Tag Archives: Josef Matulich

Bonfire of the Inanities

It is not often that I have had the chance to put out a man on fire in my previous occupations. When I worked for a neighbor in Tennessee, acting as the ditch-digger assistant to his backhoe service, there were no chances at all for life-saving. I did get to play with jackhammers and dynamite. He taught me the frightful synergy of tamping a blast hole with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate long before Oklahoma City.

Subsequent jobs had few chances for heroics, though I did learn concrete-forming, burger-flipping, photo-processing, and waste water lab testing. The one time a rack of super-heated test tubes full of  grey water and sulfuric acid exploded all over my lab manager, he pretty much saved himself by diving into the safety shower. He sustained no serious injuries, but we all learned a valuable lesson about saying the phrase “things can’t get any worse” out loud.

Now, when I worked as a balloon delivery driver, that was my biggest opportunity to be a hero.  Along with wrangling a dozen helium balloons at a time in high winds, I got to make deliveries to birthday parties, massage parlors, and gross anatomy classes.  One time, I even got a chance to put out a flaming handyman.

The balloon service was preparing to move from its quaint but cramped quarters in German Village to Main St. in Bexley, the Beverly Hills of Columbus. (Say that to yourself a couple of times: the Beverly Hills of Columbus. Savor the cognitive dissonance.)  A few of us twenty-somethings were painting and prepping the walls while the owner’s handyman was stripping the old wooden desks.

Now, this handyman was a curmudgeon and a proud graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. It sounded like he had been the keynote speaker and valedictorian of the class of ’32 as he shared the highlights of his speech. The theme was Common Sense and how “you college boys” don’t know anything about the real world and surviving in it. It wasn’t an overly complicated topic, but he expanded upon it with anecdotes and examples to make it clearer for those of us that were reality-impaired.

We really didn’t engage with him, but he just kept talking as he slapped the noxious chemicals on the varnished wood, scraped it off, and discarded the flammable gel on the canvas drop cloth. A fairly even coat got spattered on the legs of his jumpsuit, too.

Eventually, he took a break.

A smoking break.

He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a book of matches. Right there, in the middle of the furniture stripping project, he did this. With a cigarette in his mouth, he lit one of the matches. I reconstruct the next few steps from the explanations he had to give to several people afterwards.

He struck the match.

He realized that he was in the midst of a large amount of open and flammable chemicals. Being a worldly man, he knew that this was a dangerous situation and he should really take this outside.

Because he wasn’t some snot-nosed college kid, he was smart enough to not set himself on fire. He stood there silently congratulating himself on his exceptional Common Sense. I don’t know how he did this, but it was a fraction of a second too long.

The match singed his fingers and he dropped it. It set the gel on the drop cloth around him to a small but steady flame. The legs of his grey-pinstripe coveralls caught fire in less than a second.

A good deal of shouting, flailing, and stomping ensued. I don’t know if it was just good planning or I had seriously expected this to happen, but I knew exactly where the fire extinguisher was. I hurried the ten to twenty  feet to the big red cylinder on the floor. I popped the cotter key off that sucker and dowsed everything that was burning with a thick cloud of fire suppressants.

The handyman looked crestfallen, but no longer aflame. The atmosphere, previously tainted with blather and contempt, was now filling up with smoke, toxic fumes, and the bitter taste of the extinguisher. Formic acid settled onto the back of my tongue and stuck. My coworkers rushed to throw open both the front and back doors. It was a short contest between the evening breeze blowing through and the steady cloud rising from the smoldering goo on the floor. Eventually, clean air tipped the balance.

That’s about the time the fire alarms went off.

This was a new building to us. No-one had mentioned a built-in alarm system or how to turn it off. We rushed to the circuit box and started throwing switches until the noise finally stopped.  We chuckled among ourselves, relieved that we were all alive and hadn’t burned down the building. I said something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the lines were still connected to the fire department?”

That’s when we heard the approaching sirens.

Four or five firefighters in full gear came in the front door. The owner returned from his errands through the back door.  It was a very uncomfortable fifteen minutes for the handyman.

When asked, I gave a fairly neutral version of the facts, even though the “stupid college kid” in me wanted to rub his nose in smoldering furniture stripping gel. I had done plenty of stupid things before. I have done a few stupid things since. I’ve been lucky that after the flames were out, nobody ever threw me under the bus.

