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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++ Vol. 4.02, Sept 21, 2006 +++
The Wink of the Cyclops
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
Why it Sucks to be a Cyclops
+ The giant monocle seldom looks flattering.
+ The forehead horn is completely worthless. It just gets in the way, actually.
+ The loss of depth perception makes it hard to know just where to bite when feasting on live meat.
+ No one gets it when you wink at them.
+ The eye chart at the optometrist's office is really an “eyes chart.” Not that you can read. But still.
+ The insensitive slurs from the two-eyed community (“myopic,” “short-sighted,” etc.) are never-ending.
+ Only Siamese twins get to look cross-eyed.
+ The giant single eyeball only assists the archer's aim.
+ The pirate's patch fools no one.
+ Cartoons have filled the children you eat with all sort of false assumptions about how you do so. (However, this can be a benefit, if you have the right Cyclopean attitude).
+ If you lose a contact, you're doomed.
+ The Encyclopedia has been replaced by the Wikipedia.
[Thanks to Karissa Kilgore for inspiring this month's Blather by pointing me to the real-world freakcidents at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclopia ]
To be published in a limited edition of 150 paperback copies by Novello Publishers, LICKER is a new comedic horror novelette about a boy with a hallucinogenic tongue…and the strange people who want a taste of the action.
In an early review, Horror World calls it an “over-the-top, gross-out laugh riot….Arnzen clearly had a lot of fun in trying to outdo himself, from the very first paragraph all the way to the last.” Peter Straub says it's “Beyond over the top…Licker violates every possible notion of good taste, gleefully, and the result is an optimistic graveyard fandango.” And D. Harlan Wilson writes, “Mike Arnzen is the chicest, craftiest horror writer in the Biz, and Licker is among the best in his library. Devilish, bizarre and irreverent, this book has everything: an insatiable plot, fingerlicking prose, and characters who will eat your heart out with a wooden spoon! Arnzen has imagination pouring out of every orifice.”
This is, bar none, the WEIRDEST thing I've ever written, and I blush to admit I laughed out loud even when I proofread the thing. The cover art alone will disturb you. Definitely not for the squeamish. Definitely freaky.
The book includes a bonus flash fiction story, an introduction by Jeff Strand, and more. Want a lick? Licker will be shipping on Halloween. But it is now available for preorder from Shocklines.com – the only place selling signed copies – for just $10. (In fact, I'm happy to report the book was a Shocklines bestseller when it was first announced!) Visit Shocklines Bookstore
or see Novello Publishers novellopublishers.com/licker.html
And be sure to come visit me at the online launch party for Licker at “The Lost and the Damned” chat rooms on Thursday, Oct 19 @ 10pm Eastern Time
+ EXQUISITE CORPSE
Big news. This weekend, the first film adaptation of my work, Exquisite Corpse, will premiere in the Short Film Showcase at FantasyCon in the UK! Exquisite Corpse is a compilation of eleven short-short movies by an international group of filmmakers, inspired by my poetry and a selection of stories from 100 Jolts. Producer and director Jim Minton did a fantastic job coordinating this artful and chilling movie, which features such talents as Mike Bohatch, Can Yildirim, Michael Mourocade, and too many more to mention here. You can learn all about this exciting art film and preview it on the web here:
exquisitecorpsemovie.com The movie is NOT available to purchase on DVD at this time; presently, you can only see it at film festivals, conventions, and contests to be announced. Exquisite Corpse has a myspace page which will be updated with screening events as they are arranged…and it wants to be your friend! http://www.myspace.com/exquisitecorpsemovie
+ ANTHOS & MAGS
You can find my latest weird writing in the following anthologies and magazines, just published:
“Blasphemebus” in THOU SHALT NOT: http://www.darkcloudpress.com/
“Degrees of Dread” in ON WRITING HORROR: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1582974209/
“Help Yourself” in CEMETERY DANCE #55: http://www.cemeterydance.com/
“The Dead Lantern” in POE'S LIGHTHOUSE: http://www.cemeterydance.com/
“E-Book Mistakes I've Made” in GILA QUEEN: http://gilaqueen.us/
“Those Who Landed, Surprised That Zombies Had Overtaken the Planet” in THE 2006 RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY: http://www.sfpoetry.com/rhysling.html
+ HONORED, HUMBLED, HUBRIS
The muse caressed me this year. Not only did I receive the Bram Stoker Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Poetry Collection in June (for my book Freakcidents), but my short poem from Dreams & Nightmares magazine last year – “Those Who Landed, Surprised That Zombies Had Overtaken the Planet” – was also a nominee for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's annual “Rhysling” Award for best short speculative poem and also received an “Honorable Mention” nod in the latest edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. If you want to read these titles, you can still get my zombie poetry collection, Rigormarole, from Shocklines Bookstore, along with Freakcidents, if you like. (I believe there might be a FEW of the collector's hardcover editions of Freakcidents still available!)
