I’m usually all in support of an artist making money doing whatever. Sure, I respect Springsteen and the U2 guys for not hawking anybody else’s wares, but I hardly begrudge Dylan pushing lingerie or BB King selling Whoppers1. And it’s not the ‘wares,’ the inherent goodness of lingerie or Whoppers, that makes what they’re doing any less of a sell-out. It’s that the commodity that’s ‘them,’ I figure they can do with it what they want. And it’s got to feel good, too, pulling a fat check just for lending your celebrity like that. Or maybe it’s a comment on that celebrity, even, I don’t know. And anyway, for me to look askance — like my askance looks aren’t A) stagey in the first place, and B) below the radar anyway — at their deals with the corporate devils would be the same as saying that I’d never do anything like that, given the chance. And, c’mon. I’ve got to at least be half-honest when talking to myself, I think: given the opportunity, I’d probably wear a jumpsuit with Linens & Things patches all over it. Standards are good to talk about and all, but the way I see it, making a buck, which I could actually maybe possibly do something good with, it’s not the same thing as saying No, no, don’t take me out behind the chemical sheds.3


There comes a point.

For me it was today, a certain promotion that came before the trailers that came before a particularly amazing movie2. And I hesitate to even link it, but — if you haven’t seen it, here. Click at your own risk. It’s Breakfast Club, ‘updated’ in the most insulting way by JCPenney’s, for some “get that look” clothing campaign. It’s even worse than that line of DirecTVcommercials, which finally ending by betraying Misery4. Why worse? The obvious first: because it’s a movie of which I’m made. Like everybody else, I know, I kind of just knew that I was seeing that movie in a way nobody else was, and that I was a different person for having seen it — possibly even a better person. That’s my nostalgic reason for resisting that commercial.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimately bad.

And of course everybody plays with Breakfast Club, right? It’s that kind of iconic, that kind of definition of a generation. And, I mean, Psych, say. Their Breakfast Club episode, watch it, it was tribute, pure and simple. And I’m not meaning to draw a line here between ‘respectful’ and ‘disrespectful’ — send the movie up, please, pastiche it flat against the wall, run it down and lampoon it, whatever. If the movie’s good enough, it’ll not just withstand all this fun attention, it’ll gain even more cultural force for it. Godfather, say? Who hasn’t played with Corleone behind his desk. I even saw it on a Hannah Montana episode the other day. Or The Exorcist. That floating bed and pea soup’s had so much fun made of it in so many places that you’d think it’s maybe lost some of its effect. But that’s not the case. It still kind of freaks you out. I remember reading an article somewhere about how none of us can ever see the Grand Canyon in that pure way that the first ‘discoverer’ (more quotation marks, please) saw it, just because we’ve been so prepped with postcards etc; instead of pure awe, we’re kind of thinking yeah, it’s just like the picture, only bigger. But movies aren’t like that. There’s some essential difference. What it is, I haven’t traced out yet, though I suspect it has a lot to do with how much we’ve invested ourselves in a movie — in a way you don’t with a vista, a landscape, I mean. In a way we’re no longer trained to do, anyway.

I was talking about “KFC” “JCP,” though. And why that commercial spot’s so wrong: because what it’s doing is taking an eighty or ninety minute movie and reducing it — ‘distill’ would be too kind a word here — to a minute or so of redramatized key moments. High points. As if Breakfast Club, just because it can be so easily identified by those moments, that those moments are solely what it’s made of. And it’s more, so much more.

And yes, I suddenly feel very much like an old person, saying all this. And I suspect this argument I’m touching on, it’s really a lot more related to the remake trend than to the artists ‘selling out.’5. And, I suspect this just because, now, I want to relate this all back to some remake of an Eagles song I heard on some radio flipthrough — female singer, supposed-to-be Glenn Frey vocals, no clue which song as I instantly started repressing the whole experience, just on the chance it would ruin me on the song itself — where all the longing was somehow made cheery and light. Kind of like what this slammed-down version of Breakfast Club does.

Anyway, yeah: what I’m obviously setting myself up for here is for Penney’s to call me up, ask if I won’t wear their jumpsuit for a week or two. If I won’t “get that look,” snicker snicker.

Hopefully I’d say something about what I’d rather do, and that it might involve some chemical sheds, and to please please never take me there.

That’s hopefully, though, yeah, I know. Which is perhaps why I’ve always dug Thor: no matter what, that guy just swings his hammer around and makes the right and good decision, the honorable decision.

If only it were so easy.

