Posts Tagged ‘Bizarro’

Monday, a new week, but after a weekend that saw some action.  Saturday was my “SCIFI” Writers Group critique session, always fun for the socializing whether or not for the actual comments.  My meat for the griddle this time was a 500-word absurdist tale about something improper – at least unusual – found in the protagonist’s mailbox which, it seemed to me, survived quite well.  Though probably not “extreme” enough to call Bizarro, marketing could still be a challenge (actually it’s at a contest right now that unfortunately had its deadline the previous Thursday, that supplied the “prompt,” but it was fairly high level and I doubt my piece will have much of a chance).

Then, speaking of prompts, Sunday afternoon brought a Writers Guild workshop on writing on moderator-supplied subjects (see, e.g., July 17), this time that didn’t suggest to me any actual stories, but was still enjoyable as a set of exercises.  Thus I wrote personal mini-essays on “I ____” (in my case “I Steal . . .,” which was also the subject of the example we were shown first, and thus one I stole); “What’s in a Name?” (on the origins, or anything else, of the essayist’s personal handle); and an incident involving one of a group of ten friends one was to dredge from his or her past (“But I don’t have ten friends,” “Oh, but what about Facebook?”) on which I wrote of a long-past girlfriend whose name I omitted to protect the, well, maybe not quite innocent.

Bottom line on this:  maybe not entirely useful this time, but a break from routine and, again, socializing, so maybe I’ll do it again next month.


“THE MUSEUM OF ALL THINGS AWESOME AND THAT GO BOOM is an anthology of science fiction featuring blunt force trauma, explosions, adventure, derring-do, tigers, Martians, zombies, fanged monsters, dinosaurs (alien and domestic), ray guns, rocket ships, and anthropomorphized marshmallows.”  So it says on Kindle where Upper Rubber Boot Boom61YDDmiN1lL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Books’s eclectic (to say the least) anthology has now been posted.  Curious or wish to order? press here.  Or for pre-ordering both print and/or electronic versions, plus a plethera of other info, one can visit the Museum’s own gift shop by pressing here.  So says Editor/Publisher Joanne Merriam.

As for me, remember the TERROR TREE PUN BOOK and “Olé Bubba and the Forty Steves” (cf. June 22 et al.)?  Well here we have another Bubba (a Bubba brother?) in a tongue-in-cheek tale of Christmas gone wrong, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians” (cf. June 13, March 17, et al.), originally published in HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT BUBBAS (Yard Dog Press, 2007).  With  . . .  zombies.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (so okay, you saw it March 17 too, but so much stuff in it. . . .)

Khadija Anderson, “Observational Couplets upon returning to Los Angeles from Outer Space”
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, “Photograph of a Secret”
Kristin Bock, “I Wish I Could Write a Poem about Pole-Vaulting Robots”
Alicia Cole, “Asteroid Orphan”
Jim Comer, “Soldier’s Coat”
James Dorr, “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians”
Aidan Doyle, “Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost”
matagb-dorr-001-150x150Tom Doyle, “Crossing Borders”
Estíbaliz Espinosa, “Dissidence” (translated by Neil Anderson)
Kendra Fortmeyer, “Squaline”
Miriam Bird Greenberg, “Brazilian Telephone”
Benjamin Grossberg, “The Space Traveler and Runaway Stars”
Julie Bloss Kelsey, two scifaiku
Nick Kocz, “The Last American Tiger”
David C. Kopaska-Merkel, “Captain Marshmallow”
Ken Liu, “Nova Verba, Mundus Novus”
Kelly Luce, “Ideal Head of a Woman”
Tim Major, “Read/Write Head”
Katie Manning, “Baba Yaga’s Answer”
Laurent McAllister, “Kapuzine and the Wolf: A Hortatory Tale”
Martha McCollough, “valley of the talking dolls” and “adventures of cartoon bee”
Marc McKee, “A Moment in Fill-In-The-Blank City”
Sequoia Nagamatsu, “Headwater LLC”
Jerry Oltion, “A Star Is Born”
Richard King Perkins II, “The Sleeper’s Requiem”
Ursula Pflug, “Airport Shoes”
Leonard Richardson, “Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs”
Erica L. Satifka, “Thirty-Six Questions Propounded by the Human-Powered Plasma Bomb in the Moments Before Her Imminent Detonation”
G. A. Semones, “Never Forget Some Things”
Matthew Sanborn Smith, “The Empire State Building Strikes Back!”
Christina Sng, “Medusa in LA”
J. J. Steinfeld, “The Loudest Sound Imaginable”
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “The Wanderers”
Lucy Sussex, “A Sentimental, Sordid Education”
Sonya Taaffe, “And Black Unfathomable Lakes”
Mary A. Turzillo, “Pride”
Deborah Walker, “Sea Monkey Mermaid”
Nick Wood, “The Girl Who Called the World”
K. Ceres Wright, “The Haunting of M117”
Ali Znaidi, “A Dolphin Scene” and “Australian Horoscope”

