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April 29, 2017: Website updated and revised.
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!!Styling It With Saint Simeon In Syria!!

Another sunny day in Paradise.

Another sunny day in Paradise.

 

It looks like he’s trying to hail a cab to me. Can you blame him for wanting to get out of there? The chain around his waist is a nice BDSM touch, but it’s really for safety in case he rolls off the pillar in his sleep. Nobody said it was easy being a stylite. That may be one reason why it’s not much in fashion anymore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simeon_Stylites

Stemma Di Visconti – Duchi de Milan

In plain English, "I won't break the way of a snake!"

In plain English, “I won’t break the code of a snake!”

 

The proud and illustrious crest of an insanely depraved and murderous Renaissance noble family, even by the godawful standards of their day. Also and of course, in a neat Shavian paradox, great patrons of the arts, pittori e scultori.

Amid A Swarm Of Flies

And no flyswatter big enough in the world to deal with it.

And no flyswatter big enough in the world to deal with it.

Le Coq Gualois Encore

Gallus Gallicus In Arma Concitante

Gallus Gallicus In Arma Concitante 

This owes a very loose, tangential debt to the brilliant, albeit completely mad Polish sculptor and painter, Stanislaw Szukalski, who among other projects had a totally impractical and impossible scheme to build a giant, grotesque statue of a rooster in the countryside in dedication to the spirit of France. The picture below hints at the project’s megalomaniacal scale:

 

Note supporting column beneath said cock.

Note supporting column beneath said cock. What an amazing sense of line Szukalski had.

http://szukalski.com/

Imaginary Coat of Arms

Under the moon and the mountain, I hold this land

Under moon and mountain, I hold this land

 

I’ve resumed writing a fantasy novel entitled City Of Witches. It’s set in Renaissance Italy and concerns a walled, ancient town, Pietradelmaga, high in the Abruzzi by a towering, forested mountain, Montestregae. In this remote, isolated region, black clad, virago women are armed with daggers and infamously reputed to be witches throughout the Italian peninsula.

Now comes Manual of Poictesme, captain of a mercenary company, sent with his men by corrupt Cardinal Dordateci to bring Montestregae’s heretical inhabitants to heel so lucrative veins of alum can be mined  for the Cardinal’s benefit.

But what if Manual has another opinion ? What if the ambitious young man sees unrivaled potential in this mountain fastness, a chance to become Signore, Lord of Montestregae and its vast, untapped mineral riches? The key to lordship lies in the janare, Montestregae’s purported witches, actually servants of the Moon Goddess Diana for countless millennia, zealous defenders of Her traditions and secrets.

There’s too much plot to go into further here, but I’ve given Dom Manual (for so this Signore shall be known) a coat of arms. The name and title are a direct cop from James Branch Cabell’s novel, Figures Of Earth. I’m really fond of obscure references like that, which no one ever gets. And not to be snooty, I’ve given a translation for the Latin motto.

I Pan Books

Sometimes It Can Be Hard To Spot A Crank So Always Keep An Eye Out

Sometimes It Can Be Hard To Spot A Crank So Always Keep An Eye Out

Rome:  Day One, Andrea Carandini, translated by Stephen Sartarelli, Princeton Press, 172 pp., 2011.

This is basically the work of a crank with an ax to grind, but one who’s also a trained archaeologist with a deep knowledge of Roman history and his tradecraft. This allows him to obscure his crackpottery to a large extent with a facade of analysis, apparently plausible at first glance.  The gist of Prof. Carandini’s argument is that, rather than simply myths made from whole cloth, the ancient, foundational tales of Romulus and Remus and their fatal clash are indeed based in fact and that substantial support for this thesis can be found in Rome’s oldest archaeological remains. Through extensive diagrams, the author sets forth various remains (post holes, spaces that functioned as hearths) that he contends were originally part of such structures as the original Sanctuary of Vesta and the Domus Regia (House Of The King), home of the legendary first kings of Rome.

Carandini has the advantage of being an authority in his field plus the added cachet of a prestigious publisher. In the balance against his argument is the fact that most authorities on early Roman history find little merit to his argument. Despite continued, extensive excavation in Rome for several centuries, physical evidence for events described in early Roman history prior to the 5th Century BCE is basically lacking. Carandini does what he can with what he has, but the fact is that the scant remains he points to as Romulus’s house and other legendary structures can be interpreted in a number of ways. The author has no written evidence found on site to support his theory, admittedly a difficult test to meet when discussing such a distant period (approx. 750 BCE, over 2,700 years ago).

Ultimately, however, I think Prof. Carandini undermines his own credibility and thus his argument. I refer to the absurd comparison he makes between the footprint of the UK Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street and that of the Forbidden Palace in Peking (with supporting diagrams), which he uses in all seriousness to support the contention that this neatly illustrates the dichotomy between the Western love for democracy and, on the other hand, Eastern despotism. This is a ridiculous, Orientalist argument that resorts to such broad stereotypes, it should simply be dismissed out of hand. Anyone who makes such reactionary arguments in the 21st Century shouldn’t be taken seriously. This is not a worthwhile work of scholarship, popular or otherwise.

The only way that this book might be of  interest is as a brief, readable account of Rome’s mythical foundation, that is, the miraculous birth of Romulus and Remus, their suckling by a she wolf, etc. If you do read this book, please do so cum grano salis, as the Romans used to say.

https://www.amazon.com/Rome-Day-One-Andrea-Carandini/dp/0691139229/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505616680&sr=8-1&keywords=rome+day+one

 

This Title Is An Excellent Example Of Truth In Advertising

The Title Is An Excellent Example Of Truth In Advertising

The Wastage, Dean Halliday Smith, Rowe Publishing, 582 pp., 2016.

