazon.

Who better to perform Last Writes upon than a gifted psychic and energy worker, with deep ties in the Vampire community?

LAST MEAL

This one’s easy: grilled cheese – but not just any grilled cheese. For me, the cheese must be Munster (it melts into this perfect, mild, chewy butteriness). For the bread, Dave’s Killer White bread or a thinly-sliced French boule de pain with a nice, dense miche. Finally, real butter, preferably something like Kerry’s Irish butter. It has a subtly different taste that, as a super-taster, I appreciate. And … because this is how I grew up eating grilled cheese, a very light smear of Miracle Whip Light inside, which I know is sacrilege to most people, but the nostalgia is real and the vinegar gives it just a little bite. Grill it up till the outside is crisp and golden, and everything is soft and melty inside and the mix of flavors and textures is my perfect comfort food.

LAST BOOK

This one is difficult. I’ve read so many that I’m not sure I can possibly narrow down a favorite. But, again, I default to the associations built for me around a very fine thing, so I will have to say Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. Not only is it a fantastic (and sometimes heartwrenching) tour-de-force of high fantasy, it is also a book that my wife Elyria Rose often reads to me. Reading aloud to one another is one of our favorite activities – sharing and dreaming good stories together. We bond over character, storycraft, and language. So, the book has all these cozy-together-in-mutual-appreciation feels for me and it is a lovely work of exquisitely woven language, to boot. Definitely things I’d like to carry across with me.

LAST MOVIE

For this, I have to confess that I don’t watch a lot of movies. So, I think I will go out watching the very first movie I saw in theaters in this life: Fantasia. I was maybe three when my mother took me to see it, possibly four, and I was absolutely entranced by the spectacle of commingled art and music that unfolded on that enormous screen. I drew satyrs and fauns for years after as that pastorale part of the movie inspired me to devour Greek myth as soon as I had a handle on reading. But – and this is totally on brand for me – the section of the movie that truly thrilled me in ways I had no language for at the time was the Night on Bald Mountain piece. I think my mom expected me to find that part scary, but I felt something completely different. It gripped me and excited me and ignited my imagination in ways that ripple down even to this day, and I think that says a lot about who I was, even then.

LAST SONG

“Lazarus,” by David Bowie. Hands-down. I believe in reincarnation and, in fact, have recounted memories of past selves since I was the tiny, enchanted being watching Disney demons cavort to Night on Bald Mountain. And, although I am aware from his son Duncan that Bowie was an atheist, “Lazarus,” to me (and really, the whole Black Star album) is such a brilliant work expressing the process of moving from one lifetime to the next – and Bowie did it intentionally, consciously, crafting this profoundly self-aware masterwork as his exit from this life. Lazarus gets it – that leap of the Tarot’s Fool into the chasm, perhaps only to tumble into oblivion, but perhaps, instead, to successfully cross the abyss and become … something new.

FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE

Bowie, because with “Lazarus” and Black Star fresh in my spirit, I would love to talk to him about his process and what it was like to live a creative life so large that it shaped our culture. I know other folks are waiting over there to bend my ear, but I never had a chance to meet Bowie in person, and I think he’d have quite a lot to say.

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… author Steven Savile

Posted in Last Writes with... on August 21, 2020 by Occult Detective

TODAY’S DEPARTING:

Steven Savile is a prolific author whose body of work includes numerous media tie-ins and franchise novels (such as Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Torchwood), game related materials (for Warhammer, Pathfinder, and Trudvang), and dozens of other properties, not to mention his own creations.

The guy’s a freaking beast. And bloody good too. I was exited to learn that he’s working with the brilliant folks at Dream Realm Storytellers on a tie-in novel to their popular RPG, Svilland, currently on Kickstarter.

Now, without further ado, let us once more delve into the macabre and perform Mr. Savile’s Last Writes…

LAST MEAL

There’s a pizza place in Riva del Garda where I had the single best meal of my life, we are talking taste explosion that belied the rather dull sounding Quattro Formaggi that was more like a spiritual experience than a meal. So, with a one off, last meal, it would have to be a wood-smoked, stonebaked Quattro Formaggi from that little pizza place, washed down with a sparkling San Pellegrino, which when it comes to last meals sounds fairly basic but in reality is a little slice of heaven before I get sent down to the pit.

