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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter

+++ Vol 1.4, Dec. 06, 2002 +++

Holiday X


Blather. Wince. Repeat.

Holiday X

I love Xmas. Not the holiday, per se. The abbreviation. Any abbreviation that uses the letter X gets my nod of approval. I marvel at the Chinese Puzzle of the road sign that reads “Deer Xing.” I muse over the strange aversion to E in words like “Xtra.” I adore the arachnid-like contraction of “tickets” into “tix.” And I still sublimely wonder, after all these years, what XXX really stands for, and how my loved ones can still sign a letter XXX and OOO with a straight face.

From quixotic to quincunx, I love the enigmatic X. Especially when it's near a Q. It's nature's expectorant.

But I'm no dupe: I won't stand for brand names that commercialize my letter X. I won't buy anyone Microsoft's “X-box” for Xmas, for Xample. And I won't rent that Vin Diesel action film called XXX, either, no matter how hard they try to convince me that “action” film is a euphemism for porn.

The sporting world misunderstands the X. The XFL is a case in point. And until the dictionary includes the word “athletiX,” can we please give Xtreme sports like Dental Floss Bungie Jumping a rest? For one thing, the letter X is not playing a game with us. It's serious business. For another, all these “Xtreme sports” were dreamed up by the editorial board of some snowboarding magazine…which I imagine to be comprised of Beavis, Spicoli, Wayne Campbell, and both the actors from Dude, Where's My Car? (with Keeanu Reeves acting as editor- in-chief, naturally). These guys couldn't even count to X in the Roman Numeral system.

Maybe it's just the times we're living in. Generation X is selling eXtacy to Generation Y. I don't know what that means, but I think it's very strange, and I wish Gen Y would stick to their own letter and sniff Yte out instead. The world is chewing up way too many precious resources on glowstiX as it is.

I might complain about the way our culture capitalizes on the letter X, but I do make Xceptions for worX of art. I haven't read much XJ Kennedy, but I'm sure he's a damned good poet. Spike Lee's “X” was a wonderful movie. “Heard It On The X” is a decent ZZ Top song (though they chose the wrong letter…ZZ means “sleep” to me!). The X-Men were great comiX. And The X-Files on FoX weren't so bad, either.

Putting “The” in front of “X” is dangerous business. X is a scary letter. And the “The” makes everything a little scarier than it already is. It makes everything sound like The End.

X is a good name for a baby. Or any fictional character. There are characters named M and a Q in the James Bond films, but why no X? (Don't tell me that Drax from Moonraker has already taken that letter… Drax is the name of a bug repellent, for crying out loud!) So if you're thinking about raising a baby, call it X and be sure to turn it into some sort of insane villain with a facial scar.

Or a businessperson. Executive Officers are called XOs. I'd like to have a kid, name him or her X (depending, of course, the X chromosome) and then train it to become XO X. How do I accomplish this? I'm not sure, but I think a football play chart is involved.

Which brings me back to Xmas. What if the X in Xmas were used in other words featuring Christ? I'm a Xian. I was blessed at my Xening. As a follower of Xianity, I worship X because X died for my sins. Now Jesus X almighty, will you pull over at that TeXaco and ask for directions?

Or what might our shorthand for Christ mean if we put it in other X words? Would children still hammer so annoyingly if it were called a christylophone? Would adults still fear the radiation of a Christ-ray, or would they toss their lead vests assunder? Would Marvin Gaye still need sechristual healing? Perhaps.

I suspect the X in Xmas doesn't mean “Christ” at all – it probably signifies a cross, instead (as I'm sure the logo for any Christian death metal band will indicate). That's why illiterates sign contracts with them. I doubt Jesus staked that claim in Texas.

You see, X has always been a sign of our laziness with the English language. Americans are good at taking shortcuts. Texas is a great place because it's so huge – almost the size of Alaxka – but it also sounds an awful lot like shorthand for something that was probably much much longer in the original Aztec (like Texasloucuhlan or something).

The Aztecs were the most comfortable with the letter X. That's what makes them cool. The X – and all that beating heart removal business. If it wasn't for that space between “Merry” and “Xmas” we might have some holiday that sounded like an Aztec city: “Merixmas.” And we'd probably put a little more heart into it family get togethers.

