The Fridge of the Damned is currently landing in backer mailboxes everywhere, and people are having a blast with the weird horror poetry magnets, and sharing their photos online. If you’re one of them, I invite you to email me a shot or post a link to one to contribute a photo to the Fridge of the Damned gallery on Flickr. People are also sharing shots on twitter with hashtag #TFOTD. I love what I’ve seen so far!
The Fridge of the Damned is now offered for sale for $12 each by Raw Dog Screaming Press, while supplies last.
Inspired by the terrifc response we’re getting to the Fridge of the Damned magnetic word tile campaign, I’ll be posting poems (made with real or virtual poetry magnets) and related “word art” to the project’s Flickr set. Drop by and check them out from time to time.
This set can also include your own poems written with The Fridge of the Damned in the mind, if you care to share. Just email photos to me and I’ll post them.
Remember: the kickstarter campaign ends February 1st, 2013. Act swiftly if you want to be a part of the action!
Working up a video related to “The Fridge of the Damned” (which is something exciting to announce in the New Year!). This snapshot of two overlapping fridge magnets is an outtake I kind of liked and felt compelled to share here. I posted a similar one to flickr last night. [The mouths on both are from an old "Freaky Faces" magnet set we picked up in a gift shop years ago.]
You’ll be hearing a lot more about the Fridge of the Damned soon… hope you’ll participate!
I drove out to Morgantown, WV to see the Raw Dog Screaming Press reading event — sponsored by the Morgantown Poets society — for stalwart “bizarro” writers and old friends John Edward Lawson and D. Harlan Wilson. This event marked the official print release of Lawson’s new book, SuiPsalms, which he introduced by announcing the number for the Suicide Hotline and explained that his book fell in with a new genre he hadn’t been aware of until he started writing the book, Suicide Poetry (example here). D. Harlan Wilson read a hilarious excerpt from the tongue-in-cheek Hitler: The Terminal Biography. Their reading was followed by open mic, which included Daniel McTaggert, Rich Bottles (co-ed of “The Big Book of Bizarro”), Stephanie Wytovich, Scott Emerson and myself (I read a random sampler from my new book, The Gorelets Omnibus and some twitter poems from The Nest). It was a very transgressive, witty, dark night… as Scott posted on twitter:
@mikearnzen Thanks for joining tonight’s madness. I think the weirdos finally outnumbered the normies.
— Scott Emerson (@Tweet_Shrieks) August 17, 2012
Here are some apologetically unfocused but accurate photos I took from the wonderful “weirdo” experience:
While “responsive” is a word I usually associate with “Things Doctors Say In Intensive Care Units,” it’s also a word that now applies to this website. “Responsive” means that the site automatically recognizes if you’re reading it with a touchscreen device and it changes to make it more mobile-friendly. [The same is true of the Arnzen Social Network page at http://michaelarnzen.com/ and most of the other main pages linked in my menu.] While I doubt it’s perfect, you can now far more easily read the text and browse pages while on the road, riding in the back of your hearse or whatever. I’ve only tested it on an iphone and ipad, but it seems to work well. In fact, in iOS, you can not only bookmark it, you can choose “Add to Home Screen” and it will place an icon on your main screen that you can click for instance access to these pages, just like clicking on an “app.” Try it out, Apple-heads!
It’s funny to me to reflect on how far things have changed — yet remained virtually the same — over the decade+ that I’ve been running this website. I bet most people don’t realize that “gorelets” is neologism short for “gory applets” (aka “apps”) — which was how the original poetry series was created and delivered using some of the first handheld devices (PDAs). Here’s a funny before-and-after comparison of gorelets now and then, to show the evolution of this website.
This is all very trivial, but you can read more about the history behind the gorelets project in The Gorelets Omnibus. An excerpt, answering the question “What are Gorelets?” is available on the book page for the original chapbook, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, where more photos and history is provided.
To all my longtime readers and goreletter subscribers over the past decade who have been there with me since the beginning and are smiling right alongside me…THANK YOU.
Related fiction: “Introducing MyBlade”– a parody of those infamous Steve Jobs-styled ipod/iphone product announcement speeches, published in The Goreletter back in 2007. (And here’s a funny youtube video I found of some kids goofing around with an uncannily similar concept).
Our Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University took over the gymnasium and McKenna Center last night to host a mass book signing, and it was great to see so many new book releases from students, alums and faculty alike. It was fantastic to have two of my publishers in the house — Raw Dog Screaming Press and Headline Books. Here’s a few snapshots from the event. (You can see some from last year here, too.)
