Coming soon: The World Needs Bad Men

As many of you know, whenever I’m quiet I’m busy. Lately I’ve been very quiet because I’ve been very busy with my biggest project to date: a collection of essays on True Detective Season 1. I’m still at work on the final pieces of the manuscript, but the book will be coming out this summer from the good folks at Sequart publishing.

Much like my essays already available on Sequart’s site, the book will focus on the genre elements as well as literature, film, musical and comics influences at work in the first season. Adam & Mark Stewart are contributing a excellent piece focusing exclusively on the comics influences and I’ve written a musical appendix listing all of the songs used in the show along with a brief analysis of how they contribute to the scenes in which they appear. Miguel Rodriguez of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival and podcast also contributed some intriguing film suggestions for our related readings/ viewings appendix.

Stay tuned for more news and a release date!

Halloween Flash: As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

More macabre flash to keep you creepy until Halloween. I wrote this one about a year ago, but it hasn’t been published anywhere.

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As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

He was screaming when we buried him and he was still screaming when he dug himself up two days later. Now we have to look at the sorry state of him. His hands is broke and his face is ripped to ribbons. One eye running down his cheek like the yolk of a soft-boiled egg. He’s worse than before. He won’t talk, won’t listen and he won’t leave. All he does is walk the town and stare at us, like we’re some kind of monsters.

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San Diego Comic-Con: My Fountain of Youthful Enthusiasm

Most people use the start of a new year as a reset button on their lives; it’s a time for rebirth, refreshment of the mind and body and spirit. I’m a little different. For the past decade my year has reset in July at the San Diego Comic-Con. I roll in to the convention saddled with quotidian worries and I roll out exhausted, but brimming with new ideas and fresh enthusiasm for creation and collaboration.

Unfortunately, it’s hard for a lot of non-con goers to understand exactly why SDCC is so special to those of us who attend. I place some of the blame for this on the media. They cover the spectacle – the crowds, the costumes and the celebrity spotting. When I tell people that I attended Comic-Con, the first question is always, “What did you dress up as?” When I answer that I don’t dress up, people are confused. “So why do you go?” Whatever my answer, it never seems to fit their understanding of the event. It’s a frustrating situation for everyone.

This year I want to shed a little light on aspects of Comic-Con that are often left in the dark. There’s no way I could do justice to everything at SDCC in a single blog post, but I can share some of what I experienced. Highlights in no particular order:

  • Books! This year I kept my book buying to a minimum, but I came away with 13 new titles. You can see the full list on my Goodreads page . Obligatory book stack photo:
  • Only 13 books?
    Only 13 books?
  • Sequart Organization is devoted to the study of popular culture and the promotion of comic books as a legitimate artform. Tone and I enjoyed their documentary, Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods and stopped by their booth to check on their upcoming Neil Gaiman film. In the process we met Editor-in-Chief Mike Phillips and Webmaster Stuart Warren, both of whom seem like fun guys.
  • In the pro lounge I met Katie Cord, founder of Evil Girlfriend Media and Timothy W. Long, author of more zombie fiction than you can shake a partially gnawed femur at. We had a great conversation about everything from genre fiction to Wonder Woman’s new costume.
  • I missed the Masquerade this year, but listened to a recorded version of my friend Rogue’s group performing Be a Fan. It’s funny and sweet and super clever!
  •  In the dealer’s room I met Ave Rose and geeked out over her amazing steampunk/ taxidermy/ animated art. She brought an amazing possum creature from her Bestiary of the Automata collection. It was equal parts creepy, fascinating and beautiful.
  •  Since I can’t do a Comic-Con without getting a little horror in with my superheroes, I learned about the Los Angeles H.P. Lovecraft filmfest. It’s coming this September and features original short films, feature films, guests and special events. This year’s theme is “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

 

 

San Diego Book Awards 2012

Saturday night Tone and I attended the San Diego Book Awards banquet for the second time. The first time we went was in 2009, when Tone’s manuscript for Picking Up the Ghost was a finalist in the unpublished novel category. This time the published version of Picking Up the Ghost was a finalist in the published SciFi, Fantasy, & Horror category. Unfortunately, Picking up the Ghost didn’t win. I still think that being nominated twice isn’t too shabby!

