Thirty Years

Today is my thirtieth anniversary of marriage to my wife Kit. Since I was twenty-nine at the time, this means I have spent more than half of my life with her.

From a hot tub full of illicit Mr. Bubble to the loss of our daughter, it has been a rocky thirty years. The only way we made it is that we clung together like shipwrecked sailors in a storm. We were each others rescue and reward.

I plan to cling to her for another thirty years.

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Ohioana next week

I will be at Ohioana Book Fest next week for my book “The Ren Faire at the End of the World.” I am attaching the 19 page newsletter from them for you to peruse at your leisure. I hope to see you all there.

Ohioana Newsletter Apr 2018

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Today is strange…

Today is the twenty-third anniversary of our daughter’s death. She died in her sleep two weeks short of her fifth birthday. This leaves a hole in our lives that in spite of all reason seems to get larger with the passing of time. I’ve taken the day off work to spend time with my wife. We’re going to the conservatory to smell flowers and think of Alyssa.

While we were upstairs, my computer started playing “The Hamilton Polka” for no reason. I came downstairs and shut it off with a click. The system wasn’t up on Itunes, so the cats couldn’t have set it off by stepping on the keyboard. If this was a sign from the afterlife, it is the  weirdest one I could imagine.

Today is strange…

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The Gleisser-Matulich Obtusity Scale, v. 0.9

My literary wing-man, Sheldon Gleisser, felt compelled to create a scaled for the obtusity of movies after seeing Annihilation. Not that it was a bad movie, but even if you had read the book which shared a title and few other points with it, you still had no idea what was going on when the credits rolled. It may have been artistic, but it was definitely obtuse. Perhaps not as mind-numbingly obtuse as 2001, but way more than the Andromeda Strain that made sure to explain the scientific process through-out and wrapped up with a voice-over. Voice-overs are Kryptonite for obtuse movies.

So, sitting down at the local B&N with hot beverages, we hammered out a ten point scaled for Movie Obtusity: The Gleisser-Matulich Obtusity Scale, or GMO. You really don’t want this GMO in your popcorn.

In considering if a movie is Obtuse, there are three primary factors we looked at. The first is Accessibility. If the film is set in a milieu that is recognizable to the audience, like a contemporary drama or  frequently seen historical era like the Western or WWII, the audience will be able to grasp the context without too much effort. A thriller set in Pre-Columbian Central America without English dialogue risks being Obtuse.

The second factor is Plot Clarity. If everything on the screen does not need explanation, or is explained in grueling detail, the film is not Obtuse. If the hero of the film moves from a vehicle in space to a prolonged special-effects sequence to a French Provincial bedroom, this is Obtuse.

The final consideration is Interior Logic. If every single event in a film comes from a previously seen event and extends to the next event, it is a least less Obtuse. If the teenage hero is haunted by the dead man in the rabbit suit he will accidentally kill in the third reel, not so much.

So here is the initial version of the Gleisser-Matulich Obtusity Scale. Feel free to suggest additions or changes of point value. Just, please don’t be obtuse about it.

Level 1: Where the Hero is always right & no-body thinks too much.

The Andromeda Strain

any Steve Reeves gladiator movie

most John Wayne movies

Level 2: Well, That’s Something New.

Billy Jack

El Dorado

Star Wars

Level  3: Yeah, I Guess That Makes Sense

Gojira

The Legend of Hell House

The Towering Inferno

Level 4: Whatever…

Robocop

Unforgiven

The Poseidon Adventure

Level 5: Here be Anti-Heroes & Ambivalence

Kong: Skull Island

any of the Clint Eastwood Man with No Name films

Pacific Rim

Level 6: I’ll Watch This Again Later

Star Trek: the Motion Picture

Tron: Legacy

Excalibur

Level 7:  I Think This Might Be Bad

Alien

Monsters

The Shape of Water

The Manchurian Candidate

Starship Troopers

Level 8:  Everything You Know is Wrong

The Matrix

Annihilation

Buckaroo Banzai.