Bram Stoker Award acceptance speech for Freakcidents: http://www.gorelets.com/demos/Arnzen-StokerAcceptance-2006.htm
Robot Chicken's “The Time of the Great Pumpkin”
MadTV's “South Parknuts”
Raymond J. Dartsch's “Rest in Peace, Charlie Brown”
Jim Reardon's “Bring Me The Head of Charlie Brown”
curse of the hempire
hippie vampires look the worst
because they refuse to Lugosi
their hair back with pomade;
they sit cross-legged beside their
broken coffins and tie-dye
their funeral garb into spirographic florals
of mold and mud, tripping on homegrown
shockwhite graveyard mushrooms,
believing they're good vegetarians
until the thirst for human blood
animates their groovy shambling
and like stoned-out stone-cold soldiers
they hunt hungry for a feast of friends;
“make blood, not war,” some cry and
they bite men in the spirit of free love –
their undead heads slurping in shadows
that no longer see summer or sunshine
For your next movie night, rent:
From Hell it Came (Milner, 1957)
The Grandmother (Lynch, 1970)
Little Otik (Otesanek) (Svankmajer, 2000)
Rock and Roll Apocalypse
Here's some wacky nonsense that for some inexplicable reason addicted me for hours. The idea is to restore the fabric of space and time – and heavy metal itself – by swinging a strange swinging object around a series of constellations before the universe implodes. The opening introduction is not to be missed and I dare say this crazy game is quite a challenge!
This ridiculopathic treatment is brought to you courtesy of humorist Mark Arenz. Check out his funny site at http://www.ridiculopathy.com/
[This game requires the Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Flash Player. Installed automatically as a browser plug in at http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash). If you haven't updated your Flash Player in awhile, now might be the time to do it.]
September 23 | FantasyCon | Nottingham, UK
EXQUISITE CORPSE PREMIERE. While I won't be there in person, if you're attending the British Fantasy Society's annual FantasyCon, be sure to attend the Short Film Showcase! You'll not only catch the premiere screening of Exquisite Corpse, but also be able to see short films adapted from writers like Rick Hautala, David Silva, and more. Also includes “Hellraiser” fan films! Definitely a worthwhile event!
fantasycon.org.uk/ and purplerage.co.uk/horror/bfs_sfs06.htm
October 19 @ 10pm Eastern Time | ONLINE CHAT
LICKER LAUNCH PARTY. Chat with me online at “The Lost and the Damned” discussion boards. Win book prizes. Laugh out loud. Emote weirdly. Whatever.
PLANS FOR 2007:
March 14-18th | ICFA-28 | Ft. Lauderdale, FL
March 29-April 1 | World Horror Convention | Toronto, Canada
July 5-6 | Odyssey Fantasy Workshop | Mt. Vernon, NH
Though you're likely to drool when you pronounce the word carefully, the term “lugubrious” doesn't have as much to do with loogies, goo, grubs, or brie as you might assume. “Lugubrious” describes maudlin mourning, exaggerated sorrow, excessive gloominess…or simply the emotional state of mankind in the year 2006. It should be an emo metal band; I'd like to see Lugubrious written in drippy letters on a soiled black t-shirt. “Bela Lugubrious” would also make a good title for either a Bauhaus song or a splatterporn actor. And anyone named Lou Gubrias should sue his parents for libel.
