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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++ Vol. 4.03, Feb 11, 2007 +++
I have finally overhauled gorelets.com. It was time to rearrange the furniture. I'm still doing some heavy lifting, but please drop by and take a look around. You'll bump into a few kinks, and some old things have been relegated to the morgue, but you'll find lots of fun new pages to check out, especially the “Creations” page. New free excerpts of my writing will appear in the bibliography alongside links to older work archived elsewhere online. And I'm sorting through my old photos to find fun/weird things to post in the new gallery.
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
Thank you for coming out tonight, to this momentous occasion. I'm here to introduce you to a breakthrough technology, one that will change the very way you live your life.
It's called MyBlade.
And this fantastic device is literally on the cutting edge.
MyBlade is the world's first electronic knife. You heard me right. This is no mere “electric” knife simply intended to carve your way through a tough turkey. It can do that, true, and more! But no, MyBlade is not electric. MyBlade is electronic. Inside its handle is a 3.4gHz microcomputer with 8 Gigabytes of memory and a wireless network card interfacing directly with a 16-inch stainless steel surgical-quality blade.
MyBlade will entirely change the way you slice, dice, chop and fillet.
Intrigued? Let me tell you all about it.
The “brain” of MyBlade allows any chef, camper, or craftsman to set the slicing speed at just the right level – from a slow-saw that carves so gently it massages – to a rapid cutting motion that puts conventional chainsaws to shame. I'm talking up to 30,000 slices per second, more than the naked eye can see, even up close.
MyBlade can either heat or cool the steel to a temperature you select – or it can recommend just the right level of heat for what it's about to cut. Your cold cuts can truly be cold, if you like. Or you can you can treat yourself to a hot pot roast sandwich with only raw beef and a loaf of bread. MyBlade is the first cutting instrument to actually cook the very meat it slices, as it slices it!
And if you happen to somehow cut yourself or someone else, you won't need to worry about dialing 911. The wound will instantly be cauterized!
But yes, even if you still want to dial 911, it can do that for you, too. Did I mention that MyBlade is wireless? And networked? Indeed, it is always online and can easily be used as a phone, a pager, a web browser, a weather station, an emergency medication alert and an IM communication center. You can throw away your cell phone. The metal blade can receive vibrations from your voice and the handle has an earpiece you can use as either a speakerphone or a private line. You simply need to hold it correctly.
It's an amazing communication device. But MyBlade is still, ultimately, a knife. The greatest piece of cutlery ever invented. It will cut on demand or your money back.
MyBlade is entirely self-cleaning and self-oiling. MyBlade even automatically detects if its edges are dull – and it self-sharpens while it rests in its charging bay.
MyBlade has a brain that can be voice-activated. It can be remote controlled, or operated with an internet browser from your office. Prepare your dinner while you're still at work!
Or if you like to do it yourself, you can listen to over 1000 songs while you chop, sheer…or even shave!
And that's only a small segment of what MyBlade can do. I haven't even mentioned it's main breakthrough, one only made possible by the invention of something so remarkably unique as MyBlade.
Sonic slicing. And sonic slicing will revolutionize the way you literally make cuts.
The speed of MyBlade is so fast that its subsonic frequencies literally spread the molecules around it.
We could have stopped there, but we didn't.
MyBlade also records sounds while it slices, saving unique sonic footprints that only MyBlade itself can hear. This is cutting up close – closer than its ever been before. Press the silver button on its grip, and you can save every chop, hack, and stab you make to the copious mp3 storage drive built inside its form-fitting handle.
Cut a sandwich or cut a track – the choice is yours. It is the first musical instrument of its kind, and butchers around the world have already begun composing some amazing new music. You can hear them – and join them by sharing your own cuts – online at the knife's hone page.
Did I say hone page? I meant home page. And MyBlade logs on instantly, BladeCasting to the world.
Still not sold?
Well, let me demonstrate. Here, put these MyEar phones in your ears.
Now give me your arm.
Don't worry. MyBlade cauterizes. And trust me, MyBlade is faster than you'll believe.
That's right, go ahead and sing along. We're BladeCasting live.
And it's MyArm now.