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Adulting on the Weekend

I am in an uncomfortable place for an indie author. My previous publisher pulled my Arcanum Faire books upon reversion of rights on February 1st. (It was an amicable separation, just like me and my first wife). My new publisher is still securing an editor for my upcoming tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. I am only waiting on a really cool cover from excellent comic artist Seth Lyons to self-publish Camp Arcanum. Unfortunately, I don’t have the narcissism and unmedicated gall to ask him to put the cover ahead of his ant-related injuries to his hands and the repairs of his parent’s home from the Memorial Day tornadoes. That only proves I don’t have what it takes to be a small press publisher. (Did I tell you it was a really, really amicable separation? I signed a paper.)

This all leaves me with no reason to scream “BUY MY BOOK!” There is nothing out there to buy. I guess I’ll just have to be an adult, even on the weekend. This is how it looks:

6:20 am. Cats and bladder go off. Don robe and slippers.

6:25 am. Feed rodents and cats. Do NOT feed rodents to cats. Secure first cup of coffee and first pill.

6:35 am. Fiddle on computer until brain engages.

7:20 am. Brain still not engaged; will have to go on like every other day of my life. Avoid waste by eating last Apple Fritter for breakfast and taking the rest of my pills with even more coffee.

8:00 am. Wife, being a reasonable human being, sleeps until absolutely necessary to awaken. I don jeans and tee-shirt as she prepares for the day. (dressing much earlier than usual for the weekend)

8:20 am. Wife leaves to care for friends’ cats before opening our store. I open garage door for her and The Broom.

8:25 am. Since I am outdoors and not wearing bathrobe, I till herb and vegetable gardens.

8:45 am. Transplant invasive comfrey from last season into the shame corner of the herb garden, just below the gas meter. Give them a stern talking to while doing so.

9:00 am.  Run a load of laundry and calculate the logistics of hanging damp clothes around the house if the dryer malfunctions again. More harsh language.

9:15 am. Replace old whiteboard with new preformatted project whiteboard. Transfer data and magickal glyphs. Rough out this week’s blog post and about a quarter page of my steampunk WIP. I feel the power of the dry erase flowing through my veins.

10:30 am. Leave cats in charge of house and stop by the credit union drive-thru to deposit check from bookstore. (Yes, people actually pay me for my books, some times.) Bank is usually closed by the time I get free of the day job, so I am actually conducting business when I should be home watching cartoons and wolfing down Lucky Charms.

11:08 Meet Sheldon at theater to catch John Wick 3. Last instance of adult thought for the weekend.

 

 

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Fun with Quokkas

As the country is wrapping up National Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems to be appropriate to share some of my relatively minor struggles.

I have been depressed most of my adult life.  I could go into grim medical descriptions or personal anecdotes, but that should be saved for another blog. Suffice it to say my brain doesn’t produce all the neurotransmitters needed to operate the machinery smoothly. That results in dark moods, generalized pain, muddled thinking, fatigue, and irritability. Depression: it’s not just for moping around anymore!

My GP and I have worked through a variety of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, over the last few years. We’ve discovered any number of annoying and embarrassing side effects, but recently my wife and I have had to deal with Vivid Dreams and acting out. I referenced earlier the time I dreamed somebody had been set on fire and I was frantically try to swat out the flames with my bare hands. We both awoke to my slapping my wife’s butt repeatedly. She did not find it stimulating.

My dreams wind up being involved versions of the stories I write, full of action, horror, and ass-kicking. The cats now sleep on Kit’s side of the bed to avoid being launched into space. (catapult)

So, I try to program my dreams. Instead of internalizing all the frustrations of my life and the terror of current events, I focus on happy things. And there is nothing happier than a Quokka. In case you haven’t heard about them, they are cat-sized marsupials that live on a single island off the coast of Australia. They look to be constantly smiling and gleefully pose for selfies with tourists, no matter what PETA and Australian Fish & Game might have to say.

I now have a picture of two Quokkas taped to my wall near my bed. I have named them Graeme and Oista. Each night, I say good night to them, and their cousin Saltine. I tell them to leave the Club and go back to their Townhouse.

Sometimes, I elaborate to get into the happy Quokka groove:

In my best Shirley Temple voice I sing a few bars of “Animal Quokkas in My Soup”.

1980’s marsupial singing sensation: Quokka Khan.

Wallaby-like creature that realigns your spine: a Quokka-practor.

Jason Momoa leading the marsupials in a Maori war chant: An Aquaman Quokka haka.

.

.

.

I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Joust

This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.