50 Hidden Horrors That Melt in Your Hand
Here's an extra online game for this issue that you might find fun…and more challenging than you'll expect!
M&M's Dark Chocolate wants to test your movie knowledge in a clever and artful way.
+ Dramatize an electroshock therapy session in second person, future tense.
+ Sketch a humorous conversation involving the devil's accountant.
+ Adapt the features and traits of any cartoon character into a “real” creature or man, exploring the freakish results. (e.g. What would a “Spongebob Squarepants” creature >really< be like, if living flesh in the real world? Write it out, obliterating the original reference to the cartoon in the process.)
If you publish something instigated by this department, let me know and I'll mention here next issue!
Last issue, The Goreletter held two contests. Congratulations to Ron Breznay, who won a free deck of the rare Play Dead-inspired playing cards for sending in the wildest interview question for my amazon.com weblog.
Ron asked, “If you could be a corpse, which corpse would you be?” Trick question! To read my dodgy answer, visit my amazon blog at
The “SpamINot” contest produced two winners – Craig Clarke and Tracy Mowdy – who won a large batch of prizes for sending in winning guesses just hours after the issue was mailed. The “spaminot” contest asked readers to guess which of the following phrases was NOT a real spam header I received in my inbox: aggressive mannequin, be decomposable, cuddle grime, diabolical meathead, drive by grimace, efficiency nose ring, goth seniority, grandmamma warlock, medication madhouse, open face surgery, sanity immersion, toucan retardation, and undeliverable baby. (Can you believe the sick ingenuity of spammers?). The made-up phrase was “diabolical meathead.” Guess I wasn't so diabolical after all. Congrats again to the winners and keep reading The Goreletter for new contests in the near future!
Please feel free to drop a comment on my amazon blog when you get the chance, folks.
A Troika of Weirdness
I've been dying to get the word out about three intriguing (and vastly different) titles before they fall off the literary radar.
First up is John Edward Lawson's new poetry collection, The Troublesome Amputee. I wrote the introduction to this book, which I have to say is one of the weirdest and goriest collections of literary poetry I've ever read. Lawson, a writer at the forefront of the “bizarro” movement, really comes of age as a poet in this collection, which features topics ranging from the most successful scatological poem I've ever read (a piece about zombies tongues that travel in the sewers (“Will Work for Food”)) to an ingenious catalog of the ugly side of famous comic book super heroes (“Marvels of Horror”). At turns audacious, at others hilarious – and always surprisingly inventive – this book really disturbed and disgusted me in that creepy way that I like so much. And that's saying a lot. The Troublesome Amputee is a generous collection of Lawson's work, clocking in at 96 pages, and revealing a wide range of poetic talent. If you're truly looking for something different, get this trade paperback book for $8.95 from Raw Dog Screaming Press here: http://www.rawdogscreaming.com/
I love fast-paced, well-plotted psychological thrillers, but nothing prepared me for the one-two punch of Jeff Strand's remarkably tight new novel, Pressure. This book goes places I wish more thrillers would go: into the dark and twisted pathways of the mind, exploring the boundaries of what we take for consensus reality. Strand – known primarily as a humorist – here takes off the funny gloves to deliver a fatal body blow with all seriousness. Pressure is essentially about the tension between two childhood friends, as one of them turns increasingly, morbidly…different. And yet the bond remains, even as Strand ratchets up the dread and things seriously take a turn for the worse. You can't help but identify with the very human protagonist and his escalating trouble with his old friend in this story. It's a great example of the “edgy” thriller, one in which the lines between the moral and the taboo, the innocent and the guilty, are always palpably felt in the emotional rollercoaster ride of the story. The writing is sharp – surgical sharp – and the pace is pitch perfect. I loved it. Get your quality hardcover edition right away from Earthling Publications [ http://www.earthlingpub.com/ ] or visit the nifty Pressure website here:
