Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina Away From Home

Some things you don't forget, images that become emblematic of a certain time. 9/11 easily tops the list, but I left downtown with the rest of the evacuees knowing I'd be home soon. I was in Shelbyville, Kentucky when Katrina made landfall two years ago today. I was at my Auntie Dorothy's, her son Danny is the guy who took the photos of me on the business card you see on the sidebar. Now, I know that house so well I can maneuver in the dark, but its still surreal watching a different television, seeing different views from outside kitchen windows. Tuning out Geraldo Rivera describing the flooding as a portion of "Dante's Inferno." The dick that he is. The one other time anything of import (at least to me and all Chicagoans) was when I was in Arvada, a suburb of Denver in the spring of 1992. I was at the Little Bookshop of Horrors, Tomi Lewis (who sadly died from breast cancer a few years later), is here posing with my first "book dump," my name spelled Wan-ye by mistake, just as Ashley did when she was younger. Ed Bryant showed me a copy of the Rocky Mountain News. Richard Speck was dead of a heart attack, having outlived his victims by a quarter of a century. After Gacy, Speck was the city's biggest cock-knocker. He was the guy that made us lock our doors and not sleep on the back porch on hot nights. The strangest thing in that headline is seeing "Illinois prison," as if I was in a place I might never go back to. I felt detached for the rest of what should have been a momentous weekend for me, as Roadkill Press (run by Doug & Tomi Lewis) had also just published FOR YOU, THE LIVING. I felt desensitized with Katrina, because I knew more about New Orleans from James Lee Burke novels and two visits for conventions too long ago to admit to. Yet, there was the strangeness, the couch not being mine, my border collie not there to pet. I took Greyhound home a few days later and the rain from Katrina followed Interstate 65 all the way to Crown Point, Indiana. I still mourn The Big Easy....Wayne

Monday, August 27, 2007

Night Of The Two Moons

OK, OK, there are four moons there, I know this. I just couldn't decide on which one from my "Universe" folder to post. Tonight is the night of the two moons, an event which actually occurred in 2003, and you needed the aid of a telescope. Mars was at its closest for the first time in decades on August 27th 2003. Not again until 2287. Yet I have again received this email, presumably this will go on for however many years before 2287 that I have left before my dirt nap. Its a harmless email, I'm not expected to email it to a dozen people, its just a minor amusement for me to see this arrive from well-meaning friends and relatives towards end of July. For those who care to read more of my babblings, you can see tomorrow's post on the Storytellers Unplugged blog-- I babble about a few other things as well. Don't go looking for two moons, look at the lunar eclipse instead. If you want, I'll call you at 3:10 Central Standard Time to remind you. Just email me! Wayne

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Etchings For Dennison

As mentioned in my last post about Mr. Matheson, I truly think that Dennis Etchison is my mentor. I read THE DARK COUNTRY when it first came out in 1984 and I was working in Evanston at a law firm, the Kroch's & Brentano's being my local lunch haunt. To this day, I do not know why I made an expensive purchase, but I devoured the book, thinking on how the hell this guy knew what voices I heard in my head. His next collection, BLOOD KISS, was a gift to me but the lips in the middle illustration are for another story at another time. We are good friends and there's a photo of Dennis and I at Arcana in St. Paul circa 1993 and the top photo he sent me for Christmas, for some inescapable reason. Possibly this is where he goes to write. Your guess is as good as mine....Wayne

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Am Legend

After THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, the above book is next on the list. During the week, we had several gloomy days of sticky rain, perfect weather for what is essentially a quick read. (I have a newer edition that includes other short fiction, the Gold Medal edition I have will disintegrate on contact with the air and is signed by Mr. Matheson. I last read this book about fifteen years ago, and I've come to realize that, even though I credit Dennis Etchison as my mentor, I have learned to craft my later work the way Matheson lays down his words, each paragraph a brick, each sentence the cement. I'll never write a damn thing as good as this man, but re-reading this book has made me realize that, at the very least, I have gotten better when it comes to stories I write that needed telling. After this book, for those who care about my list of favorites, I'd go with Jack Finney's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Robert Neville and Miles Bennell have a lot in common....Wayne

