Wednesday, February 17, 2010


More and more I'm convinced that we're plunging into the abyss. And, dammit, if that's the case, I'd rather not continue this chaotic Nestea Plunge. Rather, I'd just like to see the Etch-A-Sketch version - erase the thing and start over.
I'm not going to go off on a rant about all the things that irritate me these days: the fact that singers have resorted to horrid grammar to create hip rhymes ("it only matters who I is!" - really?), or the fact that crapfest movies win the box office over well thought out quasi-masterpieces, or that people like James Patterson and Dan Brown sit atop the bestsellers lists for rehashed books that are the literary merit of baby poop. I'll save those and many other topics for a later date.
What I'm fascinated with, though, is the Internet. More specifically, this wikireality.
Whether it's "The Matrix" or Tolkein's MiddleEarth, sci-fi and fantasy afficienados have been captivated by the idea of alternate realities. It's not surprising that the wet dreams of guys like Asimov and Dick would come to pass. Most of the conceptions of sci-fi have come to pass (granted, not quite in the same vein, but in concept. "Wall-E" may have hit the proverbial nail on the head, though, when they displayed what the cost for people would be, fat baby-like beings that are incapable of functioning for themselves...I shudder at the thought).
"The Sims" was the first zone. Second Life augmented that even further. But, now, the Internet seems to be an alternate reality of its own. And why the hell did this happen?
We've become a society that is incapable of original thought. I am talking about the majority, not the few of us who still do cultivate a little spark of creativity and have the capacity to imagine. This summer, for example, CNN received a tweet that Jeff Goldblum had died while climbing in New Zealand. The tweet came with a weblink. That was all the reporters at CNN needed to consider this valid information and a valid tip. So, they reported it as fact. This, of course, was a hoax, a fabricated lie, albeit doen very well. But what happened to the days when we looked at something and said, "Really? That doesn't seem right. Maybe I should investigate it a little." Nope. Nada. Say goodbye to those days. SMO (Social Media Outlets) have become the reality. If it didn't come across my facebook status page or my Twitter, then it damn sure didn't happen. (I'm judging CNN very harshly for not having an intern just pick up the phone and call Goldblum or a family member for a quote. I'm sure a call from CNN would garner a response from a B-list celebrity).
I can only assume that this is why so many people post so much (one as many as 42 times in an hour) online - if they don't post their day's activities, then they really have no value. I was eating lunch with someone who began talking about their insatiable desire to live on a farm. "I've never heard this from you before," I replied. They informed me that this was a new whim, created from their love of Farmville, a facebook game. Yeah, and courtesy of Mafia, I'm sure you'll want to live like Tony Soprano next.
I've eaten lunch with people, spoken to them on the phone, seen them in passing, and you'd think that if I were getting engaged they would know about this. An engagement isn't something that pops up out of the blue, randomly. It's something that's savored, salivated over, and enjoyed. You talk it up in passing. You mention it to your friends. You milk it for every ounce it's worth (which, with inflation factored in, is quite a lot more than it was in 1950). Yet, I change my status to "engaged" on facebook and the world seems come alive.
Within 30 minutes I'd received 4 text messages and 2 phone calls (don't even get me started on texting). By the hour mark, I'd received 3 facebook messages and 2 emails. It's fascinating. Of course, I'd respond with, "wouldn't I have told you?" And, people aren't sure what to respond to that with. Interesting.
Nobody bothered to think. Eric's engaged? That's odd. Very, very odd. Nobody bothered to investigate (and I'm talking in elementary education, not "elementary by dear Watson"). He's engaged to Christy Leigh? She's in California? How did that happen? How did they meet? When was he spending any amoutn of time in California? Nobody bothered to ration it out. That's impossible! I call shenanigans!
Christy is a fan. I like Christy. She gave me her dowry (which is a funny story involving an inheritance, postal exchange, and Jose Canseco...but it's a story for a different time). And we love each other, as much as two people can over the Internet. She's a good sport. And, dammit, I have tremendous respect for her. But we've never once physically met.
If I were engaged, wouldn't I have met, mentioned, or made-merry with her?
Nope. People see "engaged" as the relationship status and automatically assume that that's what happened.
Am I trying to "Punk" anyone? Not in the least. I would say that this is a sociological experiment.
In interesting news, I received more attention to this status than I have to any mention of my book. Christy has received more attention on this status than she did on her art. Fascinating.
It's food for thought, kids. I know I may have shattered the glass dome that we're all trapped in a bit. Sure, I frayed the thin veil. But, c'mon. We're steps away from losing the ability to think and ration for ourselves. Think about that today...oh wait, thoughlessness is contagion. Think about that today, if you still think.
Signing off...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Naked Metamorphosis for Breast Cancer

