Saturday, July 27, 2013

Roger Hodgson Retrospective
The Voice of Supertramp
by Anthony Servante


The Driving Force behind Supertramp


Many bands break up. Some of my favorites have broken up over the years. And sometimes after the break-up some of the band members remain and keep the band name, even tour with the band name, though it is not the same band anymore. Consider the case of Barclay James Harvest. They were together over 30 years when the decision was made for the two main songwriters of the band to part company. But something strange happened: they both kept the band name and attached their own name to the band: John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest; Les Holroyd’s Barclay James Harvest. And neither band is Barclay James Harvest. Together Lees and Holroyd created the sound of the band; separately they merely resemble the BJH music.


Another Hodgson Hit.

Now consider the case of Supertramp. They broke up in 1983, but Rick Davies kept the band name, and Roger Hodgson went solo. It was apparent right off that Supertramp’s new sound was not the hit-making sound heard during the Hodgson years. And that’s ok. Rick Davies had a different vision for the band and was willing to give up the band’s popularity so that he could steer the group in a new direction. In concert he played the songs he had written for the band, plus new material in the Hodgson-less group. But the fans wanted to hear the hits, and that was not the direction Davies wanted to go. Eventually he succumbed to the demands of the fans and played the old hits—the Hodgson written songs. And that’s where Barclay James Harvest and Supertramp differ: The hits of BJH were a joint effort by the two main songwriters, while the hits of Supertramp were not collaborations—they were Roger Hodgson songs.


The Post Supertramp Hodgson


When Hodgson left, it was under the agreement that he would get back his own songs (the ones he wrote for Supertramp) and that Davies would keep the band name. Here Hodgson explains, “To tell you the truth…, I would never have handed over Supertramp, I am not that much of a fool, to just hand over something I had put 14 years of my life into to Rick for nothing. I really was the driving force in that band for 14 years. I remember very clearly the only thing I cared about when I gave Rick the name was that I would leave with my songs and my voice intact. That would be my security. For him, his security would be the name, obviously”.


Songwriter and Hit-maker.


In concert it is quite obvious that Davies is trying to capture the Hodgson sound, hiring singers that attempt without success to sing the range that Hodgson’s songs demand, the sound that he wrote for the range of his own voice. The Davies sound was not Supertramp, and the dwindling fans could be noted in the smaller and smaller venues that Davies was left with for lack of the Hodgson library to rely on. He even had a fake retirement tour that brought in the fans hoping for a Hodgson appearance, but it was all a ploy. I remember the fans booing when spokesman Doug announced that “ This was Supertramp’s last concert; and then added—this year!” We were tricked. Then they played some Hodgson songs to appease the fans.


Relaxed Before a Show.


Here is further clarification: “Hodgson’s concern is that Rick Davies has resurrected Supertramp and gone back on an agreement that he would not perform Roger’s songs in the set. However, the marketing for the Supertramp tour promotes a set list rich in Hodgson tunes. Supertramp performing Roger Hodgson songs without the Hodgson voice will clearly not be genuine to the fans. Roger Hodgson left Supertramp 27 years ago and as part of his departure, Rick Davies agreed that the continuation of Supertramp would become a vehicle for Rick’s songs and Roger would do his own songs in his solo shows.”

Let’s take a look at the list of Roger Hodgson songs and the Rick Davies songs. Let's see why Davies needs to rely on the Hodgson hits.

Here are the hits written by Roger Hodgson:

The Logical Song
Give a Little Bit
Dreamer
It’s Raining Again
Breakfast in America
Take the Long Way Home
Sister Moonshine
Land Ho
If Everyone was Listening
Hide in Your Shell
Easy Does It
Lady
The Meaning
Two of Us
A Soapbox Opera
Even in the Quietest Moments
Babaji
Fool’s Overture
Child of Vision
Lord Is It Mine
Crazy
Know Who You Are
Don’t Leave Me Now
C'est Le Bon
*****

And songs written by Rick Davies:

Bloody Well Right
Crime of the Century
Goodbye Stranger
Rudy
Asylum
Summer Romance
Another Man’s Woman
Ain’t Nobody But Me
Poor Boy
Lover Boy
Downstream
From Now On
Casual Conversations
Gone Hollywood
Just Another Nervous Wreck
Oh Darling
You Started Laughing
Put on Your Brown Shoes
Bonnie
My Kind of Lady
Waiting So Long
*****

Although Davies had some popular Supertramp songs, there were no national hits, Top 40 favorites, radio station driven requests. Hodgson had the national and international favorites, the ones heard on radio stations all over the world. As you can see, these lists show two very different styles, two very different concert experiences. Davies needed the Hodgson hits to keep his own limited library alive in concert.

Which brings us to the Roger Hodgson live show.

Hodgson plays Hodgson, that is, he plays the songs he wrote, the songs that were written for the range of his own voice. Even with Supertramp, he wrote “Hodgson” songs, songs that he would sing in the studio and in concert. And that is what we get today when we attend a Roger Hodgson show: we get the best of Supertramp, the hits, the voice, the lyrics, the music. Plus we get the Hodgson solo music, which to this blogger, is still the Supertramp sound because Supertramp is Hodgson, and Hodgson Supertramp. 


The Modest Super-star.


Davies has the name, but Roger Hodgson has the spirit of the hits and the hits themselves played by the hit-maker himself. And that is our reward, true fans of Supertramp and of Roger Hodgson. We get the total package. In Hodgson's words from my interview with him (check the archives here on my blog): "Some of the biggest hits I recorded with Supertramp were songs I’d written in my late teens before I even met Rick and formed the band with him. Songs such as Dreamer, It’s Raining Again, Breakfast in America, Two of Us, A Soapbox Opera and even the beginning of Fool’s Overture, were all written during that time period. These songs are my babies – pieces of my heart and I still love playing them in my concerts today."

The success of Supertramp rests on the hits of Roger Hodgson. Although Supertramp has become a different band musically without the talents of Hodgson, it is a band without hits, which may account for their relying on Hodgson’s hits when they play in concert. As a solo artist, Hodgson plays only the songs he has written, be they hits from Supertramp or solo works; he does not rely of any songs he has not written to draw an audience. With Hodgson, you get the best of Supertramp and his solo works (songs I believe maintain the musical style of Supertramp during its heyday--listen to songs as "Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)" or "Death and a Zoo") because his music is synonymous with Supertramp hits.


The Real Thing!


Now don't get me wrong. I like Rick Davies' Supertramp, and had he given the fans the chance to get used to the new sound, he might have developed a following; instead he tried to keep Hodgson's fans under the illusion that "he" [Davies] is Supertramp. He isn't. But he can keep the projector and the backdrop screen common to the Supertramp live concerts. He can play "Bloody Well Right"; it is, after all, his song. But we’ll keep the “Voice of Supertramp”. We'll keep Roger Hodgson. 

