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February 18, 2019: Website updated and revised.

Le Roi OK

Louis XIV136

L’Etat, C’est Quelqu’un D’Autre Gars!









“Cackle Bladder” Now Out In Thriller Issue 2
































Set in South Florida during the 1920’s land boom, Cackle Bladder is about the only time I’ve managed to write a story with a twist ending. It’s excerpted from my as yet unfinished, crime/horror novella, The Bigger Con, and out now in issue no. 2 of Thriller, Editor-in-Chief Ammar Habib’s noteworthy new addition to hardboiled pulp fiction magazines. Issue no. 2’s on Kindle now and print copies will be available on December 15. Since a twist yarn’s whole point is not to give things away until the end, I’ll say no more. Instead, to learn exactly how the cackle bladder works, I invite you to click on the links below:
































The Laziest Man In Rock’N’Roll

HellFall, 1977. I’m in my last year at the University of Virginia. I go to Back Alley Disc, the hot (hah, the only) record store in Charlottesville where I buy the Dead Boys and the Talking Heads’ first albums.  While one guy is ringing me up behind the counter, another walks up holding a promo copy of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation LP. He looks at me and the two records I’m holding and mutely hands over the record, mine for free.

I thought all three bands were fantastic, but Blank Generation particularly impressed me. I’d never heard such screwed up rock’n’roll before with Quine’s wild guitar and Hell’s cat with his tail caught in the door vocals. Add their deliberately non-glam appearance, the torn clothes and t-shirts with scribbled slogans, and it made for a very strange, off the wall package. I remember seeing Richard Hell at Iggy Pop’s comeback show in NYC in March of ’77. He cut a dramatic figure, stomping around the lobby in a full length black leather trench coat and mirrored spectacles, thick hair swooped up in a pomp, stonily ignoring all and sundry while simultaneously scowling viciously at everyone near and far. Despite these vivid impressions, Hell fell off my radar soon afterward, disappearing from my musical consciousness like a stone dropped into a deep lake.

Hell’s short, cursory excuse for an autobiography explains the lapse. Richard Hell is a lazy, self indulgent man with a modicum of musical and poetic talent who threw away the chances he had, preferring the aimless life of a lower East Side drug addict instead. If you think this sounds harsh, this is the gist of his own admissions. One of Hell’s positive characteristics is the degree of self-knowledge in his reminiscences. He knows when he screwed up and admits it. After doing a good bit to shake up rock’n’roll with his genuinely new and edgy band, even scoring a tour to England, Hell decided to just do drugs and get laid while cruising along on his reputation as a “punk rock scene” personality, writing monthly columns for pop journals along with other side gigs.

Truth be told, I don’t even like thinking about the punk rock era that much nowadays. Even though it was like religion for me back then, because it was so incredibly long ago it just reminds me what a broken down old wretch I am. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed this book. Hell isn’t stupid even if he is shiftless. He  shows wit and insight in his anecdotes about punk’s glory days. His self-deprecation and awareness of what he deliberately passed by go a long to way to ameliorate other failings such as:

  • He writes about rock’n’roll like it’s still a living, vital thing when everybody knows it’s about as hip nowadays as the polka
  • Richard Hell sure does like to kiss and tell. I’m happy for him that he got a lot of ass back in the day, but the blow by blow accounts complete to his partners’ minute physical descriptions, thumbnail bios, and their particular muffky-fuffky preferences simply are too much information
  • He really doesn’t have that much to write about in the end. Hell simply gives up on his autobiography shortly after he turns thirty, frankly admitting he bailed on the arduous, endless work that’s necessary to advance and promote yourself as a musician or an actor, even though he had opportunities in both fields that most people never know.

Despite its flaws, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the crazy rock’n’roll scene in New York’s lower East Side in the ’70’s from the Dolls to the Heartbreakers to Television to the Voidoids. Hell was there, had a hand in some of it, and saw a whole lot more.

Tudor Rose

Tudor Rose135Not a Tiger Rose. Nor a Prairie Rose. And I’m not talking about a Yankee Rose. Just your typical ye olde Tudor Rose.

Yellow Aubrey Beardsley



Not yellow as in chicken. Yellow as in book. You dig?

Magazine Review: Night Picnic Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 2

night picnic journalRussian literature has a strong interest for me. This is due to my background as a Russian linguist in the military several decades ago, but also a result of reading writers like Dostoevsky (in translation, natch) even before I studied the language. One aspect of Russian writing I particularly enjoy is the penchant for the fantastic. This may be due to some extent to the marvelously descriptive variety of the Russian language, the infinite variety of possibilities it can invoke. My favorite Russian writers are the ones who wrote in this disturbing vein:  Gogol (particularly The Inspector’s Nose), Bulgakov (The Master And Margarita is a masterpiece), and most of all, the great genius Vladimir Nabokov with Invitation To A Beheading and Bend Sinister.

