Archive for October, 2018

“…and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations — sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.”
– From J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla

So this, the final reading on THE POETS WEAVE, on radio station WFIU, was actually broadcast Sunday, October 28.  But that was simply because that’s the Sunday closest to Halloween, while here we can greet today officially with its recording.  Two previous segments were aired on October 14 and October 21 respectively (see October 17, 21), on the “Who” and the “Where” of vampirism.  And now, to end it, are four poems on the “Attraction of Vampirism,” as produced by LuAnn Johnson and introduced by Romayne Rubinas Dorsey:  “Moonlight Swimming,” “The Aeronaut,” “When She Won the One Million Credit Galactic Lottery,” and “The Esthete.”  All poems are still from my collection VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) and may be heard by pressing here.

Well, yesterday probably as you read this, but October 29 is National Cat Day in the US “to bring awareness to the number of homeless cats,” as Triana herself was before I found her at the County Animal Shelter.  And what better way to combine that with a Monday Pre-Halloween movie than . . . well, as the Indiana University Cinema explains:  Making its U.S. debut at IU Cinema on the 80th anniversary of its original release in Japan, THE GHOST CAT AND THE MYSTERIOUS SHAMISEN is a rare surviving example of a pre-World War II Japanese horror film.  Suzuki Sumiko, Japan’s original horror star, plays a jealous stage actress who murders her romantic rival — and her lover’s cherished pet cat for good measure!  But her bloody past comes back to haunt her … literally.  In Japanese with English subtitles.  Yes, a cat horror movie!  And, one may add, Suzuki Sumiko is not your Western-style “Scream Queen” either, but more often played the monster itself or, in this case, the second best thing.

As to the monster itself, though, there is a Japanese tradition of the ghost cat that comes upon a murder victim and drinks its blood, becoming itself a kind of ghost-monster.  Here it has evolved a little, however, with Kuro the cat as a go-between in what becomes a love triangle.  Or maybe not — our shamisen player is already promised to Ms Sumiko’s character as he explains to the second woman, a samuri’s daughter — and too high-born to be a musician’s girlfriend anyway — who had found and returned his missing Kuro to him.  He does end up giving her his shamisen though just before his betrothed takes matters into her own blood-stained hands and, well, the ghosts of the cat and the rival combine.  And the shamisen thus becomes a cursed object being passed from person to person — assisted by visitations by the cat/woman ghost, depicted through a sort of kaleidoscopic effect — until it winds up in the hands of the dead woman’s little sister, while in the meantime the actress has dumped the musician, becoming instead the mistress of the local feudal lord.  And then it happens there’ll be a kabuki theatre performance where actress, musician, lord, little sister, and ghosts come together. . . .

But let us end now with a guest review, courtesy of IMDb, which I will agree with for the most part.  I will add via the IU Cinema docent, though, that only about four of these pre-war Japanese horror movies have survived in complete form (after 1940 the Japanese movie industry turned to propaganda films, and afterward “revenge” films were banned until the American occupation ended in the early 1950s) and the print we saw, while less than perfect, was probably the best now in existence.  Also the Japanese described such movies, including the 1930s Universal films (e.g., DRACULA,  FRANKENSTEIN, which were shown there too) with a word that means not so much “horror” as “weird.”

Charming movie which lets itself down with poor horror special effects
19 February 2012 | by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx

Seijiro is a shamisen player for a kabuki troupe (a shamisen being a type of stringed instrument).  He is engaged to Mitsue, a sociopathic actress.  Seijiro’s kindly behaviour towards his cat seems to prove good karma when the cat (Kuro) brings home Okiyo, a kindly and beautiful lady from a higher caste, with whom he forms a friendship.  For this gesture the cat is murdered by Mitsue.  Movies with ghost cats are apparently a genre in Japan, the only one I had previously been aware of is Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko, but this is an early example.

A number of scenes feature subsequent hauntings by the cat’s ghost.  The special effects in these moments unfortunately come across as fairly ludicrous.  The ending of the movie revolves around a kabuki performance that’s fairly unintelligible to a modern audience and some frankly pretty unwatchable action/horror scenes.

All that said though, I felt that the movie was very beautiful at points and was rather elegantly framed and shot.  I think what I love about black and white cinema is busy frames full of detail, and the contrast of light and shadow in these busy frames.  This movie, especially in the first half, is quite voluptuous and ornate, and shows a very idealised form of Japanese life, it’s easy to sense that the Japanese are a people who turned living into an art form.

It’s a long, long list and there’s lots of poetry, but stories are there too, some of which I’ve read already from the proof copy.  The book:  HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 3, et al.), edited by Allen Ashley and Sarah Doyle and published in England by Eibonvale Press less than two weeks ago.  I’m looking forward to seeing a finished copy!  But in the meantime, I do have a table of contents now as well as a cover image that I can share.  My pup in the pack (ah, now), a story set in the world of TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH titled “Crow and Rat,” number eleven on the contents list, about the lowest of the low in New City’s beggar society aspiring to something perhaps too high.