LAST BOOK

There are a few comfort reads I’ve collected over the years, books that mean something to me, books that shaped me or changed me or in some way transcended simply being an entertainment. If it was going to be the last words I ever read, I think I’d go back to a beloved book, something that really meant something, but something that I would have to have faith wouldn’t let me down on a return visit, which is a huge gamble… unless I’ve already revisited it a few times in this life. There are few that hold my interest on multiple reads, something like David Gemmell’s Legend I’ve read five or six times and it has never failed to delight me, or Clive Barker’s Weaveworld which was my favourite book when I was 21, and was probably my favourite book when I read it again at 42 for entirely different reasons. At first I’d fallen in love with the audacity of the imagination and the wild dark horrors of his fantastique, but second time around it was about his world view, his philosophies and his language. It was a special book… but for a last read ever? Jonathan Carroll’s Sleeping in Flame. It was a book I’d found almost by accident because of the Wayne Anderson cover in the UK, with it’s little cloven hoofed devil full display… and in a few short pages completely and utterly changed my taste in books. Nothing short of pure magic.

LAST SONG

I’ve got a ritual, every time I buy a new piece of hifi equipment, be it a turntable, an MP3 player, even a phone these days, I play the same song first… I also play it first every time I move into a new house, and in the last minutes when the old house is empty, play it again to say goodbye. I’ve been doing it since 1987, which means this is a 37 year old ritual for me now. It would have to be the last song for the world, too… Time Stand Still, by Rush, from the Hold Your Fire album. It has been a fundamental part of the sountrack of my life and there isn’t a more fitting lyric to go out to, asking the universe to freeze this moment a little bit longer, make each sensation a little bit stronger, as experience slips away…

FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE

This is hard, how do you equate the values of lost loved ones, family, friends, and pick The One? The thing is I was at my dad’s hospital bed when he went, we shared his last moments, and in that there was as sense of closure even if I miss him every day and he’s referenced most times mum and I talk, or even when I’m sitting in the garden with Marie, my wife, or just when we do something we know he would have loved… but there’s someone else I’d like to see just to know she’s at peace now. They say first loves are the strongest, that they’re unforgettable and mark our souls forever. The first girl I ever loved, and by that I mean properly loved – it started out as friendship, and ended in heartbreak – was called Vicky. I was maybe 16-18, something like… it was college years, and she was very much the heart of that. We did everything together, even when she got together with one of our classmates (and he utterly broke her heart) and afterwards, as we all went our different ways, we had that last summer, my folks were away, hers were away, and we just had that ‘such sweet sorrow’ summer that Shakespeare captured so well. The last time I saw her she’d just met the man she would marry. The thing about Vic was that she felt things too acutely and couldn’t cope. They married, had two kids, and as it fell apart she went through hell, she was committed to a mental hospital for her own safety at once point, and one Christmas, alone, with her kids at their dads, she hung herself. She’s the one I’d want to see. Just to know she was finally safe.

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Dr. Richard Kaczynski

Posted in Last Writes with... on August 7, 2020 by Occult Detective

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TODAY’S DEPARTING:

Richard Kaczynski

I first became aware of Richard Kaczynski from his foreword found in People of the Earth by Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond back in the mid-nineties. His seminal work, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, published first by New Falcon Press, then later revised and published by North Atlantic Books, is the defining, quintessential biography of the most notorious occultist to ever peel back the layers between this reality and the great sea of possibilities beyond it.

As a metaphysical scholar and author, he is unparalleled, but Dr. Kaczynski is also a talented musician, an excellent writer of occult fiction, and a pop culture enthusiast whose insights are always on point. He is, without question, one of my favorite people on this spinning rock and if you’re not following him on twitter, then you are certainly missing out. I am honored to now share with you his Last Writes.

