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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter

+++ Vol. 2 #2, Oct. 14, 2003 +++

Halloween Fantasies


Blather. Wince. Repeat.

Arnzen's Halloween Fantasies

+ I will show up at the neighbor's doorstep dressed as Old Gepetto, the marionette maker. I'll have a white beard and square eyeglasses and I'll smoke a corn cob pipe. And I'll have one kid's body impaled on each hand. One I will dress in a Pinocchio costume, the other one I won't, but no one will be able to tell the difference, since it's Halloween! Woo-hoo!

+ When the late night teens come trouncing to my door, I'll say “Finally!” as I open it in a huff. When the kids reach into my large candy bowl and pull out the fistful of maggots that were squirming inside the Snickers bar wrappers, I will shrug and say, “It's not MY fault. I've been waiting for you to come all year! Now make sure you take it ALL this time….”

+ Wearing my devil's costume, I will lurk behind clusters of kiddies at the neighbor's door, acting as if I was their chaperone. When the homeowner shuts the door I will chase the children with my pitchfork and then later return to my initial location when the next unsupervised group arrives for candy. I will do this same routine at the same house time and again until they realize that the devil is waiting at their doorstep and they refuse to answer the door anymore.

+ The pumpkins by my door will not only be human heads spray-painted orange, they will also be clean shaven, gutted, and reshaped into Michael Jackson's various looks over the years. I'm talking real Jacko Lanterns. And I will enjoy smashing them in the streets the following day.

+ I will dress up like a dentist and wield my portable drill as I go trick-or- treating for molars. When people open their door and see me drilling into the mouth of little Frankenstein I'll grin at them with perfect teeth and say “Keep 'em coming, People!” and drag the struggling monsters away, shouting “Now rinse, fat boy!” The only one I might spare is the Tooth Fairy, but only if she's doing her job.

+ While attending the local Haunted House amusement, I will break away from my group and hide in an unsuspecting corner overnight. I won't scare the customers; I will simply record their screams with my portable cassette deck. When the first worker comes to open shop the following day, I will be waiting behind the door, one hand pressing PLAY, the other unsheathing my survival knife. Houses can be haunted by daylight, too, dammit.

+ I have planned the very best parlor games for my Halloween party. We will go bobbing for Adam's apples and play pin the tail on the kids sewn up in the donkey costume. And I bake the best Plumpkid Pie!

+ I will creep up on every video rental clerk in town, donning my Michael Myers mask and machete. When they turn and seem me leering at them, they'll jump and then I'll ask, “Got Halloween Part 10”? If they look it up on their computers and then make a puzzled face and say “No, I don't think that one's out yet,” I will turn to the surveillance cameras and say, “It is now!” and then lop their heads off. If they make a face at me and say “There is no Part 10, dude,” I will nod and spare them for knowing their job. But I reserve the right to take a finger or two off, depending on how much attitude they give me.

+ When I answer the door and the kids sing “Trick or treat/Smell my feet/Give me something good to eat,” I will obey their command. I will drop right down on my knees, inhaling the odor of their dirty little feet with the wanton abandon of the pump fetishist, crying “Eat me, Master…eat me!”

+ At the hospital on Halloween night, I will go door to door in the coma ward dressed as the Grim Reaper. When security comes down the hall to arrest me, I will take the poisons I carry with me and fall into a coma myself. I'll have already stitched the scythe and robe right into my very own flesh, so they won't be able to remove them. I'll have burned my face back to a skeletal sneer and my hands and ankles will be stripped of all flesh. It won't be so easy to get rid of old Grim. Seeing my comatose form on gurney will give every fatally ill person hope. Hell, my trick might even save them.


“Stare Down Sally”

Remember those staring matches from childhood? The ones where you'd stare at someone until your eyes watered, seeing who would blink first? Think you were good at it? Gutsy enough to risk astigmatism? Well I dare you to Stare Down Sally!


+ Carve something unrelated to Halloween into a kind of Jack O'Lantern.

+ Play “eyes, ears, nose, and throat”: put one of these organs in a place where it doesn't belong and write.

+ Go to a local “rental center” and browse the tools, appliances, and furnishings. Choose an interesting object. Rent it if you've got money to squander; if not, remember it's details. Later, write a piece that pretends that your chosen object was possessed in some way.

*** Instigation is now a WEEKLY department in Hellnotes newsletter:

If you publish something instigated by this department, let me know at and I'll mention it here! Or if you're bold (and willing to forfeit electronic rights), post your response to a prompt at the new Goreletter weblog by clicking on the word “comments” underneath the “Instigation” section at:


Unspeakable Limericks

I received my contributor's copy of a chapbook called Unspeakable Limericks last week, and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd pass word along here. The editors – Tyree Campbell and L.A. Story Houry – really take this humorous form of poetry seriously, as their introduction to the book attests (and as I know from experience, as they painstakingly worked with me to edit my own poem in the book, “Crazy Biology,” to perfection). Campbell and Houry mean serious business with this silly form, and the results are unanimously good: the limericks are hilarious and masterful. The “unspeakable” title is a bit of a misnomer – you're destined to find yourself reading the poems out loud to your self and your friends, marveling over their wit.