Add flash to your writing.  Be not like all others but dare to venture beyond the beaten path.  Well, some have done this — one might recall even I had a story in Bizarro Pulp Press’s BIZARRO bizarro-bizarroBIZARRO (see  January 30 2014, December 27 2013, et al.).  But that’s just the tip of the much-clichéd iceberg, as witnessed by Nathaniel Woo in “10 Bizarre Literary Movements and Genres,” published on LISTVERSE and for which see here.

(And should you be tempted, or, hey maybe I can sell a book too, for more information on BIZARRO BIZARRO one may press here.)

Thursday night, one may recall, brought readings of poetry.  These were followed a half hour later by a panel on TERRIFYING TROPES:  DARK CARNIVALE:  FREAKS, GEEKS, MAGICIANS AND SPIRITUALISTS covering, well, just that.  “Magic, mystery, and romance” — except you don’t know what hides under the greasepaint.  The panels I got to struck me as quite good in almost all cases, in this case also touching on nostalgia — weirdness and whimsy — and different takes between children seeing the glitter and wonder, rides, excitement, lots to do, versus teens where it becomes highly sexualized, a place to take girls where anything can happen, versus adults who now take their kids.  And the carnies themselves as playing roles, but even after the gates are closed as members of a separate culture (cited here was Tod Browning’s movie FREAKS).

Friday brought more TERRIFYING TROPES:  POE-ETICS:  SETTING SCENE AND ATMOSPHERE IN SUPERNATURAL FICTION, with a note that “The Dark Place” in horror is any place in that it’s being seen through the protagonist’s eyes.  So, in writing, establish the protagonist’s hang-ups — what’s in his mind — and think like an actor to not just see but react to a setting (and don’t forget other senses too, especially sound).  And look for details, especially ones the reader might not expect, as well as picking your own words carefully, also with an ear to their sound and their connotations, in setting a scene in the reader’s head too.   Then WEIRD SOUTH:  FROM VOODOO TO RATTLESNAKE REVIVAL:  SOUTHERN FOLKLORE IN HORROR LITERATURE brought in mixtures of cultures, especially in places like New Orleans, and distortions brought through oral retellings.  Thus the Devil may have been to some people an African god, yet close and personal to a Christian.  In that the South industrialized late, people still live close to the ground, and folk magic plays in people’s minds — the idea of Hoodoo, a large collection of magical techniques, versus Voodoo and Santeria which are actual religions.  But the truly frightening person is not one the Devil speaks to, but the one who says he’s been spoken to by God, because he’s the one who’s going to act on it.  DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WE ARE BIZARRO!  BEATING ON THE BONGOS AND SCRAPING THE VISCERA OF HORROR’S ZANIEST SUBCULTURE then spoke to “the weird stuff” — Burrough’s NAKED LUNCH, BUBBA HO-TEP, David Lynch movies, THE KAFKA EFFECT.  To try to add something that “completely f ***s up, doesn’t blend in, twists 180 degrees” . . . but still works.  Surreal, or told in a surreal way.  Or, as one panelist put it, think Dr. Seuss, noting that that’s one of the first things, with talking animals, that we give our children.

Also on Friday were several showings of short films that I got to, in whole or in part, plus PANEL/READING:  DARK POETS FACE TO FACE in which a group of poets (one, though, in absentia whose plane hadn’t come yet) read one another’s works, explaining why they chose that particular poem and commenting on it.  This was a repeat of a panel I was on in New Orleans two years before (cf. June 19 2013) and then, as now, it was interesting as a look into the poets’ minds as well as just fun, whether as audience or at the table.