1. Okay, ‘Big Kings.’ But don’t forget BB King’s diabetes commercials too. Or, yeah, OneTouch commercial, I suppose.
2. You know the oneA: Maggie Gyllenhall was an inspired choice, the soul of the movie, and the dynamic between the bat and the clown were done to pitch-perfection — best I’ve seen since Cloverfield, easily, and I can’t wait to see it again and again, and not just to hear Rorsarch’s voice-over in that trailer our better selves have all been waiting for — and Morgan Freeman’sB exit from the series was graceful and dignified, and Heath Ledger of course absolutely inhabited everything that is the Joker, and and and. Beautiful movie. It never stops escalating, never gives you what you’re expecting, yet never cheats either. A very rare thing. Only recent movie I can think of that does the same would be Casino Royale.
3. I like the Br’er Rabbit possibilities inherent to this construction. Just add a ‘please’ and the meaning’s reversed: “No, no, please don’t take me out behind the chemical sheds . . .”
4. Though, yeah, when it was Star Trek — which I hold a lot closer to my heart — it was kind of campy and fun. Maybe just because Shatner, that guy. With him I’ve lost the ability to tell when he’s being ironic, when he’s not. If he’s ever not, I mean. Not that I would have laughed had Scully or Mulder looked up from an alien autopsy, started praising the quality of the picture.
5. A very dangerous term, as it kind of indicts anyone making money, getting radio time, all that. And that’s not what I want. And I don’t even know who’s to blame for this Breakfast Club/JCPC pair-up, and not that concerned, either. The real victim is . . . not Breakfast Club so much as it is all the people who haven’t seen Breakfast Club, but, in the wake of this commercial, will kind of feel that they have, and now don’t have to.

A. and, yeah, odd, the Anthony Michael Hall connect there — his famous voice-over’s ‘redramatized’ (kindest word I can think of) in the pre-trailer commercial, then his Dead Zone self’s in the movie. Weird and cool.
B. and I love Lucius Fox’s line about the Joker: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Very Lord of Illusions, Nix talking: “I want to murder the world.” But I’ll relate everything back to that movie, given half a chance.a1
C. and, Penney’s: I think about half the shirts I wear are from there. Most of my favorite shirts, anyway.

a1. example: I often get Jennifer Desiderio confused with Carolyn Polhemous and Amanda Hunsaker. In the most pleasant way, I mean. It’s all the syllables in the surnames, I think. Beautiful, and somehow necessary, as are the initial hard G-sounds for bad guys: Gollum, Grendel, Gargomel, Ganon, Gage, and on and on, evilly. Maybe that letter up-front like that’s been charged ‘bad’ ever since Golgotha, I don’t know.

Over at Internet Review of Science Fiction. A close read by JG Stinson. Very cool. So glad that book’s still reaching people.

Too, The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti‘s not only slipping through Amazon early. It’s over at Small Press Distribution as well.

And, and: Joe Lansdale‘s got a new one, Leather Maiden. He’s a can’t miss kind of writer.

Too, The Bat Segundo Show may not be going away after all. It’s one of the main places I go for podcast happiness.

Over, gone.

tloNGThough The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti‘s not officially released until early September, it looks to be slipping through Amazon already. And that seems to me to be a good time to explain it a bit. Or, not explain it, but explain around it. And not like this, but with this running journal-thing (my first ever) I kept for the seventy-two hours it took me to write it. That Three-Day Novel Contest, yep. Which, if I could find a way to make a living doing one of those every weekend, then I guess I’d do pretty well for about a year, at which point I’d of course have to die. Anyway, the week after that contest, I read this journal-thing, and my knee-jerk reaction — pretending, say, I was reading a journal-thing somebody else had been keeping — was that something wasn’t right. At some very fundamental level. And also I kind of knew that I shouldn’t show to this to anybody.


Here it is. All I’ve done’s correct a couple of typos, pretty much, and erase one name, so as to protect the innocent:

My 3-Day Novel Journal

Days -6 through 0:
—  read no fiction, write no fiction, knowingly listen to no fiction.

Day -1:
—  3pm: hand-deliver contest registration to post office, then make sure the postage is right for Canada, then mail it and become absolutely certain I’ve again forgotten to sign the check.
—  9pm: finally, while reading HORTON HEARS A WHO, figure out all at once what the novel’s going to be about, front to back, but resist writing it on the endpapers, as they’re illustrated, and I somehow don’t have my pen on me anyway.
—  9:30pm: write as much of that as I can remember into an email draft.