The night wasn’t a total loss for the Milazzo household. A Year in Ink, Volume 4 , edited by Jericho Brown & Laurel Corona, won the short story collection/ anthology category. Since my short story, “Sleepwalking” is included in the collection, I can now say I’m published in an award winning book!

Q&A: The Novel

Q: You’re writing a novel?
A: Why yes I am, thanks for asking!

Q: What’s it called?
A: The working title is Snake Woman Rain Dance.

Q: What’s it about?
A:  Murder, Mexican folk magic, Aztec gods and wildfires

Q: For reals?
A: For reals.

Q: How much do you have written?
A: 50,000 words (about ½ the book)

Q: Can I read it?
A: When the rough draft is complete I’ll be pushing this story on anyone who is literate and slow moving enough for me to catch.

Q: Is this why you haven’t been updating your blog?
A: Damn your deductive skills! Yes, yes it is.

Q: Does this mean your blog will be lame an dead until you finish said novel?
A: No, I’ll keep posting lists, flash fictions and reviews. The updates will just be happening with less frequency.

Q: What do I do if I have more questions or feel the need to write a rambling and only tangentially related response to this announcement?
A: Use the LEAVE A COMMENT button below. I promise you I’ll read it.

List: Yelp Reviews of Old West Whore Houses

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Big Nose Kate's Saloon, Tombstone Arizona

 

Miss Kitty’s   (five stars)

“Enjoyment is to be had in any of her fine lady-holes. Try them all!”

Jolly Jane’s    (four stars)

“Good selection of purty girls at a low price. Some has peckers too, but I don’t let that slow me down none.”

The Oriental    (two stars)

“Fancy furniture and such. The whorin’ weren’t too good, but the gal did give me a bath.”

Big Nose Kate’s       (three stars)

“Name of this establishment is misleading. THERE ARE NO LARGE NOSED WOMEN HERE! However, a small nosed whore did fashion a wear a paper cone while servicing me. All was not lost.”

Bessie in the Alley     (one star)

“Worst hump of my life. Had more fun riding my horse.”

Armageddon in Retrospect

Title: Armageddon in Retrospect
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
ISBN: 978-0-425-22689-6

     I’m always wary of any posthumously published works by my favorite authors. That’s why I approached Armageddon in Retrospect, a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s essays and short stories, with caution. Being a great writer isn’t just knowing what words to leave in a story, it’s knowing which words should be left out. If Vonnegut chose not to publish these works while he was alive, he must have felt that they were not his best. Part of me prefers to honor the body of work that Vonnegut chose to show us, not what he left on the cutting room floor. Still, there’s much to be learned about the craft of writing by seeing less polished pieces from talented authors. It’s a fine line to walk, but I think Armageddon in Retrospect does it well.

     The book contains both fiction and non-fiction pieces like speeches and letters. The non-fiction in Armageddon is classic Vonnegut:  a dose of rueful humor to sweeten the moral outrage. His speeches seem like the ramblings of an old man, circular and humorous. By the time he’s ready to make his point Vonnegut has touched your humanity, opened your heart just enough to feel what he’s saying rather than just hear it.

     The best piece in the book is the letter that Vonnegut wrote to his family in 1945 after escaping a German prison camp. It is amazing.  Vonnegut takes only two pages to talk about his experience, covering all the facts up to where he is at the moment. It’s one of the most efficient pieces of communication I have ever seen. More than that, it appears to be the birth of his use of refrain.  When describing the death of some of his fellow soldiers Vonnegut says, “Many men died from shock. . . after ten days of starvation, thirst an exposure. But I didn’t.” The “but not me” refrain runs throughout his letter home, screaming his survivor’s guilt without ever addressing the topic directly.

     Most of the short stories in the collection are from early in Vonnegut’s career. He had not yet developed his trademark humor or learned to employ speculative fiction elements (like time travel) in to his work. Vonnegut’s anger in these early pieces is raw and often barely disguised by plot. These stories are not the easiest things to read. Still, they offer hope to struggling writers. If Vonnegut started out like this, it’s possible to keep working, to keep searching until you develop a style that allows you to tell even the most complicated of stories.

     Ultimately, I enjoyed Armageddon and recommend it to all Vonnegut fans. I enjoyed Armageddon – now how many people can say that?