Note: I was going to call MyBlade an iBlade, but someone beat me to it! See this AMAZING apple peeler with an attitude for yourself at this Mac-lover forum: http://www.theapplecollection.com/design/macdesign/iBlade.html
Overpopulation Anxieties of the 70s
For your next movie night, rent:
Z.P.G. (Campus, 1972)
Soylent Green (Fleischer, 1973)
Logan's Run (Anderson, 1976)
WIN A DVD OF EXQUISITE CORPSE!
Jim Minton Design Studio [ http://www.mintondesign.com ] is kindly sponsoring a poetry contest for Goreletter subscribers only, in which you can win a free DVD of Exquisite Corpse [
exquisitecorpsemovie.com ]. This film is currently not for sale, and most people can only see it at film festivals in the year to come. Here's your exclusive chance to have your own personal copy!
To enter, here are the rules.
+ Write a short horror poem no longer than eleven lines, creatively involving HORROR CINEMA.
+ The words “EXQUISITE” and “CORPSE” must appear somewhere – anywhere – in the poem.
+ The poem must end with two lines that rhyme (a rhyming couplet) but free verse is otherwise highly encouraged.
+ Do not submit previously written or published work. Do not submit work not written by you. Only one entry per person.
+ You must be an e-mail subscriber to The Goreletter to enter [ http://www.gorelets.com ]. The top entries will be published online and in a future issue of The Goreletter. Submit to the contest understanding that your work may be published one-time online, and that you alone will be held accountable for all matters of copyright.
+ The contest will be judged by Michael Arnzen. E-mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “corpse contest.”
+ Deadline: April 1st, 2007.
+ AUDIOVILE: UPCOMING AUDIOBOOK
I'm thrilled to finally announce that in Spring 2007, Raw Dog Screaming Press will be releasing an audio companion to my book, 100 Jolts, called Audiovile. I love the way the publisher describes it, so I'll let their catalog page speak for itself: “Audiovile is Michael Arnzen at his weirdest and, well, most vile. Known for his entertaining and over-the-top readings he now takes it one step further with the addition of some musical madness. This is not so much an audio book as it is an album of flash fiction, a truly unique experience. Most of the 16 tracks are taken from the ground-breaking short story collection 100 Jolts but the CD also includes some new material.”
It's VERY different and I guarantee you'll be surprised! Audiovile is due from RDSP sometime this Spring. Visit this page on my website to learn more or to download an advanced excerpt:
+ ON WRITING HORROR
The book, On Writing Horror, is among the best “how-to” books for writers working in the genre of fear, and a newly revised edition has just been published. Any writer who hopes to terrify their readers should pick up a copy of this newly updated edition of the classic textbook in writing and marketing horror fiction. Written by members of the Horror Writer's Association (contributors include Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, David Morrell, Harlan Ellison, Jack Ketchum, Tom Piccirilli and many more!), the book covers a surprisingly wide range of issues with insight – from how to craft monster stories that creep into the reader's nightmares to how to generate innovative works that redefine the genre itself. It also includes a savvy section on the horror market, education, and other resources for the aspiring writer. I contributed a new article about horror in academia, called “Degrees of Dread,” that talks about how to combine an interest in horror with college studies and going after your MFA. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1582974209/
This new “Journal of Contemporary Horror” just went live, and it features a number of academic articles about my experiments at gorelets.com. I also contributed an essay on the “New Media Tie-In.” The more academic among you might find it of interest: http://www.simegen.com/writers/dissections/
LICKER – my comedic horror novelette about a boy with a hallucinogenic tongue – made the 2006 “top-selling softcover books of the year” list (#8) at Shocklines Bookstore. Thanks to all of you sickos who bought it, and thanks to Novello Publishers for disseminating such a strange, strange tale. I think Licker is almost sold out, but a few copies might still be left of this limited edition freakfest at Shocklines Bookstore or Bad Moon Books: http://badmoonbooks.com/
+ AMAZON BLOG
I've decided to stop using the author blog feature at amazon.com. I don't like the way it crowds out the book pages that it appears on, and I found out that some spammer copied text out of it and used it in their spam…and I hate that. So I've deleted entries from the amazon blog for now…but perhaps my “dismembered hand” will take questions elsewhere in the near future.
