Archive for May, 2018

They’re coming to get us, these talented cats.  Beware, beware!  Or, now for something completely different — and if not beware just enjoy, courtesy of Gary Ogden on SHORTLIST.COM, “‘America’s Got Talent’ Just Gave Us the Greatest Cat Video of All Time.”  To quote from the blurb:  A cat doing tricks?  Well, now you’ve got our attention.  The reason for this is, that cats do whatever the hell they want and will not pander to your requests to perform.  Getting a cat to do something is extremely difficult, as anyone who has ever had to give their cat a pill can attest. 

However, it seems that some people have a knack with their cats. . .  To which I would add, half the fun’s watching the faces of the judges, or, to see for yourself, press here.

Though it was originally intended for biomedical research, the Mütter Museum is a funhouse for those with a morbid sense of curiosity, explains Jessica Ferri on THE-LINE-UP.COM.  She also suggests:  The next time you find yourself in Philadelphia, you may want to consider paying a visit to the infamous Mütter Museum.  It was founded in 1863, after Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter donated his collection of medical anomalies, wax models, diseased specimens, and medical equipment to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  Today, the museum boasts a collection of over 20,000 specimens, with about 15 percent on view to the public.  Believe us, that small percentage is plenty for nightmares to last a lifetime, and adds this warning, be sure to skip lunch before your visit, lest you want to lose your meal.

And so, the wonders one might find there include objects removed from people’s lungs, anthropodermic books (that is, bound in human skin), “wet specimens” (don’t ask), the Hyrtl Collection of 139 human skulls, a two-headed baby, the “Eye Wall” . . . well, you get the drift.  All these and more which you can read about yourself in “The 12 Creepiest Exhibits at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum of Medical Oddities” by pressing here.

The name of the series was ‘WAY OUT, with an apostrophe, and, yes, it didn’t last very long, but for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY fans (or better yet, the superior t_500x300earlier movie version with Gene Wilder starring and WILLIE WONKA in the title), children’s author Roald Dahl actually did host a spooky adult TV show way back in 1961.  The hell of it is, though, it’s never been made available on DVD, one reason why you (or anyway, I) may have never heard of it.  But for some information, check out “Roald Dahl’s 1960’s Version of ‘Twilight Zone’” by Trisha Leigh Zeigenhorn on lg_1c77caed344c-roald-dahl-way-out_openingDIDYOUKNOWFACTS.COM, via “Discover Roald Dahl’s Dark Side in His Creepy Twilight Zone-like Show, Way Out” on THE-LINE-UP.COM (or, the magic of serendipity strikes again!), by pressing here.  And with that all may be no longer lost — scroll down to the very, very bottom and there’ll be a link to see at least some of the episodes on YouTube.

Just a quick note today that I stopped by AbeBooks and note that TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH is available at discounted prices as low as $8.69.  This is for the print edition and, while there’s shipping added to that, it still comes to less than $13.00 (in this particular case, $12.29 to be more exact) compared to a $14.95 list price.  Plus, of course, whatever shipping might be on that.
If interested, the AbeBooks page can be found by pressing here.  I don’t know if this is for a limited time (I also looked up THE TEARS OF ISIS but didn’t find similar discounts there, for instance), but if you’ve been considering possibly buying it, this one might be worth checking out now.
The Challenge is this:  Using this image, write a 25 words or less story.  Post your story in the comment section below*.  The one with the MOST LIKES will be featured in a future post.
The Challenger:  Carrie Ann Golden via her blog page “Friday Fun** (A Story Prompt Challenge #6)” on A WRITER & HER SENTIMENTAL MUSE.  The image is here (but bigger on Carrie’s page).  And the deadline for this is tomorrow, Monday, at 11:59 p.m.
It is fun, too, and doesn’t cost anything.  Three of us, including me***, have already presented our entries which you can see as well.  And two (as of this writing) have even already received “likes.”  In fact some may remember I’ve been the winner in this thing before, in “Challenge #3” (see April 15, below), though perhaps one a bit less hotly contested.  So, if you win, the prize is fame.
Where I am, today is sunny and lazy, a lovely May Sunday, not a day for great ambition but one in which a little creativity goes well.  A good day to give a small challenge a try, which one may do by pressing here!
*That is, the comment section on Carrie Ann Golden’s blog page, not on this one.
**Which is to say, the challenge has been up for several days now, but there’s still a day left for those wishing to bite.
***Mine’s kind of silly, but then most of you probably know me by now.

