Posts Tagged ‘Dark Humor’

A humble serving of completely irreverent Cthulhu and Lovecraftian inspired stories.  This assortment of horror short stories and flash fiction takes Cthulhu and other elements of Lovecraftian mythos and tells them in a comedic tone.

Yep, so says the blurb on Amazon.  DEEP FRIED HORROR:  CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER (cf. January 16, 4) is up and available both on Kindle and in print.  It is a smallish book as such things go, only about sixty pages, but not overly expensive either.  To see for yourself and/or order, press here (for print) or for Kindle press here.

My part in this porridge is called “The Reading,” first published in UNIVERSE HORRIBILIS (Third Flatiron Publishing, 2013), a literary tale of poets and poetry, and trepidation when reading in public . . . or something like that.  It doesn’t end well.

To quote from the advertising copy:   CTHULHU CHEESE BURGER comes with four juicy patties, layers of melted cheese, and fresh baked buns.  A very delicious combination of savory flavors, which is good.  You’ll need something to distract from the full-body possession that occurs later.  You might experience vomiting, seizing on the floor, and risk biting your tongue, but you’ll then be enslaved by Cthulhu’s powerful mind-magic.

Why not give it a try?

Sunday afternoon brought the new year’s opening Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see December 1, et al.) at local tavern Bear’s Place, with both featured readers presenting essays.  First up was poet and Writers Guild regular Eric Rensberger with “Some Old Books 3,” which is to say the third in a series of prose pieces on several books in his collection discussing not so much their actual contents, but rather their provenance.  Thus old children’s readers with successions of past owners’ names in the front, speculation about how they were passed on, anecdotes about family members who’d had them before they came into his hands — in short, the human side and what may have been made of the contents rather than what the contents themselves may have said.  He was followed by writer, freelance photographer, actor, and director Darrell Stone who, noting America may once again be moving toward “the fog of war,” presented three essays based around kindness, the first on the sole souvenir her father had kept from his service in World War II, the second on a transformative sixth grade teacher, and ending with a humorous piece about three nuns and the joy of their laughing over an absurd item found in a store.  In all just over thirty people attended, a possible record, of which about 25 remained after the break where I was second of five walk-on readers with a post-Christmas tale — or rather a dark-humored sequel to Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I had premiered about two years before — “The Christmas Cat.”

Well, what a coincidence!  Wednesday I posted about an anthology, FORBIDDEN!  TALES OF REPRESSION, RESTRICTION, AND REBELLION, that had been delayed but was now finally released.  A collection, one might surmise, that might include musings on political topics, real or imagined.  Perhaps even a bit of political satire which, by its nature, would likely displease at least some of its potential readers.

So fast forward two days, and a here-and-now piece of satire, a tale I was hesitant to send out at first but at last took a chance on, a reflection of fast-moving current events — has someone just been impeached for some reason?  But not the ones described in this story! — a 1000-word flash piece called “Steel Slats” has just gone live on the prestigious and relatively high-circulation (and free!) DAILY SCIENCE FICTION (see August 23, 17; also April 21 2015, et al.).  A little bit of “if this goes on” one might say, but SteelSlatshopefully, too, with a touch of humor.

To back up a moment, I’ll quote from myself, from the email I’d sent submitting “Steel Slats” and which also appears now on DAILY SF:  There’s a certain class of stories I think of as “the devil made me do it” stories, when the news of the day starts sounding so wacky it seems to demand some kind of response.  This is one of those stories.  To read it for yourself — and remember, it’s free! — press here.

‘Twas the month of December and time for the Bloomington Writers Guild “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (see November 3, et al.) at Bear’s Place.  The featured readers were Carolyn Geduld with two selections from her about to be published novel-in-stories TAKE ME OUT THE BACK, about a mass shooting and its effects on the surrounding community; followed by Abegunde (who we’ve met a number of times before) with readings from a draft work in progress “for Ruth George and all the women killed by angry men.”  This was followed by seven walk-ons with generally lighter fare of which I was fourth with a “rerun” of my seasonal horror/black comedy “The Worst Christmas Ever” (cf. December 4 2017). Then afterward a number of us reconvened at Writer’s Guild President Joan Hawkins’s house for a farewell gathering for member Shayne Laughter (also the afternoon’s second “Open Mic” reader) who will be leaving Bloomington later this month for an extended stay in India.