Saturday’s fare included more panels, with DEADLY DEFINITIONS:  WHEN THE WEIRD GO PRO:  EXPLORING THE PARAMETERS AND CONSIDERING THE DIRECTIONS OF A LITERARY RENAISSANCE concluding that maybe the “new weird” isn’t that new.  There’s Lovecraft too, where when you end with a monster too big to kill, that’s “weird, not horror.”  Post-Lovecraft we’ve become more self-absorbed, but the knowledge at the end of a story that here’s a thing we’ll never understand, that’s weird.  Giant butterflies that will eat your soul . . . a magician with a spell that will destroy everything . . . that’s weird as well.  But there’s always been weird fiction, it’s just that we’re talking about it in a perhaps new context.  Also weird fiction “works better in short form, while longer novels need to include redemption.”  WEIRD SOUTH:  I WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY AGAIN:  WHY ARE SO MANY CONTEMPORARY VAMPIRE NOVELS SET IN THE SOUTH spoke of Southern traits, as surface politeness that may mask darker feelings underneath, as well as the South’s dark history in general (“that’s why we fear clowns, they have smiles painted on and you know it’s hiding something”).  Thus vampires, beautiful people, cultured, walk among us and, unlike, e.g., zombies, we don’t smell the rot that lies underneath.  Then add tradition, strong religious feelings including the darker parts of the BIBLE, resistance to outsiders and “foreign” ideas (such as fearful Counts from places like Transylvania), master/slave relationships which the South still has trouble handling, and like the South, lush and green where everyone flourishes except the outsider, like kudzu and vines that grab hold and won’t let you go, so is the vampire both beautiful and grasping.

Earlier Saturday but to the point too, was SPECIAL PRESENTATION:  DACRE STOKER:  BRAM STOKER/TRAVEL GUIDE NEW DISCOVERIES 118 YEARS LATER, a PowerPoint presentation by Bram Stoker’s grand-nephew on Stoker’s life and experiences that led to the writing of DRACULA, with places and backgrounds, plus some recent discoveries adding to our understanding of the novel; plus a presentation, MEDIA:  WHCFILM:  SKIPP’S SATURDAY SINEMA FUNTIME, in which Director John Skipp showed a short film and possibly pilot for a TV series, BOMBO AND FLOPSY IN “AN HONEST MIS-STAKE.”  Clowns . . .  and vampires.

And then Sunday, finally, brought WEIRD SOUTH:  THE DEVIL CAME DOWN:  GROWING UP LOVING HORROR BENEATH THE MASON-DIXON LINE which amplified several themes from the days before, on the South’s unique features, but authors too including Edgar Allan Poe (though born in Boston, brought up in Virginia), story-telling traditions that affect all classes, folk expressions and word choices and multiple meanings and high-context cultures.  Then, one hour later, from noon to 1, TERRIFYING TROPES:  THE DEATH PANEL:  FUNERALS, CEMETERIES, BURIAL, AUTOPSIES, AND DECOMPOSITION brought the convention for me back to DEATH TO DUST (as in my mis-citation in my Friday panel) with many excursions from mourning customs, to green burials and “death composting,” uses of cremains, paintings and photography of the dead, “death cafes,” food used in funerals, medieval medicine, books bound in human skin, and other objects preserved in museums.

After which time it was time to go.

To all, a stellar Holiday Season!   But for those perhaps a bit melancholy, for Christmas can sometimes bring that feeling too, press here for a story for cheering up — for no matter how bad things might seem now, somewhere, at some time, things always could be worse.  “The Worst Christmas Ever” was originally published in DARK JESTERS (Novello Publishers, 2006), with the version here appearing in FLASHES IN THE DARK on Christmas Day, December 25 2008.  It has never been posted on this blog before, but did get a mention earlier this year (February 2 and January 31) as having been accepted as a reprint for a charity anthology, but which to my knowledge has not been published.

Then for those with more poetic, um, tastes (depending, to be sure, on one’s personal dining habits), herewith a short verse on a more upbeat note, written just yesterday, Christmas Eve.  Read and enjoy!


she’s so excited
vampire Santa left a gift —
stocking filled with blood

And to all, my best for a truly happy Christmas and year to come!

As a quick update on A ROBOT, A CYBORG, AND A MARTIAN WALK INTO A SPACE BAR. . . (see Monday’s post, two down), with my story “Toast” one of the morsels of humor therein — peanuts as it were in the taproom of PUNbookOFhorrormirth, the anthology has now been filled and is closed as of today.  Also a release date of November 1 has been announced.