+ MORE MORE MORE
+ This month I'll be the featured poet, and interviewed, in the new Doorways Magazine:
+ Look for my comedic fantasy story, “The Filling,” in the awesome anthology, Until Someone Loses an Eye, coming soon from Twisted Publishing. The table of contents was just posted to:
+ I'm excited to report that, later this year, a full-length collection of the best short works from my career so far, called Proverbs for Monsters, will be published by Dark Regions Press: http://www.darkregions.com
+ This Fall, a new limited edition fiction chapbook called “The B*tchfight” will be coming out from Bad Moon Books. See the coupon elsewhere in the newsletter: http://www.badmoonbooks.com
Gourmets of the Grotesque
Steve, Don't Eat It!
The Fall Down the Stairs
of the House of Usher
When I push her down the stairs
she swims in the air for a moment
like we're dancing
and I play a little song in my head
to accompany it
before the erratic thud of her skull
against the steps
breaks my waltzing daydream
with its own offbeat tempo
and I hear another voice sing
as I stumble forward
Surreal Flights: High and Low
While surfing the web looking for online games that involve clubbing baby seals and other juvenile diversions of that ilk, I somehow stumbled across a delightfully gentle and whimsically surreal game – “Fly Guy” by Trevor Van Meter. It involves an ordinary bloke standing at a bus stop, who spontaneously develops the ability to fly, and zips off into the sky. You steer “Fly Guy” around in the heavens (and if you can figure it out, outer space!), interacting with various floating oddities just to see what they'll do with (or to) him, trying to avoid getting shot back down to reality. It's a simple, serene, light-hearted touch of irreality, artfully done.
Oh, okay, from the sublime to the ridiculous. In Operation Thule you can club seals, bash hippies, and get impaled by falling icicles while being cursed at in Danish. It's worse than crass, but nonetheless surreal in its own way. (Click on “Start Spil” to begin).
March 14-18th | ICFA-28 | Ft. Lauderdale, FL
This year's International Conference for the Fantastic includes a screening and panel discussion of Exquisite Corpse; Arnzen will also be reading with Peter Straub and Ellen Kleges, and also delivering a paper on Stephen King's “Trucks.”
March 29-April 1 | World Horror Convention | Toronto, Canada
World Horror Convention promises to be truly international this year. Programming is currently tba, but I typically deliver a reading, sit on a panel or three, and, well, hang out at the bar.
July 5-6 | Odyssey Fantasy Workshop | Mt. Vernon, NH
Arnzen will be a Guest Lecturer at this notable workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Other guests this year include Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Elizabeth Hand, John Clute, George Scithers, and other great writers. http://www.sff.net/odyssey/
Sept 28-30 | Context 20 | Columbus, OH
Arnzen will be the “Horror Guest of Honor” at this literary convention held annually in Ohio! http://www.contextsf.org/
WIN A RARE BROADSIDE!
Brian Keene (author of The Rising and Ghoul) keeps an excellent weblog at
hailsaten.blogspot.com. In a recent post, he discusses the way the horror community found a place to gather on the internet, just as the “boom” of horror paperback fiction was dying off in the 1990s. His memoir brought back a lot of memories for me.
One of those memories is very geeky, but since I've been working on the web a lot this month, it's pertinent. Gorelets.com was not my first web page. When I was in graduate school (1992-1999), the web was rising in popularity, but still relatively new and unexplored. At the University of Oregon, we were encouraged to experiment with the internet as a research and teaching tool, and we were given free web space if we wanted it. One of the things I did with that space was design an early horror-oriented web page in 1995, one that pointed to all the resources online I could find that had anything to do with the horror genre. It was rudimentary, but I learned a lot by doing it and the site was lucky enough to even get one of those “Best Sites of the Day” accolades from Netscape. Some published references (like Stanley Wiater's book, Dark Thoughts) even cited it as a notable website in the horror genre.
Maybe some of you remember it, but I'm betting a lot of you don't. Maybe some traces of it are still available online, but maybe not. This is all QUITE trivial, I assure you. So I thought I'd make a trivia contest about it.
