On Horror, Fear and Being Afraid

I spent last Thursday in an animal hospital. The waiting room of which is surprisingly similar to a human emergency room, with triage meeting those coming in the door and people with lost expressions sitting, waiting. Waiting.

Too much waiting.

I was waiting. Waiting for the doctor to come out with the results of tests and imaging, to hear what she had to say about my puppy. He’s had a fever for two weeks at this point, and his regular vet is out of ideas.

I’d been waiting for a while when she comes out to see me. I’m 3/4 the way through my book, down to 20% on my phone, praying the litany against fear and have been doing my best to be stoic. When she sits, I pray it is something we can treat. Something we can literally throw money at to fix, because at this moment I will empty my bank account, I will throw card after card down if it will make him ok. I will say ‘yes’ to whatever Doc says needs to happen next to make him better.

Because I am afraid.

Really and truly afraid.

Horror is a genre of fear. Doug Winter famously said “Horror is not a genre, it is an emotion.”

H.P. Lovecraft talks about fear of the unknown being the greatest of fears. Stephen King talks about the three kinds of horror: gross out, horror and terror.

But in the end, they are all talking about the boogeyman. The monster under your bed. The noise in the darkness.

They are not talking about this fear I have now. It is too ordinary, too mundane, to be called horror. A story about a man waiting for the doctor to come out to give a prognosis on a dog would be rejected by horror magazines. Instead we would label it “drama” or “literary fiction,” perhaps “tragedy” depending on the outcome.

Because horror doesn’t want this fear, even though it is real. This is not what horror is trying to invoke. It is not fear of losing your job or home. It is not the fear of a car crash. It is not 10 days of insulin and 14 days until you get paid.

It is not the fear of a puppy with a fever and no answers.

Fear in horror assumes that these fears, these real fears, are things we all have, and so it demands something grander, larger. It can’t be a broken pipe in the basement that will force you to chose between repairs and groceries. It is the fear that the sound in the basement was something darker than that, a daemon, a monster, something that would invoke a fear greater than a real fear.

Because horror may be an emotion, but it is not just an emotion. How we arrive at that fear is just as much a part of what it means to be horror as the fear itself. The fear I felt, feel, about my dog is real. It is not the fear I try to invoke in horror. It is not the fear that horror tries to invoke in any of us. It is not the kind of fear that horror readers and viewers want. These fears, these events retold do not turn into horror stories.

This is not to say horror strays from the mundane. Horror is, more than almost any other genre, a contemporary genre, dealing with the here and now. Horror is for the most part about normal people with normal lives doing extraordinary things in the face of their fears.

Could you have a historical horror story with kings and queens? Politics and witches and ghosts? Sure. They are called *Hamlet* and *MacBeth.* But they are the exception.

So we fall into metaphor. Afraid of capitalism? you mean zombies! Fascists? Alien invasions! Economic uncertainties? Ghosts! and it works because of empathy. Horror relies on empathy, of relating to these characters, to their lives and struggles. It is these normal fears that link us to these extraordinary situations. Without it, without empathy, there is nothing to be afraid of.

When I got home with a bottle of pills, follow on appointments and a worn out corgi I sat on the couch with him next to me and watched a horror movie.

Because a giant shark can be seen. It can be fought. And in the end, no matter the resolution of the story, I can turn it off and banish the monster.

And that is what horror really gives us.

Every Fediverse Instance an Island

I’ve been playing with some of the fediverse software to see about their features and what may be something I want to use. 

For example, I am excited to try Pixelfed, which is for image sharing (think Instagram) for Apokrupha. I’ve set up and have been using Bookwyrm for my reading habits. And playing with GoToSocial, Calckey and Mastodon for microblogging. 

The thing is though, the features of these applications are only a part of the equation. 

When you set up a single user instance, it is bare. There is no one else there to interact with. You aren’t federated with anyone yet, so searches don’t really work. 

It is just an empty canvas. 

That server, that island you are on is intended to be a social network. That is the main feature of each of these apps: interaction between accounts. 

The federation of these islands is a feature, yes. But that federation is based on user interactions, and is not automatic. A fresh server is empty, unconnected. 

Does Bookwyrm have a use if no one but me ever sees what I post there? I mean… yes, it does. It’s a nice record of books I’ve read and thoughts on them as I go. 

But I know I’m missing out on the real power, which is connecting and exchanging with other readers. 

I am not familiar enough with the backend of these protocols to even start to suggest what may be a good plan. Something as innocent as a ‘broadcast’ type post that would let introductions from one server be sent to others would no doubt have unintended consequences. 