Then routine, routine. . . .  Two contracts came in today to be signed, the first, to be returned with accompanying blurb and bio, from DAILY SCIENCE FICTION for my bizarro-ish short-short “Rocky Road” (see May 18).  Things are moving fast, at least at the front end.  Then in a somewhat more leisurely manner (the original submission was in last September, though with its acceptance procedures have picked up), the contract for THE PUN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES arrived from the UK for “Olé Bubba and the Forty Steves” (cf. March 8), a tale of zombies and the running of the bulls in Pamplona Spain, originally published in 2005 in Yard Dog Press’s INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF BUBBAS.  This one also is to be returned with an up-to-date bio.

And so the writer’s life continues on a lovely, sun-drenched late May evening.

Two items to note on a sunny May Sunday.  The first is that my absurdist short short “Rocky Road,” which we’ve met briefly before (cf. April 6, March 2), about how one’s diet might affect dating patterns has been accepted by DAILY SCIENCE FICTION.  More on this as more is known, but judging from previous publications there, most likely it will appear sometime around earlyish fall.  For more on DAILY SCIENCE FICTION now, though, including archive access to my earlier stories “Casket Girls,” “Naughty or Nice,” and “Killer Pot” press here (for best results use just my last name, Dorr, in the search box in the right hand column).

Then, speaking of romance, “It’s the end of days.  The sky is falling, the seas are burning and your neighbour is a zombie.  It’s brutal out there.  It’s every man for himself and these heels are going to have to go; you simply can’t run in them!

“Across two volumes, THE GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD offers forty-one striking visions of the apocalypse and the women and girls dealing with it.  From gods to zombies, from epic to deeply personal, from the moment of impact to a future where life is long forgotten; book-1-1-bk-cover-300x212bestselling authors and exciting new writers deliver tales you’ll still remember when holed up in a fallout shelter with one remaining bullet and a best friend with a suspicious bite mark on their neck.”

So says the blurb, and my story “The Borrowed Man” (see January 11 this year, October 25 2013) is third in the lineup for volume one, according to proof sheets received late last night.  This is a British anthology long in the coming, originally projected for January-February this year, then sometime in March, with corrections and/or comments now due by the end of May.  But it’s a big book with lots of stories, volume 1 taking in apocalypse-related, pre-, and during-apocalypse tales; volume 2 those of what comes after, and I expect it should be worth the wait.

This was a submission last month by invitation, sort of, for a charity anthology to be put out by Alex S. Johnson under the Chupa Cabra House imprint.  “In the spirit of Christmas and doing the right thing, I am now announcing that submissions are open to the first SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES anthology, to benefit writers and artists in need.”  Niot a slam dunk, but today the word came that the story I sent, “The Worst Christmas Ever,” a reprint first published in 2006 in DARK JESTERS (Novello Publishers), has been accepted for, to give its full name, HEARTCORE:  THE SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES ANTHOLOGY, Volume 1.

Details will follow, although it presumably will contain line art as well as writing, and essays and poetry as well as fiction.  As for flavor, a later description offers this promise:  “Featuring horror, fantasy, Bizarro, and heart core erotica.”

As for “The Worst Christmas Ever,” about a bad year in Santa’s workshop due, in part, to one of his elves’s second job at the Ultima Thule Nuclear Power Plant, combined with a monkey escape from the zoo, it probably falls under the bizarro aegis as much as any of the above.  Although one might argue it’s horrible too.

Then speaking of bizarro, perhaps it’s not really bizarre as such (but who can resist?  certainly not I), but it is a good review that appeared on Amazon Wednesday.  That is, it’s a bizarro-bizarrogood review not just of the BIZARRO BIZARRO anthology (cf. December 27, October 12, 7), but it singles out my story, “Mr. Happy Head,” specifically for. . . .

Well, let me quote reviewer “denial66” who gave the Kindle edition 4.5 stars yesterday.  After saying he (she?) really enjoyed stories by Dustin Reade, Michael A. Rose, Gary Arthur Brown, and Andrew Wayne Adams, he adds:  “The winner for best in this anthology, in my opinion goes to Happy Head by James Dorr.”  You can see it for yourself by pressing here!

Guy’s got taste.

Although he did take a half star off, I suspect it’s for what he says at the end:  “While this volume may be a bit more than someone new to bizarro should take on, those familiar will love what it has to offer.”  (And doesn’t that really just make it one level better?)

Two items for Christmas week to report, both of them good.  Nice, not naughty — though maybe the second is a little bit naughty as well.  But in a good way.

The first:  THE TEARS OF ISIS has garnered a new review on Amazon, the seventh I think, and this one by US author Rena Mason (THE EVOLUTIONIST, novella “East End Girls”) with five stars!  “THE TEARS OF ISIS is a well-written collection of stories that transcend time, places, and events . . . dark fantasy/horror stories that are both intense and thought-provoking. . . .”  To see for yourself, press here, but one word of warning.  Not every review is necessarily as nice as this one.

