Yes, that’s right, the origin of everything with today’s discovery via the internet by Edira Putri, “The Weirdest Creation Myths from Religions Around the World” on RANKER.COM, with bringing-to-my-attention credit going to Gene Stewart.  So getting right to it (to quote Ms. Putri):  Some people turn to scientific efforts to explain why and how the universe is the way it is.  shinto-the-islands-were-created-from-sacred-sexual-intercourse-photo-u1Others prefer transcendental beings, gods, or rituals.  Aside from being spiritual, the cultures that birthed these weird religious creation myths were also highly creative.  Who would have thought butter could form the world?  How did you link the origin of existence with extraterrestrial realms?  How could creation stories link us to monsters, giants, even bugs?

These weird creation myths around the world, promoted by religions, may be easier to pass on and to learn than scientific theories, and only seem truly bizarre when held in relief against modern scientific knowledge.  Basically, we think we know better now.  But do we?

There are fourteen myths recounted in all, some ancient, some more modern, which can be seen here (I’m partial to number 3 myself).  Which one is your favorite?

“Yes, we’ve been at this for twenty years now!

“Ten years ago we published FLUSH FICTION, VOLUME I:  STORIES TO BE READ IN ONE SITTING.  Now, only ten years later, we’re doing it again. Once again these amazing writers are saying it in — well, most of them in less than a thousand words!”

Such is the blurb for FLUSH FICTION II:  TWENTY YEARS OF LETTING IT GO (cf. May 21, March 27), which arrived in my mailbox today.  Edited by Selina Rosen, this celebrates Yard Dog Flush 2twenty years of publishing by Yard Dog Press in the press’s charmingly unpretentious way.  In fact, two other posts here can be found on August 1 2013 and April 8 2011, or thereabouts, noting not just the first FLUSH FICTION but their BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE series, in which I have stories in four of five volumes, as well.

My entry in this one, published in June, is called “Killer Kudzu,” a tale of horticulture gone bad in the American South.  And without a happy ending either, but perhaps shocking enough to scare the. . . .  Well you get the idea, and to see for yourself (plus explore around to see more of the Arkansas ambience of Yard Dog Press) as well as perhaps buy a copy press here.

“Can a poor farmer get justice in a court of law when an errant wizard destroys his crops?  And even if the crime can be proven and restitution ordered, how does one compel a wizard to comply?”  This the blurb, or at least a preliminary version, by Bards and Sages Publishing for my story “By Force and Against the King’s Peace,” currently scheduled for September 9 for THE SOCIETY OF MISFIT STORIES (see July 6, June 23).  This is a new electronic-only publication, tailored for stories from about 5,000 to 20,000 words, “to provide a loving home for those misfit tales that are too long for most periodicals but too short for print.”  And so today the galley proof came with a request for it to be returned by the weekend with any changes.  Yes, the life of the writer continues.sorceress1

“By Force and Against the King’s Peace” has been published before, in ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in December 1999, and, yes, partly because of its relatively long length (about 9800 words), it has not been reprinted since.  Also it is a story of crime, though speculative too as defined by Bards and Sages’s guidelines (“horror, science fiction, slipstream, steampunk, magical realism, etc.”), a sort of fantasy courtroom drama involving a young, new-minted wizard just starting her practice and an experienced, older — but not too old — King’s Justice of the Peace.

And, of course, magic.

I watched Jess Franco’s 1970 COUNT DRACULA last night and, as Dracula movies go, I thought it pretty good despite some critics’ claim that the film moves too slowly in places.  Of course Soledad Miranda in the part of Lucy didn’t hurt either, but Franco himself in an interview in the DVD’s “extras” makes a good case comparing it to other films, notably Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA (depicting Dracula as being in love is untrue to the vampire myth as seen by Bram Stoker) and the various Hammer versions (they tend not to take the material as seriously as they should), while at the same time admiring the original 1931 film with Bela Lugosi.  Franco’s also follows the novel fairly closely, dracula4compared to others, though there are still some simplifications (Dr. Seward works in van Helsing’s sanatorium; Quincy as a British Baronet is Lucy’s sole suitor, e.g.), and also stars Christopher Lee* in the title role as well as Klaus Kinski as Renfield.  And there are a few glitches, as in the sanatorium where Lucy and Mina will stay for a few nights, even though a servant had been told specifically to find rooms for them on the ground floor (the upper floors being where patients are housed), when the bat flies by to entice Lucy out, she goes down a long staircase to get to the door outside.