They’re here!  This edition contains thirteen horrifying tales of vampires, werewolves, demons, zombies, and even Frankenstein!  Along with other monsters that go bump in the night:  Salla by Stephanie Bardy . Dumb Luck by Dawn De Braal . Just Like Us by Belinda Brady . The Caged Wolf by Steve Carr . Mummy’s Daddy by Brandon Cracraft . Beefcake and The Vamp by James S. Dorr . Potentia by T. Fox Dunham . The Prodigal Son by Walter G. Esselman . The Invisible Man by Tom Fowler . Black Lagoon by David K. Montoya . Demonically Nice Neighbor by Copper Rose . Suicide Mission by Alan Russo . Tinfoil Bullet by Phil Thomas .

So says the blurb, but they were actually here a tad before now, ten days before Halloween in fact.  The “they” is MONSTERTHOLOGY 2, the anthology from Zombie Works Publications (see October 7, et al.) with tales of monsters harking back to the movie classics, vampires, wolfmen, zombies, et al.  This, my second MONSTERTHOLOGY appearance (the first, a cryptobiological tale called “Stink Man,” was in the initial anthology in 2012), is titled “Beefcake and the Vamp” and, a pre-“Casket Girls” New Orleanian story, features both a vampire and zombie.

So a check with Amazon has MONSTERTHOLOGY available as of October 21, with mine and twelve other stories as cited above.  For more, one may press here.

So we read other blogs too.  In particular, for film fans, there’s Nathan Scovell’s ON THE SUBJECT OF HORROR (subtitle: “All things horror movie related!”) where for the month of October we find a day by day “Horror Movie Marathon.”  Right, a recommended film with review in some depth each day leading up to Halloween.  That’s nice, you might say, but today’s selection is a particular favorite of mine, Peter Jackson’s (yes, the guy in New Zealand who later did the LORD OF THE RING films) weird and wacky, zombie film to end all zombie films DEAD ALIVE (or, to add to confusion, also known sometimes as BRAINDEAD).  For those who know it one only need mention the “lawnmower scene,” a link to which is provided as well as a trailer in Scovell’s review, to elicit off-kilter smiles of admiration.  That is, if one isn’t put off by a bit of blood and gore.

After all, what would you do if you found your home crowded with flesh-hungry zombies — including your own mom?  And, need one add, your new girlfriend threatened?  To find out, or at least for more information, read Scovell’s DEAD ALIVE review yourself by pressing here!

Another week, another contract, this time from Canada’s House of Zolo via Publisher Nihls Andersen:  We are so excited to have your work as part of the first edition of the HOZ JOURNAL OF SPECULATIVE LITERATURE.  Attached please find our contract.  Once you’ve had a chance to read it and you are satisfied with the terms, please fill in your address, sign and return the document at your nearest convenience.  If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.  This was followed by an up to date biography request, for a picture if possible, plus payment information.

The story in question is “Golden Age,” originally published in MINDSPARKS in Spring 1994 and also reprinted in Smart Rhino Publications’ ZIPPERED FLESH 3 (cf. September 11, et al.).  Thus the writing life continues:  We are expecting to release the JOURNAL in November 2019 as an E-Book and as a Printed Book, and we will let you know the exact date as soon as it is finalized.  The JOURNAL will be available Internationally on Amazon and other platforms — we’ll keep you posted as we add other venues.  The signed contract went back this afternoon, with more details to be printed here as they become known.

Also late Sunday the following came from Zombie Works Publications Editor Alan Russo:  You will find attached the official digital copy to MONSTERTHOLOGY 2!  Print copies will be available soon, along with the eBook version.  Thank you to every[one] and their hard work and contribution to this great anthology!  The tale here is a dark-humored take on a New Orleans vampire, but one not in the “Casket Girls” series, “Beefcake and the Vamp” (see September 25, February 19, et al.), with, again, more information here as soon as it’s known.

And so the writing life continues.  Tuesday’s email brought a missive from Zombie Works Publications Editor Alan Russo:  Me, Randy and Dave have really worked hard on this and are at the final stage of this project.  Attached you will find a digital copy of MONSTERTHOLOGY 2.  Please look through it thoroughly and either send me corrections to make or your approval to print.  The story in question is one set in New Orleans, with zombies and vampires (but not “Casket Girls” ones) called “Beefcake and the Vamp” (see July 31, February 19, 12), a humorous tale of detectives and coffins including a vindictive vampire hunter.  One might note also that there was once a first MONSTERTHOLOGY and, aha!, that I had a story in that one as well, a cryptobiological outing titled “Stink Man” (cf. September 12 2012, et al.), of cow parts and man parts and an accident on the highway and . . . well . . . togetherness.