Earlier this year, the first people who kindly pre-ordered the hardcover edition of The Gorelets Omnibus after it was initially announced by the publisher were promised a free exclusive broadside as a bonus. If that’s you, let me assure you the delay was entirely my fault — the poem that I wrote for this cause just wasn’t quite right, and I try to treat these things special. But now I’ve got something done that I’m proud of and it is heading out in the mail to you. Enjoy!
Here’s a purposely-blurry preview, so you can see what’s to come.
The broadside poem is entitled “Anonymous” and is limited to twenty-five signed, numbered copies, uncannily dated 6/6/12. Some of these will go to lucky subscribers of The Goreletter newsletter, so if you haven’t signed up for that yet, there’s still time and please do (or please make sure your email address is correct by signing up again — the server will tell you if you’re good to go).
I like doing quirky and creative things like this when I can. You can get a whiff of some other broadsides I’ve done in the past on scribd.com — and they sometimes are reprinted in collections, like my book awhile back from Dark Regions Press, called Proverbs for Monsters.
To learn more about The Gorelets Omnibus, see posts tagged Omnibus on this site. To order, visit Raw Dog Screaming Press. The book is also available in ebook and other editions on amazon.com and all the usual booksellers.
666 Across: 4-letter word for nerd.
I’m just kidding… I’m only an occasional puzzler, but I fully approve of The Grid Reaper. Spotted it at Barnes and Noble the other day and felt it was required to take a snap shot, because I am compelled to catch publishers trying to cash in on goth and horror conventions that have absolutely nothing to do with the content of their books (such as Zombie Sudoku). But this one is actually legit. Its author, NY Times puzzle consructor David Kahn, thematizes the puzzles he writes for the NY Times and elsewhere in the form of tributes to celebrities after they die, among other things. (For example, here’s one he did for Dick Clark, reprinted in the neat NY Times in Gothic blog). He’s quite talented at this sort of thing — obituary games? — and deserves nothing but respect for it.
Besides, the reaper in that cover is a cool tribute to horror comics of the 50′s. But more importantly, I think I need that particular brand of scythe!
These “puzzles to die for” are available on amazon.com for around $7. If you die for them, though, then it’ll cost you more.
Of course, I also approve of the impossible-to-find book, Backpack Power’s In-CRUD-ible Gross-word Puzzles by “I. Seymour Crudd,” too — which at one point refers to a puzzle as a “pustule.” Gotta love that. Though I hate to depart with it, I will be tearing pages out of my recently discovered copy of this book and sending them at random to readers when I correspond with them by snail mail. If that’s you, enjoy!
Some readers of this blog may know Nathan Rosen as the editor of the website dedicated to microscopically short-short horror stories, Microhorror. Nathan was enrolled in a design program this year, and chose Michael Arnzen as the “product” he had to focus his final term project around. What he came up with is a fabulous array of funky items and I am happy to share a sampler with you here.
He called his project “100% Arnzen” and put all the print designs into a cellophane-wrapped meat tray with this funny “meat package” sticker on it:
Here’s a gallery of the full package along with some of the wonderful contents it contains:
Nate really went beyond the call of duty here, and I am very impressed. He also had to present his final project to the class at the end of the term. He took it up a notch and made a full-fledged mini-documentary about me and posted it on youtube. I liked it so much, I’ve put it on my bio page, on amazon.com, and now here for posterity:
If you’d like, you can download the full brochure. We may make more of this available in the future, for those interested.
Support Nathan Rosen by visiting him on google+ or dropping by his website, Microhorror.com, and giving a listen to his audiobook or shopping on his website. If you’re a fan of my book, 100 Jolts, you will really appreciate what he’s been doing there.
Just back from Morgantown, WV…here are some visual impressions of the Raw Dog Screaming Press book party — sponsored by Morgantown Poets and the Mon Arts Center — to celebrate the release of Jason Jack Miller’s Hellbender and my book The Gorelets Omnibus (both are available from the publisher). I only managed to snap a few shots — not nearly enough — but I’ll let the images speak for themselves for now, and will try to share audio snippets and links to other coverage from the fun reading shortly.
As you’ll see in the long scroll of photos below, I was a lousy photographer this time around but generally had a good time at this year’s International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA 33), which transpired in Orlando, FL, last month (March 21-25, 2012). The photo brevity is a symptom of being overprogrammed and otherwise entirely focused on the events, rather than on shooting snaps. If you want photos, they’re already out there, anyway. If you’re looking for the best of the bunch, I recommend you drop by flickr and peruse the galleries of:
James Patrick Kelly , Ellen Datlow, or Kathryn Cramer.