Day 0:
—  10am: gym
—  2pm: work meeting
—  4pm: Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN
—  6pm: dinner (chicken breast, rolls)
—  7pm: two hours basketball with good music
—  9pm: make first pitcher of sweet tea
—  10pm: watch AMERICAN ANTHEM, love it even more than ever. Meant to watch FOOTLOOSE, but my DVD of it’s somehow gone, I can’t even begin to imagine where.
—  11:45pm: watch last twenty-eight minutes of a LAW & ORDER episode I’d already watched the first half of earlier (last two minutes: unrecorded), and eat second dinner, of spaghetti & meatballs & ketchup and then two bowls of honeycombs with real milk.

Day 1:
—  12:02: check contest rules, to make sure I don’t need to be doing any special documenting.
—  12:03: open new blank document, title it, wonder why my new computer already sucks so much, then save the file to its own folder, so hopefully all the temp files will be there as well, in case documentation becomes any kind of issue.
—  12:04: try to figure out what music’s good. Try Jerry Reed, but, when that doesn’t work, just turn up George Strait real loud, over and over. Saving all the hair metal for day three, I’m thinking.
—  3:33am: call it a night, twenty-three pages in.
—  4am: set alarm for 8:00, then turn the lights back on, reset it for 8:59.
—  8:59: wake up, eat some breakfast burrito while watching a recorded SEINFELD and a lot more of VH-1’s top 20 countdown than I mean to.
—  10am: back at it, nervous I’ve lost the thread. Have to eat a lot of Whoppers and drink a ridiculous amount of sweet tea and listen to Journey at a stupid, painful volume. First pitcher: gone.
—  11:43am: call it a morning, thirty-eight pages in now. Am very glad that first line kind of seeded a structure, as I think that’s what went wrong with my novel the last time I tried this contest: it spooled out of control.
—  11:45am: wrote all this, so far, while I still remembered it. Only trying to ring that fifty-page bell today (going for one hundred pages total this time, instead of one-fifty, like last time), so, only twelve pages to go. May have to sneak into town, catch SUNSHINE, maybe STARDUST, or whatever that Gaiman movie is. Though too BALLS OF FURY is calling my name.
—  11:48am: check mail, which usually doesn’t make it here until noon, but Saturdays are kind of special, mail-wise. Today’s especially good: a Russian postcard from a friend I’d been wanting to hear from, a royalty check, Eric Shapiro’s THE STRAWBERRY MAN, a Netflix DVD (THE LOOKOUT), and a watch band, for the neverending saga of my favorite watch that I hate more than any of my other watches.
—  11:51am: do what I’d promised not to do—turn on the internet. Nothing good, though; only bills
—  11:53am: figure out how this next chapter, chapter five, should start. Not the wording, but the necessary development. Very happy.
—  12:20am: too jittery, have to work-out. Watch an old STAR TREK, “the world is hollow and I have touched the sky,” I think, where McCoy gets the girl, and the girl either has this just gorgeous hair, or else she’s wearing one very cool wig.
—  1:36pm: make more sweet tea.
—  1:40pm: lunch (chicken breast, can of shoepeg corn, which I spill most of, so end up having to pick up one kernel at a time from the carpet). Question for lunch: why does the classic country music station play Okie from Muskogee so much? Hate that song. Always have.
—  1:47pm: check front door for tenth time, sure my ninja UPS guy has left the package I’m expecting, but now probably won’t get until after Labor Day.
—  1:48pm: do all dishes, drop a knife on my foot but it doesn’t cut me, promise to eat no more Whoppers because I hate them now, especially because they’re not Sixlets, which were perfect, but scarce now, and back here again, wishing I either had a Jimmy Buffet album on CD or mp3, or that I had a cassette player at my desk, to play some of my old Jimmy Buffet. Though Eddie Raven would do too, I think
—  2:34pm: finished chapter five. More happened in it than I planned. But you have to escalate, nevermind plans. Forty-four pages in. Could easily hit fifty right now, but SUNSHINE starts at 4:40, it looks like, and I should have all night, and I’m very excited about that, as I get to eat a lot more of spaghetti and meatballs and also because, now, I can watch THE LOOKOUT if I want. Too, though, I really want to find my FOOTLOOSE. Washing dishes earlier, I kept feeling like a big bug was crawling on me very lightly. And somehow there still aren’t any clean forks, I don’t think.
—  3:04pm: accidentally wrote two or three more pages. So, at forty-seven now. And, going by chapter count (starting six [year-later edit: no clue what this part of the parenthetical means], and counting epistolary interludes), I’m exactly halfway through. Which is about right.
—  8:59pm: bam, fifty-five pages. SUNSHINE rocked. What didn’t was jacking my separated rib up playing basketball. Resulted in a lot more muscle relaxer than can be good. It’s nice to walk around an unfamiliar grocery store on a very high dose of pretty old muscle relaxers, though. And I can’t find any Sixlets anywhere in town. Or the powder Nestle Quick. Was really wanting some spoonfuls of that.
—  9:02pm: have no idea how to keep a journal like this. No clue what tense to use, what the point of narration is supposed to be, any of that good kind of stuff. Sucks
—  9:04pm: THE LOOKOUT, I hope. May yet push through another chapter or two tonight. Just not having so much luck sitting up in a chair. Ribs suck. If I were Klingon, none of this would matter.
â–  9:05pm: I get it. Incomplete sentences. What you use in a journal. Just notes to yourself. Almost a to-do list, just slightly after the doing. Not that I’m going back and fixing anything, this sentence included. Melissa Etheridge’s “No Souvenirs” has been one of my favorite songs for so many years now. Still sitting here just because it, the song, hasn’t gone over yet, quite. It might be day two by the time I get back to my keyboard too.

