Posts Tagged ‘Dark Humor’

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a story called “The Plant-Sitter.”  The sitter in question, hired to take care of an exotic plant while its owner attends a horror convention, in part was a homage to the 1960 Roger Corman film LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, specifically when at the end, the hiree apparently now deceased, the hirer tries to remember her name.  “Audrey something?”  The story was published in the Fall 2004 BOOK OF DARK WISDOM by William Jones, who later founded Elder Signs Press, and who I subsequently worked with on an idea I had for a novel-in-stories about a far-future world of the “Tombs.”  For various reasons that project got delayed, but eventually under new editor/publisher Chuck Zaglanis, thirteen years later, the book was published as TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.

So these things are connected.  The Corman movie begat a 1960s retro rock musical in 1982, and that in turn was made into a movie four years after, in 1986, which I also have seen.  And now — one of the perks of living in a university town, where slightly off the beaten track films and theatre are nurtured — I had a chance to see the play on stage last night in an Indiana University Summer Theatre production.

For local readers the play can be seen on various dates through July 28.  For those who like horror in urban settings (a flower shop in New York’s “skid row”?) and dark, dark humor, all I can say is that it’s a delight.  It does have, yes, a carnivorous plant as well as, like most musicals, innocent lovers — or those at least who start off with some innocence.  Also it adds a sadistic dentist, and a Greek chorus-like trio of girl pop singers (early 1960s style, remember) who’re not averse to demanding tips to give strangers directions — to get to the flower shop, that is — although greed and materialism infect most of the other players as well.  Or in the plant’s case (named “Audrey II,” after the not quite entirely guileless ingenue) perhaps it’s more properly gluttony.

Anyhow I greatly recommend it.

Then a quick note on yesterday afternoon’s post on “11 Space Movies for Apollo 11,” it turns out that the wily SHORT LIST may have sent that particular feature as, apparently, a special treat for its newsletter subscribers — which means that the link may not have worked for all who tried it.  There doesn’t seem to be much I can do about that, but I can give a list of the movies alone.  Thus, from number one to eleven:  2001:  A SPACE ODYSSEY, APOLLO 13, INTERSTELLAR, FIRST MAN, HIDDEN FIGURES, CAPRICORN ONE, THE RIGHT STUFF, GRAVITY, THE MARTIAN, MOON, SPACE CAMP.

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The DWARF STARS anthology is a selection of the best speculative poems of ten lines or fewer (100 words or fewer for prose poems) from the previous year, nominated by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association membership and chosen for publication by the editors.  From this anthology, SFPA members vote for the best poem.  The winner receives the Dwarf Stars Award, which is analogous to the SFPA ds19Rhysling Awards given annually for poems of any length.

Thus the announcement today with a link to obtain a PDF copy that voting officially has begun for 2018’s best ultra short speculative poem.  And I do have, myself, a dog in the hunt or at least a sort of canine companion, the 6-line “Never Trust a Vampiress” (cf. May 29), initially printed in the Summer 2018 STAR*LINE, the SFPA’s own poetry magazine.  Voting continues until August 31 2019 for SFPA members.  The moral therefore, should you be a SFPA member yourself, the untrustworthy bloodsucker could use a little love!

Or, for more information about the Dwarf Stars Award as well a list of this year’s contenders, plus ordering DWARF STARS if one so desires, one may press here.

Yes, let us recall PLANET SCUMM and its Christmastide presentation of “Holly Jolly” (see March 17 2019; December 27, 14 2018, et al.), the tale of a pointy-eared alien conqueror, or at least he hoped to be.  For after all, disguised as a department store Santa’s assistant elf, what could possibly go wrong?  Well, you can find out by buying the Winter 2018 issue of PLANET SCUMM, if you haven’t already, and now you can hear it for yourself too in a just-released audio edition.

Or, to quote from the reindeer’s mouth as it were:  Planet Scumm is a quarterly science-fiction magazine, published by Spark & Fizz Books.  It is produced by Tyler Burdwood, Sean Clancy, Eric Loucks, Samuel Rheaume and Alyssa Alarcón Santo.  [It] was born out of reverence for the bizarre science fiction magazines of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s.  We cherish the genre as an open forum for philosophy, anxieties, thought experiments and thoughtless experiments.

Also, according to the announcement, the issue is out as well in a new paperback book edition.  For either form, pb or audio, find more out by pressing here.

The email from John Mannone started off modestly enough.  Congratulations!  The following has been nominated for the 2019 Dwarf Stars Anthology:  Never Trust a Vampiress.  The poem, “Never Trust a Vampiress,” had been published in Spring 2018 in STAR*LINE (cf. May 16 2018, et al.), the magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, and John Mannone is the Editor/Curator of the Dwarf stars Award and associated anthology recognizing the best ultra short (1 to 10 lines) speculative poem published the previous year.  Unlike similar awards, however, the poets themselves send suggested work to the contest/anthology in the same way that one might offer work to a normal publication, and those the editor himself selects become thus the official nominees.

Confused?  Well, maybe, but here it runs parallel to the better known Rhysling Competition in that the resulting DWARF STARS ANTHOLOGY is then sent to all SFPA members, whereupon they vote and one of the poems is selected the winner.  Though probably not mine, the untrustworthy vampiress of the title preferring to keep a low profile unlife, beneath the attention of vampire hunters.  Indeed her poem is just six lines long.  Nevertheless, her fur coat around her in case it’s cold, she’ll skulk with the others and we’ll see who wins.

More on DWARF STARS and the competition (and SFPA) can be found here, while the sneaky vampiress can still be discovered in STAR*LINE for last spring, modestly situated on the right and toward the bottom of page 10.

Well, in its category anyway, and according to co-editor Bob Brown of B Cubed Press there’s a sort of funny story about it.  In his own words:  Alternative Theologies just hit the #1 Best Seller in its category.  (Amazon anyway)

This came about when someone raided my booth at MisCon and took about 15 copies.

I kind of wrote it off and posted about it.

That post went a bit viral and sales responded.

The book’s full title is ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES:  PARABLES FOR A MODERN WORLD and my own part in it is rather modest, a humorous poem called “Tit for Tat” (cf. August 14, August 11, et al.) — and a reprint at that, originally published in GHOSTS:  REVENGE (James Ward Kirk Publications, 2015).  But there’s lots of other stuff in there with it and reviews I’ve seen are extremely positive so, if you haven’t looked into ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGIES yet yourself, more information can be found by pressing here.

Or to quote from the start of the Amazon blurb:  Henry Frederic Amiel stated that “Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”  And while this book explores theology and beliefs, it is written to be kind as well as thoughtful, and at times funny.  It will give you belly laughs, but it will also give understanding of the notion of believing. It will remind you that no matter what you believe, we make this journey together.

Just saying. . . .

This just struck me as interesting as an idea for future stories or, rather, an element of future stories:  what attractions might future amusement parks offer that differ from today’s?  Well as it happens, short film maker Till Nowak created such an idea, based on a fictional scientific experiment concerning the effects of thrill rides on human learning, and part of which apparently has been taken by some people to be true.  Hence it migrated to SNOPES.COM with a need for debunking in “Does This Video Show an Extreme Theme Park Thrill Ride?”

To quote the SNOPES article, of Nowak’s film:  [t]he film is narrated by “Dr. Nick Laslowicz” (as portrayed by Leslie Barany), who has picked up on a project to “study the effects of kindergarten rides on the learning curve of 4-year-old children” that has been extended to “building larger, stronger devices to examine the effects also on adults.”

Dr. Laslowicz leads the viewing audience through a succession of increasingly bizarre amusement rides conceived and created to further his study — including one lasting a whopping 14 hours on which, the researcher laments, “some people fell asleep and missed their stops and had another 14 hours, and you can imagine the problems that entailed.”

And the fun thing is, not only is the video in question shown, but the entire 6 minute and 35 second film can be seen for as well by pressing here, then scrolling down to the end of the SNOPES piece and THE CENTRIFUGE BRAIN PROJECT:  A SHORT FILM.  The original video comes about a minute before the end of the film.