E-mail me the full title of my first web site, accurately spelled, along with your postal address, to email@example.com. Put “broadside contest” in the subject line and you'll be entered into a random drawing for the following prize (one winner only):
* A rare signed broadside (a nicely-designed poem on a fancy sheet of paper) of “Six Short Films About Chauncey the Serial Killer.” I made only twenty-five of these broadsides as a gift to all the creators involved in making the film, Exquisite Corpse. Only a few extras were left over – and you can win one!
* A signed poster for the film, Exquisite Corpse.
* A free signed copy of a book of your choice: Fluid Mosaic, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, or Licker.
* A self-made audio CD (burned CD-R) with three excerpts from Audiovile on it.
Nope: this adjective has absolutely nothing to do with Barry Gibb, though it may be associated with a “night fever” of another kind, since the term is often used to describe the moon. A “gibbous moon” is what you call it when the lunar disc is more than halfway illuminated, but not yet full. It is the “pregnant moon” – the one that frustrates werewolves and geeky lunar eclipse aficionados everywhere.
“Gibbous” also more generally describes an oddly convex shape, a lumpy bulge…anything grotesquely tumescent or otherwise odd-shaped and resembling the head of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy. Gibbous comes from the Latin word “gibbus” which literally means “hump” and the term has been employed to malign hunchbacks by foppish aesthetes everywhere since the 18th century. I hereby propose we deem Wednesday of the work week “Gibbous Day” (instead of the colloquial “Hump Day,” which always sounds nastier than it ever is).
Of course, in “first person shooter” games, any splort of blood or flesh blown off a person's face is called a “gib”…but this term likely comes from “giblet,” not “gibbous,” as any chicken farmer who has read his HP Lovecraft certainly would know.
+ What does the moon say to the lycanthrope? Write a monologue.
+ A wife suspects her husband is a serial killer when he's not. Script their argument one night when he comes home late from work.
+ Torture a competitive eater. Don't use hot dogs.
If you publish something instigated by this department, let me know and I'll mention it here!
Screaming in Code
Have you ever read Thomas Wiloch? If not, maybe you should. Don't just take my word for it. Thomas Ligotti says Wiloch is writing “what deserve to be included among the best prose poems ever written in any language.” And like Ligotti, Wiloch has been quietly working away in relative obscurity in his own “niche” for two decades, developing a one-of-a-kind approach to a form he almost entirely owns. Wiloch writes surrealist short-short pieces, often no longer than a page long, that are as philosophical as they are whimsical, as clever as they are poetic, and as disturbing as they are intelligent – easy to read prose-poems and vignettes that pull language together as tight as a pirate's knot on an iron anchor.
We don't see books by Thomas Wiloch very often, but his latest book, Screaming in Code, is a great introduction to what he's all about, enhanced with whimsical photo-collages generously contributed by the author himself on virtually every page. It's a slim chapbook, 58 pages perfect bound, printed nicely with a glossy color cover (whose only flaw, perhaps, is the thin paper stock used for the book cover). If you're a fan of flash fiction, short-shorts, or prose poems, you'll like what Wiloch is screaming (though often with a tongue in cheek or with a gentle whisper).
Screaming in Code assembles 35 new pieces by Wiloch, launching off with the clever instructional guide, “How to Read this Book” – a brief and comedic introduction which parodies the label commonly found on those little brown medicine bottles. Its warning (“Do not exceed 8 prose poems in 24 hours or read for more than 10 days”) suggests that these capsules of fiction are not to be popped like pills, but savored like everlasting hard candies. If not, Wiloch writes, then “In case of accidental overdose, take a warm TV show to induce vomiting.” Writers often take easy jabs at television, but in this playful short parody (whose ending I've unfortunately given away) makes a poignant meta-comment about how Wiloch sees his art, pulling in big topics like education, mass culture and media literacy along the way, all in less than seventy-five words. This clever opener both acknowledges and dispenses with any notion that these stories are designed for “short attention span” reading ; they are deceptively easy to consume, and sadly, we do need to be taught how to read work like this because it's become so unfamiliar to today's media saturated audiences.