This is pretty much a textbook example of how NOT to write a historical novel. I actually regret writing this, because it’s plain Mr. Smith is an earnest student of the Civil War who’s made an ambitious attempt to embody the colossal suffering, sacrifice, and slaughter of our nation’s worst war in the form of literary fiction. He’s plainly done a massive amount of research until he’s mastered the minutiae of the life histories of even minor historical characters. The problem is the author gives way to the (extremely powerful, I admit) impulse to dump all of this information in the reader’s lap. This makes for a hard slog, about as bad as a walk in 1860’s DC’s unpaved, muddy streets.

The novel also suffers from the fact that Mr. Smith doesn’t do very well in the development of fully rounded characters. His chief device for portrayal is to rely again on personal detail rather than demonstrate character through actions and speech. Moreover, The Wastage‘s pace can best be described as funereal, leaden. I understand the novel deals with grim events, but what better way to convey that than through a taut, fast narrative, full of gory incidents and horrible, unexpected turns of fate? I also state in all honesty that I gave up on this novel after the first fifty pages. Some might object that this means I can’t give a good, objective review, but it simply isn’t worth the long haul. I say this after patiently reading Ulysses and much of Faulkner’s work.

Once again, I give The Wastage high marks for sincerity and good intentions, but that’s as far as it goes. If the author sees this, I hope he understands that I’m not trying to be mean, just honest in the hope it helps him to improve as a novelist.

https://www.amazon.com/Wastage-Dean-Halliday-Smith/dp/1939054583/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505620772&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wastage

 

 

 

Hinnom Magazine Interview Now Up

Nobody's sneaking up on me!

               Nobody’s sneaking up on me!

In connection with the release of Hinnom 002, C. P. Dunphey, publisher/editor-in-chief of Hinnom Magazine and Gehenna & Hinnom Publishers, has just posted an author interview with yours truly, Johnny Guitar! (Just kidding.) Among other topics, why I write, what inspired me to write Last Of The Aztec Riders, the story appearing in issue 002, writers I admire, and how I basically view life itself as a horror story. Please click the link below to learn more:

https://gehennaandhinnom.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/author-spotlight-mark-mellon/

 

“Last Of The Aztec Riders” Now Out In Gehenna & Hinnon 002

Ah, another visit from the decidedly unpleasant Mr. Lovecraft.

                                                                               Ah, another visit from the decidedly unpleasant Mr. Lovecraft.

 

My biker horror story, Last Of The Aztec Riders, is out now in issue no. 002 of Gehenna & Hinnom Magazine. This story originally appeared in Deadman’s Tome. Many thanks to G&H editor C. P. Dunphey who was kind enough to accept LOAR and has been extremely supportive and friendly through the whole process, enough to even do a Q&A interview with me. That should appear shortly. I’ll shamelessly plug that too when it’s online.

A gentle warning to my more genteel readers: LOAR can be characterized as extreme horror. To put it bluntly, the story’s replete with blood and guts, cruelty, and a misanthropic view of life. A word to the wise, as the brother, that all knowing fellow from Dublin, would be saying if he were here and not laid under the old sod, lo, these many decades, but don’t be calling him a sod, you hear, for the brother won’t stand for any incorrect talk, not even six feet under.

For those who think they have the necessary intestinal fortitude, G&H 002 additionally features other stories, an interview, and an introduction from the editor. The table of contents is set forth below, along with a link to the website at the bottom. So, if you’ve got a strong constitution, go ahead and click the link:

Celebrating the Unknown: Introduction by C.P. Dunphey

Enquiries from the Abyss: Interview with Dark Fiction Author T.E. Grau

STORIES:

“Godmouth” by P.L. McMillan (Featured Story)

“Black Dog” by Max D. Stanton

“Death Carriage” by Matthew Penwell

“A Little Dead Thing” by John S. McFarland

“Vessel” by Ibai Canales

“Dry Bones” by Charles D. Shell

“The Nocturne of Manigault” by Joanna Costello

“Nothing but Dans, All the Way Down” by Konstantine Paradias

“The Power of Hate” by Hugh McStay

“Spidering Down an Alley” by Jeff Johnson

 

HINNOM MAGAZINE 002 Cover Reveal and Table of Contents

Tholos Beautiful Girl In The World

Hours of work just to make a bad, bilingual pun nobody will either understand or appreciate.

Hours of work just to make a bad, bilingual pun nobody either understands or appreciates.

 

The Hierophant:  Speak but a few of her names, disciple.

The Disciple: Yea, Master. She is called Aphrodite, Ishtar, Astarte, Isis, Mary, Big Mama, Kali, Mother Courage, Angie Dickinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Madame Curie, Moms Mabley, Chicago Lil, Mae West, Barbara Stanwyck, ELIZABETH TAYLOR, Molly Bloom (yes, yes, and then again yes, and yes), the Wicked Witch of the West, Typhoid Mary, Bloody Mary (cocktail and monarch), Lizzie Borden, Mrs. O’Leary and her cow, Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and Jane Austen, Lola Montez, Carrie Nation, Anastasia and Lucy the Australopithecus, the whole gynecological spectrum from the most aged crone to the newest tot fresh pulled from the womb, the Eternal Feminine.

The Hierophant: And thus shall it ever be. Close the temple portals.

 

Columns To The Left Of Them, Columns To The Right

On Rode The 300 Spartans

On Rode The 300 Spartans