After the People Lights Have Gone Out Review

After the People Lights, authored by Stephen Graham Jones, is a collection of fifteen short and scary stories. Normally, when I review a short story collection, I try to find a commonality between the stories. After all, publishers place specific stories in specific collections for reasons. At least, that’s what it seems like to me anyway.

The image shows the cover for After the People Lights Have Gone Out which is an old house with a window with light coming out of it.

Is there a common thread that runs between all these stories? I am not sure. I do know, however, that they are all entertaining and spooky. In these tales, Jones presents several visions of people on grief and pain. Sometimes that grief is for things that have happened to them, such as in the final story. In others, it’s due to the things they have done, or the things they left unsaid. This latter idea is clear in the story Uncle.

Aside from pain and grief, another common element to this stories is general creepiness. There are some truly disturbing moments in this collection along with some lovely language. And this, I think, it was really makes the prose in After the People Lights Have Gone Out sing. Jones not only presents us with vivid and gruesome images, but he cuts to the heart with his language. No, it’s not overly flowery or arcane. It is, however, clear, easy to understand, and true. The truth of his language compels the reader to keep reading, even when the events of the story are awful and you want to stop reading.

Jones seems to understand what makes people tick, especially in their weakest and most vulnerable states. His descriptions of emotional and physical places are sparse but effective. He paints a strong outline for readers, trusting them to fill it in. A worthy skill, and one that makes this a must read.

What do you think?

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Colossal A Movie About a Woman and a Toxic Man

Recently I watched Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, and Dan Stevens. The premise of the movie is elegantly unique. Hathaway plays an online writer whose life is spiraling out of control. She’s got a drinking problem, which leads boyfriend Dan Stevens to kick her out. In desperation, she returns to her home town and things go from bad to worse.

This is a kaiju movie, to be sure, but it’s different. First of all, the focus isn’t on the monsters so much as the people in Colossal. Why? Well because the monsters are tied to specific people and to specific places. This approach to the genre is exciting and helps the movie succeed on many levels. What also helps is that Hathaway is as charming as ever, even when she’s a drunk jerk.

The image shows the monster from Colossal on a laptop screen as Anne Hathaway stares out the window.

Hathaway’s character Gloria discovers that she is tied to or controlling the monster that’s attacking Seoul. It manifests in a certain park that she walks through while drunk. Once she does, she makes every effort to stop destroying the South Korean capital. Unfortunately for her, her new boss Oscar is also tied to the destruction in Seoul. Only instead of being a giant monster, Oscar manifests as a giant robot.

From the moment we meet him, the film presents Oscar as a bit of a creep, but generally a decent dude. Of course, appearances are deceiving, and that is especially true in a movie where giant monsters act as avatars for humans. Soon, Oscar, who obviously has a lifelong crush on Gloria, starts to show that he’s not a great guy after all. He delivers furniture and other items to her, saying that they discussed the things the night before. She doesn’t remember, but she accepts the gifts anyway.

Colossal Turns From Fun to Scary In the Blink of an Eye

Soon, however, Oscars affections turn even more sinister, as he reveals his true self. When he learns of his connection to the giant robot menacing Seoul, he decides to use that knowledge to control Gloria. And that is the crux of Colossal; men trying to control women. The film takes care to present Gloria as flawed but generally well meaning. Oscar, on the other hand, is flawed and full of ill-intent.

This dynamic shifts what could have been a fun monster movie into more psychological territory and an exploration of abuse. Gloria threatens to leave her home town and go back to her old life. Oscar says of course she can do that, but he will attack Seoul every day until she returns. This is abuse 101, and adds a real sinister aspect to the proceedings. This element has more power because of how genial and goofy Sudeikis is, even in this film. He’s playing against type here, and it works quite well.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this movie, though at times it was difficult to watch. I am glad that there was no sexual assault because that would have been an easy and lazy trope for the filmmakers to fall into. However, make no mistake, there is plenty of abuse in this movie, both physical and emotional. It’s well worth a watch, IMHO.

Have you seen Colossal? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Social Isolation and the Immune System

The other day a thought occurred to me. What is happening with social isolation and the immune system? By that I mean, how are our immune systems reacting to being away from people? This thought led me to another one: will we be more susceptible to common viruses when this pandemic over? I am not trying to scare anyone, and I don’t have the answer. I do, however, have the Internet, which can be a valuable resource.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything that really answers the questions I have about social isolation and the immune system. I am working from the assumption that our immunity will weaken. It only seems logical to me. Think about the elderly folks who get the flu from their grandchildren. They may have had immunity at some point, but they lost it. Even vaccines have a shelf life when introduced to our systems.