Level 9: Would Someone Care to Explain This?

The Innocents

The Others

Inception

The Sender

The Cell

Level 10: WTF Did I Just Watch?

Shutter Island

Shin Godzilla

Mother!

Jodorowski’s Magic Mountain

Zardoz

2001

 

 

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Cleveland Concoction

I am honored to be appearing at Cleveland Concoction this March 9-11th, Bertram Inn & Conference Center in Aurora OH. Check me out for my Perfectly Respectable Author Persona and Outlandish Costuming gleaned from the Alley. Here is a link for further details:

http://www.clevelandconcoction.org/

The schedule goes like this:

Friday,  12 pm:  Time Management for Authors

How do you write with a full time job, school, kids, house, parents, siblings, and everything else that can take up your time? Our panelists discuss tips and strategies for making time to write even with plenty of distractions

Friday, 11 pm:  The Executions Begin at Midnight

Authors discuss their favorite bizarre and violent end of one of their characters. Conversation may segue into Poetic Justice punishments for modern day social crimes, such as using their cell phone in a theater, leaving the toilet seat up, or purchasing 32 items in the express lane.

Saturday, 1 pm:  Influencing Culture Through Fiction

How has fantasy been able to influence our culture and perceptions? How can we continue to push the boundaries?

Saturday, 2 pm: Author Showcase (Session 3)

Listen to your favorite authors read excerpts from released and soon to be released works. Find your next great read. Ask questions, and discover the new worlds.

Wherein I intend to read a selection from RFEW that allows Eleazar to channel Aragorn.

Saturday,  9 pm: Flash Fiction

Flash and micro fiction is perfect for our fast-paced society. Mastering the art of writing the super-short story can be a new author’s avenue into the business, or a seasoned writer’s best mode of advertising current novels.

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Floor Show, No Extra Charge.

My blog was taken over by a stranger, a crazy man, who thought that this might be a place for serious social intercourse without lubrication. That individual has been captured and locked away in a basement room in Omelas.

You won’t be hearing from him soon.

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The Matulich clan, like most families, has its own series of family in-jokes and schtick. When two or more of us spend time together, it’s the return of vaudeville.

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An inanimate object falls to the floor, for whatever reason:

“It was depressed.”

Since every member of the family is under treatment for depression, or should be, this shouldn’t be a recurring gag. But, Hell, we all take our meds or engage in art therapy, it can take care of itself, too. Besides, we’re always there to pick the object back up.

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“C’est la vie.”

“LA VEE.”

“Thank you.”

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The ultimate press conference gotcha moment, usually performed by two to amplify the weirdness:

“Senator, how long have you been ripping the nipples off baby ducks?”

“Baby ducks don’t have nipples.”

“YOU GOT THEM ALL?”

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Thank you, thank you! We’ll be here all week. Remember to tip your wait staff, and then return them to their original upright position.

 

 

 

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Gun research, not confiscation or control.

I am not going to hop into the middle of the fray that always happens after a mass shooting. Did that once this week with all the success of discussing with a Vatican priest what would have be Jesus’ favorite sexual position.

Investigation is another thing. For over twenty years the CDC has been hamstringed in any efforts to research gun violence as a public health crisis. They could have done any research they cared to do, but Congress made damned sure it wouldn’t be financed with government money. How this came about could lead to another screech and spittle session between the Left and the Right. I don’t want that. I just want to look at the problem the same way would handle an Ebola outbreak with the same death toll.