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Little More Hard-Boiled

Not me, the font of the book. Though I think I need to see the dentist soon. If you look at the reflection in the glasses, that's my figure as well. I'll bet after this book comes out, people will think Michael Berryman posed for the cover. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Painkiller Looming

The way this cover plays out, it looks as if the victim in my book is Martin Last, a guy who at times crawls inside the base of the Picasso sculpture to keep warm. That was me on Sunday, the same glasses I'm wearing now as I type, the three-day beard I saved for the photo, the fire escape from the photo I took Saturday. Seems like Greg always gets better with what he does and here I am, just promoting a reissued book (at least as a trade edition, the original costing $29.95, the kiss of death for any first time novel). Hell, Greg's work is so much better, I can see my nasal passages and why I have trouble breathing in the winter. The cover might change, there were many poses and shots taken. That other thing is me posing back almost twenty years ago, Greg had a gig illustrating an article about married men who were incarcerated. He's been doing his voodoo as long as I have, but back at the beginning, I was still stumbling around like Jack Lemmon in AIRPORT '77. Well, that's a bad comparison, but its late and I probably dressed in sport jackets back in the 80s. With the same sinus passages, no doubt. More people need to be aware of this guy...all I have to say. Wayne

Painkiller Looms

Monday, August 20, 2007

Downtown Again, Naturally

Even I was getting tired of looking at me in that Resevoir Dog Elvis pose. Hmnnn, Reservoir Hound Dog, Sid, get me Tarentino on the phone yesterday. Gramlich, get me rewrite! Yesterday, Greg Loudon came by and I posed for him for the cover of the new trade edition of THE HOLY TERROR. Greg did the cover of FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT and his work can be found in his sketchbook CRUEL & UNUSUAL, and I basically posed as one of the Painkiller's victims. I went downtown after work on Saturday to take a few background photos with my disposable Kodak from CVS, kind of showing Greg my idea of the vanishing point of the cover, I guess. He will be taking similar shots of that alley with the elevated train tracks with his digital camera. The alley runs behind the Chicago Theater and actually looked much different in 1989, the year the novel is set. Its called Benton Place and the background buildings were not even under construction, the parking garage to the right was the old Trailways bus terminal, with Mammy's Restaurant in front. I took other photos, but the main one was of that alley where the Painkiller put the novel in full motion. The other shot is of the theater's fire escapes--I love fire escape photos, all angles and metal--and a quick shot of pigeons in the moment before the Orange Line pulled in. This would be the el line you see in the background of the alley shot....Wayne

Friday, August 17, 2007

No More After This, Promise

My sister gave me a surprise Elvis-themed 40th birthday party on 9/9/99. I somehow own this black jumpsuit from the days with the Elvis band. I went back home and dressed for the occasion, even posing with the other Elvis--his name lies in obscurity--with my Auntie Emma from Shelbyville, another acolyte of All Things Elvis. That's it, I'm done. No more Elvis. He's left the building. Wayne

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fifteen Years Ago Today...

...I wrote on the wall at Graceland. A few stones over, someone had written in Japanese. My cousin Dennis and I walked the dead man's walk through death night, hundreds of candles ahead and behind us. Elvis gospel music wafting from speakers in trees--"Peace In The Valley"--teal lights on the cement like at Ceaser's Palace in Las Vegas. I want to think that Elvis died on his own terms, though not necessarily wanting to die on the crapper. Karl Edward Wagner died on his own terms, of drink and vomiting toast. I'm ready, I think I've written enough, and there are enough campfire stories of my exploits to go around...Wayne