There are things one can do to start to connect. Feditips (which continues to be a great resource) had a post a few days ago which had some good ideas. Among which are, joining groups, which are basically accounts that auto reblog anything sent to them, letting you connect to topics independent of servers; and looking through registries of accounts for ones you’d like to follow. 

The hope is, of course, that once you get enough posts rolling through, you’ll be able to keep connecting to more accounts that you want to interact with. 

And yet, still, your instance is an island. It will always be an island. The “social” part of the networking will always be reliant on you, the user, leaving your island and going to find new things to connect with. It is a pro-active stance that you frankly don’t have on large networks.

So why don’t I just invite people to my island? (Insert ‘People, what a bunch of bastards’ joke here) Joking aside, that turns it from something I use to something I have to admin, to something I have to moderate. Moderation can be a lot of work in of itself. 

I used to moderate a forum (a few forums) back in the dark ages of the internet, and while I toyed with the idea of starting a horror themed fediverse server, it quickly realized how much work that would be managing people. 

So why don’t I just join a larger instance for these apps? 

I suspect this is the question I am dealing with. In the end, I think smaller / one person instances is really the future / killer feature of the fediverse. Each of us having our own slice of the world we control, and yet are connected is powerful. 


But maybe those larger instances have a place as well, especially for those starting out, those without connections to bring. 

Because, as an unfortunate side note, older posts don’t get shown to new users on different servers. So that amazing picture I posted on Pixelfed of those strawberries? No one who follows me will see them through their account. 

They have to go to my server to see that image, and then (at least as far as I know) there isn’t really an easy way to interact with it. So that post is effectively lost in time. It exists, but not socially.

Which is its raison d’etre, no?

Craft NA Beers, Part Two

IntroPart 1Part 2 – Part 3

Despite the previous post, Athletic Brewery has not been the only place I’ve been trying. Luckily for me, in the past few months some of the local shops have been getting more and more variety of NA Beer, making it easy to try. Even one of our local pubs has started to carry a good selection of NA Beer, adding to their already impressive list.

I’ve noticed that the beers that tend to do well are doing one of two things:

  1. They are going out on their own and not trying to be a direct replacement for a specific alcoholic brand
  2. The fruity/sour/wheat beer types, where another, non-beer flavor was usually a strong component of the taste.

The strong IPAs tend to work as well, but as I’m not as into hoppy beers as I used to be, they weren’t usually my favorites.


Bravus Brewing was started in 2015 and says it is the first non-alcoholic craft brewery. There were four staples when I found Bravus, and I tried three of them.

West Coast IPA (>%0.5)

This is hoppy. Well made, and mostly good. There is a little gap in flavor (hollow in the middle, my wife said), but overall I appreciated it for tasting like a hoppy beer—but it wasn’t for me.

Blood Orange IPA (>%0.5)

This is mostly the West Coast IPA with some citrus. Again, if IPAs are your thing, this has a good strong hoppy flavor and the orange helps fill in some of the gap in the original.

Peanut Butter Dark (>%0.5)

This one was good. Very much like the Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewing. Sweet and chocolate, it is a desert beer for sure.


Wellbeing has my favorite labels of all of these. I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its label, but still. As ambers and wheat beers are some of my favorites, this brewery hits home with some great drinks.

I noticed some new ones I hadn’t tried yet on their site when I was writing this, so more beers are in the mail and will post how they are in the future.

Hellraiser Dark Amber (>%0.5)

Great name. Great label. Great beer. Slightly bitter amber, but still on the lighter side.

Victory Citrus Wheat (>%0.5)

This is the stuff. A solid wheat beer with a citrus addition, it even has electrolytes. Magic in a can, highly enjoyed this one.

Wandering Islands (>%0.5)

This is a collaboration between Wellbeing and 4 Hands Brewery. It is a good summer ale. Think somewhere between a Longboard and a Magic Hat # 9. A pale ale with some notes of mango, and peach, I highly recommend. I don’t think this one is for sale anymore, but hopefully they bring it again this summer.

Southern Grist Brewing

Southern Grist is out of Nashville and a hybrid brewery, meaning it makes both regular and unleaded beers. I’ve only had one of theirs, but am keeping an eye out for more.

Parallel (>%0.5)

This is a fruited sour, passion fruit and raspberry and is crisp and sweet with that sour finish the name implies. A great fruited sour beer! I’ve introduced a few people to NA beers using this one!

Next Time

Untitled Art, more sours! This one random German beer I found!