2018: Year of the Spartan 

 

Title image by Sylvie Malfray

 

Spartan Audio 

 

Nine Inch Nails “We’re in this Together”

 

My dear friends and kindred souls, I have a grand announcement to make on this day. Not just yet as I figure it is right in the thick of the 2017-2018 handover and wouldn’t dream of anything obscene such as not wishing all you glorious people a very happy and prosperous new year. It’s funny, I tend to make far more fuss around Halloween than this particular festival – damn those Silver Shamrock masks and all their oozing skull serpents. That said, something is decidedly different this year, and my flared nostrils are one sniff ahead of me on this occasion. You see, this funk I discern smells suspiciously of team spirit with just a hint of hydrogen bomb. Seldom has an aroma got me so light-headed, but even more nary, have my feet been so firmly rooted on terra firma as I deliver glad tidings. Rivers of Grue is about to go live for 2018 and take the final step from personal blog to full-blown citadel.

As a self-confessed technical gibbon, I’m not gonna lie to you – finding SEO tools and Plug-Ins a tad parched in the bedtime reading department. Which is why I pledge my daily man-hours to drinking in this drab data like Johnny Five in a head spin. Anyone who knows me well will be all too familiar with my ghosting properties. I have a tendency to fade in and out more than a chameleon in a kaleidoscope , or at least, have until right about now. You see, while life has dealt its body blows, by the fearsome flurry no less, I’ve somehow managed to absorb every last haymaker and still come out swinging at the other end. Certain harsh realities have had to be faced and I’m no longer saddled with the guilt I once was. Free as a Kestrel then? Indeed and it just so happens that birds of a feather court the greatest togetherness when they flock. Being the one-man band has been fun but I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I just wish to be one of the people. Besides, you ever attempted to crash cymbals with a dodgy patella?

So I guess we should get straight on down to the juicy morsels right? On second thoughts, I do love a bit of suspense, and feel obliged to name but not shame the intensity in my tone as I prepare for this sublime announcement. Ego. Not interested. I know right? How can this Cockney Herbert make such an audacious claim when quite clearly in the midst of soundest swagger? That’s elementary my dear wasp stings – my parents and grandparents taught me the importance of humility way back at install – and I leave any Keeper-style showmanship at the front gate every solitary time the quill dries. Fuck ego, or more to the point, use ego smartly. Use it to instill a sense of belief in yourself; use it to empower others and not ask anything in return; use it to be canny enough to sidestep the banana skin every time this yellow peril approaches. But remain kind, respectful, grateful, and hopeful at all times as that is the only way forth to Nirvana. See what I did there?

Anyroad, here we are now – Richard Charles Stevens – and a certain other soul whose God-given talents I stand in absolute awe of. Those au fait with Instagram will no doubt be more than familiar with the name L.H. Grey and, if in any doubt, then the last quartet of blog posts should clear that one up in a hare’s heartbeat. The Elusive White Rabbit recently made a pit stop to the Rivers of Grue and, I’m delightfully dimpled to announce, has decided to stay and slay here, side by bloody side. Recent Dark Fusions such as “The Visitor” and “Exhibition” have been gloriously received and we feel it only proper to bleed in unison. Grey’s art truly is exquisite – whether composing found objects and other curious artifacts into mixed media art, snapping her stunning urban postcards from a moving vehicle, manipulating all bloody hell out of any photographs begging for additional layers – she is always bleeding art and with ne’er anything less than her deepest of soul.

What this creative conjurer can achieve with a blow torch is something of a face melter, let me tell you. Take “The Ripper” for example – an upcoming Dark Fusion which has been fashioned from the very dust of our sarcophagus. This has every last droplet of both heart and soul within it, with my prose wrapping around her otherworldly imagery like white satin on grey velvet. We shall be unleashing our monster in the fresh calendar year but not until it is absolutely ready. Anything less would be downright wasteful as Grey has been working around the clock to get this sweet child o’ ours licked and we’re talking extensive research too, just so you know. For the record, I could and damn well shall devote an entire piece of literature just to the death note above and certificate below, detailing what makes them so unforgettable to me.

Mary Jane Kelly. It’s unthinkable but, having watched this Dark Fusion shift from seed to bloom, I actually feel like I know Ms. Kelly intimately. When you talk about the true power of art, please put a word in for Grey, as it is she who has opened my eyes to a far broader canvas. Somehow inexplicably, her art and belief in my own has unlocked the eighteen-century poet within me and our styles complement one another like the proverbial peas and carrots. That’s two of the daily five right there folks and that leaves only three other senses to assault with kindness. Never blindness. We are putty to our readership and will bend our Dark Fusions around anything that strikes a particular chord. Fret not as the popcorn will be percolating wildly with the customary playful Keeper rants all the way. 153 unpublished articles is the current count and I reckon I’ve been saving up for moments just like this, you know. Got to love that subconscious right?