Today’s street mail has brought the current (Spring, 2018) issue of STAR*LINE, the journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA).  This is the one that has four (count ’em, FOUR — cf., also, April 11, et al.) separate poems by me in it, granted short ones, but still four whole poems!  All of these are perhaps a little bit tongue-in-cheek, dealing as they do with the everyday problems of vampiresses on the run, sharks in mermaid-infested waters, zombie hunters seeking their prey, and love-smitten young men in Transylvania.  The poems themselves are scattered throughout the magazine (often tucked discreetly towards the bottoms of pages), the pages which they inhabit being 10, 18, 24, and 34, and with titles like “Never Trust a Vampiress,” “Oh No She Didn’t?,” “From The Zombie Hunters Field Guide:  Tracking the Zombie,” and “The Young Transylvanian’s Guide to Dating:  Taking Your Date Home.”

For those interested, more on STAR*LINE and the SFPA can be found by pressing here.

Okay, so I lied.  Last December 18, that is (cf. which, at al., below), in announcing ASTOUNDING OUTPOST’s awarding my story “No Place to Hide,” originally published in in the Summer 1991 edition of SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW, the “Editors Choice” prize in their anthology/contest for “Neural Nets, Uplinks, and Wetware” stories, I told a fib or, more precisely, was misinformed.  Said I at the time, [a]s it happens, in addition to first, second, and third places, there was one other award to be given.  Or, to quote from the guidelines:  In addition, one story picked by the editors, not voters, will receive 15 dollars via Paypal and a custom T-shirt from the Astounding Outpost.  This is the equivalent of the second voted-on prize in terms of loot received (in more recent anthologies, a print copy will replace the T-shirt, but NEURAL NETS is the last that’s available in Kindle form only). . . .  Well, I haven’t seen the $15 or T-shirt either, but that’s not the point here*.  Rather, a serendipitous tiptoe through Amazon today has revealed that a print edition of NEURAL NETS, UPLINKS, AND WETWARE:  THE COMPLETE SET, with “No Place to Hide” number three in the contents, can now be found as well — and in fact may have been there since January!

The moral:  Many are the surprises we get in the publishing biz, or, to see (and perchance to buy?) for yourself press here.


*Also, as far as I know, there have been no subsequent anthologies either.

A conversation with Robert Weide, filmmaker*, biographer and personal friend of Kurt Vonnegut will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at IU Cinema, 1213 E. Seventh St.  For more than 30 years, Weide has been working to create a definitive documentary covering Vonnegut’s life and work. He will give a sneak preview of several extended clips of the work in progress and discuss his work on the film.  (From the “Events” section of the local newspaper.)

So I, a Vonnegut fan, a writer myself, and one interested in the arts — and creation of art — in general, made sure to be there last night. In fact, I even prepared myself by making a point to read the preface (by editor and compiler Peter Reed) and Vonnegut’s own introduction to 1999’s BAGOMBO SNUFF BOX, of previously uncollected short fiction, which describe the period in which these works were written, the 1950s and early ’60s where one could earn $3000 for a short story from magazines like COSMOPOLITAN or THE SATURDAY EVENING POST; the rise of TV that replaced these magazines to a large part, bringing a time where one had to write a whole novel to earn the same amount as an advance.  But Vonnegut’s early novels never sold that well until, including a deal of luck, his masterpiece SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE with its anti-war sentiment hit the market at just the right time to become a best seller.  And so I was able to anticipate some of what was to come, as described in the Indiana University Cinema’s blurb:  This special event is a conversation with filmmaker, biographer, and Kurt Vonnegut’s personal friend, Robert Weide, incorporating extended clips from a work-in-progress version of his long-awaited film, KURT VONNEGUT:  UNSTUCK IN TIME.

More than 11 years after his death, Kurt Vonnegut — who was born and raised in Indianapolis — remains one of the most popular literary figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Readers from one generation to the next, the world over, continue to find their lives transformed by his comic and cosmic insights, on display in such bestselling books as CAT’S CRADLE, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, MOTHER NIGHT, GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER, and on and on.  Amazingly, all of Vonnegut’s works remain in print, and his popularity shows no sign of waning. Yet to-date, there has been no definitive film documentary covering his extraordinary life and work.  For over 30 years, film and TV producer, director, and personal friend, Robert Weide, has been working to correct that oversight.  He will be giving a sneak preview of several extended clips from the work-in-progress, as he discusses his 36-year odyssey to complete the film.

