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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter

+++ Vol. 5.01, Oct 19, 2007 +++

Cold Cuts


Blather. Wince. Repeat.

Cold Cuts

One of the ways I entertain myself when I stand in line at the local sandwich shop chain is by watching the cold cut artists behind the counter as they prepare my meal. They arrange the order line so you can customize your sandwich as they create it, dictating what toppings and sauces you'd like to include in your meal. It makes you feel special.

But me? I'm fascinated by the open display of butchery and cold meat.

Standing behind the sneeze guard glass makes me feel like I'm in a surgical theater, watching doctors operate as they slice bread with their long knives and handle meaty tissue in their latex-covered hands. They spritz and drizzle dressing along the cut like they're cleansing an open, foot-long wound. Sometimes it's a messy affair, when the sandwich spills its contents across the counter like the mess you'd see on a coroner's table during a lunch break. But I forget all that as they wrap up the meal in paper, twisting it up tourniquet-tight, like they were saving a bleeding leg.

Those creepy latex gloves they wear. That's what sends me into this fantasy.

And they don't change them often. They don't scrub in. They don't sterilize their instruments. They might put on fresh gloves when you place your order, but they rarely change them when they pick up a dirty butcher's knife handle or press a button on a crisping oven or a microphone transmitter to the drive-thru window, or – worst of all – handling the cash register or all your filthy lucre before they are finished making your meal.

It's like they think the gloves are there to protect their hands, rather than the sanitation of your sandwich.

And eating all that contact residue is like – I dunno – like you're on the subway, licking the seats or something.

- I fear raw meat and cold cuts. For more of my opinions on such culinary delights, here's an oldie from The Goreletter:


They Eat People

I Eat People: Animated Video by Dan Hess

Cannibal Corpse Lounge Music: YouTube Parody by unknown lounge act

Why Dost Thou Love to Eat People?: YouTube weirdness by anonymous guitar-playing vampire freak

(this too has been parodied…badly)


Exquisite Corpse: Films Based on the Writing of Michael Arnzen is now available on DVD. To purchase in the US send $17 ($15 + $2 shipping/handling) via PayPal to or mail a check/money order payable to Jim Minton to: Jim Minton Design Studio, 3339 Merrell Road, Dallas, TX, 75229.

Producer Jim Minton just received a 2007 Tabloid Witch Award for “Best Animated Horror Short” for his adaptation of my poem, “The Scab” (which some of you might recall from the Stoker-winning poetry book, Freakcidents, if you didn't see it in Exquisite Corpse). The film will be screened at the Santa Monica Public Library on Halloween weekend and an encore screening will take place at Loscon convention in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving weekend. Congratulations, Jim!

Tabloid Witch Awards:

Exquisite Corpse:

My “album of flash fiction” set to music, Audiovile, is now available at numerous outlets – from iTunes to – in both downloadable and audio CD format. This disc was released last month by Raw Dog Screaming Press as a sort of illuminated audiobook companion to the expanded hardcover edition of 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories, which also just came out from them. Check out the samples on and do post a review somewhere to help me spread the word, if you like it. Here are some primary links to learn more:

Publisher's Page:

Gorelets' portal to all things Audiovile:

100 Jolts on Amazon:

Pseudopod: The Sound of Horror has just podcast my short story, “How to Grow a Man-Eating Plant” (read by Sheila Unwin). Listen online or subscribe through iTunes and start gardening now.

You're hearing it first: Dark Regions Press now has signed trade paperback copies of my latest collection, Proverbs for Monsters, available for order direct from the publisher. With art by Matt Schuster, this “best of Arnzen” collection features thirty short stories and even more poems selected from over the past fifteen years, including new and very hard to find work. This book is probably the best overview of my writing available. Dark Regions will also be releasing a hardcover signed limited edition very soon. Proverbs will soon be available on and at other outlets, but your best bet is to order from the publisher:

Raw Dog Screaming Press reports that my novel, Play Dead, is now officially out of print and virtually all copies are sold out from their warehouse. You should easily still be able to find it on the secondary market, but it won't be around forever. Likewise, Novello Publishers is also reporting that they have only a handful (or is it a mouthful?) of my comedic novelette, Licker, left in stock (see “boo coupons” below for your last chance to get a copy).

Play Dead:


I'm presently revising a new story for a collectible chapbook (tentatively called “The B**chfight”), to be published this fall by Bad Moon Books. The limited edition will feature an EP of new readings, remixes of Audiovile tracks, and live recordings on a CD. Keep your eyes on Bad Moon's website for breaking news in the months ahead:

You Have Time For This: Contemporary American Short-Short stories (edited by Mark Budman and Tom Hazuka) is a new anthology of flash fiction that includes my tale from 100 Jolts, “The Curse of Fat Face.”