So is it worth seeing?  Yes.  The photography’s good, I thought, and it follows the story closely and cleanly for the most part, in itself refreshing.  And Christopher Lee’s role is terrific, playing on the idea from Stoker that, as the vampire drinks more blood there’s also a rejuvenation process, thus Lee’s character becomes younger looking as the film progresses.  The ending, to be sure, is jazzed up then by the process reversing, the corpse-to-be getting rapidly older until reduced to a skeleton and/or dust, a vampire cliche (but also true to the novel) shared with lesser movies too, but what the heck, it’s to be expected.  And here, from the novel, we’re given a reason, and that’s worth something!

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*Of course, Christopher Lee starred in all those Hammer Films too.  And so I blundered onto an interesting appreciation of all (or mostly so) nine of the films he made playing Dracula on BLASTR.COM, even if compiler Dany Roth ranked COUNT DRACULA as only number four, which can be found here.  And even Roth had a good word to say for the appearance of the three “brides” of Dracula in Franco’s version.

A couple of snippets today in an otherwise quiet week.  The first, the official schedule for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage (cf. just below, August 14) has been announced on Facebook.  So far I’m still at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, September 4, for a half hour of horror — for which, and more, one can find the full schedule here.  For my slot I’ll most likely be reading my story “Raising the Dead,” originally published in AIRSHIPS AND AUTOMATONS (White Cat Publications, 2015) and set for release space-shuttle-atlantis-station-undocking-071911in spring-summer next year from Elder Signs Press as an independent chapter in TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (see also, below).

And then, as an extra, I ran across an interesting item for space shuttle buffs, “NASA’s Space Shuttle By the Numbers:  30 Years of a Spaceflight Icon” by Tariq Malik on SPACE.COM, for which one can press here.  Finder’s credit this time goes to Steph P. Bianchini and THE EARTHIAN HIVEMIND in an entry interesting in its own right which can be found here.

So it’s a guilty pleasure too (Aimée, e.g., of the “casket girls” is herself bi), but for those interested, this weekend’s DIRGEMAG.COM offers “Red Lips, Black Heart:  The Allure of the Predatory LesbianMV5BMTY2Mjg4MzMyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQ0OTcxMQ@@._V1_ Vampire in Film,” by Annie Rose.  While not exhaustive, it provides a fair, more or less chronological view of the hungry for you-know-what vampiress in European and Hollywood movies, some a bit on the subtle side to get past the censors, of course.  And with pictures too (but these, as well, tasteful).  How many have you seen?  For DIRGEMAG’s scorecard, one may press here.

Then in more local news, Sunday brings the schedule for this year’s Labor Day weekend Fourth Street Art Festival’s Spoken Word Stage.  This is a series of half-hour readings of poetry and prose, with a little drama perhaps here and there as well, sponsored by the Writers Guild at Bloomington with partial support from the Bloomington (Indiana) Arts Commission.  And in which, Sunday, September 4 at 3:30 p.m., is featured “horror fiction” by me.  My most likely reading for this will be “Raising the Dead,” originally published in White Cat Publications’s AIRSHIPS AND AUTOMATIONS (see May 27 2015, et al.), which will also be part of my novel-in-stories due out in the first half of next year from Elder Signs Press, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH (cf. July 24, 15 et al.).

Read all about it!  Local Tokyo favorite KO’d by Skull Island challenger . . . or was it the other way around?  Story printed by Editor David Kopaska-Merkel on Page 10!  Yes, DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES including my sports poem “Godzilla vs. King Kong” (see August 6, et al.) arrived in my mailbox this morning.  For details, press here!

Well yes, that last gives subscription information, but publishing somewhat irregularly from 1986 on, DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES is still one of the best magazines for fantastic poetry on the market and, if you’re a fan, is worth the price.  And as for the fight, well . . .Cvr_AboutTime_bookstore-200x300 you’ll have to ask to begin your subscription with issue #103.

Then in other news, Main Street Rag Publishing Company Editor M. Scott Douglass reminds us that IT’S ABOUT TIME (cf. June 29, November 12 2015, et al.) can still be pre-ordered at a substantial discount, for details on which one can press here“It’s about time.”  When you hear that phrase, what comes to your mind?  A parent or a spouse, arms crossed, foot tapping, watching as someone sneaks in at night?  Or do you see a calendar, its days or weeks flapping.  Maybe you see time extending into an imagined future, something yet to be understood or experienced.  My story in this one is “Curious Eyes,” originally published in THE FICTION PRIMER in December 1988.

Her lipstick is flawless and her eyebrows are the boss of you.

Why is it that female cartoon villains get to be all of these things, to have all of these things?  Why do they get to have hairstyles — no, Hairstyles, with a capital Hair — while their protagonist counterparts are drawn small and soft and childlike?  Why does Ursula get to have a beauty mark and the most impeccably waterproof makeup a sea witch could hope for, while Ariel gets the same wide-eyed small-jawed face as every other white Disney princess?  Why does Maleficent get a headpiece that defines menacing elegance and dark grandeur, while Aurora gets Villainess-Shegogeneric late-fifties bangs?  Why does Shego get to mouth off to Drakken and read magazines by the pool and decide what is and isn’t her job, while Kim Possible has to leap into action regardless of whether she’s tired or sad or sick or, heaven forbid, too busy?