See Roger Hodgson on his worldwide Breakfast in America tour:

http://www.rogerhodgson.com/

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Zombies, Ghouls, and Gods Rise Yet Again
By Anthony Servante.
A Third Look at Literature of the Zombie Apocalypse,
Featuring Tonia Brown, Armand Rosamillia, Eric A. Shelman, Julianne Snow,
Joan De La Haye, David Moody, Jaime Johnesee, Todd Brown,
Eric S. Brown, and Gregory Lamberson.


 Well, are you, punk?


Welcome back, dear readers, for another peek into the Zombie Apocalypse. With us today we have an assortment of horror writers offering updates and opinions on the subject. But before hearing them out, let’s review what we’ve put on the plate so far. The Pre-George Romero zombies in film were either Voodoo victims (White Zombie-1932) or reanimated corpses possessed by outer space aliens (see Invisible Invaders-1959).


 Vodou Master & his zombie slave

Zombies possessed by space aliens have
first Romero undead look we know today.


Combining the pack mentality of a ghoul (white zombie), and the immortality of a god (living dead), the Romero zombie was born. Since then it has evolved thanks to its treatment in a variety of ZA stories. With Romero, the reason for the dead rising remained an unknown factor, creating a creepier experience for the movie-goer. With the voodoo zombies, killing the Vodou Master freed the possessed victim; with the alien zombies, killing the outer space host returned to corpse to dead status. With a denouement in sight, the movie fans always saw a light at the end of the tunnel (just as we know the good guy never dies). But with Romero zombies, one did not know how to “kill” them, let alone what created them. (Later we learn that a trauma to the living dead’s head deactivates them but learned little else.)

But Romero wasn’t just interested in scaring film-goers; he had a social comment to make as well. In Dawn of the Dead (1978), Romero mocks the zombie as consumer, at once showing the dead as dangerous creatures and bumbling clowns, setting the film in a shopping mall, a place the good guys, the bad guys and the dead guys all fight over. The survival of the living becomes secondary to having the most possessions. The dead simply follow their instinct to stroll the mall, surrounding themselves with the possessions they sought in life.


Zombie shoppers.
.

Our authors will address the zombie as tool for social commentary, the “unknown factor” behind the rise of the dead, and the variations and evolution of the Romero zombie. So, let’s get started.




Tonia Brown-Gnomaggedon



Tonia Brown


Biography:
Tonia Brown is a southern author with a penchant for Victorian dead things. She lives in the backwoods of North Carolina with her genius husband and an ever fluctuating number of cats. She likes fudgesicles and coffee, though not always together. When not writing she raises unicorns and fights crime with her husband under the code names Dr. Weird and his sexy sidekick Butternut.


Question 1How are my zombies different? 
The zombies in Gnomaggedon start out at about four feet tall, and move on from there. This is because they begin as gnomes in the enchanted land of Malgaria, and eventually start infecting all of the races—everything from giants to elves to humans. When a party of adventurers come across the zombie gnomes, they assume the creatures are just regular undead. (Typically, ghouls and zombies in these kinds of fantasy lands are corpses raised by magic.) When the victims of the zombies get up and attack the party, they realize this is not their father’s magic zombies. It’s worse. The zees are a product of *dramatic pause* science! 

Question 2. Does your zombie feed to subsist or to mimic the habit of eating in life?
These zees are purely interested in spreading the infection. They kill to convert. Simple as that. 


Question 3. Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot to nothingness) or will it live forever in its undeath?
Yeah they will probably fall apart at some point. They decompose at a pretty natural rate. Though the magic of the land will keep then together somewhat.

For more on Tonia Brown, visit www.thebackseatwriter.com

*****




Armand Rosamilia-Dying Days Series.


Armand on his 
Summer of Zombie Blog Tour


Biography:
Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he's not watching zombie movies, the Boston Red Sox and listening to Heavy Metal music...

Besides the "Miami Spy Games" zombie spy thriller series, he has the "Keyport Cthulhu" horror series, several horror novellas and shorts to date, as well as the "Dying Days" series:

Highway To Hell... Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer... Dying Days... Dying Days 2... Still Dying: Select Scenes From Dying Days... Dying Days: The Siege of European Village... and many more coming in 2013.

He is also an editor for Rymfire Books, helping with several horror anthologies, including "Vermin" and the "State of Horror" series, as well as the creator and energy behind Carnifex Metal Books, putting out the "Metal Queens Monthly" series of non-fiction books about females into Metal...


How is your zombie different from the mainstream?
I just released "Dying Days 3" a couple of days ago; it progresses the zombie apocalypse because the zombies are becoming cognizant of their surroundings and remembering who they used to be, but they aren't the same nice people they were before they were bitten.





The Dying Days Series


For more on Armand, visit: 
You can find him at http://armandrosamilia.com
and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal: armandrosamilia@gmail.com


 *****




Eric A. Shelman-Dead Hunger Series


Eric "The hat speaks for itself" A. Shelman


Biography:
I live in SW Florida now, but spent my teen and most of my years in southern California – south Orange County. I was actually born in Fort Worth, Texas. My dad died when I was four, (I stood there and watched it happen; one of my earliest memories) and almost a decade later, my mom remarried and we moved to southern California. I met my wife, Linda, in 1980, got together with her in 1983 and married her in 1986. In 2001 we sold our house, threw the dogs in a motor home, and drove our asses to Florida. We’d both lost our jobs and were living on a prayer and unemployment, so with the equity in our home, we thought we’d sell it and start over in another warm, sunny climate. It was that time, between 2001 and 2011, that I just quit writing. Out of the Darkness was out there, but it got to the point that I felt like a damned liar for calling myself a writer. I finally stumbled onto the zombie people on Facebook, and I even read a zombie novel for the first time. After reading it, I thought about the fact that I hadn’t actually created for the longest time, so decided to jump in and write a zombie novel – AND just resume my writing for the first time in over a decade. So, it was the first time I actually decided to write for a particular genre – not just horror, but zombies in particular. I mean … how fine-tuned can you get? After writing that book in about four months, I was so jacked up about writing again that I dug out a serial killer novel called “A Reason To Kill” that I’d written a decade earlier, updated it (somewhat) went back through it, and put it out. Then I thought, “Damn … where is that friggin’ witch novel I started a decade ago and dumped at 54,000 words?” So I found it on an old CD, fired up Microsoft Word and finished that book, too. By that time, it was time to get back on Dead Hunger II, so I finished the Gem Cardoza Chronicles in TWO months. Then I was so ready to get on book three, that I wrote Dead Hunger III in another four months, and The Chatsworth Chronicles were born. After that I wrote Dead Hunger IV: Evolution, (that took FIVE months!) and between my work on Dead Hunger V: The Road To California, I wrote Shifting Fears, a bit of time travel fare blended with serial killer nonsense. It came out on my birthday, April 3, 2013. So there! Enough? Enough!