Finally, I want to recommend an offbeat book that's a year old, and probably a flash in the pan of the literary scene, but one that in my opinion should not be overlooked. A lot of people I know enjoy Tom Robbins' quirky novels (like Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, or Jitterbug Perfume) for their wild play with language and humorous, whimsical approach to the universe they create. In this book, Wild Ducks Flying Backward: The Short Writings of Tom Robbins, you get what you love about Robbins but in an unusual presentation, along with many welcome and refreshing surprises. The book is really just a collection of ephemera, featuring batches of travel essays, tributes to celebrities, critiques, short-shorts, poems, song lyrics and interview responses – mostly reprints culled from a wide variety of magazine publications that you might not have read before or cared about. I didn't expect to really give a darn about Robbins' opinion of, say, Jennifer Jason Leigh, or, say, his musings during a visit to an antiques shop in Montana, but after the first sentence of each piece in this book I couldn't stop reading. His love of language perpetually won me over – it's contagious and fascinating – and even when I found myself disagreeing with his politics or his treatment of women, I still found myself laughing or subscribing to his idealism. It's as though he realizes that these short essays are not as heavy with significance as his (already rather “light”) novels, so he simply enjoys the wordplay and the whimsical musing for its own sake. Although there is very little horror in this book, some of the pieces do have a dark side, and I think it's fair to claim that Robbins is a fantasist. There's plenty of dark stuff to be found in the lyrics of “Honky Tonk Astronaut” or the poem, “Triplets” (with lines like, “I went to Satan's house./It was supposed to be an Amway party./I wanted one of those hard as hell steak knives.”) And if you enjoy my “Blather” department in The Goreletter, I have a strong feeling you'll be entertained by this book (I mean, one entry in Wild Ducks is simply dedicated to Robbins' love of the letter Z, for crying out loud). Wild Ducks Flying Backward was published by Bantam in Sept 2005 to a mild reaction by mainstream critics, but even though there is some unevenness to it, I think it's a pretty solid book, thick with think pieces, loaded with laughs. You can find it on amazon.com for under $10 here: http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Ducks-Flying-Backward-Robbins/dp/0553383531
It actually pays to scroll this far down.
THOU SHALT NOT waste a dollar!
Exclusive! Goreletter readers will be the VERY FIRST READERS to receive the new anthology, Thou Shalt Not, when they order it directly from Dark Cloud Press' website. Receive one dollar off the cover price of $17 when you visit the shopping cart on the book's webpage and enter the code “goreletter” (no quotation marks) in the voucher field. Offer good through October 31, 2006: http://www.darkcloudpress.com/
The RAW DOG screams!
For the month of September get a $10 discount on Eyes Everywhere by Matthew Warner. Shipping is free in the US (for international shipping rates please email email@example.com first). Copy this whole link into your web browser to order directly from Raw Dog Screaming Press:
…a wicked Ace of Spades! The 72 copies of the creepy “Grim Grimoire” edition of my novel, Play Dead, sold out before they were even made available for sale. But Shocklines Bookstore found a few copies hiding in their warehouse and are offering them up for sale at a $30 discount! First come, first served here (won't last long!):
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. This week features Max Brooks' new zombie novel, World War Z, McSweeney's hilarious Mountain Man Dance Moves, and lots more at a great discount. Search for economical Arnzen titles while you're there, like 100 Jolts or the hard to find Stoker finalist, Paratabloids!
All material in The Goreletter is © 2006 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delivered free since Sept. 2002. Issues to date: 34. 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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“After being struck on the head by an axe, it is a positive pleasure to be beaten about the body with a wooden club.” – Anonymous (Chinese Proverb)
* 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.
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