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June 20, 2021: Website updated and revised.

“In Like Sin” Now Out In The Devil’s Doorbell 2


In Like Sin is the inside scoop on what happens when the King of the Swashbucklers, Errol Flynn himself, goes out on the town, meets a strange woman, and gets embroiled with a little girl Satanist from Pasadena. It’s just one of the tales of dark romance in HellBound Books’ latest anthology, The Devil’s Doorbell 2. The book is out as of Friday, October 22nd. Let’s hope Errol would have been amused. If your curiosity’s piqued, click on the links below to learn more:



New Story Out: Close To The Bone

Small Town Fracas can now be read for free at Close To The Bone, a UK magazine that offers “gritty and interesting short fiction across multiple genres from a range of talented writers.” Based on legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, I kept the prose hardboiled to fit the subject. Please read and like the yarn (if you actually do).

“Summer In Uummannaq” Now Out In The Chamber Magazine

John-Cheever John Cheever was an American writer most noted for his short stories, many of which appeared in the New Yorker. I bought his collected stories from a used book bin two years ago and read them through.

Cheever basically wrote the quintessential New Yorker short story, appearing a hundred times in the magazine from the mid ’30’s until 1981. In other words, he was one of the magazine’s hallmarks for decades. His stories are largely provincial, most concerning the trials and tribulations of Manhattanites or other denizens of the Tristate area with a narrow focus on a specific demographic, white, well educated, not wealthy so much as affluent, and beset by the seemingly petty dilemmas that befall those with sufficient leisure and funds to vacation in the Poconos. There were occasional flashes of humor, some quite amusing. Most apparent though, was the constant evocation of acedia, of the emptiness at the center of one’s life no matter how successful or comfortable, and the desperate acts that sometimes provokes.

I was so struck by the stories’ almost rigidly formulaic nature that I felt compelled to write my own version of a Cheever story, albeit in a science fiction context and with the characters as insanely wealthy rather than upper middle class. Summer In Uummannaq describes that fateful holiday when the Vanderbilts went to their summer home on Greenland’s lush, tropical, west coast and prolonged, intense sibling rivalry finally led to mayhem. It’s out in the June 2021 issue of The Chamber and can be read for free. The Chamber is an online magazine that accepts dark literature of all genres from around the world. I don’t think you need to be familiar with Cheever to enjoy the yarn. To do so, click the link below:

Portrait of Melkart, the Tyrian Hercules


This portrait of the god Melkart, founder of the city of Tyre and syncretically identified by the Greeks with Herakles, is based on a marble bust of Mithridates VI now found in the Louvre.  My current collaboration with the Phoenician powerhouse has resulted so far in one novel, a novella, a novelette, and eight short stories of varying length, all recounting the towering Tyrian’s thrilling exploits with sword, bow, and spear. Five of these works have either been published (Mythaxis, Swords And Sorcery, Cirsova) or will be shortly (Weird Mask Zine) so it seems I’m on a bit of a roll. Now there’s an official portrait as well of the Bronze Age Badass to aid in my tireless campaign to singlehandedly revive the sword and sandal genre in written form only with a lot more sex, violence, and heavy giallo overtones. Portrayed as a still beardless young man, I like to think I captured Melkart’s open, friendly nature although as always, opinions of my artistic ability will differ. I also confess this looks to me slightly like the bust of Cosimo De Medici wearing a turban headdress.

N.B.: To avoid confusion, please note that the caption beneath the portrait is to be read in the Phoenician manner, from right to left.

Border Incident Out Now In Spring ’21 Issue Of El Portal

El PortalEl Portal is the literary journal of Eastern New Mexico University and one of the few remaining venues nowadays for Western fiction, although it also accepts general literary work. My short story, Border Incident, appears in the Spring 2021 issue, available online for free. Incident is based on a real occurrence in the life of Juan Cortina, a Mexican-American rancher and border boss who gave the Anglos unshirted hell for decades. My sincere thanks to Head Editor Tiara Bollig  and the rest of the El Portal staff for this opportunity. So if you’re in the mood for some riproaring Western action, pilgrim, click the link below.

Book Review – The Perfume Burned His Eyes











(Louis sporting the bleached locks of the early ’70’s period the novel’s set in.)

The Perfume Burned His Eyes, Michael Imperioli, Akashic Press, 253 pp.

Michael Imperioli is a well known actor, having appeared in films and shows like Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and Law And Order, to name just stuff I’ve seen. He also turns out to be a gifted writer as shown by this well done first novel. A coming of age story, Perfume is told from Matthew’s perspective, a teenager pulled out of Forest Heights by unfortunate events to live in Manhattan with his mother where he attends an elite high school. Naive, but equipped with common sense and humor, Matthew learns to navigate New York’s mean streets. He befriends Veronica, the hippest chick in his class, a brilliant manic depressive who slowly draws Matthew into her damaged, self hating world.