Monday, August 13, 2007

The WOW! Signal's 30th Anniverary

Well, not until the 15th. Just getting a jump on things. Trying to describe the event makes my head hurt--it involves megaHertz and hydrogen atoms and all KINDS of scientific nutiness that makes the wikipedia entry I came across on The Copenhagen Technique For Quantum Suicide read like a Stewart Sternberg blog entry. Simply put, the only evidence of an extraterrestrial transmission coming from space occurred on the 15th of August, 1977. The guy volunteering watching the readings in the wee hours over dere at Big Ear in Ohio wrote WOW! in the proper area and that was that. The transmission lasted for 72 seconds, as expected because of the way the Big Ear heard the sky, or what-freaking-ever, my head hurts trying to describe anything related to this. The signal originated near Chi-1 Sagitarii, towards the galactic center of our galaxy. (Note: the area where the Big Ear station once stood was demolished to make room for a golf course.) What I find interesting is that, just a few hundred miles south of Big Ear and within a few hours of the WOW event, Elvis Presley died. Or could it be that he was simply called back home? For all those who do not think Elvis originated in space, I offer you the article about Caveman Elvis. You decide.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lightning Burgers On Mars With Uncle Jr.

Even though I am not getting many comments on the *sigh* continued Elvis posts overall, I have yet to run out of twists and turns. This thread was not started because of the CD I received in the mail, its because next Thursday is Death Day. I may not post every day, but some things need to be put out into cyberspace, if only for those bored enough to do the One Blog Over thing to have their minds blown away by my All Things Elvis mind. Many mourn the recent passing of Weekly World News, but my favorite was always The Sun, which gave us headlines like "Elvis Lamp Sings Burning Love" and the one I've posted here. A curiosity: John Wayne his ownself--well, the ghost of his ownself--pops up here, too, and, the day he died of cancer, well, it was one of the nights I was working with the Elvis band. Lightning Burgers stood just across the street from Graceland. One who has never been there might assume that Elvis's gated mansion was on some cul-de-sac in some Willy Wonka area of Memphis, but it was a fairly simple house--never mind the interior color schemes--on land that was no bigger than some of the homes with horse stables down in Shelbyville. And the fact that the burger joint was across the street even when Elvis was alive and didn't suddenly start selling King Burgers, well, that's like Col. Saunders (CEO of KFC) and his wife running their restaurant a few blocks away from where my Uncle Jr. and Auntie Emma lived before the move to Finchville. That's Jr. up top, showing off staples after having a tumor removed, I figure I really don't see another segue coming along which would allow me to post this 1990 photo. Can't say I don't try hard to make these posts come full circle...Wayne

Thursday, August 9, 2007

No, Ma'am, That's Embalming Fluid

First: Yes, Bob, Ral Donner's "The Girl Of My Best Friend" did indeed chart. I wish I could hear either Donner or Ellis on a cover of "(Marie's The Name) Of His Latest Flame." An odd set of images tonight, gang. The joke of course being that, towards the end, it wasn't sweat on Elvis's scarves, it was some sort of life-preserving fluid similar to what they injected Bob Barker with during his many years hosting "The Price Is Right." Back when I worked with the Elvis band, Brad would nigh get his neck twisted by fevered blue rinsed women swiping scarves from his slickened-by-the-spotlight neck. I have been buying these Elvis Reeses cups wherever I can find them, and thanks to Ed DeGeorge--he writes DR. WEIRD for October Comics--for the scan. Any true lover of All Things Elvis will eat anything with the ingredients involving fried bananas, butter, bacon dipped in butter, and Dialudid enemas. I have been sweating like Elvis so much these past few days, this crazy heat and humidity and Venus-type weather, the print shop reaching temperatures of 115 thanks to contraptions like the shrink-wrap machine and lack of circulation, left me shambling home from the bus stop, plopping onto the bed for several hours, and not being able to get the image of Dr. Fate saying something that makes little sense to whomever is standing in the doorway there. I assume they are the same hospital attendants that are coming to take me back to the asylum. (This of course being the print shop, 95 heat index until Tuesday, mah boy mah boy.)...Elvis has left the building, thank you and goodnight. You, my friends, are truly real people...Wayne

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Texas Tea & Other Feel Good Revenge Songs