Then for the second, word didn’t get to me until late Christmas Eve, but BIZARRO BIZARRO (cf. October 12, 7) is now available via Amazon inbizarro-bizarro paperback form as of the beginning of this week.  To quote from the guidelines from a while back, “Yup . . . it’s a bizarro anthology . . . but what the heck is bizarro?  To us, it’s intellectual and poetic freedom.  It’s about exploring the limits of literature and creativity.  It can be argued that many classics are bizarro.  George Orwall’s ANMAL FARM has talking animals that take over a farm, and Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ features a suffering protagonist who has spontaneously become a cockroach.”  Be that as it may, my bug in this bughouse is called “Mr. Happy Head,” originally published in WICKED MYSTIC, and is about . . . well . . . it’s kind of bizarre. . . .

But to check BIZARRO BIZARRO out for yourself, press here.

It’s semi-official because, according to the announcement from Bizarro Pulp Press (cf. October 7), “[t]his list is subject to slight change between now and when the book actually releases.  This is also what we are thinking of for the order of the stories that will be featured in this book! I am Very excited about this thing.  We have a lot of great names and great bizarro-bizarrostories.  If you will notice, we have a super secret story to complete the anthology.”

And so, here it is (at least for the time being):

1. Wol-Vriey, Lucy in Brain Ceiling World
2. Jeff Burk, The Satanic Little Toaster
3. Robert Harris, A Smashed Up Salmon
4. Dustin Reade, Night Butterfly
5. Marcin Kiszela, Dreamsource
6. James Dorr, Mr. Happy Head
7. Alan M. Clark and David Conover, Ugly Shirt’s Quest
8. Edmund Colell, Fuck Your Death, Keep Working
9. Robert Harris, Pixelated Nostalgia
10. Sean Leonard, Dope-elganger
11. Emily Hundrwade,l Body Snatcher’s Remorse
12. Bruce Taylor, Four Dreams in Miniature
13. Alan M. Clark and Randy Fox, Not About Mrs. Maridu
14. Daniel Gonzales, Sitcom Hell
15. Aaron French, Shoes
16. Max Booth III, A Prescription for Shut the Fuck Up
17. Vincenzo Bilof, The Swamp of Girders and Chains
18. P. A. Douglas, Pussy Apocalypse
19. Danger Slater, The Monster, the Man, the Building, the Bomb
20. MP Johnson, Vagalyn’s Flying Head
21. Todd Nelson, Moon Love
22. Ethan C. Evans and  Daniel J. Pendergraft, Wildberry Christ
23. Jan Maszczycsn, Toy Soldiers
24. G. Arthur Brown, The Pitfalls of Modern Gardening
25. Craig Saunders, Sleep and the End
26. Meghan Acuri, Plaything
27. Michael A. Rose, Civics of Consequence
28. Christopher T. Dabrowski, Big Bang
29. Andrew Adams, Forget Me Not, Filet Mignon
30 William Cook, The Colony
31. Robert Harris, Schluck!
32. Alan M. Clark and David Conover, All His First Born
33. Tony Rauch, Refugees from the Future
34. James Reith, As One
35. Gabino Iglesias, Looking for Gloria
36. Nick Cato, A Path for the New Bride
37. ????

Then in other news, Grey Matter Press (cf. September 17, et al.) has just announced that “SPLATTERLANDS:  REAWAKENING THE SPLATTERPUNK REVOLUTION will publish in time for Halloween 2013. The company’s second collection of dark fiction will be available for purchase on October 22, 2013.

“’Almost three decades ago, a literary movement forever changed the way we now look at horror and the entertainment industry’ explains Editor Anthony Rivera.  ‘The Splatterpunk movement of the nineteen eighties resulted in a complete overhaul of our underlying concept of entertainment. From Clive Barker’s stunning literary horror, to major motion pictures like Saw and Hostel, to now what we watch on television each week in shows like Breaking Bad and American Horror Story.  Without Splatterpunk, none of this would have been possible. It was a movement that, literally, changed the world.’

“Grey Matter Press intends to breathe new life into that movement as they reawaken the true essence of the Splatterpunk revolution by publishing SPLATTERLANDS: REAWAKENING THE SPLATTERPUNK REVOLUTION, a collection containing stories of personal, intelligent and visceral horror.”

And so here that is too.

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