My friend Jane, in Baltimore, recently found out that she has breast cancer. I say recently, but the truth is, she's known for a bit. As she says, "Happy Holidays". I've been taking a little time to accept this reality for a variety of reasons: 1.) I'm not in Baltimore and feel helpless that I cannot offer support, and 2.) because, I've always seen Jane as the epitome of strength and when I imagine this all I see is frailty. Wow! Put a little distance on it and you realize...THIS is the epitome of strength. Her and her husband, David, have it in spades, man. Te read about her journey thus far:

I also decided that there is a way I can help. Maybe not her specifically, but in a way. That's why, I've decided that I'm going to make a donation to Susan G. Komen the first week of March. For every copy of "Naked Metamorphosis" that is sold, I'm donating 50%. I'll post a picture of the check/Paypal screen when I do, so that you know I'm not full of it. After all, there are crazy people out there, jumping up and down claiming to be charitable, but they're not. I hate them. We hate them.

I've also upped the ante a little. If...and only if...I can make this puppy sell and create a generous donation to Susan G. in the remaining days of February, well, I'm going to shave my locks. My hair's not long by any stretch, but those that know me know I love my hair. Love. It. So, to lose it would be a dear price...well, for me.

So, to recap:
  • Get a good that you'll enjoy (and it's got my personal email in it so you can talk to me electronically or send me Viagra spam);
  • Do it for a good cause (maybe not the BEST cause, but a cause nonetheless).
  • Punish me...wait? What?

Thank you for all your support....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day Gifts

Yes, it's the time of year when everyone has love in their very googly eyes. Yes, it's the time of year when diamond commercials are hocking their wares with the spin that if you don't treat your beloved to a diamond, then you're not really "in love". Ugh, I say, and gag me with Alpo.

Whether it's your holiday or not - I'm not getting into the repugnancy of this cherished and beloved holiday; it's neither the time nor the place - it's coming like a freight train from hell, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. So, I, the authorguy who loathes V-Day (ironically, initialled VD), is offering a holiday treat for you and your loved one(s).

Unfortunately it's only for the Richmonders. Sorry to all my fans from around the globe. Of course, I guess you could play...but the prizes are in Richmond.

First and foremost, I think you should give the gift of books. I always have subscribed to this theory and always will. Books are one of the best gifts to give and receive. Incidentally, I have a little book out that would make a wonderful gift for yourself or someone you love. It's called "Naked Metamorphosis", and despite the word "naked" in the title, it's not kinky. It is highbrow humor that has been called witty and whimsical, though.

Speaking of this little gem, it's 9.95 at Amazon and can be added to your cart here: Now how can this get any better? Well, if you'd like a little extra oomph to your Valentine's Day offerings, here's what I'll do. The first person to order and email me their confirmation number - I don't want your credit card info, just a sign that you ordered it - to, will receive a V-Day package:
  • A 1 night stay for 2 at the brand new Short Pump Hilton
  • A $25 gift certificate at the Aura Day Spa (located in the Short Pump Hilton)
  • And another goodie that I'll mention later...but it's a doozy.

Don't fret. If you're the second in line to email me your confirmation ID, I'll give you a $25 gift certificate to the Aura Day Spa.

So what are you waiting for? I'm giving you free Valentine's goodies all in exchange for a $10 book.!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


No, not the show famous for the creation of Fonz (and equally famous for coining the term "jumping the shark"). No, I mean literal happy days. Yes, there's white stuff on the ground. Richmond, the once "proud" capital of the Confederacy, is more reminiscent of the frozen world of Hoth (dork-alert)! And, yes, I've had a run lately...including doggie death, re-wiring a car, and a move. But still I decree HAPPY DAYS!

Carlton Mellick 3, is certainly an acquired literary taste. I like him, but there are plenty of people who would slap me if I recommended his works to anyone. The second issue of the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction has an indepth look at Mr. Mellick's genius. He's truly gifted. And, he's been able to give life to his weird worlds...and garner a very loyal fan following. I met CM3 at BizarroCon this year and was expecting...well, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I could have been expecting a pair of sideburns with a personality. What I got was a very genuine, very humble, very nice individual with a lust for the written word. CM3 is one of those authors that is very much a character, and he's the posterchild for Eraserhead Press and the bizarro movement.

So, getting back to Happy Days...Mr. Mellick recently posted an article about the NBAS through Eraserhead. It's a brilliant article that really captures the feel for the state of publishing, especially in this new age, and the importance of new voices. He also does a profile for each of the authors involved. Here's the portion about 4 new authors - one of which is yours truly.