GORELETS: Unpleasant Poems

My Pet Vampire

Tight as a tick to a scalp,
I keep my vampire nailed down
to the floor in my bedroom.
His arms are stretched pale and flabby
as the hairy little bat I know
he wishes he could turn into
when I see him squinching his lupine brow
and grunting like he's constipated.
But the nails won't set him free
from the clock-handed impalement of his limbs.
Maybe he could transform into a flying rodent
but he's stretched so tight, the tension
between those silver spikes would only split
him right in two. I keep him fed
with stray pet blood and sometimes
he acts like he loves me for it –
cooing like he's the one stray I kept,
the one pet I cared enough about to take in,
the lucky survivor I won't kill.
At other times – usually at night
when I peek over the bed before sleep –
his eyes quiver ablaze and he stares
right at me like some starving feral animal
caught in a barbed wire fence.
Asleep, I dream of torture –
of drizzling holy water left-right
across pasty dead flesh, drawing
cross-shaped wounds in the gray canvas
of skin. I dream of taking needle nose
pliers to teeth before teasing him
with my bare wrist and strained neck.
But in the morning, the sunlight blares
into the windowpane, fizzling his face
and he screams like a drowning hyena.
It's annoying. And as I close the curtains
I deeply wish I could just finish him off,
but this supernatural sundial
is the best alarm clock I ever had.


Oct 19th 7:30pm | BottleWorks | Johnstown, PA
Poetry reading along with Gerry LaFemina [] at the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center (3rd Avenue & Chestnut in Cambria City), sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Free event, open to the public.

Oct 20th 8-10pm | Dv8 Espresso Bar & Art Gallery | Greensburg, PA
Come kick off the Halloween season by watching me gargle piping hot coffee while reading horror stories as the featured reader in the “Get Lit” series of literary performances at this wonderful art gallery in Downtown Greensburg (208 S. Pennsylvania Ave). While you're there check out Nora Jayne Thompson's very cool macabre art series, The Rots. Free and open to the public.

[The Rots: ]

Oct 27-28th | Zombiefest | Monroeville Mall Expo Mart, Pittsburgh, PA
I'll be reading on a panel and signing books at the Raw Dog Screaming Press table during this brand new Convention of the Undead, which culminates with an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest “zombie walk” through the Monroeville Mall – the actual location for the original Romero film, Dawn of the Dead! My panel (with Greg Lamberson and Scott Johnson) is at 2pm on Saturday; other attendees include Gary Braunbeck, Kim Paffenroth, and Max Brooks.

Nov 10th | PARSEC Lecture | Carnegie Library (Squirrel Hill Branch), Pittsburgh, PA
Presentation on “Exquisite Corpse in Print and Film” to the Pittsburgh Area Science Fiction Enthusiasts Club. Members only, but it's just $15 at the door to join.

Nov 30th 4pm | Seton Hill University, Administration Building Rm 308 | Greensburg, PA
Screening of Exquisite Corpse and a presentation of my recent creative work to the campus community (where I teach in the MA degree program in Writing Popular Fiction). Free and open to the public.

July 16-25 | Alpha SF/F/H Writing Workshop for Teens | Greensburg, PA
I'll be a guest lecturer at this year's Alpha writer's workshop in speculative fiction for young writers of talent. I mention it now only because applications need to be sent in early to get a seat, if you qualify.

Chances are good I'll also attend the ICFA and World Horror Convention in Spring 2008.


Face Dances (a progressive advertising agency) has posted a fun “mix and match” game where you can assemble all the elements of the human head into a freaky photorealistic picture. They say there are 760,000 possible “monofaces” you can make with the various random mash-ups of eyes, noses, mouths, and hair/shoulders. Create your own mutants and have a ball.



If I didn't know any better, I'd think that “suppurate” described the after-effect of a satisfying dinner. A term for how you satisfied, sated, and sedated you feel when you sit on the couch after, say, a Thanksgiving meal, opening your belt. But no: “suppurate” is the fancy word we reserve to describe pustular discharge. Slimy, often freakishly yellow, leakage. The putrid rot that spills from a burst boil or infected blister.

It comes from the Latin term “puris” which means “pus” though there's nothing pure about it, since pus is surely disgusting. I have a friend who once argued with me that “pus” is incorrect; that it's actually spelled “puss.” I asked him how his cat was doing. He said “Fine, she's even purring on my lap right now.” If I was smart, I would have replied “Sup-purr-ating, maybe.”


The winners of the “Be My Audiovillain” contest from last issue are DW Green and Michael Shrum. Both of these guys did a lot to help spread the word about the launch of the Audiovile CD, and also created some wonderful artwork. They won collectible decks of “Play Dead” playing cards and the original proofs for my story, Licker, along with other rare items and a gift certificate to Shocklines. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Visit the “pics” section of the Arnzen profile page on to see the collection of “fan art” that features their contributions, and those by other readers. There are some hilarious images on there (I think the “Domestic Fowl” image by Shrum is my present favorite). PLEASE CONTINUE to send in your own artwork inspired by anything I've written, and I'll share it with the world on that page! I really love fan art.