So Merry Xmas to you. And while you snort egg nog from a snifter, please figure out how we might take short cuts on the other holidays with long words in them. Valentine's Day? HapE Vals. Halloween? Just “trix.” Thanksgiving? Good Eats. The rest? Etc.


Apropos Titles


Number of edible insects: 1,492

Number of calories in 100g of cricket: 121

Protein in 100g Cricket: 12.9g

Grams of protein in a dung beetle: 17.2

Number of spiders you'll eat in your sleep in a lifetime: 8

Amount of insects you inadvertently consume in a lifetime: a pound

Amount of bacteria a housefly can carry on its hindfeet: 6 million

Cost of ant tacos in Tlaxcoapan: 300 Pesos

Ratio of insects to humans on Earth: 100 Million to One

[Keep eating…]

*** Sources: 12/04/02; 07/05/00 & 02/07/02; 10/31/02; Food Insects NL, 07/96 & 92;, 12/04/02.


Home Depot of the Dead

We keep resurrecting the clerk
in the stained orange apron
busy with patches and pins.
He keeps offering to help us
fix our bathtub and we tell him
our plumbing is fine but his isn't
before tossing the next power tool
into the tub where he fries.
It's electrical help we need.


“This should create a suitable Zombie army capable of taking over the world, crushing your enemies, or serving fast food.” –, 10/31/01

“My friend, you think there is a self- esteem problem here? Well, Hell has the worst self-esteem problem.” – alt.religion.christian.baptist, 07/10/99

“Goth as a statement of non-violence, individuality and rebellion against the 'status quo' is very cool…But remember, the ultimate rebel was Jesus Christ. If you find yourself dwelling on the death aspect of Goth, then seek Christ. He'll respect your style…” –, 12/02


“Santa Stalkers”

For your next movie night, rent:
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
Santa Claws (1996)


“Slay Bells”

Cross Jolly Old St. Nick with Duke Nukem or The Rock and you get the idea of this festively macho shooting game. Santa's going on a rampage! He'll sleigh you, har-har.

[Requires the “Shockwave” player – a free add-on to your browser that will auto-install upon arrival. No worries.]


“The men let the girls take a turn/pulverizing things with their mandibles,/spitting things out in salivated chunks called words/that are dull with use and digestion”

This excerpt from Tara Raines' “Romp” appears in Yellow Bat Review #4 (Fall 2002) and to me it signifies much of the aesthetic of the journal. YBR doesn't necessarily regurgitate ideas; instead, it reflects writers who are struggling to say (and do) something new with a language that's been handed down to them. It's one of the few magazines in the horror genre that I would call “literary journal” without blinking twice. At the same time, YBR is full of hard-hitting, in your face literature – it's slam poetry with a meat mallet: painfully traumatic, but at times tender, as well

Raines' “Romp” is but one of three works in the magazine which are part of a series called “VULGAR”. Her writing impressed me very much with its unflinching examination of the grotesque and the abject while sending a strong feminist message. I was also struck by the two poems by Todd Moore in this issue, both of which are long strings of short (<4 syllable) lines that dramatize a traumatic incident where innocence is warped in a gross confrontation with a repugnant man. The prolific Lyn Lifshin contributes a touching piece about handicapped kids driving a car that also features an encounter with Otherness. These “mainstream” (if that's the right word) poets are caught in the same pages as poets who might be familiar to genre readers (like Christina Sng, Kevin Donihe, Patrick McKinnon, myself and Forrest Aguirre). And that's what I like best about this journal: it's about everything that's literary in horror. Editor Craig Sernotti knows what he's doing. And I like it.

Like many of the journals I've chosen to review for The Goreletter, YBR is a small, nicely designed pocket-sized production (with a fancy kaleidoscopic line drawing on the glossy cover). It's only a dime a page, or $2.50 for 25 pages ($8 for two-year subscription). The journal is available directly from Richard Geyer, Publisher, 1338 West Maumee, Idlewilde Manor #136, Adrian, MI 49221 or online at:


A vampire has won a three-minute, “all you can fit in your basket” shopping spree at a 24-hour grocery store. A sneering clerk is holding a stopwatch by the counter, finger on the clicker. Ready? GO!