The event is presented as part of Granfalloon**: A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence, an initiative of the Arts & Humanities Council of Indiana University.

And so it goes, for me, as writer, an enlightening and a humbling experience.  Yes, luck played a part in Vonnegut’s success, both good and bad, plus some horrendous life experiences, but I’d not realized the amount of hard work, and number of false starts that went into SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE until he got it “right.”  Or that success did not go well with him in certain ways, though it did in others, including a final bit of luck in his reluctant 2005 publication of A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY, a collection of essays that became an instant best seller, two years before his 2007 death.

But one more surprise too, while the blurb spoke of film clips, Robert Weide announced that he couldn’t decide, ultimately, which ones to show, so instead we we got to see the entire two-hour film, in its present not-quite-completed condition, followed in turn by a Q and A session.  A little bit rough, but whenever the final version comes out, I’ll recommend it!

*Among other things screenwriter and co-producer of the film version of Vonnegut’s MOTHER NIGHT.

**(Wikipedia)  A granfalloon, in the fictional religion of Bokononism (created by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel CAT’S CRADLE), is defined as a “false karass”. That is, it is a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is meaningless.  Charles J. Shields’s 2011 AND SO IT GOES:  KURT VONNEGUT:  A LIFE  quotes the novelist, who wrote that a “granfalloon is a proud and meaningless collection of human beings. . .”  That biography also cites Hoosiers as “one of [Vonnegut’s] favorite examples” of what the term refers to.  Other events include displays at the Lilly Rare Book Library, lectures both there and at City Hall, a stage reading of the musical adaptation of GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER, and several concerts.

Cool!  And it’s possible I’m the last person to know it. But yesterday afternoon’s cruise of the Interwebs blundered me into a site I had not known, SPECULATIVE FICTION DATABASE, and, more specifically, “Summary Bibliography:  James S. Dorr.”  It’s always fun to read these things too, to discover such things about myself as “Used These Alternate Names: James Dorr” or “Author Tags:  horror (1), fantasy (1), post apocalypse (1).”  And these things are true, whether I would have expressed them exactly that way or not.

The bibliography itself is divided into parts, such as “Collections,” “Omnibus,” “Short Fiction,” “Poems,” “Essays,” and “Interviews with This Author,” and let me be the first to admit I haven’t the slightest idea what “Omnibus” means.  It has just one entry, “Wind-Song (1992) [O],” which it turns out is actually a poem, published in, yes, 1992 in WEIRDBOOK ENCORE.  As for the others, readers of this blog will be able to tell semi-immediately that the last two items are woefully sparse (check “Poetry (Essays)” under PAGES in the right-hand column, for instance); “Collections” is better served however and, while some whole publications (GOTHIC NET being one I immediately noticed) seem not to be represented at all, the short fiction and poems lists are wonderfully long and have lots of stuff, some of it quite obscure.

So as these things go, SPECULATIVE FICTION DATABASE puts out a pretty good bibliography, with various links that are fun to explore, though the bibliographies here to the right are the “official” ones to check all others against.  But still, give it a look by pressing here.

DEADSTEAM is an anthology of dreadpunk, gaslamp, and dark steampunk. These are tales of the ghoulish and the gothic, chilling stories of haunted streets, of vampires and demons stalking the city from fog-drenched alleyways lit only by gas lamps.

17 chilling stories of the monsters lurking around every corner, the ghosts haunting the darkest streets of Victorian London, and the dead things crawling out of their graves to consume the flesh of the living.

And there you have it.  As for my part in this, I have a reprint originally published in CEMETERY RIOTS (Elysium Press, 2016; cf. September 3 2016, et al.) about a Victorian funeral directer and an incident from his early days in the business.  All right and proper like.  But now something new:  DEADSTEAM editor Bryce Raffle is featuring a series of interviews of some of the authors, of which mine has just been scheduled to appear on June 29.

So it’s something to look forward to for the summer, with the first of the interviews already posted on DEADSTEAM’s blog site for which one may press here.  Or for a reminder of DEADSTEAM itself (see also January 31, 16, 11), plus mini-biographies of more of the authors, please to press here.

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