But let’s let the editors give us an introduction to the book itself:

Inspired by notions of the animalistic, HUMANAGERIE is a vivid exploration of the nebulous intersection of human and beast.  From cities to wilderness, buildings to burrows, and coastlines to fish-tanks, these thirty-two poems and thirteen short stories explore emergence and existence, survival and self-mythology, and the liminal hinterland between humanity and animality.  This is an anthology featuring both poetry and prose.


Animal Apology – Paul Stephenson
Beginnings – Elaine Ewart
Aquarium Dreams – Gary Budgen
Beetle – Sarah Westcott
Vixen – Cheryl Pearson
Augury – Tarquin Landseer
The Orbits of Gods – Holly Heisey
Polymorphous / Stages of Growth – Oliva Edwards
Pray – Scott Hughes
Seahorse – Tarquin Landseer
Crow and Rat – James Dorr
Phasianus Colchicus – Kerry Darbishire
And Then I Was a Sheep – Jonathan Edwards
Wade – Tonya Walter
Sanctuary – Lauren Mason
Sturnidae – Setareh Ebrahimi
Rut – Ian Steadman
When a magician – Kate Wise
Palavas-les-Flots – Paul Stephenson
Notes for the “Chronicles of the Land that has no Shape” – Frank Roger
Rough Music – Jayne Stanton
The Butterfly Factory – William Stephenson
Hibernation – Sandra Unerman
Jellyfish – Megan Pattie
Barred Owl – Kristin Camitta Zimet
Ouroboros – Douglas Thompson
The Great Eel of Jazz – Amanda Oosthuizen
University Library – Lindsay Reid
Vulpine – Tarquin Landseer
Sloth – Elaine White
Flock – David Hartley
Fishy Business – Diana Cant
Wojtek – Mary Livingstone
Susheela – Bindia Persaud
Fluke – Michael G. Casey
Buck and Doe – Jane Burn
A structure of perfect angles – Jane Lovell
Two Lost Souls – Tracey Emerson
Company to Keep at the Harvard Museum of Natural History – Jenny Grassl
Last night a deer – Kerry Darbishire
Miss Muffet Owns Her Inner Spider – Hannah Linden
Dewclaw – Ian Kappos
Female Skate – Sarah Westcott
Noctuary – Tarquin Landseer
Her Audience Shall Stand in Ovation – Jason Gould

Should one have a yen to order a copy, publisher Eibonvale Press’s info page can be found here.

Only four days left!  (Say what?)  That’s four days from now, to October 31, for a chance to purchase THE TEARS OF ISIS, my 2013 Stoker(R) nominated collection, at fifteen percent off its regular price.  And that’s for both editions, both print and electronic.  Or, to quote publisher Max Booth III:  Hey!  Speaking of Halloween, starting right now until the end of the month, everything in our webstore is 15% off.  All you gotta do is enter discount code ThisIsHalloween upon checkout.  Go get some spooky lit for your spooky self.

So for celebrating Halloween right, here’s a chance to read THE TEARS OF ISIS if you haven’t but might want to try it.  For information/ ordering, with links to other Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing titles as well, one need but check it out in the PMMP store by pressing here.  Or for more information on TEARS itself, including reviews, just click its picture in the center column — then come on back to the publisher’s store for this special discount.

And remember, if you read it and like it (this goes for any author’s books), please consider writing and posting your own review on Amazon and elsewhere as well.

It often will take a few months for a publisher to gather all royalty information together, especially if there are multiple vendors reporting — Amazon plus B and N plus perhaps the publisher’s own website, for instance.  And then there may be more than one book involved.  So, unsurprisingly, the statement received today is not for the third quarter but rather a six-month total for 2018’s first half, ending in June.  And, as has been my custom, the micro-amount logged into my ledger, I shall report neither amount nor publisher to avoid mutual embarrassment.

But wait, there is something that I can add, that it may not be as trivial as it sounds.  As it happens, the royalty covers four separate anthologies with a story in each, though only two had actual sales.  But these are anthologies that were published quite a few years before, which in their day provided half-yearly amounts in the $10.00 to $12.00 range each.  And these continued over periods of several years, adding up for each, if not riches exactly, what would have been reasonable one-time payments for each of four stories, and possibly more than that for some.  Remember these are royalties, too, that are shared among every writer with work in an anthology.

So, the moral, while today’s haul might be good, at best, for a down payment on lunch, the books and the publisher have done well enough in the past for me, and it’s actually a small delight that even a few are still interested enough to buy some copies, and that enough to provide the authors any royalties now at all.