But, again, I don’t know. I am not a doctor, nor a medical specialist of any kind. However, as I haven’t been able to find much information about social isolation and our immune system, I am starting to think it’s not that big of a deal. Of course, my feelings mean nothing in the face of facts. Sadly, though, the facts are sparse in this situation.

But, just because we don’t know if isolating ourselves from each other right now doesn’t mean there aren’t steps we can take. Before I continue, let me be clear. Social distancing is essential right now. Do it as much as you can. Please.

Social Isolation and the Immune System: Staying Healthy After This

Some things to do to ensure a healthy immune system are things we should all already be doing. The first thing of course is wash your hands. This is basic hygiene, but it is so important. Beyond cleanliness, we can also ensure we’re getting enough sleep. Sleep affects the immune system and promotes good health in general.

A healthy diet is also essential. Fruits, veggies, lean protein are all good foods to eat at any time, and can help keep us going. Additionally, washing our produce with cold water (not soap like that video by the nurse suggests), and cooking our food completely will help keep us safe from sickness.

Again, these methods aren’t anything new or mind boggling, but they are probably our best bet for preparing for the end of the pandemic. Of course, the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, and there might be more research coming out concerning what all this social isolation is doing to our immunity.

And even then, we still might get sick. In fact, I’m in social isolation. I live with my sister (a doctor). She brought a flu home the other day and I got sick. It was a small bug, thankfully. But it got me anyway, and I’ve been washing my hands, sanitizing my phone, and generally doing what I am supposed to do. You never know what will get you sick. And I think that holds doubly true for the post pandemic era, whenever it arrives.

Stay safe out there, and take care of your mental and physical well being as much as you can. And look at cute pictures of animals. It will at least bring a smile to you face. And smiling is good for the immune system whether or not you are in social isolation.

The image shows a cute picture of a pug to help people boost their immune system while in social isolation
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Return to Night of The Zealot: Arkham Horror LCG

Return to Night of the Zealot is a deluxe expansion of sorts for the Arkham Horror Living card game. The set offers players an opportunity to replay the original campaign with added encounters, and extra cards. Before I continue describing this box set, I want to say something. I haven’t yet finished the play through in the original core set. So why am I writing about this box, which offers a replay of that campaign? Well, I have a few reasons.

The first reason I’m writing about Return to Night of The Zealot is because I haven’t written about anything in a while. And sure, that doesn’t really answer the question beyond, it gave me something to write about. And for now, that is enough.

Secondly, I wanted to write about something that made me happy, and this box set does that. It’s got beautiful box art, and provides some nifty cards that the characters can use, making it a nice way to expand deck building possibilities. And sure, the art isn’t much different from that of the original set, but it looks pretty anyway.

The image shows the box art of the Return to the night of the zealot game box

The whole set includes 66 new cards, 20 of which are for the players. This may not seem like much, especially for the price point, but I think it’s worth it. Why? Well because the box not only offers new material, but it also offers a nice storage space for all your Return to the Night of the Zealot storage needs. And easy storage is always nice for these types of games because your collection can grow quite quickly, and the core box just isn’t large enough.

Another neat thing is that the box comes with dividers to help with organization. Again, an essential thing as your collection grows.

Return to Night of the Zealot Is Good But Leaves Me Wanting a Bit

So far, I have focused on the things I like about this box set. I have also been fairly abstract in discussing it. This is because I don’t want to go through all the cards, nor do I want to spoil anything for potential players. There is, however, on thing that I think FFG could have done to make this better. It would have been simple, easy, and not cost much. As I mentioned earlier, this set has dividers to help with organization. Sadly, these dividers are only for the scenarios found within the campaign.

Granted, that is better than nothing. However, I would like them to have included dividers for the different classes of character cards as well. As it stands, we still have to make our own if we want that. And yes, I know it’s not that big of a deal. Still, when you spend 25-30 dollars on a storage box (with game components) it would be nice to have a little more flash.

Overall, though, I am happy with my purchase of this game box, but that’s probably because I really like the game anyway.

So, those are my thoughts on Return of the Night of the Zealot. Have you played the Arkham Horror LCG? Have you played with this set? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.

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