Here is a link to Change.org petition to repeal the budget rider that has put us in this situation. Once the facts are in, we can retreat to our neutral corners and come out swinging.

https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-let-the-cdc-conduct-research-on-gun-violence-end-the-dickey-amendment?recruiter=663939806&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_more.nafta_milestone_share_ask_victory.control&pt=AVBldGl0aW9uABbwvQAAAAAAWow3ZkfbspRmNGNlOWY4NQ%3D%3D

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JFF: Top 10 Mad Scientist Songs

Long ago, I used to write little life-improvement tips from Dr. Thelonius Calico, the folksy homespun super-villain. Imagine a cross between Dr. No and Martha Stewart. I’ve put that project in a secure bunker in the back of my mind for the time being, but I do love me a bit of Mad Science. Just for fun, I did a little research to get my Top Ten Mad Scientist songs. It includes a little bit of everything from Hip-Hop to Metal to novelty.

The criteria for the list are purely subjective: musical quality, expression of the Mad Science theme, and how likely I am to jump out a window when it comes on my iPad. If you don’t like something here, draw up your own list.

10: Mad Professor, Insane Clown Posse

This has to be included for completeness sake, though I am not a Hip-Hop fan; this comes very near my “Jump Out the Window” barrier. WARNING: the language and mean spirited screaming take all the fun out being a mad/evil scientist. Also, Juggalos.

10: Monster Mash, Bobby Pickett

My earliest exposure to Musical Mad Science, twice as fun when you see the singer’s mimicry of Boris Karloff as he lip-synchs his own song.

8: Dr. Stein, Helloween

Heavy metal vivisection and experimentation. What’s not to love?

7: Building the Perfect Beast, Don Henley

This is an odd one that perfectly expresses the Mad Science theme, even to the point of having its own Secret Hide-out. This song was never released as a single, though it is the namesake of the album, and there are no videos available on line. You can at least get it on iTunes.

Building the Perfect Beast
The power of reason, the top of the heap
We’re the ones who can kill the things we
Don’t eat
Sharper than a serpent’s tongue
Tighter than a bongo drum
Quicker than a one-night stand
Slicker than a mambo band
And now the day is come
Soon he will be released
Glory hallelujah!
We’re building the perfect beast
(building, building, etc..)
It’s olympus this time- olympus or bust
For we have met the enemy -and he is us
And now the day is come
Soon he will be released
Glory hallelujah!
We’re building the perfect beast
(building, building)
Ever since we crawled out of the ocean
And stood upright on the land
There are some things that we just don’t
Understand:
Relieve all pain and suffering
And lift us out of the dark
Turn us all into methuselah-
But where

7: Sweet Transvestite, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Though there’s not a lot of Mad Science in it until the end, this is a cultural touchstone for all those who would dare where God did not intend for men to go.

6: Frankenstein, Edgar Winters

Classic Rock Mad Science by musicians that look like characters from Michael Moorcock. This is the looooooong version.

5: What’s He Building in There, Tom Waits

Creepy, unnerving and poetic. More people should know this one.

4: She Blinded Me with Science, Thomas Dolby

The ’80s seemed made for Mad Science with its atmosphere of greed, technology, sex, and greed. This is one of the two from that era that made my list.

3: Weird Science, Oingo Boingo

Our second helping of ’80s Mad Science Rock from the man who would become the sound of Tim Burton.

2: Experiment IV, Kate Bush

Not the best quality of a beautiful song, but the video does include an appearance by Dr. House. Maybe this is where he got that addiction to painkillers?

1: Nemesis, Shriekback

The Greatest Mad Science of All Time, if nothing else for rhyming “nemesis” and “parthogenesis”. That, and a little recreational refining the juices of the dying.

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Sweet dreams

It is no secret that I have been battling depression for the last few decades. It hasn’t really been a battle so much as a game of tag on the slick footing of my cerebral cortex. My doctors have given me a wide range of pharmaceuticals of varying levels of effectiveness, with a plethora of entertaining side effects. The latest set that my wife and I have had to deal with is vivid dreams.

As a horror writer, I’m not bothered by nightmares. I have them, but I just consider it working while I sleep. The problem with some of the latest drugs is that they weaken the failsafe mechanisms that normally would keep the sleeping body from taking orders from the dreaming mind.