So about these Spartans then. Well, please allow me to introduce just a handful of other warriors all set to slay this day. Nitrous-charged Neuro-Twins Kelly “Kreepazoid” Bates and Sharon “Freckles and Valium” Lawson quite literally share a brain as each possesses one half of a most delectable whole. Then there’s heart and it takes a whole cavalcade of that to overcome what this dynamic duo have and continue to contend with. True Spartans right to the lion-themed thumpers, they inspire through both their unshakable fight and unflickering light. Two kinder, funnier, genuinely sweeter people you couldn’t hope to cross pathways with and they’ll be right up to their helmet plumes in marching this mighty militia forth. As it’s new year’s fricking eve, a hearty Sister Sledge rendition does feel somewhat appropriate but I think I’ll just settle on the good old-fashioned breakdown on this occasion. We. Are. Family.

Does it stop there? Uh-uh, how could it when Creators Unite Magazine is currently gearing up for its sizzling second edition for release in the first quarter. What the team have achieved through sheer bloody passion alone is simply staggering and already tracks are being laid for a bumper summer issue. In particular, I wish to speak of two people in particular here, as both possess all manner of Spartan spirit. The marvelous Emilie Flory dedicates every waking moment to this cause and the only clause is that every last inch of this publication dazzles diamond-like. Emilie’s short film Starfucker has received an unprecedented response worldwide, resulting in not only four official selections at prestigious horror festivals, but a silver prize at the Hollywood Independent Filmmaker’s Festival. I have an absolute doozy of a plan for the screenplay for an upcoming feature-length version, Ravish, and 2018 will see this project begin to take shape. Together we are better.

The other whom I know personally is a gentleman by the name of Chris Barnes, whose horror site, The Slaughtered Lamb, continues to go from strength to bloody strength. I’ve had the personal pleasure of reading Chris my appraisal for the short film, Burn, he recently produced for Judson Vaughn and can state with steeled assurance that he is one of the kindest gentlemen I know. Period. Burn too has travelled exceedingly well and its bloated honors list is tremendously deserved. Tremendous workloads haven’t allowed Chris and I the opportunity to fuse nodes fully … yet … but the great thing about true friendship is that it only takes the blink of an eye to build something that can and shall endure the ages. I’ve got you Chris and to my dear Viking brother, C. William Giles, the future is very much ours for the shaping. Took me long enough but I reckon we’ve got a game plan on our hands.

At any rate, I’m mindful that the tampered punch isn’t necking itself and don’t wish to bore you all with some kind of new year roll-call. Thus I shall refrain from handing out medals of valor like a dick bag and presume that every last soul who has believed in me and even any who have doubted (we’re only human after all) know precisely who they are and also what they mean to me. However, I would like to turn your attention to a certain Heather Aycock, as my gunner in Grue has run the Rivers of Grue Facebook page for well over a year now and possesses one of the sweetest souls you could ever hope to cross lights with. It’s not been easy as Heather’s Spartan Blood has been tested in 2017 like no other; but she has never once swayed in her dedication to a cause she believes in ferociously. You are truly valued Heather and I’m damn proud to do battle beside you.

Okay. I think that’s everything. Is it fuck! The party’s not over ’til it’s over apparently so it seems like the ideal moment to sum things up in a nutshell. One final slow dance to see out that pesky 2017 and herald in the far more agreeable looking 2018. WE. ARE. SPARTAN. Has rather a resplendent ring to it, don’t you think? Yes we are warriors but never through blindness, only kindness. The enemy we wage war with is ourselves or, more accurately, the fiendish archdemons holding us prisoner in our rusty cages for far too long now. Our armor is littered with scars; just the way we like it. And we march forth into the fray with dignity, purpose and tremendous honor. Nothing to prove, vast worlds to explore through art and togetherness, and everything plus pocket change to gain. The feast is now underway and our flesh tears freely just to feed those who’ve hung in there while we figured shit out. And, to my great astonishment, I shall close with a trio of words you’ve likely heard to your back teeth by now – Happy New Year.

 

All the strength, light and love our bloody hearts can hold,

 

The Spartans.

 

 

 

 

 

GREY KEEPER FRAME

3 Comments

    1. You too my good friend. Are you not on Twitter anymore? Cannot find you. But I’m so glad to see you pop up here. I wish you a killer 2018 and so glad you dug my little battle cry. Have overcome much over the past month or so and ready to fight.

      All my very best wishes to you and yours.

      Rich.

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