Day 2:
—  5am: wake, totally lost, in my clothes. Evidently the amount of hydrocodone and muscle relaxer I took equalled about three bottles of Nyquil.
—  6am-ish: grab some energy bars, back to writing. Jam through ten pages.
—  9am: eat breakfast (-burritos), accidentally pour far too much hot sauce on. Watch another SEINFELD, the dognapping one, which I love. Resist music videos somehow. Another muscle relaxer.
—  12:26pm, if that’s noon: wake up again, wholly confused. I may be using those muscle relaxers wrong. Anyway, lunch (chicken + corn, which I spill again, like gravity has a different pull on it than everything else, I don’t know), another piece of THE LOOKOUT (about five-sixths through it by now), then back here, for some-odd amount of pages.
—  3:21pm: get email pop-up, which reminds me I forget to kill the net. But this one I want: it’s a story rejection (story: rodeo bulls possessed by death row inmates). I reply to it with another story, about a werewolf.
—  3:23pm: accidentally write two more pages, even though I’ve just, last stop, hit the seventy-five I had planned. Not sure how I’m supposed to wrap this story with less than twenty-five pages left. Always the dilemma. Listening to, over and over, that Pink “Who Knew.” Trick is, too, now there’s this girl with pink hair in the novel. Also, thanks to shuffle, Tina Turner and Thunderdome are now supplying the epigraph. But she can do anything. Now to decide whether to hit the gym with a busted rib, to play some hurting ball, or to catch BALLS OF FURY or STARDUST or try to hold out for a sneak peek of 3:10 TO YUMA. Or none of the above. I hate flies, see no reason for them to exist. So tired of spaghetti and meatballs. Had no idea that was even possible. Want only to watch music videos for hours. They always save me.
—  8:04pm: back from gym. Got lost getting there. Not at all sure how that happened. Ridiculous. But I think I sweated all the muscle relaxer and hydrocodone out. Good until the next round. Just now wrote, I don’t know, five pages. At eighty-one now. This may go a touch longer than a hundred. Hope that doesn’t work against me. Each time I go back and read the page I’ve just written, there’s all these missing words. THE LOOKOUT seriously rocked. Enough that I watched all the extra features, and even about half the movie over again, with commentary. Still never eating Whoppers again. Hate them.
—  10:06pm: eighty-eight pages in. And my ears seriously hurt. Some of these songs are so loud, and some idiot’s got every volume control twisted around twice. Four candy bars gone for the day (100 Grands & Nestle Crunches: poor substitutes for Sixlets), no clue how much sweet tea. More than enough, though. All jittery again. Want to go back to the gym, or maybe watch TALLADEGA NIGHTS. BORAT’s in the player, though. Can’t drink anything either. Trying some different meds I just found. Could be a bad mix waiting to happen, and I’m all alone in the house. Really liking Cher. I think I like everything she’s ever done. Sat outside for a while earlier, and it was very nice. No flies.
—  10:17pm: have decided that what makes or breaks a journal isn’t the diction, like I thought, but the point of narration. And the intended audience. There’s something tying those two together, I’m pretty sure. Something it’s possible to luck onto, but not really do on purpose. My ears really hurt.
—  11:58pm: BORAT was good, but I really could have done without the naked fight. Should have watched TALLADEGA NIGHTS again.