So anyway fair’s fair, corrections going back later Tuesday evening, with more to be reported here as it becomes known.

A bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an ambitious expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river towards a rapidly modernizing Shanghai, China.  Based on true events.  (From IMDb)

I don’t know about how true the events are, but the movie is called DEAD PIGS, and here’s the IU Cinema’s take on it:  Filmmaker Ash Mayfair is scheduled to be present.  A mysterious stream of pig carcasses floats silently toward China’s populous economic hub, Shanghai.  As authorities struggle to explain the phenomenon, a down-and-out pig farmer with a youthful heart struggles to make ends meet, while an upwardly mobile landowner fights gentrification against an American expat seeking a piece of the Chinese dream.  Like a mosaic, their stories intersect and converge in a showdown between human and machine, past and future, brother and sister.  In Mandarin with English subtitles.  Contains mature content.

Ms. Mayfair, a Vietnamese filmmaker herself, was on campus for one of her films as well, but she also acted as docent for this one, adding, of DEAD PIGS, “So funny, so moving, very sophisticated.”  And yes, the funniness often was buried within the absurdity of the situations, though in details also, but I at least began to feel sorry for some of the characters — not always all that innocent themselves — but trapped in an overall context that, laughs aside, wasn’t likely to end well for most.  But family, and love, became stronger than than one might have thought at first and over the closing credits was a an upbeat chorus, in English, of “Everybody Celebrate” (there’s also a group sing near the end in the movie proper, but that one in Chinese).

So to me, DEAD PIGS wasn’t entirely a laugh fest, but was surprisingly good as a movie.  Or, for a little bit more of the flavor, here’s the first paragraph of a Sundance review by Jessica Kiang, from VARIETY.COM (which can be read in its entirety here):   In the Chinese zodiac, the happy-go-lucky pig stands for good fortune and wealth.  So an inexplicable epidemic that decimates the porcine population in a developing part of China still heavily reliant on pig farming, could be symbolically as well as literally disastrous, and it provides Cathy Yan’s sprawling, bouncing, jaunty debut with its darkest images.  Along the wide river that flows sluggishly to the nearby city, thousands of discarded pig corpses keep bobbing to the surface like troublesome metaphors.  But despite tracking with forensic rigor the domino effects of this sudden aporkalypse, the surprise is the light sureness of Yan’s touch.  “Dead Pigs” is delightfully uneven, eagerly see-sawing between screwy and serious, occasionally even daring to be ditzy — not a quality usually associated with Sixth Generation maestro and executive producer Jia Zhangke.  If anything, Yan’s film, with its dancing girls, pigeon-fancying beauticians, Westerners-on-the-make and spontaneous musical numbers, is an antidote to China’s weightier arthouse output, settling the stomach after too much stolid social realism, effervescent as an alka-seltzer.

To end the month, how about a bit more of the life of the writer, this time in the form of another contract, received, elctro-signed, and sent back to the publisher just now.  The story is called “Beefcake and the Vamp” and the venue MONSTERTHOLOGY 2 (see February 12), an anthology of, to quote from the guidelines, short stories that involve classic movie monsters (Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, you know classics).  So the monsters in this one include the vamp Guillemette, once known as “Mina,” threatened by (as it turns out) a descendant of the Van Helsing family, who seeks the help of an all-night New Orleans detective agency.  And one of the agency’s finest (or only) employees is a hunky zombie named Beefcake — a match made in Heaven, yes?

Guillemette, I might add, is not one of the vampiresses in the “Casket Girls” canon, actually predating them in my writing, but she’s kind of fun too.  And way back when there had also been a MONSTERTHOLOGY 1 which had a story of mine called “Stink Man” (see February 19; July 2 2012, et al.), a cryptozoological tale of a man combined with the parts of cows.  As far as I know, though, a release date has not yet been set for Volume 2 — the publication schedule in general seems to be on the leisurely side — but the news will be here as soon as it’s known.

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