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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++ Vol 1.9, Mar. 24, 2003 +++
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
I was in Ft. Lauderdale for a conference last weekend and my party went to a “Raw Bar” for dinner. No, that's not a euphemism for some kind of skin joint. A “raw bar” is a place where you can slurp oysters and other crustacean creepers and crawlers fresh out of their snotty little shells.
Of course, I'd have none of that. I ordered a well cooked spiced shrimp dish and fries and made jokes about what they might schlep out of a “Raw Cthulhu Bar” instead (Eldritch and Chips? The Thing on the Placemat? Dunkin' Dunwich? The Tartar Out of Time?)
Call me uncultured, but I don't do raw fish. I've had plenty of oysters in my day, but – aside from the occasional shrimp cocktail or tuna melt – I've pretty much given up on the cold delicacy. No gushy sushi for me.
Why? I don't know. It's not so much the taste. I think it's the combination of texture and temperature. Cold veiny meats that crumble and flake off in your mouth. Globules of muscle that taste like squid eyes or blended brains. Clamato. It all kind of repulses me. If it's warm, boiled, slathered in sauce, mixed in soup, or fried up in some breading, I'll eat it. But not the raw stuff. I feel like I might as well be eating something I found under a rock, snooting it up like some kind of sloth.
Raw is uncivilized. And worse. It's lazy. Only apathetic, uncreative cannibals don't bother with the giant crock-pot.
Theoretically, nature intended food to be eaten raw. There are no indigenous barbecues. When cheetahs pounce on gazelles, they don't stop to strike up a campfire. They nuzzle their muzzles right into the meat, till the tip of their noses tap the bone. But even they don't like it cold. They don't wait for the body to chill. They don't drag it to the arctic ice. They dig right in, lapping up the residual body heat, chewing the muscles still hot from the chase, gulping the juices still runny and warm from the wound.
Aside from the feverish friction heat of the hunt, the major oven in the wild is skin. Flesh keeps the meat at a constant temperature, much to the joy of carnivores everywhere. There are some meats we inherently prefer as a species – chicken, beef, SPAM, etc.; other animals prefer insects and things that crawl cold in their carapaces. Our bodies are probably hardwired for some metaphysical menu of natural selection in this way.
Raw shellfish is as cold blooded as the ocean it scampers and writhes in. Their innards are the color and consistency of squashed roaches. I'll have none of it.
I also don't eat Steak Tartar and I usually don't order anything cooked “rare.” The meat section at the supermarket frightens me with its tight cellophane and bloodied Styrofoam. But I do dig the deli and I get a kick out of cold cuts. They're similar to raw meats, true, but different enough to eat with little worry. Sandwich meats have been cooked at least once, so I know the parasites have been burned and boiled and salted away. I fear the hygiene of the butcher more than I do the cold meat itself. Thank god for the bread that I will squash them between, because otherwise I'd still get that frisson of the chilling texture and temperature of the raw. Anything dead that's colder than me is not to be trusted.
I suppose raw food is actually more honest. Left alone, the consumption of raw bodies is the way the ecosystem works. The earth is one big raw bar, recycling our bodies in some grand design. But let the dirt enjoy it. My rot is my rebellion. I say, let's cook each other and shake our hot fists and barbecue forks at the cold moon in that nocturnal rebellion we call dinnertime.
Imagine that a factory line worker has fallen into a large processing machine of some kind. Describe the carnage from a co-worker's viewpoint.
Invent an extreme body modification technique that puts tattooing, piercing, branding, and even cutting to shame.
A creature emerges from the incinerator at a crematorium. Describe the physical appearance. Give it one supernatural power. And a motive.
two cleavers cavort side by side –
a sparkling silver-winged butterfly
before I pick it apart
before I pin you down
your wingspan open
to its full flesh canopy
I chopper the blades
and the wings fly
To help launch the publication of my chapbook, Michael Arnzen's Dying (With No Apologies to Martha Stewart), here are numerous twisted sites which send up everyone's favorite domestic goddess, CEOhno and K-Mart shill:
Martha Stewart Loathing
Martha Stewart Loving http://www.salon.com/2002/06/27/mstewart/
Martha Stewart Corporate Living
Martha Stewart's Dying (song by JB Mahugh)
Interactive Ways to Kill Martha
Martha's Prison Recipes
Gothic Martha Stewart
More Martha Parody Links
MICHAEL ARNZEN'S DYING (With No Apologies to Martha Stewart) is now available from Tachyon Publications. This collector's item is a chapbook of twisted “household hints for serial killers” featuring a hilarious cover rendering of “Arnzen the Chef” by Kevin Farrell. Tachyon hasn't updated their ordering page yet, but I have a small handful of copies that I'm willing to sign and ship to subscribers to The Goreletter. If you're interested, you can PayPal me $5.95 + s/h by copying the following long URL into your web browser (or click on the link on the gorelets.com front page):
For your next movie night, rent:
Pennies from Heaven (1981)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Weapon of Choice (2000)
“The Evil Clown Generator”
They're not ALL evil. But at Scott Huot's wonderfully fun web site, you can make a mutant clown that would put Pennywise to shame. It's as easy as rolling your mouse around a clown face – if you dare – to see what abominations you can come up with.