So asks Sarah Gailey on today’s TOR.COM with “In Defense of Villainesses.”  Outside of cartoons, I could add my own Aimée and her fellow filles à les caissettes.  And I especially like one observation Gailey makes, or at least sidles up to.  That it may be the most perfect, innocent princesses who eventually grow up to be the Evil Queens.

In any event I couldn’t resist (and if you can’t either, press here).

If you’re a vampire, it helps to be rich.  At least nowadays in the 21st century.  That is, a long, long time ago I had college level courses in theories of criticism and, while a Marxist approach may seem odd for a romantic reunion between two vampires, if you think about it vampirism itself represents a form of class struggle.  But ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is more than just that, it is first and foremost a love story — and, as we shall see, not just between two people, but love and appreciation of life itself.

This the beginning of my appreciation of the film, cf. June 26 2014.  I then add, [a]s for being rich, one has to get blood from underground sources — not only do “traditional methods” attract dangerous attention, so much blood on the hoof, as it were, is polluted these days — and that takes money.  As for class strugtumblr_n3oixtcJnH1tuim0go3_1280gle, well, the vampires in this film refer to ordinary folk as “zombies” because, with the rare exception of artists and scientists and very few others, most humans are “dead” to the wonders and beauty that’s all around them.  Worse, in their blind struggle to get by on their own human terms, they’re taking the Earth down the toilet with them.

But now back up a little.  Never mind the environment right now, what about just being able to get the “right kind” of blood?  And what about if one just starts out as a regular person (albeit with money)?

Well, it comes down to stem cells, according to the piece I ran across today, “Can Aging Be Reversed by Getting Blood Transfusions from Young People?” by Laurie Vazquez, on BIGTHINK.COM.  Experiments have been done on rats, for instance, sharing a younger rat’s blood with an older one ending with an alleged rejuvenating effect on the oldster.  Done repeatedly, could that bring one to eternal life — in other words an ageless rat powered by younger rats’ blood?  A ratty vampire (then put wings on the squeaker and. . . .)?

Well, back up again and forget the wings, but as for rejuvenating humans Vazquez explains:  Stem cells are important and powerful — but . . . they shut off at age 25.  That’s why researchers are now focusing on blood transfusions from people under that age.  One US company pursuing this research is Ambrosia, who hopes to inject 35-year-olds with the blood plasma of 25-year-olds.  They’re hoping to examine the effects of those stem cells in the older participants, and are currently hoping to recruit 600 volunteers.  Given that they’re charging participants $8,000 for each injection, their participant list may be skewed toward the Silicon Valley crowd.  Similar studies in China and Korea are pursuing this line of research, too, albeit without the steep cost.

The science may sound more like fiction than fact, but it’s not.  The FDA has approved blood for off-label prescription uses, provided its results are not guaranteed.  That clearance, combined with the fact that the majority of the funds for this research are being provided by Silicon Valley, means blood might become a premium anti-aging treatment solely for the uber-rich. . . .

For more, press here.

Yes, it seems like it’s still summer, but fall school terms start in August too, at least around here.  And next month there won’t be a First Sunday reading, it being pre-empted by Labor Day weekend which brings the Bloomington Arts Festival with its Bloomington Writers Guild’s Spoken Word Stage.  And, yes, I’ll read there too, tentatively one of the story-chapters from my upcoming novel-in-stories, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  And then in October First Sunday Prose will be back again, this time with me as a featured reader, tentatively anyway, with most likely another story from TOMBS.  Thus begins the “new season.”

So this Sunday, yesterday, brought the first “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (see May 1, et al.) for 2016-17, co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and Boxcar Books.  Featured readers were Cole Hardman with, as he put it, a church story and a graveyard poem, the latter also a 2015 second prize winner of Indiana State University’s Max Ehrmann Poetry Contest; Shayne Laughter (who we’ve met before, cf. January 3, et al.) with a short story inspired by a family legend, “Into Kansas”; and Patsy Rahn (who we’ve met before also, see April 24, et al.), though primarily a poet, with a series of seven short essays, six of them written this summer.  Then for the open readings, I came in as fourth out of six with flash story “The Cyclops” (see June 28, 10 2013, et al.).  Originally published in DARK MOON DIGEST YOUNG ADULT HORROR, June 2013, it’s the tale of a younger than young-adult person with feelings of alienation, as well as a very good reason for having them.

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