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LAST MEAL

Wow, this is tough! My first thought is this amazing dish called “palak chaat” at the Washington, DC, restaurant Rasika. It’s crispy flash-fried spinach topped with a tamarind/yogurt sauce. There are no words to express how great this dish is. It is the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. My runner-up would be the vegetarian tasting menu at Restaurant Gordan Ramsay on Hospital Road in London. That was one of the most memorable meals of my life…though I’m concerned that a return visit wouldn’t wow me as much now that the bar has been set. If neither of those is possible, I’d take a nice malai kofta, which is my go-to dish at Indian restaurants because everybody makes it so differently. After five or six months of quarantine, being at *any* restaurant would be a luxury.

LAST BOOK

This is hard. I’ve never been one to re-read a book, as there are so many books I haven’t read yet. I wouldn’t want it to be one of my own books: last thing I want is for my final moments to be distracted with wanting to edit and revise myself! Crowley’s “Book of the Law” contains what to my mind is one of the most beautiful passages that can be taken about the end: “For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.” But I can quote that from memory. Maybe I’d go back to my childhood love of comics, and reread something from that genre. Watchmen, Promethea, or maybe Elektra: Assassin.

LAST MOVIE

There are so many movies I love, it’s hard to pick just one. On the one hand, there are obvious choices suggesting that there’s more to this life than we think (2001, The Matrix). Logan’s Run or Soylent Green would be very ironic, but there are other films I’d rather watch at the very end of my life. Cloud Atlas has a great message that our actions endure far beyond our lifetimes, and I’d *almost* pick it for that optimistic note. But part of me would want to return to the simple pleasures of my youth and experience “Star Wars” one last time.

LAST SONG

Finally, an easy one! My friends in the Philadelphia-based progressive rock band Echolyn have a song, “Never the Same,” on their 1995 record “As the World.” It’s a meditation on death, and how to move on when we lose someone we love. The chorus–“After the song is over, the dance goes on, so dance away. When all has been said and done, remember what’s been given, not taken away. There’s never any endings, but I’ll never be the same”–to says it all to me.

FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE

I’m not convinced that there is life after death, or–if there is–whether we meet people as they were in this life. But for the sake of argument, the first person I’d like to see in the afterlife is my sister Diahann. We shared so many interests–music, comics, playing piano–and she was always my biggest fan. I have a note from her, probably from my teens, where she wrote out the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” to encourage me as a young writer. She was fun and wise beyond her years, and I learned to much from her. She died suddenly in her sleep 25 years ago, and I still miss her. With every hardship or heartbreak, I think “I wish I could talk to her.” And with every success as an author, I think “I wish Diahann was here to see this, she’d be so excited

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Anthony Boyd (@Runeslinger)

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 31, 2020 by Occult Detective

lastwrites

TODAY’S DEPARTING:

runeslinger

Anthony Boyd, perhaps better known by his online nom de guerre, Runeslinger, is a prolific blogger and youtuber whose insights into tabletop roleplaying games, particularly those which exist “outside of the flickering circle of light which is mainstream gaming”, are both erudite and purposeful. As a champion of the form, he’s an inimitable ambassador.

In recent years, he has helped to spearhead #RPGaDay, a month long celebration of roleplaying games that was the brainchild of David Chapman. Throughout August, tabletop fans are encouraged to make daily posts, typically from a pregenerated list of questions or word prompts, the shine a positive light on the hobby.

As #RPGaDay begins tomorrow, bringing Anthony in today seems apropos. So let’s lend our ear to the esteemed Mr. Boyd, and see where his Last Writes might take us.

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If I were to face a known date for death, much as I seem to be doing too often these days for others’, I am not sure that I would seek out any farewell experiences at all. If I did, I would definitely not indulge in a last moment with a favorite.

LAST MEAL

For my last meal, I would want to go light. I think something I cannot get here in Korea, and probably would not choose to eat were I in my home country. With that in mind, let’s say I might go for ravioli.

LAST BOOK

If I knew death were coming and could read while I waited, a book that would sit right in such circumstances would be James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen. I have read it twice, liking it the first time and disliking it the second. Third time seals the deal.