Question 1: How are my zombies different? My zombies have the ability to recognize things that are dangerous to them, but this ability only results in them not advancing further, no evasive tactics. This could develop over time, but so far has not. They also have the ability to know when a deficiency in themselves, such as a broken arm or something else will hinder them and ultimately put them at risk. They have an offensive mechanism borne of the combined gas that caused the condition, mixed with the gaseous nature of decomposition, that when combined, create an almost chloroform-type gas that can knock out their prey. Once out, the victim will not awaken until touched - or bitten, as it were. As the books move forward, it is discovered that pregnant females whose brains were heavily charged with estrogen at the time of their conversion into zombies, have further abilities. 

Question 2. Does your zombie feed to subsist or to mimic the habit of eating in life? My zombies eat in an attempt to satisfy an insatiable hunger that can never be satisfied, no matter how many humans they consume. It is purely their nature. 

Question 3. Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot to nothingness) or will it live forever in its undeath? The decay advances very slowly, but as long as a small, dried up lump of a brain exists within their skulls, the individual cells within their bodies manipulate the movement of their extremeties to where the brain and eyes direct them. They will live forever - or long enough to qualify as forever - unless their brains are destroyed. Even their heads can live without the body, just so long as the brain is intact.


*****




Julianne Snow-Days with the Undead


Julianne Snow


Biography:
It was while watching Romero's Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of 6 which solidified Julianne’s respect for the Undead. Since that day, she has been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse. While classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets; to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead. As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own.

Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name. Along with many zombie shorts published on her blog, she has a story in Women of the Living Dead as well as two zombie pieces; a standalone short and a collection releasing the summer of 2013. Julianne’s second novel in her Days with the Undead series will also be released in 2013. Stay tuned!

.
1. How is your zombie different from the mainstream?
I don’t think my zombies are different from the mainstream. They’re dead, they’re primal, and they will eventually decay as they assimilate the living into their ranks whenever they can. One thing I think is different from the mainstream is my use of animals throughout the series. I don’t want to give too much away, but the contagion isn’t species specific. I think that adds a whole new twist to the genre.

2. Does your zombie feed to subsist or to mimic the habit of eating in life? Explain.
Since the flesh zombies consume cannot be digested and used for energy, the act of eating is merely a mimicry of what they did when they were alive. There is a voraciousness in their attack and they use whatever weapons they have to infect, their mouths included. A lot of damage can be done with a mouth full of teeth…

3. Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot to nothingness) or will it live forever in its undeath?
The flesh of the zombies I have described will rot away but that will not stop them from moving. As long as the skeleton is articulated in some manner and attached to the nervous system it will continue to be mobile and strive to propagate the infection as far as it can. Eventually the skeleton will break down as the tendons holding it all together dry out and snap away from the bone. When that happens, the brain will still live on for some time until it wastes away to nothing.

For more on Julianne, visit,
Twitter: @CdnZmbiRytr
Facebook: Julianne Snow
FB Fan Page: Days with the Undead
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/cdnzmbirytr/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110149434437717424445/posts
Goodreads: Julianne Snow
Amazon Author Page: Julianne Snow
Blogs: Days with the Undead & The FlipSide of Julianne & The Randomness of Julianne

*****





Joan De La Haye-Oasis



Joan De La Haye


Biography:
Joan De La Haye writes horror and some very twisted thrillers. She invariably wakes up in the middle of the night, because she's figured out yet another freaky way to mess with her already screwed up characters.

Joan is interested in some seriously weird stuff. That's probably also one of the reasons she writes horror.


1. How is your zombie different from the mainstream?
My zombies are faster, stronger and angrier than the mainstream. They're also in the Southern Hemisphere. But apparently they're also Romero-esque.
 
2. Does your zombie feed to subsist or to mimic the habit of eating in life? Explain.
My Zombies feed to subsist. They need human flesh to feed their insatiable hunger.

3. Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot to nothingness) or will it live forever in its undeath?
My Zombies were created due to radiation, so while they're burnt and disfigured they will get stronger, and hungrier and angrier while they continue to feed on the few human survivors that they find, they don't decay and fade away.

For more on Joan, visit:
Website: http://joandelahaye.com/ or http://twitter.com/JoanDeLaHaye
David Moody-Hater Series


David Moody


Biography:
David Moody grew up on a diet of trashy horror and pulp science fiction. He worked as a bank manager before giving up the day job to write about the end of the world for a living. He has written a number of horror novels, including AUTUMN, which has been downloaded more than half a million times since publication in 2001 and spawned a series of sequels and a movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Film rights to HATER were snapped up by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) and Mark Johnson (producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films). Moody lives with his wife and a houseful of daughters and stepdaughters, which may explain his pre-occupation with Armageddon. 


1. How is your zombie different from the mainstream?
Hater was never intended to be classed as a zombie story. It's simply a story of a divided humanity - us versus them, with no prospect of reconciliation. Only one side will survive. I think that's a characteristic all zombie stories share. (N.B. my Autumn series features more traditional - i.e. undead - zombies).

2. What does your zombie subsist of?Explain.
2. Haters are driven by an unstoppable desire to hunt out and kill every last one of the 'Unchanged'. This is driven by an inherent belief that the Unchanged will kill them.

3. Does your zombie have a death span?
3. Both Haters and Unchanged alike are still alive. Therefore there is no death span - just the lifespan a human would expect during a time of war.

For more on David, visit

(Coming soon: my review on the “social” commentary inherent in Hater).

 *****



Jaime Johnesee-Bob the Zombie


Jaime Johnesee


Biography:
Jaime Johnesee worked as a zookeeper for fourteen years before deciding to focus on her passion of writing. Her decision has proven to be a good one, as her books have been received with critical acclaim, including Oh The Horror and Shifters, which was recognized as one of the best horror novellas of 2012. Although her initial foray into the literary world has been marked by success, Jaime has just begun and is a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. 
Jaime Johnesee worked as a zookeeper for fourteen years before deciding to focus on her passion of writing. Her decision has proven to be a good one, as her books have been received with critical acclaim, including Oh The Horror and Shifters, which was recognized as one of the best horror novellas of 2012. Although her initial foray into the literary world has been marked by success, Jaime has just begun and is a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

 “I warn you, Bob's not the average zombie. He's sort of Clark W Griswold [National Lampoon’s Vacation] if he were raised and sentient”. Jaime

Q: How is your zombie different from the mainstream?
           