I know as much about Elvis as I do John Wayne Gacy. I can always get a laugh by prefacing a story with "Back when I worked with the Elvis band," a job I indeed held during my college years. My cousin Dennis and I exchange emails as Deke Rivers (LOVING YOU) and Lucky Jackson (VIVA LAS VEGAS), respectively, and this coming 30th anniversary of Elvis Death Day marks an incredible fifteen years since our visit. I wrote a novella called "Elviscera" for THE KING IS DEAD: TALES OF ELVIS POST-MORTEM which I consider one of my best works for the message it gives (it involves sacrificial murder) and until the cassette died, a mix of truly horrid Elvis-themed songs, the best/worst is the brilliantly horrible "Candy Bars For Elvis" by Barry Tiffin, who sobs--SOBS--his way through a story of a guy living in his pickup behind RCA Studios and Elvis gives him $20.00 to buy him some Hershey bars. Well, Elvis only ate Heath bars, from what I know; maybe Tiffin needed the extra syllable. The song ends with Tiffin wishing Elvis could come back to life if only that the homeless guy could buy Elvis some more *sob* (dramatic pause) candy...*sob* bars. This all needed to be said before I typed about Jimmy Ellis and the CD that I received in the mail courtesy of Bob Smith. I was more aware of him as Orion, a name he used as a gimmick when he started impersonating Elvis, as he was more known as this character in Kentucky and Indiana. But, Bob knew him from his rockabilly days in Georgia, by his given name, Jimmy Ellis. I am listening to the CD now, and he does a few covers besides those of Elvis, like Freddy Fender's "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," but in his early years, he never impersonated Elvis even though his voice is so similar. (The name escapes me, but remember the guy who sang "Suspicion" back in the 60s? He's that good). Ral Donner, from Chicago's SW side, could easily have become better known if he had recorded Elvis songs. He did do the Elvis voice overs in the 1980 THIS IS ELVIS documentary, and died of cancer in his late 40s. I'm very happy to have received this CD, certainly as Death Day nears. The sad thing about Jimmy Ellis is that he opened a pawn shop in his home town of Orrville, Alabama and was shotgunned at the age of 53 on December 12th 1998. "Texas Tea" is one of Bob's favorite songs on the CD mix, and I agree. Revenge songs are good. I hope the three bastards who killed him had something nice and crappy happen to them over the last decade...Wayne

Baby The Rain Must Fall

I had planned a post about a fellow named Jimmy Ellis. Bob sent me a CD of his songs to listen to (along with an actual typewritten letter! A typewritten letter that WASN'T from CapitolOne!!) But it is late, I was snookered into working a 14 hour shift and ended up with magenta toner over my jeans which somehow transferred to all the clothes in my hamper. So I am doing laundry, waiting for the rain to eventually dribble underneath our back door. Awhile back, I started another blog--THIS TIRED CITY--in which I simply post photos in the event I ever lose my hard drive, I can always find "special" photos on the blog. So as I posted the one above at the other blog, I thought, what the hell, I'll give better credence to Jimmy Ellis AKA Orion (he added cryptically) tomorrow. When my pants aren't magenta. Peter Frampton I'm not....Wayne

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Computer Is My Nemesis, Chapter 27

Well, my blog is back after being in the cyber-wind for about fourteen hours. Here's how I screwed up THIS TIME. I wanted to add the Storytellers Unplugged blog to my blog bio or whatever its called, simply so that I could better enter my essay on the 28th of each month. David Niall Wilson explained how easy it was, and I accomplished said task, but somehow--alien manipulation, Philip K. Dick's spirit, Donny Rumsfeld surfing through midget porn via hacking my IP yet again--I DELETED this blog, the Frankenstein blog. Well, Karl at Blogger Team helped me out while I was working yesterday, acting quickly because I sent the same message repeatedly, The Computer Remains My Nemesis. And I might've mentioned Dick Cheney staring in a hentai film on YouTube, I forget. So now I explain the photos. First, here I am searching through endless windows as I was jacked into cyberspace like Case in Gibson's NEUROMANCER. Afterwards, I was so tired, I of course napped at the Pace bus stop, somehow wearing Neo's Matrix duster (which I bought for $24.00 from the Salvation Army near that selfsame Pace bus stop. Lastly, I thought I'd have to fall back on my old ways; instead of blogging, I'd have to come up with catchy ways of advertising myself. Anything to actually keep myself from writing new fiction, right? You all know me well enough, indeed. Your chattel, Wayne