Sunday, March 5, 2017

Judy Garland - The Man That Got Away (A Star Is Born, 1954)

Every time I watch this I get chills. I knew this rendition, first, as a child, when I would spend my chores money on 2nd hand records of musical comedies and movies such as this. Powerful as the performance is as a recording, nothing could prepare me for the power evident in the cinematic presentation. The power, passion, and poignancy of that singing voice has never been equaled.

Friday, February 10, 2017


"Dreams in the Witch House" is a fascinating story, although many modern scholars dismiss it as one of Lovecraft's "failures"; and, for me, part of the tale's fascination comes from HPL's treatment of occult stereotypes: the witch hag, the Black Man of ye Sabboath, the familiar, &c &c. I remember how shocked I was, when I first read ye tale as a young lad, by the extreme violence and gore of its conclusion. I loved Lovecraft's fiction for its mood and dreamy atmosphere, having no taste for blood-&-guts horror (as perhaps my own fiction shews). I've been enchanted with the idea of beihng a witch since early childhood, and my elder sister and I identified as witches when we were young children. I used to stage "voodoo" rituals in my bedroom for neighborhood boys when I was a kid, dancing evocatively around my bedroom as I played Yma Sumac 45's on ye phonograph. My grandparents had bought me a knife when they visited Germany, ye handle of witch was a goat hoof, and that seemed a perfect ritual tool. 

I've depicted a number of witches in my weird fiction, and thus it delighted me when my charming collaborator David Barker wrote en entire novel concerning witches in H. P. Lovecraft's dreamlands. The novel was originally to be publish'd by Dark Regions Press, who publish'd my other collaborations with David; but they recently passed on the new novel, and so I offer'd it to Derrick Hussey at Hippocampus Press. S. T. Joshi, who assists Derrick in selection of projects, ad read and praised the novel, and went out of his way to copy edit the entire text. They have many other books to bring forth before they can get to WITCHES, so the book may have to9 wait until next year to see publication.

Below is a photo of me at work at the Jones Fantastic Museum in the 1960's. Mine was a rather unimaginative "traditional" approach to ye witch image.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

as weird as weird can be...

Age changes your personality, I find. In ye olde days, I almoft never left home without wearing a shoggoth-load of makeup. I cannot, this morning, recall ye last time I wore makeup. I've simply lost interest in taking time to put all that stuff on me mug. Part of this results from no longer using publick transportation. It was such a trudge, taking the bus just to do grocery shopping. If I had to make all that effort going out, I wou'd make it amusing and look punk-queer. Part of ye exhibitionist thrill of punk, for me, was the variety of ways people reacted. It allow'd me to interact with people who wou'd otherwise never speak to me. Usually the people who stopped to speak were as kind as they were curious. It was only the blockheads who shouted insults from a safe distance. Another reason for no longer feeling ye need to dress up is, I think, a secure identity. In younger years I cultivated a variety of identities with which I proclaim'd myself in publick: queer, punk, transvestite, freak, ghoul, whutever. Now I have one solid identity: Lovecraftian author. 

One of ye great pleasures of writing and being publish'd, I find, is having my work illustrated. I cannot draw, and I admire those who have that wonderful talent. When they use that talent to bring to visual life a moment from one of my weird tales, oh honey, it thrills me. Check it out:

This is ye newest illustration by Tom Brown for my forthcoming Centipede Press book, An Ecstasy of Fear and Others. It is one ye strangest things my eyes have ever feasted on--eerie and hypnotic. I love his shading--and then, those two bright pinpoints that are daemonic eyes! Ia!! This illustrates a segment from my prose-poem sequence, "Some Unknown Gulf of Night," I believe. 

I find that I really have ye ache to write new stories. I'm just having a wee bit of difficulty getting started. Out of practice, so I am.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thriller S1 Ep15 The Cheaters (1960)

To See Beyond

Above is Tom Brown's illustration for "To See Beyond." The illustration will appear in An Ecstasy of Fear and Others, whut will be publish'd by Centipede Press at the end of this year. I love Tom's work, and this drawing is almost perfect--in ye story the lens of these magick glasses are black in hue. My story is a sequel to Robert Bloch's amazing short story, "The Cheaters," which was later turned into an effective episode for Boris Karloff's THRILLER television series. In Bho's original tale, a fellow named Grimm (who narrates the story's final section) prepares to shoot himself while wearing the glasses, thus destroying both himself and the daemonic lens. In my tale--well, I'll let ye read how the fellow is interrupted in his preparation for extinction:

Grimm glanced down at the last page of his manuscript and saw its final word: finis. Yes, this was the end. A chill ran down his spine as he reached for the revolver that sat upon the desk, the metal of which was so horribly frigid to the touch. His fingers raised the tip of the barrel to one of the lenses as the author sought the courage needed to pull the trigger.
"The won't be required, Grimm," spoke a soft voice near his ear. A large hand wrapped its talons around the revolver's barrel. "It would be a crime to destroy those so amusing spectacles. Here, let me take them from your face."