A: Bob is radically different from most of the zombie stories out there. In this world, zombies are raised from death by necromancers and actually retain their human soul. The only difference between them and humans is the fact they're decomposing. Also he's a bit of a comic and he really does his best to help others.

Q: Does your zombie feed to subsist or mimic the habit of eating in life?
           
A: Bob and the zombies of his world do eat, but they tend to prefer meats rather than veggies. It actually takes the zombies some time to learn what their new undead systems can and cannot tolerate. For instance, Bob's favorite foods are Taco Bell and Pepsi Slurpees.

Q: Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot into nothingness) or will it live on forever in its undeath?

A: Actually this is a bit tricky. See, Bob is rotting away alright, but anytime something falls off, he can staple it back on. The iron in the staple attracts the magic used to reanimate him. So once stapled back on, whatever fell off is as good as...well, not new, but pretty much as it was before it sloughed/fell/flew off. I haven't figured out how to kill a zombie in this world, yet. Believe me, Bob has tried many different ways to end his unlife, to no avail.

For more on Jaime, visit: 

*****

  



Todd Brown-Dead Series


TW Brown


Biography: 
Welcome to MY world...

A few minutes with author TW Brown.

Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest with my wife Denise, a Border Collie named Aoife (pronounced EYE-fa), a guitar collection, and an increasing number of aquariums sporting a variety of fish (cichlids are my new favorites), I live for football season when I can cheer on the Oregon Ducks and be disappointed by my Seattle Seahawks once again. I am a fan of Cookie Monster, KISS, and Dr. Who (along with most things British).

1. How is your zombie different from the mainstream?

I have seen it more since I did it back in 2009, but one of the things that I think I did first or was one of the first few is the immune factor. Not everybody bitten is going to turn. I could also incluse the “baby cry” sound that mine sometimes make, but I think not being 100% contagious is the biggest.

2. Does your zombie feed to subsist or to mimic the habit of eating in life? Explain.
Mine do it because they sense humans as a source of warmth that they are draw to like moths to flame and they want to pull that warmth into themselves.

3. Does your zombie decay (and will eventually rot to nothingness) or will it live forever in its undeath?
My zombies are biological freaks. I actually wrote a scene with a scientist in my DEAD series who was trying to discover if there was some way to hasten their decomposition. He had these different chambers, but nothing was having any effect. At one point, when he was becoming frustrated that biology was not acting as it should, he laughed because he was standing in a room staring at several tanks containing the walking dead…biology had already gone out the window.

For more on Todd Brown, visit:
His blog can be found at:
twbrown.blogspot.com/
You can contact him at:
twbrown.maydecpub@gmail.com
You can follow him on twitter @maydecpub and on Facebook under Todd Brown, Author TW Brown, and also under May December Publications.
*****




Biography
"Gregory Lamberson is the sort of force that dark fantasy and horror are lucky to have." - FANGORIA magazine

"Why in the name of all that's unholy has Hollyweird not got their sights on this series? I'm just going to put it out there -- Greg Lamberson is the most cinematic author writing today and The Jake Helman Files are nothing short of the most awesome movies that have not been filmed yet."
-Author Bob Freeman, the Occult Detective

Two-time IPPY Gold Medal winner and three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist Gregory Lamberson is an author and filmmaker who loves to thrill people. Rave reviews of his work have appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. All of his books are available in print and as e-books, and some are also available as audio books. In 2013, Medallion Press will publish Lamberson's novel THE JULIAN YEAR, the first TREEbook, which will employ revolutionary time-triggered branching technology.

Lamberson's novel PERSONAL DEMONS, winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror, is the first volume in the action packed occult detective series "The Jake Helman Files," published by Medallion Press. Other books in the series include the zombie novel DESPERATE SOULS, the new Cthulhu themed COSMIC FORCES(nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel by the Horror Writers Association), and TORTURED SPIRITS, which is scheduled for October 2012. PERSONAL DEMONS, DESPERATE SOULS, and COSMIC FORCES are also available as audio books from Audible.com, and TORTURED SPIRITS will be as well.

Lamberson is also the author of the werewolf series "The Frenzy Cycle" for Medallion Press. This series started with THE FRENZY WAY and continued with THE FRENZY WAR in June, 2012.

Lamberson's second novel, JOHNNY GRUESOME, won the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror and Dark Scribe Magazine's "Best Small Press Chill" Award, and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writers Association. The novel spawned a rock CD, GRUESOME, an award-winning online comic book, and a collectible mask.

Lamberson's first novella, CARNAGE ROAD, waspublished by Creeping Hemlock Press in May 2012. Library Journal gave it a starred review: "Lamberson's (Personal Demons) latest is both bleak and beautiful, a brain-splattering zombie thriller that is at its core a paean to the power of friendship, even in a dead world. This novella may be brief, but it has real bite, along with taut zombie action, scathing social commentary, and a suitably nihilistic ending. Zombie fans are in for one easy ride through the apocalypse. [Print Is Dead is Creeping Hemlock's zombie-themed imprint.--Ed.]"

Lamberson wrote and directed the 1988 cult horror film SLIME CITY, which is available on DVD as GREG LAMBERSON'S SLIME CITY GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION, a 2-disc collection which includes his vampire film UNDYING LOVE, the thriller NAKED FEAR, and GRUESOME, a short film starring "Scream Queen" Misty Mundae. His 2010 film SLIME CITY MASSACRE, starring horror icon Debbie Rochon, is available on DVD, the PlayStation Network. and Xbox Zune. The film continues to screen around the world. His production SNOW SHARK: ANCIENT SNOW BEAST will be available on DVD this winter, and he is currently line producing MODEL HUNGER, directed by Rochon.