Day 3:
—  12:00pm, or am, whichever one’s midnight: only two chapters to go, but I’m going to save them for tomorrow. Also, it’s scary to write the end. No clue what I’ll do instead now, with the rest of these hours
—  12:45pm/am, I don’t know: accidentally did five more pages. Still very jittery. This definitely isn’t fitting into a hundred pages.
—  8:19am: too much hot sauce again. Been up for a while, but had to wait for chapter nine to gel. Waited and waited for the music video I wanted, but it never came on. Onward. Faster Pussycat at high volume now. I think “House of Pain” is this novel thing I’m writing. ‘Five years old and talking to myself.’
—  10:02am: finished. One hundred three pages, looks like. Love it. AMAZING STORIES. Not going to read it all through again now for a few hours. Still fourteen left. Thirteen and change. Put too much of myself in it, but that’s always.
—  10:18am: reconsidering the epigraph-thing. It might have to be “House of Pain.â€? Been listening to that song so much. Now I know where the mime came from, anyway. Never realized that was the lyric until now.
—  10:40am: just had to look “missile” up in the dictionary. And Faster Pussycat won’t work for the epi, nope. Because of the first line. Sucks. Spellchecking way too early now, but need to get it printed, polished. Lots of tense-problems as the thing started speeding up, wrapping around itself.
—  10:45am: this Word07 spellchecker is a completely different beast. One I love. It learns, and checks for the right-spelled word in the wrong place, which I have pretty serious, stupid issues with.
—  10:02pm: recap of last twelve hours:
—  11:30: buffet.
—  12:25: STARDUST, which rocked.
—  3:00: print the novel up.
—  3:40: gym, & read novel very closely.
—  9:00: finish novel. Still like it, which is rare.
—  Now: about to enter all the corrections. Actually going to be a clean mss this time. Last time was sloppy as can be, I think.
—  11:14pm: still correcting. Keep writing more than I mean to. Half-nervous. Forty-four mins. No, forty-six. Now forty-four probably. Being careful not to make any additions that up the page-count, though. Happy to be keeping it low.
—  11:42: done deal. Now just to save it on the flash drive, truck it to the office in the morning, get it printed and mailed. Eighteen minutes to spare.
Stephen Graham Jones

And, as for the year since, it’s been a lot like this:

ME: It’s got this, like, this big, um, I guess you’d call it a caterpillar, only it’s sentient, and in the future, and the ‘camo’ part, that’s where —
CHIASMUS: We already said yes, didn’t we? Is this connection good?
ME: I’m just. Um. Did I mention how fictional this was? I just made it up, I mean. What I was saying earlier about three days not being enough time to lie, that’s what I was lying about.
CHIASMUS: You keep saying that.
ME: I just don’t want anything bad to happen.
CHIASMUS: To . . . ?
ME: I don’t know. Everybody. This, the planet.
CHIASMUS: And don’t say ‘just’ in relation to ‘fiction,’ please. You do know who we are, don’t you?
ME: It’s just a story’s what I mean. It doesn’t involve me at all. Hardly. Except for where it has to.
ME: Okay, okay. Is it possible, can y’all, like, control who does and doesn’t read it, maybe? There’s certain people, I mean.
CHIASMUS: Individuals?
ME: Classes. Types. Uniforms. Relations. Forget it. It will say ‘novel’ on it somewhere, won’t it? Have that disclaimer?
CHIASMUS: It’s assumed.
ME: Good, good. Thank you. I just — I wouldn’t want —
CHIASMUS: So let [us] get this straight. You want your novel about a ‘camopede’ to be itself someway camoflouged, so as to keep you out of some trouble you rather distinctly perceive?
ME: [subject may have averted his eyes here, and covered his mouth, nevermind that this isn’t even a phonecall, but the dramatized distillation of a series of email communications]
ME: Maybe we should start over, like. Did I tell you about that bunnyheaded zombie novel I have? or the one with the wrestlers?
CHIASMUS: They’re made-up as well, right? With lots of quotation marks around the ‘made-up’ part?
ME: Well, yeah. But they’re really made-up, like, from nothing.
CHIASMUS: What are you saying?
ME: . . .
CHIASMUS: [here floated author’s first name through the phone in a way at once tolerant and impatient — perhaps in the same way you would coddle a hyena, had it just ‘accidentally’ eaten some item you valued, and you were now having to wait around for said item, and make nice in the meanwhile, the sun beating down on you the whole time, and somebody back in the grass honking the horn at you, and this hyena just grinning and grinning, its nastymatted tail sweeping a clean little arc out of the savanna, these long lines of saliva trailing from its black lips]
ME: Nothing. [eyes averted again: is there something against that wall? Shit, no, no — ]
CHIASMUS: Hello? Hello?