But here are the highlights of my experience at the 33rd annual International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts…highlights which may or may not reference any of the photos below. For the funk of it, I will employ a bulleted list of microevents with ambiguous summaries mixed into the programming descriptions.
+ Arrived. Casillero del Diablo in many bottles. Old friends under a dark umbrella in the dead of night. Laughter, followed by splashes in a nearby pool. Then: profound silence.
+ Thursday, 8:30am, fiction reading. Read my poem, “Creasing His Collar” as a good morning wake-up call to all who attended at this ungodly hour (surprisingly many). Then read Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman” followed directly by my sequel, “She Screech Like Me,” from He Is Legend. Used weird voice. [Dave Sandner later told me I should talk in that voice all day. I was tempted.] Enjoyed stories by fellow writers in the panel, Greg Bechtel and Daryl Gregory. Greg’s reading gave some insights into his writerly process — with big projects afoot for the future. Daryl Gregory was particularly on fire; he read an amazing story from his new Fairwood Press collection UNPOSSIBLE — which I recommend — and then he told an unforgettably (unforgiveably?) bizarre “Aristocrats” joke…featuring Asimov’s robots. We signed together after the panel. I was surprised that folks showed up with books for me to sign — Bernie Goodman and Jacob Weisman (of Tachyon Publications) win the prize for having some of the rarest editions with my signature on them, including copies of Paradoxa and Last Drink Bird Head.
+ Registered. Academics don’t believe in goodie bags. But this place is fun. I got a conference program, banquet tickets and a limited edition China Mieville t-shirt that I happily pre-ordered. Was disappointed that it was China’s art on the tee, though, and not one of the soiled and sweaty old Hanes tank tops he wore while writing Kraken. [Actually, it was the same art that appears on the graphic of the program cover above... a neat ape/bride/tentacle face!] Regardless: the con opens with smiles, hugs and handshakes with old pals.
+ Thurs., Lunch. China Mieville gave a slide-show enhanced guest lecture on permutations of the uncanny. This was a provocative essay, even as it was parodic. I recorded the audio. Preter-uncannilly, I knew to record the speech in advance. It was one of the best lectures of the weekend. A profound auto-parodic work of criticism, that pleaded for us to not over-taxonomize everything we find strange. I think of Mieville as a Marxist, but this was deconstruction pure and simple. It was really, ultimately, yet another deconstruction of the failure of language to capture experience, even as we try to master experience through it. I thought his unwillingness to bring Kristevan abject into the picture — by denying she had any say in his topic even as he used ideas of trash and disjecta membra (in monstrous icons like ‘Garbage Man‘) was puzzling.
+ Thurs., 2pm. Responded to a theory roundtable discussion of one of my articles on teaching horror fiction, called “The Unlearning.” Great conversation, hosted by the effervescent Barbara Lucas. David Sandner (who not only teaches horror in a Gothic class at U Cal Fullerton, but also appears in The Gorelets Omnibus) wins for asking the hardest questions. Jacob Weisman, Brian Rapp and others got to share their experience or thoughts about teaching horror. I wished I would have recorded this. Something like it (a roundtable of horror teachers discussing the use of horror fiction and film in the classroom) appears in the new book, The Best of Dissections — a hard copy anthology that Gina Wisker was proudly sharing at the conference, and which hopefully will be available as an ebook someday soon.
+ Thurs., 4pm. Sat on a panel called “The Monster in the Room: Archetypes of the Monstrous in Children’s Literature” with Jessica Fontaine, Alaine Martaus and Bridgid Shannon. These folks were very impressive, and I believe many of them had studied at Hollins University, which has a fantastic Children’s Lit program. I was happy to be a part of this dialogue, but I probably didn’t belong on this panel, as I literally became the ‘monster in the room’ by talking about theories by Freud and Bettleheim that folks didn’t want to hear about. Maybe the only good thing I really contributed was my insistence that these books say as much about adults as they do about the kids they’re written for, which everyone already knew but perhaps likes to forget. I learned a lot about picture books and new titles I hadn’t heard of before. And one of the panelists used the phrase “Grover Studies” in answering a question about a book, which I will never forget whenever I hear an academic describe their field again. (It’s all Grover Studies, baby.)
+ Later that day: local writer friends who weren’t attending the conference pulled up in a minivan, tossed a bag over my head, and then drove away. They pulled the bag off my head and I found myself at a local seafood restaurant — one that would become my only foray into local cuisine the whole time. Jeff Strand, Lynne Hansen, Sally Bosco, Gina Wisker, David Sandner, and Andy Miller were a blast. We talked about the ebook revolution, cover art, bad zombie movies, Jeff’s latest novels, and the Bram Stoker Awards. Then a bag went back over my head and I woke up in my room, bruised and bloody.