Combining his literary and cinematic interests, Lamberson wrote the instructional filmmaking book CHEAP SCARES: LOW BUDGET FILMMKAERS SHARE THEIR SECRETS, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. He also created the popular horror entertainment website Fear Zone, which he edited for two years, and is one of the founders of the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival. He is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers, and his website is www.slimeguy.com.
"Gregory Lamberson is the sort of force that dark fantasy and horror are lucky to have." - FANGORIA magazine
"Why in the name of all that's unholy has Hollyweird not got their sights on this series? I'm just going to put it out there -- Greg Lamberson is the most cinematic author writing today and The Jake Helman Files are nothing short of the most awesome movies that have not been filmed yet."
-Author Bob Freeman, the Occult Detective
Two-time IPPY Gold Medal winner and three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist Gregory Lamberson is an author and filmmaker who loves to thrill people. Rave reviews of his work have appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. All of his books are available in print and as e-books, and some are also available as audio books. In 2013, Medallion Press will publish Lamberson's novel THE JULIAN YEAR, the first TREEbook, which will employ revolutionary time-triggered branching technology.
Lamberson's novel PERSONAL DEMONS, winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror, is the first volume in the action packed occult detective series "The Jake Helman Files," published by Medallion Press. Other books in the series include the zombie novel DESPERATE SOULS, the new Cthulhu themed COSMIC FORCES(nominated for Superior Achievement in a Novel by the Horror Writers Association), and TORTURED SPIRITS, which is scheduled for October 2012. PERSONAL DEMONS, DESPERATE SOULS, and COSMIC FORCES are also available as audio books from Audible.com, and TORTURED SPIRITS will be as well.


Greg Lamberson

Gregory Lamberson update:
"I'm going to launch my first e-book, SCAREMONGER: A Lily Dale Chiller in about a week. It could be an ongoing series with a female lead. STORM DEMON, Book Five in The Jake Helman Files, will be published in October. And THE JULIAN YEAR, the first TREEbok (Timed Reading Experience E-book) will be available in December."

For more on Gregory, see Zombies, Ghouls, and Gods, Part One at: http://the-black-glove.blogspot.com/2012/02/servante-of-darkness-7-zombies-ghouls.html.

*****





Eric S. Brown: Bigfoot series.


Eric S. Brown


In Book Two of the Bigfoot Wars, zombies make their first appearance. I am currently working on a review of the use of zombies in this series for Zombies Spotlight which will feature book reviews for each of the authors participating in this article. The Bigfoot books will be first of the reviews and we will catch up more with the author Eric S. Brown. Consider this a preview. Thank you.
*****


Todd Brown has honored us with a closing thought on the Zombie Apocalypse genre, so I’ll let him take it from here.
  
One of the things that I hear from time to time is that “zombies are history” or “The market is oversaturated”. Five words: What a load of crap. People have been saying that about vampires for over a decade…guess what? Twilight blew away box offices despite all the people who openly grouse about it.

I have a different take; I think BAD zombie offerings are what are on the endangered species list. With so much out there, the readers can now be more selective. The days of just being glad you could find a zombie book on the market have been replaced by a wide variety and some very creative takes on the classic ideas.
I think most of the people banging the drum on the undead hordes are the people who either A) were never along for the ride to begin with; or B) can’t help but share the sour grapes in the bowl at their desk. One thing there has never been a shortage of is negative spewing, armchair quarterbacks.

As I write this, World War Z is just a few weeks away from opening. Brad Pitt folks. It doesn’t get much more mainstream than that; The Walking Dead is one of the most watched cable programs in history; the Amazon Top 100 Horror Writers list is like a zombie author minefield. And just recently, my friend John O’Brien was entrenched for several days at number three behind King and Koontz. I don’t care who you are, that is a horror writer’s dream to be sitting at that table.

So, I return to my premise that it is not the zombie that is old news, it is the abundance of mediocrity that has suffered a bullet to the brain. Not that they are gone, but I think that cream has risen to the top. That is a good thing. It makes it easier for those seeking to carve their own niche to find some quality examples because, let’s face it, that was a real hit-and-miss exercise just a year ago.

As a writer, I enjoy picking up a good zombie book and seeing where a talented author will take me. This past few months, I have had the pleasure of reading offerings by Armand Rosamilia, Mark Tufo, and the aforementioned O’Brien. As a person who has watched the original Dawn of the Dead over a hundred times (not an exaggeration), I love zombies. A good book blows away a movie any day, and as recently as 2005, that was not easy to do by any stretch of the imagination. David Wellington’s Monster Island was one of the rare gems. Other than that, the offerings were sparse and difficult to find. At one point, I had ever single title that Amazon had to offer in the “zombie fiction” search.

It is easy to forget that e-readers were still being resisted and the self-pub scene was comparable to FM radio in the early seventies. For those of you old enough to understand that reference, I think it might still come as a bit of a shock when you take in the landscape that unfurls before us.
So, let people continue to scream about how the sky is falling on the zombie genre. Those acorns that are falling are growing into mighty oaks.


Todd Brown

*****

Well, dear readers, that wraps up Zombies, Ghouls, and Gods Rise Yet Again. What follows now for our participating authors is the Zombie Spotlight, where I will review a zombie related book by each author with three things in mind: the zombie as tool for social commentary, the “unknown factor” behind the rise of the dead, and the variations and evolution of the Romero zombie. So, keep an eye open for the Zombie Apocalypse reviews. See you then, Darkness fans. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Poetry Today: Trends and Traditions
Edited by Anthony Servante




Let’s discuss the premise before looking at the words. It is an axiom in academic writing that poetry must speak for itself. A writer cannot interpret meaning for the reader, giving insight to his own words as if they required his presence to clarify the work’s intents. The poem must stand up to the scrutiny of the reader alone. All poetry, artwork and links belong to the respective authors and are used here on a one-time basis only. Thank you. 

With this axiom in mind, we proceed to our poetry for today; we have works by Phibby Venable, Uvi Poznansky, Drew Arnott, Vincenzo Bilof, and a special appearance by my old friend Michael H. Hanson. 

Let’s begin with Phibby.


Phibby Venable


Biography:
Venable's work has been published in 2River, Poetrybay, Southern Ocean Review, Sow's Ear, Voices, the Appalachian Journal & various other national & international mags.
Three chapbooks: What I Saw Beautiful, On White Top, and Indian Wind Song.
Two books, Blue Cold Morning & There Is A White Girl, 2009.
Phibby Venable lives in Abingdon, Virginia. Much of her work depicts the
Appalachian & Blue Ridge Mountains. She works in human & animal rescue.





Poems:

The Water Lily Eyes
If I love them it is because of the cacti.
We are of that clan.
My mother, the spine, my siblings raw & prickly.
I am disguised as a water lily and float
in their grand oasis, not apart but sectioned
into whatever they think me to be.
Still imaginary in who I really am.
They are warriors and ragers that climb
taller toward the sun.
They eat themselves and each other and suck
flesh and water from their roots.
When they bloom I move closer and shift
my flowered pad into their line of vision.
I dream of touching them
in the spots that sprout nourishment,
but they are too angry in the heat.
Each believing the desert is a punishment.
Each believing the lily pad is an illusion
Having grown up determined
to cling to the mother spine,
they can see nothing
but the one sun.