Matthew also gets acquainted with fellow building dweller and probably the biggest weirdo in NYC at the time, Lou Reed, the original rock’n’roll animal himself. A genuine if bizarre and completely unconventional friendship develops between the two. Imperioli’s portrait of Reed is pitch perfect. He captures various aspects of Reed’s extremely complex personality vividly and succinctly, the drugged up mania, bouts of lyric poetry written on bathroom walls, his unpredictable, amazingly vicious cruelty paired with sensitivity to the point where emotion was simply agony to him. It’s all there to include Reed’s relationship with Rachel, the Puerto Rican transsexual who was one of his greatest loves, depicted accurately, but tolerantly.

Without giving the denouement away, I will say this short novel comes to a dramatically satisfactory  conclusion, although quite tragic. As I said before, Perfume is a coming of age story, but it’s also a nuanced portrait of someone who, while he may not have been the biggest star rock’n’roll ever had, still counts as one of its most important and fascinating figures.

I recommend this to fans of NYC rock’n’roll, Lou Reed, and anyone who likes a good, short read.


!Website Update!

Startled098To quote the late Hubert H. Humphrey, I’m pleased as punch to announce the latest update of my website, thanks once again to the inestimable skills of Fiona Jayde, webmistress extraordinaire. Check out the action on the home page with new, added links to twenty-one publications where my work can be purchased or read for free. Note the updated bibliography, now up to seventy-three published short stories with fourteen stories reprinted, plus more stuff in the pipeline for the near future. All I can say is, maybe I’m doing something right.

Satyr Head or Bring Me The Dead Of Jerry Garcia

Satyr Head182This drawing turned out to inadvertently resemble the Grateful Dead’s late lead guitarist, hence the alternative title. Another attempt at a three-quarters view, I’m not completely dissatisfied with the result, just mostly. For purposes of comparison, just so you can ascertain exactly what a cruddy artist I am, the picture that I used as a model is set forth below. One of these days, I should take some lessons.

Satyr Model183

The “Genius” That Was Stan Lee: Book Review

Stan LeeTrue Believer, The Rise And Fall Of Stan Lee, Abraham Reisman, 335 pp., Crown Publishing.

When I was a boy, Marvel comics reigned supreme. Stan Lee was a familiar friend. The snappy dialog, the upbeat attitude, and most of all the amazing characters like Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and Dr. Strange, made an indelible impression. Over time, Lee remained an inescapable media presence, especially with his frequent cameos once the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise took off.

Abraham Reisman has written a thorough biography of Stan Lee. Reisman is also a comic book geek who counts meeting Lee in his youth as a big thrill, yet doesn’t allow being a fan to affect his journalistic objectivity, no matter how badly anyone ends up looking. And Lee did some stuff that comes across as shabby.

While his own genius was a constant refrain, Reisman notes how important luck was in Lee’s career. He joined what would become Marvel through nepotism (an in-law was the publisher) and then worked with some of the greatest comic artists of the Silver Age, e.g., Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. With the debut of characters like Spider-Man in the early ’60’s, Marvel took off, becoming popular with college students and an object of interest to the mainstream media, opportunities Lee capitalized upon with his gift for marketing himself and his product. Marvel fans will enjoy learning how characters like Captain America, the F4, and Spider-Man were created. Also fascinating, but depressing, Reisman’s bio provides probably the best, most accurate, single account of Jack Kirby’s bitter dispute with Lee and Marvel over who created those characters. This alone leaves a black mark on Lee’s reputation, his unwillingness from the start to share the credit and glory.

Lee’s actual working connection to Marvel ended early in the ’70’s, but he still served as THE spokesman for the Marvel brand, promoting the characters’ film and TV possibilities to anyone who’d listen. Unfortunately for Lee, Hollywood producers still regarded comic books as “kids’ stuff” and were averse. As a result, Lee toiled in the wilderness for almost two decades until the MCU finally took off.

After that, with cameos and personal appearances, it seemed like Lee was fixed, but his spendthrift wife and a daughter Kevin Smith described as “the worst f^&king human being in the world,”  drained him of money. Questionable business associates, some of whom undoubtedly ripped Lee off, only made his troubles worse. Lee’s real problem though, was his bad business judgement. He settled with Marvel over creative rights for $10 million, a seemingly large sum, but peanuts compared to a slice of the MCU pie. Lee also regularly developed projects that bombed simply because they were bad (i.e., “Stripperella”). That Lee generated so many punk ideas solo is strong evidence in my opinion that Kirby really was Marvel’s creative force. Lee’s last few years were sad.  In the clutches of manipulators, including his own daughter, they simply used him for what they could get, a miserable yet ironic fate for someone who built his career on others’ unacknowledged work.

I recommend this book to pop culture fans, comic book fans in general, and most of all, members of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. ‘Nuff said!

Lashed To A Mast, Maddened By Unearthly Voices


And the colours of the sea
Bind your eyes with trembling mermaids
And you touch the distant beaches
With tales of brave Ulysses
How his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing
For the sparkling waves are calling you
To kiss their white laced lips

Hat tip to Messrs. E. Clapton, G. Baker, & J. Bruce.