Posts Tagged ‘Dark Humor’

Yes, I know, this is actually being posted in the wee hours of Tardy Tuesday.  That’s how it goes sometimes — and it was initially posted by Lindsey Goddard on DIRTY LITTLE HORROR several days before, under the deceptively modest title of “Horror Humor.”  But I think it’s worth looking at any time one is in need of a dark laugh, photos, mostly, but artfully captioned, a sample of which appears to right.  For the rest press here.

There are 22 in all, with my favorites numbers 5, 7 through 10, 12, 13, 16, 22, and of course the one pictured, number 1.  Which ones are yours?

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I had had to skip the open mike part of last week’s Last Sunday Poetry due to getting ready for early check-in for my “Raising the Dead” reading at that evening’s Ryder Film Festival (see October 31).  This week, however, all was on schedule for November’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. October 3, et al.) with local short fiction writer Tom Bitters and a tale of young love nearly torpedoed by an inflatable doll named Mistress Ping; poetry and prose performer Gabriel Peoples with the rambling and funny quasi-historical “The Story of Jack Daniels,” including audience participation; and First Sundays MC and co-sponsor (with host venue Boxcar Books) Bloomington Writers Guild member Joan Hawkins with more of young love, the “Ballad of Renee and Buzz,” and the start of a second piece, both examples of creative nonfiction.

The crowd was reasonably large at the start although, as sometimes happens, it thinned down to about half its size during the break, after which two people read at the open mike session, me and local poet and essayist and sometimes short fiction writer Tonia Matthews.  My piece this time was of young love also,”Smashing Pumpkins,” that of the vampires Aloysius and Vendetta in an adventure of Halloween, ice-blood (or is it “bloodcream”) cones, and rampaging clowns, all ending up with a trip to the polls on Election Day.

Saturday this week offered a farewell of sorts, afternoon and evening retrospectives as a final tip of the hat to ten years of the Dark Carnival Film Festival, a.k.a. in its final sessions, Diabolique International Film Festival at the Indiana University Cinema (cf. September 28 2015; September 21, 20, 19 2014).  These were films from past years, fifteen shorts for the matinee session that proved to be favorites from previous screenings, some that I’d seen before, some that I hadn’t, starting with one in a dentist’s office and ending with killer shopping carts, and by small boys reading an Ancient Tome from their devil-worshiping deceased grandfather’s chest.  The best of these tended to be black humor, of which there were quite a few, while another trend was for movies that set up horror situations, then left the outcomes to viewers’ imaginations.

Then evening brought, taint02well, to quote the catalog:  Long one of the Dark Carnival Film Festival’s favorite features, THE TAINT is a throwback to classic Troma films — with all the goopy horror and absurd humor that implies.  Tainted water begins turning men into misogynistic head-smashing psychopaths, and our two young heroes must brave the bizarre world that results in order to find a cure.  Contains mature content, including violence, language, and sexuality.  To which the docent offered before the screening, “A great one to go out on . . . a very extreme film,” and, “offensive is a dime a dozen [but] is wonderfully measured.  [Director Drew Bolduc] knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Or as Kevin Dudley on Amazon put it:  one particular quote from the Fangoria.com review stated “THE TAINT is exactly what happens when smart filmmakers intentionally make a stupid taint1movie.”  The basic plot involves an experimental penis enlargement drug that turns men into oversexed misogynistic maniacs is unleashed into the public water supply and all manners of depravity cut loose.  To which I might add, while not one to invite the whole family to, as Troma films go it was not a bad one.

Then back at home, Saturday’s street mail brought its own prize, Flame Tree Publishing’s deluxe edition of MURDER MAYHEM SHORT STORIES (see September 6, July 11, et al.).  My story in this is “Mr. Happy Head,” originally published in WICKED MYSTIC, Spring 1996, and sandwiched between Dick Donovan (J. E. Preston Muddock, 1843-1934, who took his pen name from his fictional Glasgow detective, who in turn, some theorize, supplied the slang term “dick” [to pardon the expression] for an American private detective) and, in a non-Sherlock Holmes adventure, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Also expected from Flame Tree Publishing is CRIME & MYSTERY SHORT STORIES, for which keep watching here.

“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.

“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”

Well it is nearly December, the spirits having been let loose on Halloween, and now spiraling down to the longest night of the year.  So I mentioned in introducing three short poems during the open mike section.  But we had already had featured poet Michelle Gottschlich read, among others, a poem involving a date at local Rose Hill Cemetery (not to mention, from first open mike reader Joan Hawkins, a translation of a “found” invoice concerning shipping a corpse from Tahiti to the US).  The latter also was somewhat in answer to second Featured Poet Eric Rensberger who offered a reading of found and partially “stolen” poems.

The occasion was November’s Last Sunday Poetry Reading, sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild and the Monroe County Convention Bureau (cf. October 26, et al.), on an afternoon that, yes, was gloomy and gray, but did have the virtue that it wasn’t raining.  And the poetry wasn’t all necessarily gloomy, though when my turn came I had pre-selected three older poems that played well off the aforementioned  topics, including the introductory remarks I glossed at the top.  Thus I presented “A Little Night Music,” a two-line verse pointing out that love and death happen in daytime too; “Dust to Dust” about a fire in a cemetery, which also had once been part of an arts display project on Bloomington Transit city buses in 2001 (I noted that I didn’t know which the exact bus was, but had hoped it had been the one going past Rose Hill, as well as the fact the experiment was not repeated); and a “Little Willie” (a what?  See February 16; also February 6 2012) which I noted had the distinction of being published not in a genre magazine but a “more respectable” mainstream journal, “Fire in the Hole,” about a naughty boy who dynamites a grave.

Two short items to greet the new week.  The first is that, after a month missed, I was back in the local poetry circuit at March’s Bloomington Writers Guild sponsored, with the Monroe County Convention Center, Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic (cf. January 25, et al.).  Featured poets this time were Cara Prill who read several meditation-based works and the more frenetic seasoned performance poet Gabriel Peoples.  In style, these may have seemed at different poles — though not that much so, really — but as one of the first of the “Open Mic” poets pointed out, there were similarities in subject matter with an emphasis on feelings surrounding the human body.

When my turn came, though, I offered just one piece more concerned with souls than bodies, “Tit for Tat,” my recently published dark humored poem in GHOSTS:  REVENGE (see March 17, et al.), and the moral of which I dedicated for the occasion to Governor Pence and the Indiana General Assembly.

Then the second item, speaking of GHOSTS:  REVENGE, is that the vengeful spirits anthology is now available in paper as well as Kindle, and can be found here.

It was I and Marge Simon fooling around last spring following the publication in DAILY SCIENCE FICTION of “Casket Girls” (cf. April 17, April 3 2014, et al.), my alternate history flash of the coming of vampires to the New World.  She wrote some lines, just goofing around, a few silly rhymes loosely inspired by the story; I wrote a few back; until at some point we called it done.

But that’s not all.  To quote myself on April 17, “[w]e tossed around a few places we might send it, I suggesting one that had published another sort of silly poem of mine with an illustration by Marge a NighttoDawn27frontcoverJan10while back (see ‘Well-Dressed Vampiress Finds a Home,’ July 27 2012).  So it is that yesterday Barbara Custer of NIGHT TO DAWN e-mailed Marge back, ‘I’ve published James Dorr’s work before . . . [l]ove the one you did together and got a good laugh.  I’d like to publish it in NTD 27.’  And not only that, Marge may be supplying an illustration to go with this one too!”

Fast forward to present and “Aimée, the Casket Girl” has been published as well as illustrated by Marge on the following page in the April 2015 issue of NIGHT TO DAWN, received earlier this week.

To quote from the webpage for GOREYESQUE:  “Edward Gorey  (1925-2000) was an American writer and illustrator, noted for his unsettling narratives and pen-and-ink drawings.  He was the creator of THE GASHLYCRUMB TINIES, a gruesomely comic alphabet, as well as several other independent illustrated books such as  THE DOUBTFUL GUEST, THE HAPLESS CHILD, and THE UNSTRUNG HARP.  He is noted for illustrating numerous works by other writers — HG Wells, T.S Eliot, Lewis Carroll — as well as his work on THE NEW YORKER.  He won a Tony Award for costume design in 1978.

“He is a native of Chicago, where he attended The School of the Art Institute for one semester in 1943 before joining the Army.  ELEGANT ENIGMAS:  THE ART OF EDWARD GOREY will be the first major Chicago exhibition of his artwork.”

GOREYESQUE (cf. March 11) was itself born in conjunction with the exhibition, “an online literary journal featuring work inspired by the spirit and aesthetic of Edward Gorey.”  A rather more scholarly venue than one such as I might submit to, but submit I did.  It seemed like fun.  And so one of two poems that they accepted has appeared in its second issue, available here, titled “New Arrival” concerning the telltale signs of a vampiress new, as it were, to the business of undeath.

The poem itself, alone as a lagniappe (although the whole issue is well worth reading, as well as clicking on the “menu” at upper right and exploring the other parts of GOREYESQUE), can also be reached directly by pressing here.  While the other, self-explanatorily named “The Short, Tragic Love of the Lobster and the Crab,” will hopefully be in a future issue.

 

  *Darkly humorous short stories in the vein of Gorey’s picture books
  *Poetry, limericks, and rhyming verse
  *Creative nonfiction/essays about Gorey, his influence on artists and writers, or the themes of his work
  *Illustrations inspired by his style and theories
  *Related visual artwork, including comics and graphic novels, short films, animations, puppetry, performance, and music

Only work that is clearly inspired by Edward Gorey — either through themes, tone, visual elements, or otherwise — will be considered for publication.  

So read the guidelines — and it sounded like fun.   So off went five poems that seemed in the spirit to GOREYESQUE MAGAZINE, a more scholarlyish publication than I usually submit to — and wiAnimal-Crustacean-Crab-4-150x150th no pay either, which is often the way of scholarly journals.  But, as I say, it sounded like fun!  And now, a month and two days later, the email came back:  two poems have been accepted, “New Arrival” about how to spot a neophyte vampiress and “The Short, Tragic Love of the Lobster and the Crab” about, well, the title sort of covers it.

For more information on GOREYESQUE MAGAZINE press here.  I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the issue!




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