I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell  my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town.  2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.

I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.

That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.

Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me.  Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.

At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)

Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.

The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.

There were no food trucks.

I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.

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Author Prompt Joust

Just got the email from Marcus Calvert and Weston Kincade. They had hosted the Prompt Joust at Cleveland Concoction, an improvised storytelling competition where two authors improvise a sixty-second story from a common artifact inspiration. The winner goes on to the next round. The loser goes back to their seat to wallow in self pity.

I would like to say I performed brilliantly, but most of my improv experience was as a mime, so my vocal performance was not as polished as the trained actress I went up against. Still it was great fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Here are the links to the Youtube channel and their scheduled upload dates:

The introduction episode to the series was released earlier today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioo4Z-xAU6Q&t=4s). Starting tonight at midnight, each episode will be released for the next 8 days. Each video’s link is below, but they won’t work until the video releases at midnight on the scheduled release day:

April 1 – Marcus V. Calvert vs. J.L. Gribble (https://youtu.be/ltthQ9IaWVY)

April 2 – J.L. Gribble vs. Cindy Matthews (https://youtu.be/fNDTzikxG1o)

April 3 – Cindy Matthews vs. Megan Mackie (https://youtu.be/ePZRf20J4Fw)

April 4 – Megan Mackie vs. Josef Matulich (https://youtu.be/HW6M3V9x1kE)

April 5 – Megan Mackie vs. Patricia Miller (https://youtu.be/eO5eUATyl8E)

April 6 – Megan Mackie vs. K.M. Herkes (https://youtu.be/DwSqG06hhkc)

April 7 – Megan Mackie vs. Scott Sigler (https://youtu.be/0bp46Bwa8kc)

April 8 – Author Q&A Panel (TBD)

BTW Marcus Calvert and I wear the same hat. I am the one with the mustache.

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The Squirrel Apocalypse is Nigh!

I know you folks have been waiting for a while, but the time is here. I have signed a contract with Hydra Publishing for my next book: Squirrel Apocalypse. It is a profound rumination on how a shattered man cannot return to his idyllic childhood retreat, and when he tries, it winds up being overrun by killer GMO squirrels.

Set in the halcyon days before marijuana went legal in Northern California, it is a maniacal romp with geriatric pot farmers, drug cartels, dairy cows, a radio voice like sex on buttered toast, and squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels.

I have no definite publication date yet, but it should be some time this summer. Catch it upon its release and finally learn the answer to the question: “How is karma like a squirrel in a blender?”

And now for a slightly related musical interlude:

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Dead Rabbits on Imbolc

Merry Imbolc, or Candlemas, or Groundhog’s Day. Whatever floats your metaphysical boat upon your noumenal reservoir. It is a time to contemplate renewal amidst the cold and dark of winter, a time to take stock of your resolutions in the second month of the new year. Or a time for dead black magicians to return from the grave. Your choice.

This is an excerpt from “The Ren Faire at the End of the World” which happens in Arcanum on Imbolc. This explains a little why Arcanum Ohio is the scariest town in the world:

 

Marc followed the trail through the slush left by yellow-suited crime scene technicians. In one of the older quarters of the Arcanum cemetery, yellow police tape was strung from yew tree to yew tree to cordon off the ruins of the Stone family mausoleum. Photographers and deputies slipped under the tape going back and forth.

Brenwyn stood at the outskirts of the activity, wrapped in a gray woolen cloak. She was poised as if listening carefully to something no one else could hear. As Marc came up beside her, he could see that her eyes were closed.

“I should have known that we’d wind up in a graveyard at some point,” he said.

“We all do,” she replied, her eyes still closed.

“Cheery.” He sighed. A graveyard is a tough room for comedy. “Picking up anything on your radar? Besides the police calls, that is?”

Brenwyn opened her eyes. They were a flat grey today that nearly matched her cloak. The three vertical scars on her cheek seemed even darker against her olive skin for some reason. She drew closer to Marc.

“There is something behind this, something that goes back before Jeremiah’s death,” the young witch said. “It is vast and dark and hidden.”

“Isn’t that pretty much what ‘Arcanum’ means?”

He at least got a lopsided smile out of her for his efforts.

“Do you know what today is?” she asked.

Marc did some quick calculations in his head.

“Our three-and-a-half-month anniversary?”

“Possibly.” She acknowledged that with a nod. “It is also Imbolc today.”

“And that is?”