Who is this bold interrupter, and why does he care about the fate of these sinister spectacles? If you've not read my story, you will get a chance when it is republished in my book at year's end. This is not ye first time I have written a story influenced by ye work of Robert Bloch (my favourite weird writer after Lovecraft), nor will it be ye last.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

More HPL

Above is S. T. Joshi and his lovely wife, Mary.
One of S.T.'s newest books is soon to be publish'd: Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition: Revisions and Collaborations. The book will have a paperback edition only, and cost $25. Included will be an index to Variorum volumes 1 through 4. Ye cover art by Fergal Fitzpatrick shews Lovecraft's detested nemesis--ye typewriter.

from ye Hippocampus Press website:
"Following S. T. Joshi's acclaimed three-volume variorum edition of Lovecraft's fiction, this final collection includes al known revisions and collaborations undertaken by Lovecraft on behalf of his friends and clients. As with previous volumes in this series, the texts preserved herein scrupulously follow archival manuscripts, typescripts, or original publications, and constitutes the definitive edition of these stories.
"Since Lovecraft's customary procedure as a revisionist was to discard his client's draft and entirely rewrite the story in his own words, much of the fiction in this collection represents original work by Lovecraft, including such notable contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos as 'The Electric Executioner,' 'Out of the Aeons,' and 'The Diary of Alonzo Typer.' Supreme among the revisions in this volume is the brilliant novella, 'The Mound,' which embodies Lovecraft's satirical commentary on the Machine Age 'decadence' of his era.
"For the first time, students and scholars of Lovecraft can see at a glance all the textual variants in all relevant appearances of a story--manuscript, first publication in magazines, and first book publications. The result is an illuminating record of the textual history of the tales, in an edition that supersedes all those that preceded it."

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poisonous Nature

Above is ye newest illustration by Tom Brown for my forthcoming collection from Centipede Press. It combines two of my favourite things: eldritch Nature and old houses. I also adore ye feature, with its wicked claw-like tip inside a bottle of macabre ink. I love this illustration more than I can say. Lovecraft was unique, methinks, in his ability to convey the weirdness of sick and tainted Nature; and there have been many fine artists who have aided Lovecraft's fictive language with their own devilish depictions of scenes from H. P. Lovecraft's tales. Santiago Caruso's trees, pictur'd right, are especially delicious. Lovecraft's fiction reminds me that, no matter how humankind may want to think of itself as superior, we are naught but ephemeral nature, and to ye dust and mould we will return. 

Oh, my darlings, I am utterly enchanted with this new edition of Shakespeare from Oxford University Press. A team of textual scholars have worked on an entirely new study of the texts of the poetry and plays. There cannot be any real definitive text of many of the plays because we have them in such a variety of versions. I think there are at least two "main" versions of Lear and more than one of Hamlet. Many decades ago, when I first became an Oscar Wilde fanboy (this happened from watching the mini-series Lillie. in which actor Peter Egan portray'd Wilde), I discover'd--in ye library--a whole slew of books of biography and Wilde criticism. This new passion became a blaze of intoxicated study when I discover'd Shakespeare criticism. Thus I am delighted that PBS is celebrating ye 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death (how superbly morbid!) with Shakespeare specials. I am especially looking forward to to-night's program, Shakespeare Live! From the RSC, filmed at ye Bard's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avonand hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and featuring appearances by Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joseph Fiennes, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, and many others. Sometime in March we will have another new volume, the Authorship Companion, wherein the editors will discuss in intense detail matters of textual diversity and authority. So we Shakespeare nuts have much to look forward to and celebrate.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

10 Decembyr 1716

I've been spending ye past few days dipping into THE RIDDLE OF SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS, an anthology of essays publish'd by Basic Books in 1962. I'm half-way through Stephen Spender's "The Alike and the Other", and then will devour "A Poetics of Infatuation" by R. P. Blackmur. Then comes Wilde's "The Portrait of Mr W. H."--an essay that I have read numerous times and always enjoy returning to. Whenever I read the sonnets of Shakespeare or H. P. Lovecraft I am tempted yet again to try my hand at my own sequence. My first sonnet sequence, Songs of Sesqua Valley, was compos'd with much enthusiasm yet little art. 

What is ye riddle of Shakespeare's sonnets? Happily, Shakespeare is a sphinx and does not tell; although plenty of scholars, poets, and lunatics have driven themselves to madness in their psychic investigations of the poems. Did Shakespeare write these for publication and distribution? If so, are they profoundly autobiographical and do they expose extreme romantic/sexual situations? Is the poet's love for the young man of the opening sonnets similar to a father's for his son, or a lover to his sexual obsession? We do not know, we cannot know; & therefore the books I love moft are the ones that discuss the art of the sonnets, my favourite
being ye book at left by Helen Vendler. 

Yet, as much as I can appreciate the sonnets on an artistic and intellectual level, so too can I relate to them emotionally; for I am one who has been self-subjected to the impossible love that dare not speak its name. I have suffer'd this madness keenly twice in life. The first time the fellow died in my arms after having snorted street smack and choking to death. The second time the fellow moved in with me, and is with me still. These boys drove me crazy, and happily that madness is now entirely a thing of the past. I see now that the insanity of obsessive love had nothing to do with the objects of my adoration but was entirely self-impos'd. It was a madness of the mind as much as an aching of ye loins. It has, I think, keenly influenced one of the huge themes of my weird fiction--the longing for the mystical and perhaps unattainable thing. It thrives in Sesqua Valley. 

I've been trying to write a "sequel" to "O, Christmas Tree," that old collaboration with Jessica Salmonson. But I think I have lost ye mood to do an actual sequel and now with to write an entirely original Yule tale set in Sesqua that has no connection to any previous yarn of mine. Thinking of my Sesqua tales of the past, they don't seem weird enough for all the possible potential the idea of the valley contains. Sesqua Valley is an invention that continues to deepen in my imagination, and I want to write tales of the valley that are truly weird fiction

And I want to write a new sonnet for whatever story I compose for the Christmas anthology to which I will be submitting this new thing.