If I'm reading too much into this one piece, it's because many of the stories in Screaming in Code seem only to be whimsically humorous musings upon first read, but upon re-reading, their deeper existential messages and subversive literary meanings creep up on you. In my favorite in the book, “Tell Me I'm Wrong,” we listen to a narrator making an argument that gets more and more disturbing (and yet funny) as it develops, beginning with a very scientific hypothesis (that the human body is not composed mostly of water, but of atoms and orbiting particles…in other words, mostly nothing)…and then precedes to use this logic to plead his innocence in a crime. I don't want to say more, because I'd give the whole thing away, but it's a brilliant twist of logic and language that made me laugh, made me nod, and made me wish I'd written such an ingenious little story. Most of the stories in Screaming in Code got the same reaction out of me. And the ideas stuck with me for so long after I'd read them that days later I'd return to the book and read them again, encountering nuances I hadn't realized were there lurking in the writing all along.
In “The Performers,” we're told about all the strange plans a performance artist has for a bowl of blood, only to learn about another artist's even darker intentions. In “The Corpse Who Went for a Walk,” we get a little anecdote about a dead body who cavalierly pays a visit to a convenience store to get “some air freshener…maybe a couple of magazines” only to have the tables turned on him. In “Tiny White Skulls” we're given a catalog of all the fun uses that human bone can be put to. These are horror stories as much as they are absurdist parables. All of them are no longer than they need to be. All of them are brilliant.
The title, Screaming in Code, suggests that the book might be a work of cyberpunk, but it's probably more accurate to say this book is about existential horror: the title is a statement about the limits of language, and how we struggle to connect and communicate in a world where, really, the only thing that passes between us is letters, digits, symbols, and code. Writers like Wiloch don't just scream in code – they bathe in it like a performance artist with a peculiar bowl of blood – and if they seem to be screaming, it's not so much in caution as it is so that you'll pay more attention to the meanings it harbors and the mysteries it holds.
Maybe we should be paying more attention to Thomas Wiloch, too. Because he is certainly paying attention to us.
Screaming in Code is a mere $8 from Naked Snake Press or Shocklines Bookstore. If you enjoyed 100 Jolts, you'll dig it immensely.
It actually pays to scroll this far down.
SHOCKLINES LIGHTS UP
Get a $7 discount on the fantastic anthology from Cemetery Dance Books, Poe's Lighthouse! Edited by Christopher Conlon, this wonderful collection of popular writers “riffing” on an unfinished fragment by Edgar Allan Poe is an amazing read. My tale, “The Dead Lantern” is in there, alongside greats like Gary Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Tim Lebbon and more! Just enter the code POEGORE7 when you check out, after shopping from Shocklines.com. Expires March 30th:
A BAD MOON IS RISING
This Fall, Bad Moon Books is publishing a story I've written called “The B**chFight” in a fine, limited chapbook. You can get FREE SHIPPING from Bad Moon Books if you e-mail proprietor Roy K. Robbins at [firstname.lastname@example.org] and request to be added to his pre-order mailing list! Bad Moon has all sorts of great titles and just launched a new line of limited edition titles, beginning with Weston Ochse's wild pulp story, “Outlaw Vampires of the Milky Way.” Check 'em out here: http://www.badmoonbooks.com
RAW DOG SCREAMS AND SCREAMS AGAIN
Purchase both of Ronald Damien Malfi's novels Via Dolorosa and The Fall of Never together for a total of $40 (shipping included) with this link:
tinyurl.com/3exy9l. Sorry, this amazing $20 discount is only available for US shipping addresses.
Are You FICTIONWISE?
Fictionwise.com – the web's best sci-fi and horror e-book seller – maintains a special 15% off page for Goreletter subscribers, which is updated weekly. Fictionwise is 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 gorelets.com. For reprint permissions of individual pieces, please contact email@example.com.
Delivered free since Sept. 2002. Issues to date: 35. Winner of the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Alternative Forms from the Horror Writers Association: http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm
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You Still Have to Take the Final
“All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than animals that know nothing.” – Maurice Maeterlinck (died 1949)
* 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 http://gorelets.com/books/
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