+ “FREAKCIDENTS TRANSCENDS HORROR…What is so brilliant about this collection is how Arnzen uses literal outside descriptions of the freaks to describe the internal alienation and awkwardness of humans.” – Mike Purfield, B-Independent.com
Feel the fiend. Touch the terror. Caress the carnage. Go to DarkVesper Publishing and order Freakcidents:
+ If you skipped the “Martha Stewart Linking” department above, you missed news of my new chapbook, Michael Arnzen Dying. Tachyon Publications has copies, as does Borderland Books and, soon, Shocklines.
+ I'll be the featured poet in the upcoming April edition of Sidereality magazine! The feature will include around ten new poems in a series called “Gentle Monsters” and an interview, alongside the art of Matt Schuster. This mag is doing great stuff!
+ Do YOU like raw meat? Then check out the just-released e-book of extreme cannibal stories, Of Flesh and Hunger. My short nightmare, “Second Helping” appears within. Other writers in the book include Daniel Keohane, Paul Tremblay, Kurt Newton, John Edward Lawson and Jeffrey Thomas.
+ I'll be attending World Horror Convention in Kansas City in about 3 weeks, from 4/17-20 […and I should warn you now that the next issue of this newsletter might be delayed because of it]. Aside from sitting on various panels, I'll also be reading from my collection-in-progress, 100 Jolts, among other things. My Freakcidents publisher, DarkVesper, is also throwing a party, so you can count on me to be there. If you're going to WHC, too, don't be afraid to say hello and share with me your thoughts on raw shellfish:
+ You can find my short-short, “In the Middle,” somewhere near the middle of the new anthology, Sudden Stories, edited by Dinty Moore for Mammoth:
+ Look for “Amityville: Yet Another Sequel” – my short memoir on growing up near the horror house – in the next issue of Morbid Curiosity magazine. It'll be available at World Horror Con, where a reading session is being hosted by the magazine to include the likes of me, Alan Clark, Brian Keene, and other morbidly curious folk.
+ Other April appearances of my flash fiction include two webzines – “Limber” in Alien Skin & “Disgruntled” in The Murder Hole – and two Australian releases – “Mustachio Moon” in Dark Animus and “Dust to Dust” in Anti-SF.
+ Along with Piers Anthony and Mike Resnick, I'll be judging the finalists in the first Draco Awards. What's a Draco? No, it's not a new James Bond villain, silly. It's a hardcover & e-book deal (now with a prize of $500!) from Double Dragon Publishing for the best book-length work entered in its genre:
Drive Me Insane
Amputate My Foot
Torture Me Elmo
+ In case you missed it last time: I've launched a new, simple, irregular newsletter for fiction writers, journalists and editors looking for ways to make a living off their wits.
It actually pays to scroll this far down.
Take 10% off the new hardcover book, Cemetery Poets, by visiting this hidden exclusive secret ordering page:
Flesh and Blood magazine offers YOU an exclusive discount! Subscribe for only $12 ($4 off!) or pay just $3 for one issue (1/2 off!). Make your check payable to Jack Fisher and put the word “GORELETTER” in the memo field. For contact information, see:
Shocklines.com is offering a huge savings on the collected nonfiction of recent ICFA guest of honor, Ramsey Campbell. Through May 1st, enter coupon code GOREPROB on checkout, and get a whopping $8.00 off of “Ramsey Campbell, Probably”:
Fictionwise.com's 15% off page for Goreleteers is updated weekly. This week features both classic horror literature (like Stoker's Dracula) and new texts like Jeff Strand's hilarious “Single White Psychopath Seeks Same”:
Are you a writer? Try Write Again manuscript organizing software and get a 10% rebate when you register if you tell them that Arnzen's newsletter sent you! A very practical product.
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:
+ Last issue's “Blather” (called “Revising the English Major”) generating some surprising responses! George Cusak pointed out that I shamefully got my Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon mixed up. (Thanks, George. I feel idiotic now. You'd think Queen would have taught me a thing or two!). Reader Anne Fotheringham sent me new “-glishes” to complete the set, since I'd skipped a few letters here and there (including my favorite, “Ginglish” – “gum diseased speech”).
+ Many of you received Goreletter 1.8 without a proper subject line (it said “The Goreletter Message” instead of the true title: “The Goreletter 1.8: Gorelish”). Little inconsistencies like that bug the heck out of me so I had to add this correction for posterity.
All material in The Goreletter is: © 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.” – Isaac Asimov (died 1992)
* 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/
* Arnzen's blog is now located at http://gorelets.com/blog/ Visit it for breaking news and extras not appearing in The Goreletter.
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