Or something like that.

And then, about two seconds after that to collect blurbs (we had four seconds total, I think, as the book wasn’t picked up until — May, maybe? Right around then, and we still had to dream up a cover, and figure out how to do the text, and, luckily, my editor Trevor Dodge was able to get all this done, don’t ask me how). Blurbs for which I’m so so grateful. Means so much to get support from writers I really respect:

Two unreliable narrators, a bunch of suicide letters, and a plot that collapses on itself just like the characters do — Stephen Graham Jones is our contemporary Jorge Luis Borges.
— Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody

Stephen Graham Jones’s novel The Bird is Gone was the most brilliantly original book I’d read in years, but Nolan Dugatti may top it. Like Lethem and Murukami before him, Jones mines his genre fiction past to bring us a work of startling literary merit. Mystery, horror, sci-fi: the ingredients are all in there, and the chef — as confident and creative as ever — knows exactly what he’s doing.”
— David Goodwillie, author of Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Suicide notes from a father who can’t quite manage to kill himself, the nine final hours of customer support at a help desk for a video game no one has played in almost a decade, train-length, time-traveling, hyper-adaptive super-centipedes, lethal shrimp cocktails, ninjas (blind and otherwise), and a posthumous Pong match all cryptically connect in this stark exploration of guilt, grief, and fear by the prolific Stephen Graham Jones. And did I mention that it’s funny? Unplug your consoles, kids, and play this book.
— Zack Wentz, author of The Garbageman and the Prostitute

Stephen Graham Jones has one of the most restless and individual imaginations in American writing today. This strange, subtle story of father-son disaffection and disjointed love is told with his signature narrative inventiveness and dark humor. It moves forward with a gently predatory Kafkaesque logic that will draw you in and leave you remembering other lives, while wondering more about the one you call your own.
— Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville

Stephen Graham Jones continues to deftly demonstrate that there’s something warped and even a little scary behind the curtain of our culture. At once funny, poignant, and unsettling, The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti pulls it back to reveal the guilt and existential drift resulting from our attempts to escape.
— Patrick Schabe, PopMatters

So, yeah. Nolan Dugatti. Like Jim Doe and Pidgin and LP Deal, like Hale and Doby Saxon, I’m him, he’s me, we’re neither together and twice something the farther apart we get from each other. It’s why I keep sending them out to the shelves, I suppose.

Hope you like it.

be famous,

What’s showing up on my porch any day: author copies for Ledfeather and The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti. Each now up at Amazon, if not quite orderable yet. As for official release dates, I think Ledfeather‘s going to be first, though Nolan Dugatti‘ll be available right around Ledfeather‘s official day (early/mid-August). Very excited about each of these, too. Haven’t had a two-novel season since 2003, All the Beautiful Sinners and The Bird is Gone. It’s fun.

And, as for where my porch is these days: Colorado. It’s why the long silence these past couple of months. Luckily, though, I’ve managed to hurt myself enough on my new bike1 that I’m laid up for a few days. So I can catch up in here, maybe.

As for what I’m reading/watching/listening to: Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, The Howling, and “All Summer Long” (those chords up front are supposed to be Skynyrdy, I know, but they’re pure “Werewolves of London,” yes?). As for what I’m not seeing yet: Hellboy 2, The Dark Knight, X-Files. Feels so strange right now being me. Not just from the heaping handfuls of pills I’m on, but because there’s an X-Files that exists that I haven’t seen yet. The other day at some gas pump I put my card in and, instead of the readout-thing telling me to do this or that, it just came up with the word ‘Disloyal.’ Which is about how I’m feeling right now. I mean, on the upside, I did recently buy a Jean-Luc Picard action figure to put on my desk with Scully and Mulder, but still. A true believer would have been there Thursday at midnight, right? Right.

Too, I remember in some interview forever ago saying what my favorite shirt was. And at the time, that shirt pictured, yep, it was the shirt of shirts. But now, I don’t know. There’s a contender, anyway:

grendel T

Though of course in a fair world, this would be a t-shirt as well — one in my closet anyway:

grendel T

Also, that’s kind of a lie, I guess, what I’m watching: The Howling’s spinning in the player, sure, even always, but for the past seven hours, I think, it’s been the high end of my channels. Specifically, Classic Country. I really haven’t found a limit for how long I can watch that channel.