To The Open Road
I kindle a song from the trespass of faces
that press against money and fall flat
that ride the roads with artful pieces
for words and the genius of open eyes
in a shut off world
This is to the new year and the poor bones
who falter, starve, in beautiful places
and long for grand highways , the ones that float
in blue ribbons past everyday pain
to watch the heartbeats of humanity
rise in a rejoicing of individual truths -
Let me twist a canvas into long roads
and add stops of fresh milk, watermelons,
a loaf browning in the distant sun
on the highway of gentle portraits
that do not push, nor shove
that whisper brilliant sentences or paint hues
to lava the eyes with bright scenes
to scent the wild fir with belief
and climb the sand dune road
straight to the beach, I wave
a new year to the machinery that made the roads
to the men who sweat, freeze, who hold signs
saying stop, slow, go! Go
to the gulls and pipers the flatbeds,
and the dignified Mercedes, go
all of us down this splendid twist of road
where America believes like an adolescent
stretching wide eyed toward a dreamer's goal,
still stubborn enough to be happy
still holding her hand drawn picture
of the open road.


Review:
The Water Lily Eyes works as personification. The narrator, "I", loves "them" (nature/flowers) because of the cacti (both plant and flower bearer); then the I becomes "we", joining nature and man in the same "clan". The personification is extended to include the "mother" as spine (note the play on words: spine for backbone of the family--a matriarchy--and the prickly needles of the cactus). The sun represents the goal of the plant that strives to reach the light above, as man reaches for heaven as "warrior" and "rager" (with an echo of Rage Against the Dying of the Light by Dylan Thomas). Unified as plant and person, we becomes "they" who  "eat themselves and each other and suck/flesh and water from their roots." The plants take on human emotion (anger, for instance) as the person takes on the form of a flower, now replacing each other's role in the cycle of nature: "Each believing the desert is a punishment./Each believing the lily pad is an illusion." The personified transformation is complete, but that which unifies them both is their common reliance on the "one" sun, life to both plant and person. It is a neatly sustained metaphor that avoids the trappings of anthropomorphism; it is subtle and gentle in its rage to live. 

To the Open Road celebrates the Beatnik philosophy of seeking one's self in journey, as represented by the "road" (do I need to name-drop Kerouac?!). The money grubbers "fall flat" as the open highway becomes a canvas to paint a trip with the "genius of open eyes", as observation of life is travelling and appreciating one's surroundings. The canvas adds images of "milk" and "watermelons" and converts nouns to verbs to paint an abstract concept: "that whisper brilliant sentences or paint hues/to lava the eyes with bright scenes/to scent the wild fir with belief." The journey is inside the head; the traveler as painter, and the road his masterpiece. American (more personification) "believes" in this masterpiece, for America is the ultimate critic, its roads the "stubborn" invitation of "her" highways. The narrator seeks an America that encourages the self-discovery of those who travel with her. Very transcendental. Very Beat. 

Let's turn now to Uvi Poznansky.


Uvi Poznansky


Biography:
Uvi Poznansky is a California-based author, poet and artist.
She earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. During her studies and in the years immediately following her graduation, she practiced with an innovative Architectural firm, taking a major part in the large-scale project, 'Home for the Soldier'; a controversial design that sparked fierce public She won great acclaim for her novel, Apart From Love, published February 2012 and for her poetry book, Home (in tribute to her father, the poet and writer Zeev Kachel) published September 2012.debate.





Late Lover
By Uvi P
A diamond short, a decade late
I come to stand outside your gate
Unlock and open, let me in
Forgive me, love; what is my sin?
I fled from you across the land
But now I ask you for your hand
A decade late, a diamond short
I can't imagine why you snort
My limbs are frail, my breath is cold
I must admit I may look old
I fall, I kneel, why—I implore
You are the woman I adore
I feel so weak, I feel so brittle
Don't touch! I may be impotent a little
You loved me once—or so I thought
Stop! Take your fingers off my throat—


Painting by Uvi P accompanying 
the Late Lover poem.


These are Uvi P's words regarding the painting and poem. 
"I painted Late Lover from the point of view of the girl he had left behind. She and you, the observer, are one. He is yearning to come back home. A blue cape is flung around his shoulders, which allows the eye to stay with him, rather than drift off to the background, seen in the spaces between his flimsy ribs. More importantly, you can see the withered flowers he lays at your feet, and the ring being cast off your finger, straight onto his head. The words 'A diamond short, a decade late' are carved into the door frame, perhaps with your fingernails, scratching letter after letter over the long-drawn-out years of waiting for him...

Having painted him all day, the voice of Late Lover came to me at night. The next morning I wrote his poem down in a single breath, and never made any corrections, never replaced a word or adjusted the rhythm--because it came to me completely ready".

Note:
I inserted Uvi's words about her poem and painting for the express purpose of validating the premise behind critical reviews, that the poem or painting or novel or art piece must stand on its own, without explanation, history, or inspiration. The "objective correlative" of art must come from the work, not the artist; when it comes only from the work, we, as critics, can capture the "subjective correlative", that is, the perspective of the aesthete, the common point of view as universalized by critique. This is in no way a criticism of these words; I chose to read them after reading the poem and seeing the painting, for that's the structure of the webpage where they are posted. It is, in a sense, an unforeseen influence. I bring this up here because the next two poems also carry the burden of an influence, in that I have heard the lyrics in song long before I have appreciated them as poetry. That said, here is my POV on the poem, Late Lover, hopefully, without too much outside influence (and I did choose this poem because it was the best of the lot and the one I wanted to share with my readers, and because I love that painting).

Review:
There is an old story that goes something like this: He married her for her cute little laugh; many years later, he strangled her to death for her cute little laugh. Late Lover addresses the sentiment of this story in poetic terms. It rhymes, giving it a jovial sense, foreshadowing the shocking ending ("Take your fingers off my throat--"), and carries a brisk tone that reflects passing time passing much too quickly. "Late" in this sense refers to getting old, but also to making bad choices, as in too late to change one's mind. Thus we have the contradictions of the situation: "I fled from you across the land/But now I ask you for your hand". The oxymoron ("impotent a little") is Uvi P at her wittiest as we saw earlier with the line repeated twice in inverted form: "A decade late, a diamond short" and "A diamond short, a decade late". This is unfulfilled love, but love on a grand scale, worthy of poetry, even if it is on the sardonic side. "You loved me once" confirms this love, but then it is retracted, "or so I thought". All is not as it seems. Jovial on the outside, sinister on the inside, Late Lover is more about the dark side of love, where the cute little laugh that once brought a smile now brings tightening fingers around the throat. A very clever conceit. 


Drew Arnott is up next.

Drew yesterday.


Drew Arnott today.