“One of the eight Great Sabbats, it is a time of renewal after Midwinter,” she said. “You would know it as Groundhog’s Day.”

“So, there’s a chance that we’ll go through this morning over and over again?”

“Not likely. But Jeremiah did say something about the groundhog seeing his shadow this year.”

Marc knew that the last message from Brenwyn’s ex was just a trick of modern phone technology, recorded as he stood with the noose around his neck and left on her answering machine two weeks later, but the thought of that little goth weasel coming back from the dead still made his skin crawl. There was only one rational response:

“Rat’s ass.”

“Rat’s ass, indeed.”

Brenwyn leaned in closer and Marc wrapped a protective arm around her. As they settled into each other for warmth, a low, cultured voice boomed out from behind them.

“Aw, how touching: The conspirators share an intimate moment.”

Marc and Brenwyn turned towards the sound, separating as they did. Lieutennant Throckmorton of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation stood there, smiling, a tall black man in a cheap black suit. Marc put a hand on Brenwyn’s shoulder and pulled her back beneath his arm.

“Good morning, Lt. Throckmorton,” Brenwyn purred with false cheer. “Did Sheriff Latchke call you also?”

“Maybe to help string yellow police tape?” Marc added.

“I am engaged in an ongoing investigation, if you don’t mind.” The long-standing animosity between him and Brenwyn over his investigation of Jeremiah Stone was evident in his voice.

“Oh no, do go ahead. Detect or do whatever you do,” she said.

“You’re too kind, Ms. Czarnecky. Would you two care to join me at the crime scene?” He gestured as if showing them to their seats in the theater.

Marc looked anxiously at Brenwyn. She gave him the slightest of nods.

“I was, actually, hoping to get a look,” he said.

“Perhaps, you could share some thoughts,” Throckmorton replied.

Throckmorton turned and headed for what was left of the miniature Gothic cathedral that housed generations of the Stone family dead. Marc and Brenwyn followed him at a distance.

“Careful, dear…” Brenwyn murmured.

“I know,” Marc replied. “As always, I’m the prime suspect.”

#

A single whoop of the siren shattered the morning peace as the sheriff arrived last on the crime scene. Marc could see, even from outside the perimeter, that the Stone family mausoleum was simply shattered.

One side of the ornate structure had collapsed, scattering its rough-cut red granite stones over the dead grass and crushed foliage. The interiors of two of the crypts were visible through the breach in the nearest wall. There was one coffin missing.

A leafless magnolia leaned away from the building. The tree’s roots raised into the air along with a mat of turf and soil. Patchy snow around the grounds was trampled to slush by a myriad of what looked to be animal footprints.

The sheriff and a half-dozen of his deputies gathered around his SUV on the far side of the building to go over the situation within the cordon of yellow police tape. None of them seemed interested in a visiting contractor and witch.

Lt. Throckmorton stood waiting for Marc and Brenwyn at the edge of the crime scene.

“Thank you for coming down,” he said. “I’d appreciate any insight you might have.”

As they drew closer, Marc started to make his usual assessment of another male:

Could I take him in a fair fight?

Then, Marc remembered this was the same state cop that had stood by without complaint as Jeremiah’s father threatened to blow Marc’s brains out. He decided it best to cooperate and make no sudden moves.

Brenwyn looked quietly horrified at the desecration of the tomb. Marc was honestly impressed by the sheer scale of the damage.

“My God, what a mess,” Marc said. “Any idea who did this?”

What did this,” Brenwyn corrected. “Do you remember the Samhain bonfire? The second one?”

She could be referring to any number of horrors that gathered around the illegal bonfire Jeremiah had set on the faire grounds, from protean demons from before the time of Creation to the flock of skinned rabbits and squirrels possessed by those spirits. From the clues, Marc was guessing something compact and skinless.

“Looks bad, smells bad, about the size of a shoe box?”

“That would sum it up.”

Throckmorton lifted up the tape to allow Marc and Brenwyn to pass underneath it.

“What are you two talking about?” the lieutenant asked irritably.

“Nothing,” Marc chirped. “Nothing at all.”

Marc moved closer to the mausoleum and hunkered down, squatting to avoid putting the knees of his black BDUs in the mud.

“Please don’t touch anything, Mr. Sindri,” Throckmorton warned.

“I’ve seen enough cop shows to know that.” Marc pointed at mud and stone of the shattered foundation. “Have you taken a look at these marks?”

Throckmorton crouched down beside him.

“I haven’t had a chance yet.”