+ Friday, 8:30am. This conference likes to balance the pleasure of good company with the pain of early morning panels. Ah well…I can drink coffee and shoot the breeze anytime, anywhere. But only if there’s coffee. This morning I moderated a panel on horror film directors, called “The Thing Is…Barker, Craven, Carpenter and Watts.” The title sounds like the typical “potpourri” of things that they lumped together because the organizers couldn’t figure out a more coherent theme. Yet this one worked and was groovy. Dominick Grace read a fantastic essay on Peter Watts’ so-called “fan fiction” tribute to John Carpenter’s famously tentacled film, The Thing — called “The Things” (and every Carpenter fan reading this NEEDS to read this story — it’s over on Clarkesworld Magazine right now for free reading). Joseph Lewis presented a piece on the Elm Street films which smartly cited Joseph Andriano’s excellent work on monsters. Tony Vinci also gave an awesome paper on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Nightbreed, rife with penetrating analysis. This is what I would call “a great panel!”
+ Friday, Lunch. Sat with Stephen Erickson, and talked about his days back in the Iowa Writers Workshop. Learned some things about T.C. Boyle. Then listened to guest scholar, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, who presented a slideshow-infused after-lunch lecture called, simply, “Undead.” While the coverage was wide, the depth was still there all along the zombified cultural landscape. I knew a lot of this already, but he helped me to understand zombies as a popular trend in today’s culture a little differently. I loved his comment, “I wish we could have our zombies without demanding so ardently an apocalypse to go with them.” Here, here. And in my view, almost all of the ‘fun’ zombie titles (just think Shaun of the Dead) seem to domesticate them. But of course, the second you domesticate a creature, you rob it of its power. However, why must that power always be apocalyptic? That’s as stupid as having every James Bond villain a person who is set out to destroy the world. The scope is always too wide, too generic. Maybe that’s tied in with what zombies themselves are commenting on. My opinion anwyay.
+ Friday, later. Sat in on a fantastic poetry reading with David Kopaska-Merkel, Carolyn Clink and Bryan D. Dietrich. Poets who work in science fiction, fantasy and horror are really some of the smartest writers around, and I really wish they were read more often. This is why I remain a member of The Science Fiction Poetry Association and bought a lifetime subscription to Dreams and Nightmares magazine.
+ Saturday, 8am. Sleep, glorious sleep. Nightmares, glorious nightmares, filled with ropy mucous monsters and dopy doofus lobsters. Followed by glorious coffee.
+ Sat, 10:30am. Listened to the panel on Hal Duncan’s book, The Last Werewolf. Douglas Ford is one of my favorite horror genre critics working today and he presented a masterful analysis of the text that’s still got me thinking about the issues it raises, Sarah Benton smartly looked at Kristevan abjection in the book, and Chelsey Lucas explored the ‘humanity’ in the title. I’ve never been a huge werewolf fan, but I really must read this book. This panel was an example of how critics can love a book and celebrate it through literary criticism at the same time.
+ Sat, Noonish. Lunched with friends from Tachyon Publications. A butler statue with a strange and disgusting hole in its hands greeted us at a storefront. We swapped stories of neighborhood murders and other crimes we experienced, growing up. I remember Amityville and the Son of Sam. Good conversation. Orlando residents in earshot gave us funny looks. Story of my life.
+ Sat, mid-midday. Alerted that there was something waiting for me in the silent book auction. All books are silent, so this alert scared me.
+ Sat, 5pm. Attended the annual editorial board meeting for Dissections: The Journal of Contemporary Horror. Gina Wisker likes to have folks share poetry before we get down to the business of talking shop about the literary journal. I read my Zombie Haiku from twitter last Halloween (appears in The Gorelets Omnibus) while a young boy splashed in the nearby kiddie pool. I directed my reading at him, trying to gross him out or scare him away. Instead, he offered a giggly critique after each poem. It was hilarious, till Mom came outside to fetch him. I think she looked at me like I was going to drown the poor kid. I just made him swim in a pool of horror poetry.
+ Sat evening. Awards banquet. I always attend this formal end-cap to this conference, which is rife with good food, congratulatory speeches, and applause. Feels very genuinely like a gathering of friends. Only this year, I somehow managed to sit at a table where they delivered food last. And they ran out of food early…so they brought us bottle after bottle of free wine to pour into our empty stomachs until the food was prepared. People at the table were hungry and upset…but I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night!
+ Sun morning. No one is awake. I get on the shuttle bus like a zombie. Fly. Do not crash. Come home to catch up on work. Then write this. Still like a zombie. End.