It starts with a longish poem from Marge Simon, “Robert Browning and the Spider Poet,” and ends with a flurry of poetry by Christina Sng (a fun one, her second, “Catsitting on Halloween”).  No, Triana, don’t get any ideas.  But what it is is a “Gallery of Poetry” in a jam-packed October/Halloween edition of the HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  And, between the two poets already mentioned, are three mini-poems (two haikuish, the third a four-liner) by me.

But for extra fun, the three I chose were all published first on this very blog, on February 14 2013 (yes, that’s Valentine’s Day) and February 14 and September 24 2017.  And one at least, the first, is a love poem (well, sort of a love poem — a warning perhaps).  The others, perhaps, a bit more on the dark-humored side.  The poems themselves are titled “Best Appraise that Diamond Fast,” “The Vampiress’s Embarrassment,” and “Land of Milk and Honey,” and all may be seen (Marge Simon’s, Christina Sng’s, and mine) by pressing here.

“Listen to them—the children of the night. / What music they make!”
– From Bram Stoker’s Dracula

So begins the second of three readings, by me (cf. October 17), on the topic “Let Us Explore Where Vampires May Be Found,” on the Indiana University Public Broadcasting Station WTIU.  The program:  THE POETS WEAVE, produced by LuAnn Johnson and announced by Romayne Rubinas Dorsey, and which may be heard by pressing here.  Thus, to repeat the introduction:  Today, [James Dorr] will read on the subject of vampires and things vampiric from his all-poetry collection Vamps (A Retrospective), which is available from White Cat Publications or Alban Lake Publishing.  More information can also be found on James’ blog.

James reads “Why She Started Writing Poetry,” “California Vamp,” and “Chagrin du Vampire.” 

Potential reviewers, there’s plenty of time.  Although TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH has been out for a bit more than a year, that doesn’t mean reviews aren’t still sought and appreciated!  In fact, just this month, a new review by “Malkinius” has been posted on Amazon under the title “Very Dark, But in a Good Way.”  Dystopian, end of the world, gothic, romance, philosophical and just quirky enough in the setting and characters to keep you wanting more, to quote just a bit, including what I’d call a positive hint:  If he puts out more books I will be buying them.

Well [*ahem*] yes.  Should you be interested in buying TOMBS, or just for more information including the latest reviews, please press here.  And when/if you’ve read it if you should think it might be worth sharing, if only for a line or two, please consider reviewing it yourself on your blog (if relevant), Amazon, Goodreads, anywhere else — it would be a great help!  (And, well, should you have read/consider reading my 2013 collection THE TEARS OF ISIS, info on which can be found here, please consider reviewing it too.)

Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly’s 2018 Deluxe Samhain Edition has ten tales of terror to frighten the pants off you, interviews, ghost hunts, recipes, and more!  Showcasing the results of our 2018 Spooky Samhain Contest, our literary journal is now a spooktacular scare-a-thon!  Grab it today for all of your Halloween reading wishes!  Yes, it’s available and, according to Amazon, has been for a couple of weeks, OKLAHOMA PAGAN QUARTERLY’s special Spooky Samhain 2018 Contest issue (see September 23, 16) in which we may recall I won second prize.  The story, “The Great Man,” a tale of post-revolutionary France and the magic of guillotines — or at least as was imagined by some then — originally published in THE STRAND MAGAZINE for Spring-Summer 1999.

But that isn’t all.  The first place winner is there as well plus TWO (count ’em!) stories tied for third.  And added to that are sufficient “honorable mentions” to make an even ten with plenty of time still for Halloween, all of which can be found by pressing here.

The word is out!  Grim fairy tales.  Dark magic wielders.  Threatening urban legends.  Crows.  A wishing ring.  An ensorcelled forest.  These stories and more bewitch and frighten in RE-ENCHANT.  Wander the dim-lit paths of enchantment conjured by 18 tales from an international roster of authors.  Featuring fiction from Nancy Springer, Darrell Schweitzer, Don Webb, Alma Alexander, James Dorr, Jude-Marie Green, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Gregory L. Norris, Kelly A. Harmon, April Steenburgh, Robert N. Stephenson, Christine Lucas, Kai Miro, E. E. King, Mattie Brahen, Ace Jordyn, Hans Christian Andersen, and W.R.S. Ralston.  RE-ENCHANT takes readers down twisted walkways to discover strange and magical places, people, and creatures.  This is the second of Pole to Pole Publishing’s all-reprint anthologies, for fantasy this time, with my story in it called “Dust,” a saga of witchery, Spanish ladies, and . . . spiders . . . originally published in my collection, STRANGE MISTRESSES: TALES OF WONDER AND ROMANCE (cf. July 8).  The first of these with my science fiction story “The Game” was RE-LAUNCH (see October 16, 11, et al.) which, just received, has been a pretty good read so far so I’m looking forward to this one too, for more information on which, or to order one can press here.

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