Put the following title at the top of a blank piece of paper: “Monster Workshop”. Now start writing. (Option for the blocked: turn “monster” into “monster's”).

The phone rings. Your protagonist answers it. In the handset, all (s)he hears is what sounds like the sawing of wood. (S)he hangs up, shaken. What's happening?


+ My mutant poetry collection, FREAKCIDENTS: A SURREALIST SIDESHOW is set for a January release. If you visit you can get a sneak preview at GAK's fantastic cover for the book (as well as excerpts, reviews, etc). The number of the beast is: 0-9722957-5-5 That's its ISBN number, of course… not Damien Thorn's tattoo.

+ Look for my story, “Tugging the Heartstrings,” up now at Flashquake. It's the softer side of Arnzen. Or the coffin pillow, anyway:

+ “Choppers” – my experiment with verbs and blades – will be up soon at 42opus…one of the best-designed literary sites on the cyberplanet, in my opinion:

+ I can't get enough FlashShot. They're doing a Xmas story a day until the 25th. Check them out. Write “subscribe me” in a message to: If you do, you're bound to get a few teeny Arnzen stories sooner or later. So don't let the little ones answer your e-mail. You've been warned.


+ The Goreletter has been recommended for the Bram Stoker Award (in Alternative Forms)! If you're an HWA member, I hope you'll help usher this humble e-zine all the way to the final ballot by also sending in your own recs ASAP.

+ To defray the costs of the website I've opened up the “Mutant Mug Shop.” It's a place where you'll be able to get Arnzen's digital art, book covers, and other oddities on a coffee mug:

+ “Margaret's on the Floor” is the most recent poem hidden in the gory handheld on the Gorelets front page. It’s a rare sight these days: a poem that actually rhymes!

+ I made lots of updates to the website over the Thanksgiving holidays that might make it worth your time to go browsing. The former “hidden” e-poetry page is now a public “Writing & Demos” page, featuring a new original e-poem (“Ghosted”) and a “sneak preview” section that has links to advanced cover art and book excerpts, among other things. Wax up and hit those gnarly cyberwaves already. Dude.


It actually pays to scroll this far down.

You've heard me praise my ebook distributor, FICTIONWISE.COM, time and again. There are links all over my site to it, and every issue I remind you of their WEEKLY 15% off special page for visitors:

But now I have an exclusive Xmas offer for readers of The Goreletter alone! Add Arnzen ebooks to your shopping cart, then apply the following coupon code at the bottom of the page: Arnzen12. This coupon will give you 20% off all Arnzen titles! It can only be used once per member and it's only good through December 31st. So pick up those “pricier” ones, like Paratabloids, for cheap cheap cheap! As you probably know, ebooks are readable on a computer screen, a PDA an even some cell phones. You don't need a dedicated reading device or anything strange like that. Just a sense of adventure and a chunk of technology.

WILDSIDE PRESS – publisher of my collection, Fluid Mosaic – kindly continues to offer Goreletteers a one- time 10% discount coupon! Enter the coupon code ARNZEN at check out:

Due to unforseen circumstances, I'll have to get you your exclusive SHOCKLINES.COM coupon next issue. I do recommend you visit them for holiday horror shopping, though. They're simply the best store for horror stuff anywhere.


All material in The Goreletter is: © 2002 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

This newsletter is formatted in one skinny column to accommodate handheld computer users. If you own a PDA, try The Goreletter as a free Mazingo channel at:

Subscribe, unsubscribe, and shout out about The Goreletter at:

Still reading? You must love this wordy thing! Want to help me out this holiday? 1) Forward this issue to your weirdest friend. I need new subscribers. 2) Visit the Mutant Mug Shop. I need to pay my domain provider. 3) Take this FAST two question poll:

Thanks for your continued support!


“The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead.” – Albert Einstein (died 1955)

* 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/holiday_x.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/29 12:09 by marnzen

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