The first time we noticed that problem, I had been escaping from bad guys with flamethrowers. An innocent bystander had been ignited and my dream self was smothering the fire. Kit awoke to me slapping out the imaginary flames on her thighs and buttocks. Neither one of us enjoyed that.

I’ve switched to different medications and the acting out in my sleep has diminished. I will still have some physical movements and vocalizations, but Kit just wakes me up gently, usually asking what I was doing at that moment. I blearily try to sum up the plot without too many gory details. Recently, she interrupted me as I was repeatedly punching a serial killer in the face through the service window of a food truck. No spouses or innocent bystanders were injured, fortunately.

When subconscious is pretty much filled with bizarre and violent creatures. REM state lets them act out scenarios that make my most over-the-top writing seem like a four-year-old’s tea party. There is no way I can stop them, and I don’t really want to, but I figured I could inflict some control over them.

One night, I decided I was going to try for sweet dreams. I didn’t concentrate on specific details, just the phrase “sweet dreams”.

In my dream, I flew to a warehouse on the Ohio State Campus, because I can usually fly in my dreams. Once I’d cleared the low-hanging power lines and branches, I came upon the architecture schools Home of the Future. It was white and blocky, with a definite Minecraft look to it. On careful inspection, I discovered everything was made of sugar cubes. These weren’t the tiny half-inch sugar lumps I was used to, but solid, hefty things four to six inches to a side. As I checked the warehouse shelves behind the home, I found any possible shape of compressed sugar a home contractor might need, including sugar toilets and sugar light bulbs.

My wife reports that I did not thrash or moan with this, or wake her in the middle of the night. I will most likely try this again, carefully choosing my focus. “Sweet dreams” worked out just fine, but who knows what eldritch horrors could be inspired by “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams”?

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What Kirkus says about my book:

I got Kirkus to take a look at the final volume of my Arcanum Faire trilogy, The Ren Faire at the End of the World. I am proud to say they liked it. I think you’ll like it, too.

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this final installment of a comical trilogy, a contractor faces zombies and other obstacles while trying to build a Renaissance faire.

Marc Sindri is constructing a permanent Renaissance faire in Arcanum, Ohio. Marc may be a skilled contractor, but his current assignment is anything but easy. To say that the work site has been awash with witchcraft, sex, and conflicting personalities would be an understatement. Book 3 begins in February, and with the planned opening of the faire in May, time is rapidly working against Marc. His first hurdle comes in the form of an angry phone call from one Jeremiah Stone II, who wants to know who stole his son’s body from the family mausoleum. Marc was certainly no friend of the caller’s son (also named Jeremiah), but he has nothing to do with the missing corpse. Marc soon finds himself fighting a reanimated version of the deceased in order to save his beautiful girlfriend, the witch Brenwyn. But this battle is merely the beginning of Marc’s struggles against the undead, as the area around the faire is infested with zombie rabbits and other unsettling creatures. Then there is the foreboding moment when, during a ritual between Marc and Brenwyn, it is predicted that the faire’s opening will be disastrous. Marc and his cohorts see themselves through their trials with abundant sexual innuendoes (one woman smiles at the idea of being “well-drilled”) and occasional wordplay (a character named Eleazer remarks: “I do not have a jealous bone in my body, milady, not even a bit of envious cartilage”). The result is a story that is more zany than clever, albeit with enough action to keep the wackiness from becoming dull. Whether it is naked witches performing a ritual or humans slashing at zombie animals, something is always happening. Readers may question certain details in Matulich’s (Power Tools in the Sacred Grove, 2015, etc.) novel, such as how Eleazer, who is supposedly successful at seducing women and uses terms like “milady” constantly, can talk to anyone without getting a good thrashing. But whether or not the faire comes together as a great success or failure, there is excitement in finding out how all the dust (and blood and amulets) will settle.

While unapologetically over-the-top, this supernatural tale maintains a fervent, magical pace.

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