Kevin Shamel is the first of these authors that I’ve met. I met him at a reading in Olympia, WA, about 8 months before I met the others at BizarroCon. Since then he’s become a great friend and he’s always excited to talk about the writing and publishing world, something I can go on about for days nonstop. I also like him for his topnotch cocktail-making skills and his belief that you can’t be too old to have a mohawk (his young son has a matching mohawk). His strengths over the other NBAS authors is that he has the most energy, the most time on his hands, and is close enough to Portland to get involved in the Portland bizarro scene and participate in local bizarro events. When he does readings, he does a demented puppet show with audience participation. It’s a sight to see. His book is called Rotten Little animals, and it’s kind of like a “Meet the Feebles” type of story about these talking animals who decide to make a snuff film. The inclusion of zombie cats is a plus. Many people have said this one is the weirdest book of the four.

Patrick Wensink is selling the most copies of his book so far. Perhaps because of the great title: “Sex Dungeon for Sale,” perhaps because he has the most professional-looking cover art, perhaps because it was praised by Joey Goebel, or perhaps because he’s just an awesome writer. Either way, he’s doing something right and has a big lead on the other NBAS. The book might also be doing well because it is a collection of comical short stories, and let’s face it: comedy sells. It is pretty rare in literature, since most writers take themselves too seriously, but readers just love humorous books. Like Christopher Moore, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Kurt Vonnegut, people can’t get enough of it. That’s probably why Patrick Wensink is the leading NBAS author and Mykle Hansen is the leading bizarro author (at the moment). Patrick is also a hilarious guy to be around. He’s a member of an improve comedy troupe and a big fan of my favorite sketch comedy show: The Upright Citizens Brigade. Any fan of UCB is a friend of mine. Plus, he was a Portlander for a while and might come back to visit us regularly. Patrick’s strengths over the other bizarros is probably his sense of initiative, sense of humor, and most importantly his results. When it comes down to it, results matter most.

Eric Mays was the one we were least optimistic about… at first. His book is about Kafka and Shakespeare, and was originally titled “Kafka’s Shakespearean Tragedy,” which made many people I know groan out loud. Before Kevin read the submission, based on the title and concept only, he told me “There’s no way I’m ever going to accept something like this.” It seemed like the kind of book that gets rejected by bizarro publishers over and over again. However, after reading it Kevin said “I MUST accept this.” And everyone in the bizarro scene who has read it, especially those with literary sensibilities, say that it is one of the most impressive bizarro books to come out in a long time. So, according to the scene, this guy is a brilliant writer and gives bizarro a good name. I’ve even heard people say if we can get more writers like Eric in bizarro then bizarro might actually become a respectable genre. While I could care less whether or not bizarro becomes respectable, it’s still nice to hear so many people back this guy, because Eric is one of the nicest guys out there. A passionate, lively, friendly, fun guy to hang out with, Eric is the kind of writer who you’d love to have a beer with. Or five. His strengths over the other NBAS authors is that he’s probably the best reader due to his background in theater (he can really bring his characters to life), he can appeal to high brow audiences as well as lowbrow audiences (because of his use of humor), and he’s also considering moving to Portland to join our local scene here, which is always a huge plus since Eraserhead Press puts a lot of attention into local bizarro writers. His book, now titled Naked Metamorphosis, has been described as “witty and whimsical.” While it’s hard to sum up the plot into a pretty one-liner, it will appeal to fans of Kafka, Shakespeare, and British comedy.

David Barbee is the underdog of the group. A lot of people are routing for him, but he’s had the least amount of success so far. He’s been a part of the bizarro community longer than any of the others, for a few years I believe. He was the only previously published author, because he had two self-published books out. He immediately impressed Kevin and I by taking his books out of print in order to submit to the new bizarro author series. That is the rule: you can submit to the New Bizarro Author Series if you have self-published some of your books, but you must first take them out of print. The thing is we never expected any self-published author to ever do this. If you had self-published a book would you be willing to forever take it out of print just at the chance to get published by Eraserhead Press? Not many people would be willing to do that. To this day, David Barbee is the only submitter who has ever had the guts to do this. Most self-published writers who have wanted to submit to the NBAS have whined and complained and tried to convince us to change our rules just for them. But David did it without a second thought. David’s strength over the other bizarro writers is his commitment to bizarro. He’s not only said he’s committed, he’s shown us this. Commitment combined with results are the two biggest things Rose is looking for. All David needs are the results. His book, Carnageland, is like reading a fun hyper-violent cartoon. It is a lot like a bizarro Invader Zim, with sex and violence.

You can read the full article here:

This is new art at its purest. We (all 4) are artists. Fortunately we're not starving artists...yet. But, as always, we love the support. I will say, having read all of these (even my own), each one is good and would look nice on the shelf. Also, each one has a very different feel to it. If you need something to tide you over, or a bathroom reader, or a gym book, go to Amazon and invest $10. It's a sound and very worthy investment.