Biography:
Co-founder of the Progressive New Wave band Strange Advance, Drew Arnott manned the keyboards and wrote songs for the group. I have plucked the lyrics from two of his songs as a sampling of how poetry can be found in music. https://www.facebook.com/drew.arnott/abou




To the poems.

Worlds Away
By Drew Arnott

Worlds away with memories
Of killing time and dreams
Think of me, it was so cold we burned
And as they leave, they cross my mind

No time, I think it's over
This life inside I steal as mine
Look in your eyes, you're worlds away
And life is locked inside you

Then, you sleep and city walls
They dissolve to dreams
Children cry, they're losing everything

From heart to heart
The beat slow fades
The sun explodes the night time
For all we know
There's nothing changed

Look in your eyes you're worlds away
Where art is love is science
A million miles, a thousand minds
Now worlds away

Oh no, don't say goodbye
When you can love only one thing
And they want you to know
It's you, it's you
Worlds away
Don't say goodbye.

All lyrics are subject to US Copyright Laws and are property of their respective authors, artists and labels. All song lyrics provided strictly for educational purposes

We Run
by Drew Arnott
You're on your own and meet a friend
Who doesn't kill but wounds for life
The sun blinds you through the trees
While watching clues fall from the skies
And she smiles
At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun
We Run
Frozen smiles for men returned
They never even left this place
She kissed me softly on the cheek
And a shadow cut across her face
At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun
We Run
I walked for miles and miles to the sea
(We burned the fire from the sun)
I know you never tried to deceive
(Who can touch us when We Run)
At the point of the knife
You never see anyone
How the strong will survive
At the end of their gun.

All lyrics are subject to US Copyright Laws and are property of their respective authors, artists and labels. All song lyrics provided strictly for educational purposes.



Review:
As I mentioned in my note for Late Lover, my opinion of the above poems by Drew Arnott are influenced by my love of the music, its ethereal space opera sound. But as with the former poem, I must consider these poems not as songs but as stand-alone poems as if I had never heard the music. I must play the neutral critic if I am to give my reader a look into the words themselves without my turning into a raging fan-boy. So here goes.

Worlds Away tells a story of love's last gasps, just as Late Lover depicts love turning sour, nay, turning to murder. The narrator observes his girlfriend; she is lost in reverie, "worlds away" in her memory, even as she sleeps with him. She is there and not there. He feels his dreams of being with her slipping away. Her icy demeanor is so "cold, we burned". Her eyes do not see him there; there is sadness in his words as he describes her: "Look in your eyes, you're worlds away/And life is locked inside you". But he has some hope that all remains the same between them, but the rising sun says otherwise: "The sun explodes the night time/For all we know/There's nothing changed". There is no denying that indeed things have changed. She's gone, even though she is with him; her leaving is but a formality. His pleas fall on deaf ears: "Oh no, don't say goodbye/When you can love only one thing/And they want you to know/It's you, it's you/Worlds away/Don't say goodbye". This poem imbues love with its alienating effect when it falls short of being fulfilled. Both parties must love equally; here it is a one-sided relationship, one last night before the break-up. It captures the loneliness inherent in such relationships, and makes the narrator's pathetic pleas for her not to say good-bye all the more tragic. 

We Run describes a more sinister type of love: the self-destructive type when one chooses a partner who is bad for you. In metaphor, the bad girl of the poem bears a knife that serves not to kill but to wound. She hurts men; she breaks their heart. The narrator sees the girl he loves; he is blind to the "knife", to her destructive side: "And she smiles/At the point of the knife/You never see anyone". He only sees what he feels: her kisses, caresses, and affection. "She kissed me softly on the cheek/And a shadow cut across her face". The dualism of the girl is seen here in light and shadow on her face (think Colonel Kurtz in the shadows in Apocalypse Now). But still he loves her. Here the metaphor of running is explained and the title of the poem becomes clear. To run is to advance the relationship quickly, as if doing so will leave the bad girl behind and the good loving, kissing girl will keep up with him. With these words, we now understand his denial: "I know you never tried to deceive/(Who can touch us when We Run?)". She never deceived him; he deceived himself. How many of us have run into a bad relationship by running away from it? We all run.


Let's turn to Vincenzo Bilof now.


Vincenzo Bilof


 Biography:
From Detroit, Michigan, Vincenzo Bilof is the recipient of SNM Horror Magazine's Literary Achievement award in 2011. A member of the Horror Writers Association, Vincenzo is the author of the zombie novels "Nightmare of the Dead" and "Necropolis Now;" both are available from Severed Press. His recent book, which happens to include aliens, "Gravity Comics Massacre," is available from Bizarro Pulp Press.
When he's not chasing his kids around the house or watching bad horror films, he reads and reviews horror fiction, though his tastes are more literary. He likes to think Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Baudelaire would be proud of his work. His current writing projects include the new serial, "Japanese Werewolf Apocalypse;" and "The Horror Show," a horror story written as a series of poems that will be available by James Ward Kirk Press in the summer of 2013. You can check out his blog here: http://vincenzobilof.blogspot.com/



Coming soon.
 : 

Poems:

Casual Ruinations
"Tell those damn liars who have declared that aint aint a word and neither does it require
Apostrophe.
Listen to this, I mean, wait, I know it sounds redundant but there…
okay, your lips are either snarling or smiling,
so should I laugh or cry?
Sure, it matters.
As I was saying.
The word is rather rebellious because the language-owners have ignored
that the word has a common usage and common understanding.
Fits the lexicon and it's there for you to deny."
(Maybe I should say
call it a curse word for the unwashed, they can have it
like the blood on this counter mirrored in yellow light,
like mustard and ketchup could never stain oblivious.)
"Eggs and ham would be nice, Lorraine."
I hide from emerald eyes,
pretend to watch the dusty men
the toothless men
rape cell phones with fingers
souls sucked into screens.
"Commit yourself to 
 a code you’re afraid
to violate." A plate shatters and eyes stick to fragments from
vein-laden skulls.
In my nightmares I have seen the dead flesh of heroes melted hot
over a rusty grille.
"Sizzle baby sizzle."
This counter finger-painted in shades of blood or memory.
My nightmares lived so much reality.
Everything I see reminds me of something horrible I’ve seen before
like I’ve lived another life or my memory is damaged. Am I speaking to you now?
               "Could be damaged."
               What sane man would choose the life of a drifter
               haunted by dreams, "could get cash from doctors
               Volunteer lab rat maybe there’s a cure"
               Laugh that up, no cure for the difference;
               you are what you eat; you’re a man now stand up.
               Could be damaged
"Don’t recall ever having job skills,
go to school young man you’re smart,
the jobs will just come to you, it’s true,
could be damaged."
Messages in code printed upon a napkin.
"Do you save your poems to a computer?"
she asked, or asks.
I can't remember waking up to one or another.
"Is this a part of your process?"