“These aren’t tool marks, at least not any kind of tool I would have used. It looks more like this area was dug up by animals.”

The lieutenant eyed him dubiously.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Any more ridiculous than digging with a blade a quarter-inch wide?” Marc asked. “What would have that—a bonsai yard rake?”

“We have people in the state lab who can work that out.”

That sounded like the classic lie: We’re from the government, we’re here to help. Marc looked up at Brenwyn, who only shrugged sadly in response.

“Yeah, right,” Marc said.

Marc stood and slowly surveyed the ground around him. He focused his attention on a large stone angel toppled from the mausoleum. It seemed to be making a pained mewling sound.

“Hey, there’s something under this.” Marc started over to the statue as he spoke.

“Why do you say that?”

“Statues don’t make noise on their own—normally.”

Throckmorton slipped on a pair of black rubber gloves and handed Marc a pair.

“Let me call one of the photographers,” the lieutenant said.

“You might wish to wait on that,” Brenwyn advised.

“Sure, this might be nothing.” Marc backed up her point. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it won’t run away.”

Throckmorton shrugged.

“Whatever you think best.”

Marc and Throckmorton rolled the stone angel onto its side with a good deal of straining and grunting. An undead, skinless rabbit was underneath, all brownish-green and smelling as bad as it looked. The creature’s feet and tail were still fluffy though filthy. The falling angel had pushed it into the soft soil, splaying out its limbs like an “x.”

“What the Hell is that?” the policeman asked.

“We do not really have a precise definition,” Brenwyn replied.

The bunny pulled its head out of the earth and screamed, a sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

All the other investigators on-scene stopped to crane their heads to locate the sound.

Marc and Brenwyn took a step back and both tried to look innocent.

Throckmorton levelled his gun it at the creature that continued to pull itself out of the earth with agonizing slowness.

“You don’t want to do that,” Marc said.

“Your reason being…” There was quite an edge in the cop’s normally smooth voice,

“It’s already dead,” Marc said. “How are you going to write that up in your gunfire report?”

Throckmorton kept his gun trained on the zombie rabbit as it shook off the dirt and limped off into the bushes. Its hindquarters angled away from the rest of its body where its back was broken.

Only after it had disappeared into the bushes did a gangly crime tech with his Darke County windbreaker thrown over a “Cthulhu for President” tee-shirt show up on the scene. He quickly took in Marc holding Brenwyn and Throckmorton pointing his gun at a breach in the bushes.

“What the Hell was that?”

“An injured rabbit,” Brenwyn said somewhat honestly.

“Was it hurt bad?” For a man who spent his workdays at scenes of death and mayhem, he sounded awfully concerned.

“I can guarantee you that rabbit is never getting any better,” Marc said.

“Sadly true.” Brenwyn nodded in agreement.

“And the gun, Lieutenant? Was the rabbit under arrest?” No amount of compassion, it seemed, could prevent a little bit of inter-departmental snark.

“I was—um—intending to, uh, put it out of its misery.”

Embarrassed, Throckmorton re-holstered his gun.

“Unfortunately, he got away.”

“I could go find him.” The crime tech made one step towards the bushes.

Marc, Brenwyn, and Throckmorton all shouted at once:

“No!”

“Okay, whatever.” He shrugged and obviously chose not to argue with the man with the sidearm. “Let me know if you need me.” The tech went back to work at the far side of the tomb. The others all remained pretty much motionless until he was gone.

“What the Hell is going on here?” Throckmorton asked through gritted teeth.

“Appropriate choice of words.” Marc turned to Brenwyn. “Do demons actually come from Hell?”

Brenwyn easily slipped into the pedantic mode that Michael seemed to live in:

“There is no such thing as Hell. That is a Judeo-Christian fiction to maintain hegemony over the under-educated masses.”

“What?” snapped the Lieutenant.

“So if there is no Hell, those aren’t really demons reanimating the bodies of dead rodents and lagomorphs?”

“What!?”

“They are amorphous primeval remnants of Creation,” Brenwyn replied, “but if it make you more comfortable to call them ‘demons,’ feel free, dear.”

Throckmorton put his hand on the hilt of his pistol.

“I swear, I am going to shoot someone if you two don’t stop talking gibberish.”

“He seems a bit unhinged,” Marc observed.

“It happens quite a bit here, lately,” the young witch responded.

“You still haven’t answered my question.”

“There are some things in this universe,” Brenwyn told Throckmorton, “that cannot be explained in simple terms.”