Now the next question to ask: in that most of these still rely on gravity for their effects, what modifications can we make for amusement park rides for use in space?

Hark we back from Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas last year and the publication of “Holly Jolly” in PLANET SCUMM (see December 27, 14, et al.), the saga of an elf invasion of Earth gone bad.  This was in issue 6, the “O Scumm All Ye Faithful” edition dated for December 2018.  But all is not over, it seems, for issue 6.  Word has come from editor Tyler Berd that an audio version has just been edited and, moreover, a new print edition in perfect-bound paperback form with “a less Christmasy cover” is in the worls, both planned to be released this summer.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.

After a hectic afternoon including finalizing the PDF for A JAMES DORR SAMPLER (see February 21, below), yesterday evening saw me arriving a half hour late for the “Players Pub Second Thursday Spoken Word Series” (see December 15, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild but on the third, not the second Thursday and not at Players Pub this month but, temporarily, ThBurroughse Blockhouse, another downtown Bloomington bar.  So not to worry, due to a problem involving the band “The Paperback Riot” the program started late as well with featured readers Ian Uriel Girdley and Tony Brewer reading poetry and Joan Hawkins with an elaborate reading of an imagined dialogue between William S. Burroughs and his wife, “William and Joan in the Bardo.”  This was followed immediately by four open mike readings, with the musical part just after, in which I was last with a reprise of my January “First Sundays Prose” (cf. January 6) reading of my building walls satire-with-zombies “Steel Slats.”

Next month the series will move again, this time to a new night, Wednesday, and a newer location at the university area pub Bear’s Place.  More as it develops.

This is a quick addendum to February 12’s post on the acceptance of “Beefcaake and the Vamp” for MONSTERTHOLOGY 2.  What, one may ask, of the original MONSTERTHOLOGY — to confess, I thought I’d probably remember if I’d had work there, so I thought I hadn’t.  But this afternoon, quite serendipitously, I ran across evidence to the contrary.  I’d just misremembered how much time there’d been.

Let us go back then to July 2 2012 and a similar call which brought my response:  “For all the ‘creature features’ you’ve seen, from The Fly to the Swamp Creature to Sasquatch, I offer you ‘Stink Man’ which, if not a homage to any one particular movie, might stand in for a whole herd of related part man, part [you name it] pictures.”  And so, that day, Editor Alan Russo agreed, and “Stink Man” came forth in the first MONSTERTHOLOGY (cf. September 12, July 18, 2 2012).

This one seemed somewhat a long shot for me, but you take a chance and you never know.  It’s in how you translate the guidelines, yes?  The call in this case:  We at Zombie Works Publications are ready for 2019, and are currently seeking thirteen short stories to go into our ALL NEW Monsterthology 2.  Yes, it’s back for a second volume!  Like the original anthology, we are looking for short stories that involve classic movie monsters (Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, you know classics).  But then what exactly do we mean by classics?

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.  There wasn’t much time and, while I didn’t really have anything that was exactly a spin off of the movies cited, I did have one dark-humored detective parody set in a post-Katrina New Orleans where certain supernatural creatures (yes, vampires, werewolves, zombies. . .) had come out of the horizontal closet, as it were, to integrate themselves into society.  The title was “Beefcake and the Vamp” and starring in the role of the Vamp was one Guillemette Écouteur which, as I explained in my cover letter, is a French translation of Mina Harker.  Yes, she really had been “turned” (though the 1931 movie with Bela Lugosi would seem to deny this), had gone underground (ahem) in France and then New Orleans, and moreover a long-dead-himeslf Doctor van Helsing had a great great granddaughter who strived to maintain the family tradition.

A bit on the far afield side, one might think.  (And only thirteen stories to be accepted?)

That was January 25.  Then yesterday afternoon, Monday, the email came from Editor/Publisher Alan Russo:  I am pleased to inform you that your story, “Beefcake and the Vamp,” has been approved for publication. We expect it to appear in MONSTERTHOLOGY 2 due out later this year.

And there you have it.




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