The Questions a Madwoman Might Ask
The doctor will help save the world by curing madness. "Cure madness to cure evil." Cold rooms and light upon spectacles to render eyes invisible. A charitable woman. The entropy of poverty. Policemen nodding their heads at the chalk outlines of children. Light peering through the holes in windows where bullets have flown. "I can cure evil by falling in love."
The doctor nodded his head and nearly grinned. A slumbering poet who murdered his family holds the enzymes in his brain that can save the poor before they're forced to fight another war; there will be life after death. "I need you."
Don't render unto me the nightmares of a martyr. The thieves and idolaters peer at me over their soup bowls and consume my flesh without my name. The poet doesn't know his own soul. "It's not about the money."
It's not about the money. Let me show you pictures of his wife and child. The salesman attempts to play the harp with broken fingers. "I want to see the dead."
Maggots writhe upon vomit-encrusted blankets and you speak of madness and its cure. Salvation comes in many colors, a rainbow of amber, red, white, and glass. Mouths drowning in the rainbow, livers reliant upon pain and sorrow to feed the disease. And you call it madness. "He loved them dearly."
Narcoleptic afflictions reflected in misplaced organs. Edgar Allan Poe was buried alive. We believe in archetypes, the designs of exposed ribcages and eyelids forever closed. A woman and a child not bound would have screamed for ages. Life betrays love and love betrays the sanctuary of Mondays and Tuesdays. I'm familiar with his swirling eyes and I have swallowed the oasis. A thousand messiahs would be proud of me. The doctor has given him money to live and I am the catharsis, the expendable victim of philanthropy soaked in greed.
I am like an addict staring over the edge of a cliff where everything I need has fallen over that edge and into a clouded valley
there is something
I think something.

Review:
A uniquely sustained piece of conceptual writing that has been tried before but not with the success Vincenzo Bilof achieves here. In A World of Words by Rafael Lopez, the author creates another planet with life and culture; we see this culture through the poetry of this world, written by the poets of this planet. Even now Rafael seeks to extend the world in his writing, rather than the poetry that we see the world with. James Joyce similarly created (rather re-created) an old world from literature, that of Ulysses, and gave us a surreal experience in this newly formed world. But Joyce is some heavy reading and one must flow with the stream of consciousness writing to appreciate the prose. So has Vincenzo brought us The Horror Show. It is a novel. It is an anthology of poetry. It is prose. It is stream of consciousness nightmare. I selected two "works" from the book; a poem and a structured piece of writing that is something between a series of paragraphs degenerating into prose, then what appears to be a stanza. Keep in mind that although there are chapters in this book, they are not conventional. We saw this concept carried out seamlessly in William Cook's Moment of Freedom, but without the structure of a novel; his was poetry. Bilof's pretends to be a story in poem form, a poem in story form, and something in between. Let's look at our selections from the book more closely.

Casual Ruminations is a poem that brings attention to language. It is as if we stopped hearing words and only heard sounds. Something is being said, but the idiom is lost. Right off we are told "that ain't ain't a word and neither does it require/Apostrophe". This is a self-referential maze of words, not unlike saying "I am saying nothing"; the meaning implies that you mean nothing by what you say but need to say "nothing" the word to make this point. Straight out, we are placed on notice that such mazes await. We proceed with caution and fascination. The narrator completes his thought by pointing out that the maze we are in is a maze: "The word is rather rebellious because the language-owners have ignored/that the word has a common usage and common understanding./Fits the lexicon and it's there for you to deny." "Deny" and "ignored" alongside "common usage and understanding" creates a conflicting parallel. We accept that we need language to deny language; we communicate our lack of communication with words that we can ignore. Then we slip into a collage of grotesque images painted beautifully with our words of denial. Then the direct question arises: ""Do you save your poems to a computer?"/she asked, or asks." "Asked/asks": a conflict of tenses. We are in another maze, but the question remains: Is this poem something you wrote and saved on your computer? The answer is yes, for the question itself is the poem. By referencing one's self, the line between word and meaning becomes blurred, but Bilof pulls it together by clarifying the line then blurring it again. We are reading about reading as he writes about writing, and the mazes are captivating and intriguing without losing the reader. However, one must be willing to slip into the "ruminations"; it is well worth the experience getting lost in the work.

The Questions a Madwoman Might Ask is as close to a regular chapter as this novel gets. The reader may feel safe reading the paragraphs hoping that the writer has come to his senses. But it is a ruse. The stream of consciousness writing starts slowly and builds momentum till the paragraphs began to shape themselves into stanzas, and we're back in the maze of language discussing language, in the conceptual story-line that challenges the readers' expectations. Almost as if addressing the reader, Bilof's narrator pulls him into the narrative with subtlety and the cunning of language: "A slumbering poet who murdered his family holds the enzymes in his brain that can save the poor before they're forced to fight another war; there will be life after death. "I need you." The "you" catches one off guard; we go from third person, to plural pronoun (they), to it (life after death), when we are slammed by "I need YOU" (my caps). The reader is pulled in different directions through various points of view, thanks to Bilof's use of language to mount his surreal story. We move from poem to prose narrative, and without warning, we move back again to where we started. The final words "There is something/I think something" deliberately undermine the paragraph structure we felt safe in earlier, only to find ourselves with the "is/think" conundrum: Is this real or the narrator's thoughts? Don't expect easy answers. This is a must read for fans of conceptual writing. At once nightmarish and playful, it will creep you out when you feel most safe, and you can't say that for many books today, horror or otherwise. . 
*****

Michael H. Hanson wrote a tribute to Richard Matheson, who passed away recently. F. Paul Wilson said it best: There is no writer today that does not stand on Matheson's shoulders. It will be many more generations before his influence on good story-telling fades even just a bit. Here is Mike’s poem to Richard Matheson.

Richard Matheson

You Are Legend
by Michael H. Hanson
Your duel has ended, and you won,
distributor of great stories
you travel now where all dreams come
where ghosts and strange wing-walkers flee.
Far beyond twenty thousand feet
you stalk the skies on this dark night
your co-pilot a Zuni doll
friendly invader this last flight.
Our world is shrinking now you’re gone
little kids lost that’s how we feel,
your words echo and stir in time
with the enduring punch of steel.
The box is closed, terrors mildew,
the master of our world is mute.
-------------------------
(Richard Matheson, 1926-2013)



Thank you, poets, for your contribution this month. As usual, we have a diverse selection representing the wide range of wordsmiths today. The Servante of Darkness invites your poetry submissions each month. Till next we meet, keep the typewriter warm.