Too, was making lists, which is probably some kind of obvious character flaw, and realized (cue epiphany music here) that my all-time favorite SNL bit, ahead even of the ninja support group and all the Jeopardy and Land Shark fun, was that old ‘centaur job interview’-one. Which I can’t seem to find anywhere. Does it exist on-line? Would love a link, if so.

And, last, which should have been first, or its own post: anybody in Ceurnevaca next, say, March 12-15? I’m there, leading a workshop in FC2’s Writers on the Edge. Tentative title of my workshop:”anaerobicize your prose” No period there on purpose, yeah.

And, talking FC2: goodbye to my longtime & always editor Brenda Mills, without whom . . . I don’t know. ‘Anything,’ I think. And thanks for it.

So, you know: be famous,


1 I don’t know why I thought I could write a post without a footnote. anyway, new bike: Gary Fisher 29er. Rigid, hardtail, though I’m thinking hard about some front suspension. Anybody got any they’re not using? Not sure what I’d trade, but it’d be in book form. Maybe even ‘author copy’ book form . . .

A new essaything I have up over at the Cult. Click here to get there.

So far, too, this is getting the award (derision?) for shortest post ever.

Anyway, lost in the surf of Duma Key right now, and looking forward to snagging The Plague of Doves afterwards. Writing this novel too all the while, which I just keep expecting to self-destruct. But somehow it just keeps unfolding. And I guess that’s good, but, too, I’m about the last person in this situation who’d know, either.

Gone already. Hope the essaything stanches the flow a bit. Of bad prose, I mean. As to why it’s an ‘essaything’ and not just a ‘craft essay,’ too: it’s that I don’t write essays. A wholly foreign mode. I do, however, occasionally write something with no characters, no plot, just this monologue grappling through some idea or another. Which is what “As I Lay Mostly Dying” is. Oh, and if there’s anybody out there who doesn’t get the “lolly lolly”-bit, just click here, let the happiness wash over you.

A TG Sheppard line*, yeah. That and Elvis’s “Kentucky Rain** make up a whole eight or ten month block of my . . . not childhood, but that’s when I listened to them most. ‘Life,’ I guess. Which is pretty much the complete opposite of the story just out here:

CDance 58

An interview and a Demon Theory review in there too. And, yep, it’s been on the shelves for a bit already, but I’m just seeing it anyway.

Also, the TOC for Phantoms (Prime; Sean Wallace/Paul G. Tremblay, eds.) is out now:

Intro: Literary Horror: Dude, you made that up!
The Cabinet Child, Steve Rasnic Tem
The End of Everything, Steve Eller
A Ghost, A House, Becca De La Rossa
The Ones Who Got Away, Stephen Graham Jones
After Images, Karen Heuler
The Ladder of St. Augustine, Seth Lindberg
What President Polk Said, Vylar Kaftan
Kinder, Steve Berman
Set Down This, Lavie Tidhar
A Stain on the Stone, Nick Mamatas
Mr. Wosslynne, Michael Cisco
Jounquils Bloom, Geoffrey Goodwin
Invasive Species, Carrie Laben
She Hears Music Up Above, F. Brett Cox

* that specific link because it cracks me up how they spell ‘chorus.’ Not sure if it’s fancy or just plain wrong, but either way, I imagine it’s what the guy on rhythm guitar calls it.

** talking TG Sheppard, though, and who isn’t, I have had a much longer relationship with his “Slow Burn”:

In her high heals kicking ‘cross the dance floor
She’s more woman than I could ever ask for

Too, for the longest time I had TG Sheppard and BJ Thomas and Gary Morris all golemed together in my head (must have the been the beard, there, even though I never pulled David Frizell or Johnny Lee or any of the other beard-guys in (though Eddie Rabbit wouldn’t count, as his beard was always way too manicured)). I got better, though. However — just now realizing this too — I have absolutely no visual association for Gene Watson. Feels really strange. And I’m not looking him up either.

Man, came home Friday after watching Prom Night, just all conflicted and twitchy from it, and then the next morning woke early, slammed down an essay-thing about it, and then of course hit the wrong button, lost it all, so, when I finally had time (that night), I re-did what of it I could, and bam, now it’s up at PopMatters, one of the sites I respect the most:

Author Stephen Graham Jones looks into the disappointments of the Prom Night remake, finds pause to reflect back on the past of the slasher film and sees a glimmer of hope for the future.

Also, for the close readers (even casual — really, you can run by the screen while fighting a small dog and still catch it), there’s a thing that slips out downlow on that page. Was waiting to say it out loud until I had a very specific date to pair it up with. Now that date’s “Summer.” Ideally, it’d be “Corvette Summer,” and Mark Hamill would be involved somehow, but still, I’m happy with how it’s all going nevertheless.