This one ought to be easy and your chances of winning are good! Send me a photo (whether at a party, on your doorstep, or whatever) of someone/anyone/you in costume. It doesn't HAVE to be a Halloween photo, but I imagine that would be the easiest time to take a picture. (I will post your photos online at, so entering this contest grants me one-time online publishing rights to your photograph).


Deadline: November 5th (do send before or on Halloween if you're able)
Preferred format: .jpg file (may be re-sized for space)
Size limit: 1.4 megabytes

Horror imagery preferred. Points for creativity, craft, and use of scenario/scenery. Bonus points for incorporating any Arnzen-related paraphernalia in your shot (holding a book, dressing up like a character, whatever). Try to keep the imagery below an R rating please, since little kiddies read my stuff sometimes and I don't want my site to get censored/banned/etc. by the powers that be. (I will not publish nudity, drug references, or other images that I'm not comfortable sharing with the public.)

ONE GRAND PRIZE TO MY FAVORITE PHOTO: A free signed limited hardcover copy of PROVERBS FOR MONSTERS upon release ($50 value!) & one DVD of EXQUISITE CORPSE ($17 value!) with autographed Arnzen ephemera inserted in the clamshell case.


Office Space Terrors

For your next movie night, rent:
The Temp (Holland, 1993)
Office Killer (Sherman, 1997)
Netherbeast Incorporated (Ronalds, 2007)
(or The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc. (2004))

OTHINGS (* other things)

Last month I was a guest blogger for a week on the website, “A Bunch of Wordz.” Host Edie Montgomery gave me free reign to post about random things that I might normally post in The Goreletter, if I ran it as a regular blog instead of a newsletter. Topics included the role of music in the creative process, an analysis of suspense in a comic strip, a riff on a Poppy Z. Brite story, and wordplay with the seven deadly sins. Her next guest blogger will be paranormal suspense author Kelley Armstrong, posting on Oct 28-30th. If interested, you can review my posts here: Here's an interview about horror that appeared in At Home with Jennifer (a regional magazine similar to Oprah), called “Dr. Dread: Seton Hill University Has its Own Professor of Horror”: Around Halloween, you can also read my conversation with author Michael Sims' about fear and writing in his great “Creative Approach” column in Rezoom magazine: You should definitely pick up Michael Sims' witty and insightful books, by the way. Especially “Apollo's Fire” which was just published by Viking:

I was the “Horror Guest of Honor” at Context Convention in Columbus, OH last month. This was my first time being a special guest at a con, and I had an enormously enjoyable time. Context is a science-fiction/fantasy convention that leans toward the literary side of the equation, with daily writer's workshops (I ran one on writing genre poetry), readings, panels on books and academia, and guest interviews. It was a blast hanging around with a herd of writers I know – a list that is too long to mention here – and getting to meet some new friends.

One of the highlights for me was chatting with Gary Braunbeck, who hosted a Saturday night conversation with me. We talked about all things horror, I confessed about my past, we listened to tracks from Audiovile, and we screened short films. We not only watched Exquisite Corpse, but Gary was kind enough to share an advanced screener of the upcoming film based on his knock-out short story, “Rami Temporalis,” called “One of Those Faces” (adaptation by Earl Newton). You absolutely MUST see Gary's story on film when its released to the public, and check out the wonderful creativity displayed by Newton at Stranger Things TV:

Context is a great, intimate and even educational conference. Their website is: You can see photos from Context 20 on my myspace page or at Heidi Ruby Miller's weblog: or

Welcome to the fifth volume of The Goreletter! I've been running this internet sideshow for over five years now, and it remains a blast to put together. Almost 2000 people read this whenever I send it out (and I'd love to have more readers, so please spread the word)! Thank you for subscribing and reading for all these years, and for continuing to support my creative sickness.

When I sent the last issue (July 18, 2007), I received a number of “bounced” messages, especially from hotmail. If you didn't get yours, drop by the archives to see what you missed. And do make sure is not ending up in your spam folders.;list=goreletter I may be changing servers in the months ahead, which might produce a temporary outage on the website. If I need to change domains, I will e-mail you first to alert you.

I'm also seriously considering expanding The Goreletter into a book of some kind in the year ahead. If anyone has any leads on an ideal publisher who might be interested in such a venture, by all means, please let me know. For now, a few choice pieces from The Goreletter will appear in my new “best of Arnzen” collection, Proverbs for Monsters, mentioned elsewhere in this issue. I do hope you'll pick that up in support of this newsletter, which does take up a good deal of my writing time. It may be awhile until you get the next issue, because I'm in the middle of writing a very weird novel and I need to keep the fire blazing on that. So if I'm late, keep checking the Goreletter weblog for updates as time passes and know that I remain committed to publishing The Goreletter as an e-mail missive well into the future, perhaps in perpetuity, for free.


