Monthly Archives: November 2013

Making Monsters

I love making monsters.  I have a workshop in my basement with pieces of zombies, minotaurs and Death Sheep strewn about.  But the actually making can be hard work, smelly and messy.  That’s why of late I’ve been concentrating on writing stories with monsters, which allows the reader’s imagination to do the yeoman’s work.

But today I have something for all of us Monster Makers to be thankful for: Spectral Motion has created Monster Lab, a build your own monster app.  Now, while you digest your turkey and pie, you can assemble a plethora of monsters designed by the people who did Hellboy, X-Men & Attack the Block.  Bon Appetit!


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As God is my Witness..

The true meaning of Thanksgiving

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November 27, 2013 · 6:49 AM

The Secret to Great Dialogue.

Try this simple method for learning the art of Great Dialogue:

First, get yourself born into a large Catholic family.  If possible, make it an extended Italian/Yugoslav family with undertakers, embroidery factory workers and actuaries.  Marinate your brain in the constant stream of emphatic speech while not being able to get a word in edgewise.

Pick a father who is loud and funny and smart.  Install a hair trigger and watch the sparks fly.  Follow his work to every corner of the country, so that you are always the new/smart/weird kid sitting in the back of the class.  Keep your ears open so that files of “Jersey”, California” and “Tennessee” compartmentalize in the back of your brain.

Attract the attention of the bullies.  No new/smart/weird kid is going to sass back when the mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers travel in packs of four or more.  Replay every encounter over and over in your head until the perfect come-back snaps out of your mouth each and every time.  Keep quiet to prevent your teeth from doing the same.   

Keep this up for a decade or two and you, too, will be ready to write witty, engaging dialogue.  Either that, or climb a clock tower with a high-power rifle.

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A Highly Ritualized Cat

For the last several years, my alarm clock and my cat both go off at six a.m.   This is usually followed by several minutes of yowling and ankle-twining as I do my morning biologicals.  Then the fourteen pound black cat sits at the top of the stairs, waiting to be nudged.  If he is not nudged, he will not descend the stairs.

So, I nudge and he galumphs down the hardwood steps.  You can tell he is a tad over scale for a housecat because his descent is audible, like a Shetland pony in thick wool socks.  Once we are on the ground floor, he rushes to his food bowl and eats.  There has been dry food available the entire night.  I have not been there to watch him eat it, and that is the most important part of the Cat Breakfast Ritual.  I shamble past the cat to the kitchen to acquire my first cup of coffee.

Then, the second part of the Ritual begins.  The food needs to be fresh, you see, or the balance of the universe is undone.  I give him a double-handful of dry food and sit down at the lap-top.  I remain within line of sight to appease.

Now, there are needs beside hunger that cats have, but we have to be discrete about them.  The large, black lump of fur sits at my feet just within reach of my out-stretched fingertips, but he keeps his back to me to avoid embarrassing eye contact.  Once we have done the pre-requisite petting, he returns to eating and perhaps licking himself for dessert.

Of course on my days off, the cat is still set to go off.  If I do not roust myself out of bed at the first feline beckoning call,   he executes the Breakfast Dance.  It starts with him standing on my chest and politely saying “mrao” at evenly spaced intervals.  As he is ignored, the pitch and frequency increase.  A dance step is added in, the kneading of my chest with claws extended.  At that time, I either get up and initiate my part of the ritual or infringe upon Robin Williams copyright by using the Cat-a-pult.

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I don’t believe in miracles; I depend upon them.  The same for magick.  I had prepared a quantum mechanical explanation of how people’s inner narrative could physically change the world, but I realized I had equal chances of being completely misunderstood and just plain wrong. So, in small words slowly typed: our unconscious minds choose what kind of world we live in and make the choices to create it.  Here are a couple of examples from my very weird life:


I grew up loving monster movies.  From watching “The Spider” from behind the safety of the couch at eight to late-night cable marathons in my second marriage, I had an addict’s hunger for more rubber monsters.  One evening a few years ago, I was watching “Graveyard Shift.”  For those unfamiliar with the Stephen King canon, it centered on giant mutant rats taking over the lower levels of a New England textile mill.  As I watched this monster magnum opus, a flash of motion caught my eye.  A mouse, no more than two inches long, ran along the front of the entertainment center to stop under a stool that held up a potted plant.  Secreted there, the mouse turned, stood up on its hind legs and watched me.  It paws were clasped in front of it body as if he were begging for my pardon for this intrusion.

I watched the mouse watching me watching the giant mutant rats.  Under the stool, he didn’t seem very concerned with me.  He just watched.  I tried to stare him down, but that doesn’t work well with mice and toddlers.  Eventually, I shouted at him:

“I don’t believe you’re doing this!”

My input on the subject didn’t seem to be very important to the mouse and he kept watching me for several more seconds, no doubt enjoying the cosmic weirdness.  He in the end wandered off and I am sure he had his own encounter with horror through a glue trap on the basement steps.


Last week, I purchased the charity anthology “Bleed.”  It has several twisted stories by equally twisted authors.  As I leafed through it at my desk, I came across Tim Waggoner’s  “Unwoven.”  The story starts with a writer discovering a spider crawling on the screen of his laptop.  His panicked reaction is to slam the computer shut and crush the spider.

I set the book down for a moment to get my coffee and to check what was on my laptop.  Again, there was a hint of motion from the corner of my eye.  A spider on a single thread of silk was belaying itself down from the ceiling.  This wasn’t just a little spider; it looked to be half the size of the robot spider from the opening of Jonny Quest and no more than a foot from my face.   I am not usually bothered by arachnids, but I shooed this guy away.  It was like he was reading over my shoulder and that always shuts down the writing flow.


Assuming that I can be believed, (this is the Internet, after all) what do these synchronicity nuggets mean?  Maybe, it’s just the cosmos’ gentle nudge to remind us there is magick afoot, some larger meaning in the world, even if revealed in the behavior of vermin.  If nothing else, it shows that the Universe and I share a sick sense of humor.    

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The Real Barney Song

For years, I have written silly songs.  This one is included in my up-coming novel “Camp Arcanum” where the hero goes out into the woods with a chainsaw in one hand and a stuffed Barney doll in the other.  He sings:

You love me,

I sell toys.

Make big bucks off girls and boys.

With the backpacks, lunchbox and the videos

I get ten per cent of gross.

And then he drops a tree on the purple dinosaur.

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The Wicked Library Halloween Episode

14 flash fiction offerings including my “Foot in the Door.”   Some of them made ME flinch and I’ve delivered balloons to a Gross Anatomy class.

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Now, I have a blog…

     I have succumbed to the peer-pressure, hanging around at the coattails of the “cool kids” of the genre literature conventions and wanting to be just like them.  I started out with the usual gateway drug, Facebook, and got hooked.  Things escalated and I got an author page: “Josef Matulich – guy who writes funny/scary stuff.”  Let’s not even touch upon my shameful experimentation with MySpace.  With a free WordPress blog, I am only a few dozen posts away from being caught in a cheap hotel room snorting SEO in the company of an affordable Ukrainian hooker.  Everyone will be so surprised then, but this is as a sure and steady a road to perdition as the southbound on-ramp to I-71. 

     My first novel is still in the pipeline for publication with Post Mortem Press next year.  My first screenplay is still in the hands of the actor who commissioned it as a vanity project.  I’ve been told that feelings of abandonment and malaise are to be expected in pre-production.  So I make the preparations to promote my overnight success some thirty-five years after my first sale to “Science Digest.”

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