LAST FILM

For a last film, perhaps an activity to go out on, I would be torn between To Have and Have Not and Big Trouble in Little China. In the end, I suspect I would go with what Mr. Burton believes is his adventure to reclaim his stolen truck as there is a message there that helps give a person perspective.

LAST SONG

The last song I would want to listen to? That perhaps would be the hardest choice. One I might choose from a long and beloved list might be On the Wire by Sisters of Mercy – and then wait for life’s sound and fury to fade away~

The Occult Detective’s Last Writes with… Charming Disaster

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 24, 2020 by Occult Detective

lastwrites

TODAY’S DEPARTING:

charming

Who better to initiate the resurrection of Last Writes than my favorite minstrels of the macabre, the morbidly delicious Charming Disaster.

I discovered Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris quite by accident, stumbling upon their song Ragnarok on youtube a few years back. Since then, I have become obsessed with their amazing performance art, murder ballads, and songs of the occult, mythology, and the paranormal.

I was a backer on their 2019 kickstarter, Spells + Rituals, and highlighted their music at the Converse Historical Society’s annual Haunted History event last year.

Based in Brooklyn, Ellia and Jeff’s music is haunting, wickedly charming, and devilishly playful. They harmonize beautifully together, and I just simply adore everything they do, so, without further adieu, I present Charming Disaster’s Last Writes.

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LAST MEAL

Just a cocktail to take the edge off, thanks. Preferably bottomless brunch menu Bloody Marys.

LAST BOOK

The final book in whatever series we’re reading. Hopefully Patrick Rothfuss will have finished the Kingkiller Chronicles by then, but if not, we’ll wait.

LAST MOVIE

We want the traditional “whole life flashing before your eyes,” but in slow motion, so it takes a really long time.

LAST SONG

One of the ones we haven’t written yet. Whatever we’re working on at the time (but not until we finish it).

FIRST PERSON YOU’D LIKE TO MEET ON THE OTHER SIDE

We assume we’ll go down together in a blaze of glory, so each other, obviously.

Announcing the Return of Last Writes

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 17, 2020 by Occult Detective

LastWritesCharmingDisaster

From the ashes — Last Writes

Posted in Last Writes with... on July 14, 2020 by Occult Detective

On All Hallow’s Eve, 2016, I launched a feature on this blog called Last Writes. The idea was simple enough: invite interesting people to imagine themselves facing their final rest. The caveat being that before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which travelling with them into the great unknown.

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The idea was not to find out what someone’s favorite meal or book or what have you is, but what they last wanted to experience. The two are seldom the same.

Last Writes ran for 9 episodes in 2016, 15 in 2017, and 3 in 2018. 27 in all. The series was well received. I was able to question authors, occultists, gamers, reviewers, publishers, and psychonauts in my quest to reveal a side to these fascinating people that we rarely get a glimpse of.

As we find ourselves immersed in a global pandemic, civil unrest, and political upheaval, I thought it high time we revisited these all important questions. In the coming weeks, I will be relaunching of Last Writes, but first, let’s have another look at those who came before.

10.31.2016  Bob Freeman

11.07.2016  William Meikle

11.14.2016  Alethea Kontis

11.21.2016  Joshua Reynolds

11.28.2016  Greg Mitchell

12.05.2016  Mary SanGiovanni

12.12.2016  Michael M. Hughes

12.19.2016  Kelli Owen

12.26.2016  Maurice Broaddus

01.02.2017  Brian Keene

01.09.2017  Gamerstable

01.16.2017  Tim Prasil

01.23.2017  John Linwood Grant

01.30.2017  Shanna Germain

02.06.2017  Cullen Bunn

02.13.2017  Charles R. Rutledge

02.20.2017  Tracy DeVore

02.27.2017  Stephen Shrewsbury

03.06.2017  Jim McLeod

03.20.2017  Michael West

03.27.2017  Amanda DeWees

04.03.2017  Sèphera Girón

04.10.2017  Julian Vayne

08.23.2017  Stephen Zimmer

01.31.2018  Fiona Horn

03.05.2018  Madame Pamita

03.19.2018  BethSheba Ashe

 

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with BethSheba Ashe

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick on March 19, 2018 by Occult Detective

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sasheI was lucky enough to have cultivated an online friendship with Steven Ashe, a prolific author of the occult and a consummate musician. I found Steven’s scholarship brilliant and he was, point of fact, a talented and charming fellow whom I feel blessed to have had the pleasure to know, even if we were separated by an ocean and some change.