Man, I got the year right for The Ruins anyway, back when. And this is another non-review, yeah. Specifically, one with spoilers. Anyway, yeah, Scott Smith pretty much proves that it’s not always a bad idea to let the author be the one to make that book-to-screen jump. He nails it, I mean. I guess there’s something to be said for knowing the material. Not here to say Good job though. Not only that anyway. Just because the end of the movie version of the The Ruins doesn’t quite work, I don’t think. Not saying a (UK-) The Descent ending would have been in order, but, c’mon: just because this is a crawling, leafy slasher, that doesn’t mean it’s not a slasher, right? Which is to say the real narrative escalation happens in the last frames: “What, Michael’s not laying there dead anymore?” Something along those lines, which suggests that what’s happened is that Michael’s scurried out of that world on-screen, has maybe found a way into ours. That’s what The Ruins needed. Says the back-seat driver, yeah. The armchair quarterback. But surely somebody must have at least suggested this, right? It just seems so obvious — and here comes the spoilage: at the end, when the Greeks finally bumble out to the these ruins to save the day, instead of just having them look up this vine-swaddled pyramid, the whole movie about to happen again, just starring them now, why not escalate, why not just keep the camera in one place as they walk across that salted earth, so that we can see these unharmless red flowers opening behind them? Watching them, tracking them. The idea, the certainty, being that Amy, our Marilyn Burns here, when she split out of there, she was inadvertently — selfishly (Spock would never do this, though, yes, 28 Weeks Later definitely would/does) — playing some hybrid of Johnny Appleseed and Typhoid Mary. Which is to say that this vine, this ancient, bloody, hungry, unstoppable vine, it’s finally, after all these years, broken through its salt-barrier, outwitted its generations of Mayan guards. And now there’s not enough salt in the world to hold it back. All that’s left is for it to take root way up the Borneo, wait for the anaconda population there to get a taste for its sticky sweet fruit. Or some could even drift out to Skull Island; it’d fit right in with the citizens there.

None of which is to say that The Ruins wasn’t just excellent. Nothing but fun. I just wish it would have taken a bit more of a chance there at the end. Oh, and I guess I wish too that having an unAmerican accent wasn’t a death sentence.

And, in other news, The Shark Is Still Working looks pretty cool. However, Zombie Strippers. that’s what I expect to sweep all the Oscars this year. I’m there opening day, anyway, be it at the theatre or on Netflix.

Who knew, yeah? Looks like it’s out loud now, anyway, here, and here, etc. And no, no clue how or if the footnotes were handled, or if, when they were or weren’t handled, it was as endnotes that they were or weren’t handled (that is, if the audio’s working off the paperback or cloth version). Was so tempted to footnote that sentence right there too*. Anyway, maybe this is cool. Looking forward to giving it a listen.

hospital line

[ edit: just listened to a bit of it — meaning Yep, it’s real — and it’s pretty cool ]

* This is me, controlling myself *


* [ This being me, no control whatsoever* ]

* etc.

1. Just got a story, “Lonegan’s Luck,” accepted by New Genre. Like most stories if you peel them back far enough, this one, too, is a zombie western. Nearly forty pages of it.

2. Doomsday opens tomorrow. Very excited. Looks like all the elements I look for in high-calibre, life-altering cinema, they’re here. Which is to say that if Tina Turner waltzes on, starts singing, that’ll only make things twice as good. Too, cool that Rhona Mitra’s in it. She was great in The Life of David Gale (which I thought deserved four stars from Ebert, not the zero he gave it), and excellenter than ever in Highwaymen. I would remember her from Skinwalkers too, except I got to that five minutes late, couldn’t figure out what was or wasn’t happening (except that, yes, there would be wolves), so I slipped catlike into some other movie. Looks like she’s soon to be in the next installment of Underworld, too. All kinds of horror goodness. But that’s a redundant thing to say; horror is goodness.

3. My new and forever hero, his name is Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. He’s the bad guy on Phineas & Ferb, which I’m just wholly and completely addicted to. And yeah, so Perry the Platypus takes him down pretty much every episode, but Doofenshmirtz, he’s got style. If I’m ever a bad guy in a cartoon, he’s who I’m going to be.

perry the dadblamed platypus

is the author of 22 or 23 books, 250+ stories, and all this stuff here. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, and has a few broken-down old trucks, one PhD, and way too many boots