“And they all live here in Arcanum!” Marc added cheerily.

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“Daddy’s Home. Gin Every Night.”

What happens when you watch four episodes of Marie Kondo and the American Godzilla (the good one with Heisenberg, Kickass, and Scarlet Witch)? You go through the kitchen like Sherman marching through Georgia. Ten bags of trash later, the kitchen was tidy and the liquor closet  was in our sights.

Many quaint, but undrinkable, bottles were discarded and three half bottles of gin were uncovered. Those were remnants of my last mother’s visits. She died in 2010. The mix of hours of dust inhalation and bittersweet memories inspired me to drink. The mash-up of the welcome home scene of the younger Brody returning from deployment and a tidying hangover was born.

“Daddy’s Home. Gin Every Night.”

I’m sure we’re not the first couple driven to drink by that Japanese tidiness leprechaun.

- ELLE: Daddy's home. - Cake every night.

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Storming the ConFusion

I have been home sick today. I hope this will not prevent me from attending ConFusion this weekend, as I could not attend for the same reason last year. I am doing better, and expect to do better this Friday . If you happen to be in the Detroit neighborhood this weekend, you can catch me at one of these multiples panels.

Friday 6 pm.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance have a lot in common: mythical creatures in modern settings, noir and crime fiction aesthetics, and, often, romantic plotlines. What distinguishes the two genres, and where to they overlap? How do they use their common elements to create different goals?

Jennifer Blackstream (M), Andrew M. ‘Fish’ Popowich, Josef Matulich, Michael Cieslak, Delilah Dawson

Saturday 11 am.

Applying the Social Model of Disability to Genre Worldbuilding

The social model of disability holds that whatever someone’s physical traits, what renders a person disabled are physical and social structures not built to accommodate them. In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen’s six fingers don’t impede his swordsmanship–the fact that swords aren’t built for his hand does. In the real world, what limits a wheelchair driver’s freedom isn’t their wheelchair, but spaces that aren’t built for wheelchair access. We’ll discuss how to incorporate the social model of disability into fantasy and science fiction world-building to build fictional worlds where people with wide ranges of physical traits and abilities have agency and self-determination, and talk about our favorite fictional worlds that are doing this right.

Josef Matulich (M), Jordan Kurella, Sandee Rodriguez, Petra Kuppers

Saturday 12 pm.

How To Storm A Castle: Pre-Industrial Defenses Around The World

How, precisely, do you storm a castle? Join our panel to discuss pre-industrial building defenses, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and how to get past them if you need to defeat the evil prince within.

Chris Bell (M), Josef Matulich, Scott H. Andrews, Ada Palmer

Saturday 3 pm. 

Autograph Session (I will have all my Arcanum Faire books with me)

Ada Palmer, Angus Watson, Anthony W. Eichenlaub, Cat Rambo, Diana Rowland, Dyrk Ashton, Jason Sanford, Joe R. Lansdale, Josef Matulich, Keith Hughes, Lucy A. Snyder, Mackenzie Flohr, Mark Oshiro, Michael R. Underwood, Mur Lafferty, Stacey Filak, Tracy Townsend

Saturday 4 pm. 

Reading (I will give the audience their choice of two WIPs: Killer GMO Squirrels, or Chinese Air Pirates.

Tracy Townsend, Josef Matulich, Mackenzie Flohr

Sunday 2 pm.

Expanding The Definition of Witchcraft

Witchcraft in fiction often taps into real world tragedies, myths and folklore, spiritual practices, sexuality and gender treatment through the lens of Western occultism. Witchcraft, however, is more than riding brooms or dancing naked. Panelists will explore the definition of witch and then provide examples of witches through underrepresented lenses.

Monica Valentinelli (M), Josef Matulich, Paul Kemner, A. Carina Spears

I hope to see you all there!

 

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This Is Not Vaguebooking

This is not vaguebooking; this is a placemarker for vaguebooking. In a little while, I will have some news, but I can’t tell you about it for fear of jinxing the deal/spoiling the surprise/getting hit really hard.

In a few weeks, I will be prepared to actually vaguebook. At that time, I will intimate something very good for me. Or something really bad for someone else. Or I will assassinate the character of someone no-one knows, at least not from the vague clues provided.

Stay tuned to this spot for the next few weeks for possible discrete celebration, veiled threats or just a simple lack of communication. Thanx!

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Filed under Silly stuff, Writer stuff