Though not all are as dirty, bawdy, naughty or grotesque as its “unspeakable” title might suggest, every poem has that sideways grin you expect from a good limerick. Most have the formal meter and punch-line timing you'd expect, while others push the boundaries of the pattern a little bit, keeping the book from falling into a rut of mind-numbing redundancy. But it's not as bizarre as it advertises and I would rate the book PG-13 if it were a film. That rating does not damn this book; in fact, I think Unspeakable Limericks is doing many things right, including holding back from being too excessive with sex and violence and scatology.

One of the distinguishing features of the collection is the genre focus, as each poem falls within the speculative genres of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. This makes the collection feel like collegial light fun. The chapbook contains 37 poems and includes some familiar names from the genre press. Bruce Boston contributes some of the most scientific sounding limericks (“a google decided to engage in sex/while all of its aughts were still convex…”); while Marcie Tentchoff delivers high fantasy at its most notoriously inventive (“once boastfully proud of his scars/the elf-hunting orc chief Thr'xgar…”); and Alice Henderson tosses in some very strong genre blends that are truly horrific (“I clawed at the airlock in vain/as the larvae crawled into my brain…”). Other familiar poets include Cathy Buburuz, Stephen D. Rogers, Ann K. Schwader, Shannon Riley, P. Andrew Miller, Terrie Relf, Lee Clarke Zumpe, Kevin Hayes, and many more.

The book is well arranged and filled with enough variety of form and genre to sustain a straight read all the way through. Although I don't think the cover matches the content, the production value is pretty strong for a chapbook of this ilk. There are many fantastic illustrations by Teri Santitoro (some in color!) both inside and out, and the book features fine paper interiors. Limericks are a form you either love or hate, but I think this 27 page book – an homage to Isaac Asimov's “Lecherous Limericks” – will both charm and satisfy you, whether you're a fan of poetry or not. Available for $9 from Sam's Dot Publishing:


Blasphemer or Not?

Holy Ghosts:

Holy Rollers:

Strange Acts 17:30:

Combatting Halloween Heathens:

GORELETS: Unpleasant Poems

Pop-o-matic Trouble

we palm punch soft spot
and when the eyes roll back
they point at the bony place
to move our sick little pieces
scored with death black divots
and still we count out loud
each move around this spiral-bent
spinal cord runway till we get
bored with playing games
and put away such childish toys



I am happy to announce that I've contracted with a bold newcomer – Raw Dog Screaming Press – to publish my flash fiction collection, 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories, in trade paperback and ebook this coming Spring. As you might guess, this book actually contains one hundred short- short horror stories. Sound like enough bang for your buck? It's scheduled for release at World Horror Convention 2004, where RDSP will host a party, a signing, and other fun activities. You can see the cover at or catch the great RDSP catalog here:


You can now order Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems (52 short horror poems in a format all their own) in collectable print editions or as an e- book with a bonus chapbook's worth of “extra unpleasantness”! Only 52 copies of the signed/lettered edition ($9.99) will be printed and it's likely to sell out VERY fast. Don't despair: the standard edition costs just $7.99. Both are available now from Fairwood Press or Shocklines Bookstore. The e-book is a cheap alternative for just $4.99 directly from Double Dragon Publishing.

+ COOL BADNESS was SciFi.Com's“Cool Pick of the Web” from Sept 25th-30th!

My parody of Martha Stewart, DYING, made Shocklines Bookstore's bestseller list this week! That's obviously a good thing.

A new interview with Arnzen for The Dream People magazine's “Extreme Horror” issue includes sample stories from the upcoming book, 100 Jolts!


The publisher of my sports-related horror poetry e-book, CyberPulp, has encountered unforeseen delays, but promises me that the title will be available before Halloween. Keep your eyes on the preview page for updates:


I know many you have been waiting for this one. So have I. If Dark Vesper Publishing does not produce Freakcidents by October 19th (five days from the day I write this), then my contractual obligation to them ceases and I will turn to another company who is already waiting in the wings. Want to order but uncertain? Don't fret! Order this book through and you won't be charged a dime until the book ships to your door. This collection of poetry about mutants is one of my personal favorites, and reviewers who have read advanced copies have just loved it. So I still have high hopes for Freakcidents and I thank those of you who have been waiting for it for your patience.


Dark poetry fans might be in the mood for a neat new media collection that I'm in, called October Rush. It includes a favorite poem of mine, “Death Shroud Fashion Show”and a collaborative work with Kurt Newton…and tons of poems by some talented writers! Available FREE at:


What are “The Arnzen Seminars”? Not as weird as you think. A new series of occasional columns on writing for Gila Queen's Guide to Markets. If you're a writer you should check out this trade magazine!