Sadly, he crossed over far too young, but thankfully he left behind a wealth of books on all manner of esoterica. He is greatly missed.

bsasheThrough Steven, I was introduced to his wife’s scholarship.

BethSheba Ashe is every bit her late husband’s equal. I have found her musings on facebook and twitter to be erudite and insightful, and I have marveled over some of her research in dissertations. She has a great instinct for spiritual and magical matters with an ability to connect dots and unknot some rather intricate meanderings in the occult sphere.

I reached out to BethSheba some time ago, inviting her to take part in my little Last Writes experiment. Blissfully, she has joined us now…

Not familiar with Last Writes? The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal? I don’t really care, but I’d like to share it with friends and perhaps share a joint with them too.

 What would be the last book you’d like to read and last movie you’d like to watch? …something inspiring, but again – its not something that I really care about. Same with the last movie, although I’m looking forward to seeing Sherlock Holmes meet Doctor Who.

What is the last song you’d like to hear? … bird song.

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side? …the same person I always meet when I’m on the other side. It would be very weird if they weren’t there. I enjoy the continuity of seeing them when I die.

The Occult Detective’s #LastWrites with Madame Pamita

Posted in Last Writes with..., Magick with tags , , on March 5, 2018 by Occult Detective

madamepamitaI bought my first Tarot Deck, Pixie’s Rider-Waite, 38 years ago this summer. I still consider myself a student of the art and science of the cards and I’m always on the lookout for a new and fresh take on interpreting them.

That’s why I found Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True such a delight.

The author writes passionately and you get a true sense of her enthusiasm  and warmth. She has a style that’s all her own, with a clear, confident voice.

She takes the reader on a terrific journey, with the cards as milestones, or better still, doorways into strange new lands of possibilities. The author’s positive spin is refreshing and I’m thrilled to add her knowledge and inspiration into my arsenal.

Madame Pamita has a real gift and plenty of otherworldly charm. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether you’re a grizzled old veteran like me or new to the realm of card reading.

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pamitaI was lucky enough to get Madam Pamita to sit down with us and take part in our little requiem-esque departure, taking a glimpse into her pre-inhumation, if you will.

The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.

What would be your last meal? Take me to a Michelin 3 star restaurant in France, please! I’d like really fabulous wine with my meal, and yes, we would like a bread basket and yes, I will be having a dessert. Make that two desserts!

What would be the last book you’d like to read? I want to read something funny so I can go out laughing. Perhaps “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” by Gideon Defoe – nothing like a story of hapless, arrogant and naive pirates battling the evil Queen Victoria to set me in the mood to take off on my own adventure into the unknown.

What is the last movie you’d like to watch? “This is Spinal Tap” – it has everything a movie should have – hapless, arrogant and naive musicians battling the evil music industry plus amps that go to 11.

What is the last song you’d like to hear? This is the hardest question of all because music is my thing! I’d like to see a live band for my last song because live music is the total experience for me. Oooh.. choices now… Is time travel allowed? If so, let me see the Kinks in 1968, David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or the New York Dolls in 1973. Or, if time travel isn’t allowed, let me play music with one of my own bands just one last time. Music is everything!

Who is the first person you’d like to meet on the other side? It’s corny and not very exciting or clever, but I would love to see my mom again. I’d love to get a big warm hug from her. She was the best hugger ever!

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Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot is available wherever books are sold. Mine came by way of Red Wheel/Weiser. That’s a fine place to start. If you’re new to the path, or have been on the journey as long as I have, you’ll find tremendous value in this work. I truly believe it should grace the shelves of any and all tarot enthusiasts.

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