+ Write a story from the viewpoint of a groundskeeper at the graveyard – avoiding any of the typical trappings of the horror genre. Make it mundane, even. Avoid using speculative fiction technique at all until you get to page three. Then, if you need to jazz things up, let her rip.

+ Devise a plot surrounding a schoolyard bully…when he's elderly, in the nursing home.

+ Describe a tuft of stiff hair that has grown in a very unexpected place on your main character's body.

If you publish something instigated by this department, let me know and I'll mention it here! Congratulations this time around to D.W. Green, for his story “Surgical Puppet Theater,” which will appear in the upcoming anthology, Darkened Horizons.


Here's a department where I recommend titles that have a similar appeal to my own work that you may not have heard of before. (Oh, okay, I stole the idea from, but why let a profit-based computer code decide what you read? Here you've at least got an egocentric writer doing the job!)

If you liked GRAVE MARKINGS …
you'll like THE BONE PARADE by Mark Nykanen

If you liked 100 JOLTS …
you'll like SPIDER PIE by Alyssa Sturgill

If you liked AUDIOVILE …
you'll like GONZO SCIENCE by Jim Richardson

If you liked LICKER …
you'll like GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES by Jeff Strand

If you liked PLAY DEAD …
you'll like THE SCALDING ROOMS by Conrad Williams

you'll like EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR 1 & 2 compiled by Other Cinema

If you are curious about any of the Arnzen books that I mention above, just visit the handy-dandy bibliography page at (which include cover art, contents lists, reviews, excerpts, ordering info, and more):


Here's some exclusive coupons and discounts on horror-related merchandise – your reward for scrolling down!

In an effort to move the last few copies of my chapbook, Licker, out of their warehouse, Novello Publishers is offering Goreletter subscribers a special “buy Licker, get one book free” offer. Order Licker and they'll send you a free copy of either Two Twisted Nuts by Jeff Strand and Nick Cato or Right House on the Left by Steve Vernon, Mark McLaughlin, & L.L. Soares (choose your favorite). As a bonus, they'll ALSO throw in a free copy of Dark Jesters – their one-shot humorous horror fanzine, featuring stories by Lucy Snyder, Mark McLaughlin, Tom Moran, and others! That's a $19.00 value for just $10.00 – postage paid! You have to order it by regular mail: follow the ordering instructions on their website and mention the “Novello Publisher's Licker Deal” along with which chapbook you'd like, and don't forget to include your delivery address.

LIBRARYTHING is still graciously offering up a “one year unlimited” free membership to Goreletter subscribers (this offer ends after twenty people take advantage of it). See my profile at and snoop around in my personal library, to learn more about this great site for book hoarders. To get your free unlimited account, all you have to do is go to and sign in to create a new FREE (200 book limit) account. Then simply e-mail me the link to your new profile at and I'll let them know to upgrade you to the ONE YEAR membership (unlimited books) for free! First come, first served (and limited to new LT memberships only).

Are You FICTIONWISE? – the web's best sci-fi and horror e-book seller – maintains a special 15% off page for Goreletter subscribers, which is updated weekly. THIS WEEK'S SPECIALS include a few Raw Dog Screaming Press titles, like Vacation by Jeremy Shipp, Your Point Is? by Steve Aylett and Discouraging at Best by John Edward Lawson! Fictionwise is also currently the only way to get some of my out-of-print books, like Paratabloids.


All material in The Goreletter is © 2007 Michael A. Arnzen, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward the entire contents of this newsletter as a whole, without alterations or excisions. Direct links to articles in the archives or the weblog are permitted and encouraged, so long as credit is given to Michael Arnzen or For permission to reprint individual pieces, please contact

Delivered free since Sept. 2002. Issues to date: 37. Winner of the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Alternative Forms from the Horror Writers Association:

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With apologies to latitude 53,41667, longitude 27,91667.

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Look Out, Cannibals!

“When the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, 'If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you.'…So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Benjamin Franklin (died 1790)

* Due to the temporary nature of internet URLs, some websites mentioned in back issues of the Goreletter may no longer be live, or may also point to unscrupulous web servers. I will denote these with overstrikes as I discover them, but if you encounter a dead, changed or unscrupulous link, please feel free to inform me.
* “Boo Coupons” are expired in all but the current issue.
* If you are seeking a particular book by Arnzen mentioned in The Goreletter, try
* Arnzen's blog is now located at Visit it for breaking news and extras not appearing in The Goreletter.

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goreletter/cold_cuts.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/29 11:57 by marnzen

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