Caution: I'll be removing the offer for signed copies of DYING from the front of within the month. So if you want one, now's the time to order.


Thanks to every HWA member reading this who has nominated The Goreletter for the Bram Stoker Award in “Alternate Forms” so far. This newsletter currently tops the Stoker charts with the most recommendations! But it's early in the game…


“Weird Wilford Brimley”

For your next movie night, rent:
The Thing (1982)
The Firm (1993)
Progeny (1999)



The Goreletter is now available as a “work-in-progess” online. You can read it in the form of a “blog” (a.k.a. “weblog”). I am doing this not only to release breaking news, but also to allow the newsletter to be syndicated and to enable live links, graphics, and even comments from readers.

So now you can read this newsletter online via RSS Newsfeed. What's RSS? It's a new way to subscribe to different articles on the internet without cluttering your inbox or losing messages to spam filters and quotas. Go to the blog (address below) to find out more. Given the “live” abilities of this new format, I will often post the specific departments from the newsletter (Blather, Weird Web of the Month, etc.) as I write them and even list breaking news items and extra material that might not appear in the newsletter itself. So if you find yourself wanting more than a monthly fix, drop by and click on through.

One exciting element of the blog site will be that you can choose to filter by department, so that, for example, if you want to review all the “instigation” prompts from the past volume all on one page, you can do that! If you want to post the results of anything you write inspired by those prompts – or discuss any feature, from the Blather column to the Pithy Morbid Thoughts that end each issue – you can post comments there, too!

Know that YOU NEED DO NOTHING to keep reading The Goreletter as you have been. This newsletter is my priority; the blog is essentially a new media supplement that adds more interactivity and timeliness. (More and more serials are going to RSS so you might want to look into it!)

You can always get to the Blog via But here's a direct link to the blog address. Please check it out and leave a comment or two!


Congratulations to subscribers Leila Eadie and Jill Roberts, for winning the “Giant Monster Battle” contest from the last issue. Combining guts, intellect, and luck, they both slayed the blob that could not be stopped, Geoblie, and won free “Bitpasses” for any of the content featured at I've left the “battle” game page online if you want to play with Geoblie's flaccid corpse. Go here and prod carefully:

+ Please take a moment to vote whether or not you want to get rid of the unique “skinny column” format of The Goreletter, which is no longer required for Handheld computer users. If you LIKE the long column, I'll keep it. But you have to vote for it.


It actually pays to scroll this far down.


Fairwood Press is offering an exclusive discount to Goreletter subscribers. You can get a $1.50 off the standard edition of my new chapbook, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems – or $3 off Gorelets with the purchase of any other title! To get the discount, browse around Fairwood's website and when you have your picks, PayPal your payment to publisher Patrick Swenson at and include the codeword “GoreWood” in your order. The Fairwood Press shopping cart will not work for this discount.

[Be sure to visit Fairwood Press' table at World Fantasy Convention!]


There's a new book about “horror as a way of life” that I'm greatly anticipating: Fear in a Handful of Dust by the very talented Gary Braunbeck. My favorite bookstore in the world, Shocklines, is giving us all a great deal on this just- released book! Get $4 off your order when you mention the promotional codeword “GOREDUST” after you put this book in your cart. This offer is good only until Nov 14th, so act soon.


Mention “The Arnzen Special” to publisher James Cain when you subscribe to Dark Animus magazine, and you'll get a 5 issue subscription for a 4 issue price. Subscriptions costs $25 US and can be paid via PayPal to This weird Aussie mag has just released a special “puppet” issue that's sure to creep you out…and a new writing award that's wonderfully twisted! They're also likely to publish a novella of mine in groovy chapbook form next Spring.


Like gruesome artwork? Bernie Wrightson, Chanting Monks Studios, and the crazies at Boneyard Press are offering Goreletter subscribers 20% off any order over $50! You might have seen Wrightson's pen and ink work in Stephen King novels; you might have heard about the notorious Sex Crimes anthology; you might even be curious about Chiller Theater magazine. This is the place to get them all.

FICTIONWISE E-BOOKS CHEAP maintains a special 15% off page for Goreletter subscribers, which is updated weekly. This week's features include Scott Nicholson's “Doomsday Diaries” and Tim Waggoner's “Soaring.” Plus e- books by Dan Simmons, Catherine Asaro, and many many MANY more!

And NOW is the time to check them out…their huge Halloween horror special is going on right now – all horror stories – including all of MY ebooks, like Fluid Mosaic and Paratabloids, are available at 30% off!

Weekly Goreletter Discounts:

Arnzen's e-books at 30% off in Oct!


All material in The Goreletter is: c 2003 Michael A. Arnzen, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward the entire contents as a whole, without alterations or excisions. For reprint permissions of individual pieces, please contact

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“The living is a species of the dead; and not a very attractive one.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (died 1900)

* 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/halloween_fantasies.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/29 11:36 by marnzen

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