Night Picnic Journal therefore interested me greatly, a bilingual journal of literature and art which publishes work in both Russian and English with a focus on fantasies with multidimensional metaphysical meanings. Intrigued by the prospect of speculative fiction from Russian and English viewpoints, I ordered the latest issue. This is a very handsomely designed and bound paperback with a tete-beche binding:  the front has the English version of the journal while the back sets forth the Russian in reverse. Translations are largely handled by the editorial staff, Oksana Williams, editor, and Igor V. Zaitsev, Editor-in-Chief.

These stories struck me as worth commenting on:

Crow Baby by Elizabeth Paxson succeeded in evoking a strange, otherworldly atmosphere with her tale of an old woman in the woods who takes in a strange bird, but seemed vague on what point it was trying to make, perhaps deliberately so.

Disappearance Of Time by Mr. Zaitsev was a good example of the kind of comic, absurdist illogic in mundane circumstances that seems to be a Slavic specialty.

The Family by James M. Lindsay is an apocalyptic piece about a strange plague that well conveys the heartbreak a father knows from having a severely disabled child.

The King Of The Sea by Josiah Olson is a straight fiction piece about an elderly couple on a cruise where the wife develops a whale watching fixation. Except for the evocative coda at the end, this resembled the kind of fiction you see in the New Yorker or Paris Review

A Shooter Of Our Time by Alex Stearns is the best story of the lot, a hardboiled yarn about “a good guy with a gun” with an ironic twist ending I won’t give away.

In addition to the short stories, there’s also flash fiction and poetry. I tried to figure out some of the Russian versions of the stories after I’d read the English ones. While most of it was not understandable to me due to a long lack of practice and a Russian-English dictionary, the translations seem to have been masterfully done. This is quite an accomplishment on the editors’ part, a tribute not only to their erudition, but also their determination to put out a quality journal.

I recommend Night Picnic Journal to anyone interested in literary speculative fiction, particularly those interested in Slavic cultures.


“An Etruscan Tomb” Out In Tigershark Magazine

tigersharkTigershark Magazine is an online speculative fiction magazine released in PDF format on a quarterly basis by Tigershark Publishing, the e-publishing venture of D. S. Davidson, author, poet, and previously editor of the first eighteen issues of Garbaj magazine. Established in 2013, Tigershark has already had a long, sturdy run for a small press venture.  A previous, steampunk story of mine, Grand Larceny Aboard GDI Raffaello, was published in issue no. 4 in 2014.

I must have hit the right chord again because my Gothic horror story, An Etruscan Tomb, is in the freshly released no. 24, the Night Terrors issue. One of several misadventures that befell McCrae Spencer, a young Scots gentleman, during his Grand Tour of the Continent shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, an invitation to view an Etruscan tomb by moonlight leads to a deadly struggle and a reckoning with ancient gods. In addition to my own grand guignol yarn, there are several other stories, poetry, and a nonfiction piece, all addressing the issue’s theme of the night and the fear that just naturally goes along. Suitably morbid illustrations complement the pieces with an outstandingly creepy picture of an ancient tomb for mine.

Just in time for Halloween and all for free with just one click:





Etruscan Tomb


“Woe, Babylon Besieged” Lead Story In Lovecraftiana, Walpurgisnacht 2019 Issue

Woe, Babylon Cover


As mentioned in previous posts, this Lovecraft pastiche originally appeared in 2018 in the Danish extreme horror magazine Trigger Warnings. Despite the general prejudice against reprints, the editor at Lovecraftiana, The Magazine Of Eldritch Horror, thought well enough of the yarn to accept and print it as the lead story for the 2019 Walpurgisnacht issue. This is very flattering since Lovecraftiana is the premiere magazine today devoted to exploration of the Lovecraft ethos. It’s one of many worthy publishing endeavors from Rogue Planet Press. Like all other Lovecraftiana issues, this one has a terrific cover. It’s great to see my name and the story title on it. Please consider purchasing a copy:

For those sticklers among you wondering about the meaning of Walpurgisnacht, it’s the night before the feast of St. Walpurga, an 8th century nun. The Eve is widely celebrated throughout Western Europe and occurs on either April 30 or May 1. Supposedly on the Eve, the powers of evil were at their strongest and witches often held their infernal sabbaths then. The date and the association with evil and witches make the feast sound to me as being suspiciously like Beltane, the Celtic festival that complemented Samhain on October 31 (which is coming up soon). This wouldn’t be the first example, however, of a pagan holiday being appropriated for Christian purposes, e.g., Christmas itself.

Sincerely, Cardinal Sin


Just another bird of bill omen.

Sham Szukalski Study


This is what comes from beholding the Protong for too long. You find yourself gone, around the bend, just like the strident Slavic sculptor Stanislaw Szukalski.

Seriously, the guy was mad as a hatter, but a genuinely brilliant artist. Anyone interested should check out and then buy the two books about the artist now out through Last Gasp: