Thursday, January 31, 2008

When I Need A Walk

It is snowing now, as January ends. 21 days of snow, scattered through the month. Last night I finished being slave to the machines, having worked 84 hours over 9 straight days, having worked the weekend at the plant by myself, when the DHL delivery guy or the Xerox repairman weren't around. Fighting the robots. So I left work early today, cashed my check at the 95th Street currency exchange. Then I decided I needed a nice walk to 87th. The snow was a fine mist and the sky was a swirl of white, not the howling and the wailing that is most common here. I was glad to be away from the ink and the general smell of crap at the plant, I trudged a familiar route (as all non-drivers chronicle in their memory), knowing where to zig and zag to avoid snowdrifts and potential pratfalls. Enjoying the sweat around my collar, my knees no longer cracking. Passing the Miami Motel with its trademarked logo, a trailer park, across the street were car rentals next to car title loan companies. A Saturn dealership, a Hooters, a Denny's. I could see the huge sign for Four Cities Plaza, my actual destination. At the intersection of 87th and Cicero, going clockwise from the north, there is Chicago, Hometown, Oak Lawn, and Burbank st each corner. When I get rides home at midnight, that neon side is seen and then passed in the time it takes someone to say "up there by that sign." Walking tonight, it took me thirty minutes. I needed it, it was the opposite of building a sweat lodge. But I still hate the snow. And the best part about my walk? I didn't think about anything, not work, not writing, nothing pithy for my blog entry. It felt good to just concentrate on that big neon sign in the near distance...Wayne

The Walk I'm Walking Now

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The hinge in my neck is pretty much back in place since the sub-zeros have left town for the time being. I can crack my neck (at times) so well that it echoes on the brick at the plan and my eyesight jiggles afterwards. Weather and stress will do the same thing to my body, and, for those of you coming in late, Sid and I once bandied the idea about of doing Strangers On A Blog post, providing us each ways to tell stories about our respective hells without leaving a trail. (Well, we wouldn't if I would, oh, STOP, bringing it up, and I do think this might make another story we could co-write and then sell to some UK crime anthology because they seem to like us in England but only as a team). I work a digital color copier at my job, my boss calling me a "colorcopyologist" all-one-word, so it makes as much sense as my being Mitchum Marlboro Spartacus at the bus stop, except for the perks like, well, none come to mind. Well, leaving the hoopie-doopie technical jargon aside, the effing machine has been repaired so many times that I've basically spent my days sleeping, working, reading, and shaking my fists to the ghost of Karl Edward Wagner that he drop the Nordic weather fun and just start burning the damn south suburbs down already. I worked again today, as I will tomorrow. All by myself, against the law, but we all know I flirt with death simply by flossing my teeth or using a letter opener (to open LETTERS!). 17 days of snow in the last 30, crazy weather that matches my mood swings. Should the computer again start dropping pieces of rubber and screws tomorrow, I might take my father's service revolver to it. I wouldn't dress like Magnus, though. I think MITCHUM, ROBERT FIGHTER was a film that should've been made. If anything, I should write a damn story with thast title, ya think?.....Wayne

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Neck A Rusted Hinge

Forget my work schedule. Forget the writing projects or my self-pity and self-loathing. Its been truly hideous here with the weather here, tomorrow again dropping to twenty below, making my last post of Heston on the beach idyllic. If the fall of Western civilization is pending, count me in but only if its warm. I've had nothing to post worth saying. My concentration scattered by any number of neural responses to my body's movements, walking across the surface of an empty moon. Thing is, there are homeless people too proud to leave the cold for at least one night. I can see their collective mindset in that I, too, like to meet madness on my own terms, but the homeless ghosts of the city have always one-upped me. They are braver souls than I'll ever be...Wayne

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You Went And Did It...

I'm at work with limited resources, so I'm left with thinking of the future of mankind. Maybe it goes back to watching 12 MONKEYS. Maybe its hearing Kenny Chesney singing "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy." Most likely its yesterday's post, that casket going into the plane. Charles suggested, since I had not coined a term, that this would be an icepick and not an iceberg memory. I don't talk politics but I am still at a loss why someone hasn't Sirhan Sirhaned Bush. Unless they have tried and time travel is involved. And with each attempt, the timelines diverge. Just a few years from now, maybe more: On the one hand you get Charlton Heston cursing us all, and in the other, more dystopian future, Paul Lynde as The Ultimate Being, holding all writers and other creative types prisoner in gulags shaped like Hollywood Squares....Wayne

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flashes Before Your Eyes

I had been wanting to write about Charles's "Iceberg Memory" concept, but its too damn cold out, roughly 70 degrees (counting the wind chill) colder than it was a week ago. I finally lost that winter-gimp hood thing, replacing it with a hoodie that works about as well as a banana peel. So maybe a next best thing topic, something Steve and I went back and forth with recently. It involved an email he sent me that included a specific photo as part of the visual joke, I replied that I had seen it before and that in instances like that, seeing people in that micro-instant, what they did next or even what they are doing now. Steve commented on Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, and the nurse biting her lip as she rushes for the landing helicopter, there she is always running, always making her lower lip bloodless, but surely she passed that moment, while so many of us recall her IN that moment. Today I received another email with another photo, this one has also been around the block a few times, usually in a series. "Best Photos of '07" and all. But I saw this photo at least as far back as 2005, I'm certain a lot of you have. The casket of the dead serviceman being loaded into the passenger plane. The individual faces in the windows, some passengers not really riveted on the situation at hand. But wherever these people are, perhaps flying that same airline for business, maybe back home after that one time trip that put them in that photo op, I keep seeing them every few months, like going to a friend's house and seeing a photo on top of a shelf or television. The woman staring straight ahead, the fellow with his face tilted and kind of wedged into the window, the guy looking downward at the casket. So I don't know, there are those iceberg memories, where one sight or scent will flood your brain with all kinds of craziness or photos of people, not posing for the camera like in mug shots or family photos, frozen in time that we see over and over again. Just something that made me think about Steve's comment after I saw the photo again...Wayne

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wilhelm Screaming

(Note: sung to the the tune of "California Dreamin'") Sheb Wooley played Pvt. Wilhelm in DISTANT DRUMS (see the marquee from Chicago's Victory Theater circa 1954), and the Wilhelm Scream has been used dozens of times in film, and in my real life. well, because its a girly-man scream. Last time I used it was when I opened the plant at 6:45, my footprints the only one in the snow, then letting a wail out when I heard Dee from bindery saying hi, after entering through another door. Surprisingly, the Wilhelm Scream is used in DEATH PROOF, now one of my favorite Kurt Russell films (and I know I'm gonna get shit from some of you). But, hey, I've got a man-crush on Kurt, and if he and Ernest Borgnine were the actual stars in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, well, I'd be watching it every snowy night. But this blog entry has a path you see, one that leads back to the ubiquitous scream. After hearing Jack Nitzche's "The Last Race" and The Coasters' "Down In Mexico" on the soundtrack, I spent the morning going through my stack of cassettes. Honest-to-God & Elvis cassettes. I slip in the mix I call "Dance, Clown, Dance!"--120 minutes of pure bliss, the songs mentioned above some guys singing the Spanish version of Elvis's song (Marie's The Name Of) His Latest Flame." Aiiee, chihuahua. "Wrestlin' Women," "Tornado," "Private Eye." Don't ask me the singers names, its a mix from other mix cassettes, what they call a polak hillbilly mix. Hell, it even had "King Tut" on it. Well, I clacked it in my player, it went squeeeeee and snapped. My first Wilhelm Scream of the new year. I'm sure I can find someone to fix it, just as Steve Austin was fixed and became that Million Dollar Baby, or whatever. First the computer is my nemesis, is it now reaching out to all mechanical objects to destroy me? Will the metal shards in my arm make me fight myself like Bruce Campbell in EVIL DEAD 2? Questions abound...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

13 Monkeys

I watched 12 MONKEYS last night, hadn't seen it in about a decade. It was a great film for me, because in 1996 there were few pain medications that worked well, it was the middle of a brutal winter, and I WAS F#CKING INSANE. So many scenes in the movie seemed like flashbacks. The crazy person with no teeth on the street by the building with the pig in front. Under the elevated tracks, even. The stuff of my dreams, because my nightmares are worse. I unwittingly found a better photo, from the scene I just described, that I could match up with my Wayne/Willis lookalike. Oh and Frank Gorshin is in the movie. For every Gorshin there is a Kurt Russell, for every Abe Vigoda a Bobby the Mitch. I still hurt, but damn it all, at least I'm well past thinking I'm stuck in a dream where waking up is like clawing your way out of the earth itself...Wayne

Monday, January 7, 2008

Livin In A Van...

Damn but I look like Chris Farley in the photo. Bart and I always joke about our relative poverty by quoting Matt Foley, because we are indeed so close to the Cal Sag Channel. The record breaking warmth caught up with us finally, with several tornadoes touching down in northern Illinois and it rained like holy hell while I was getting high on laminator fumes, helping Don out as we tried to run covers for a Civics class in the Pittsburgh Public Schools that seemed to be printed on rice paper. I left work at 8, the rain was just a drizzle, but I never thought of the sewers in our little cul-de-sac being clogged. I first stepped in a pothole in our blacktop--keep in mind that I am in complete darkness under overcast skies--and thought, well, I'll jump onto the street. And was I amazed to see my feet disappear into water, I could not see my white sneakers or socks. Lots of squishing from that point on...down by the river. Wayne

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sounds of Silence

The snow will be melting this weekend, the third time this winter. From a frigid week to the mid-50s by Monday. I post these photos to show the view I have from the building I now work in (not the main plant, with that damnable Cal Sag bridge in the distance. At the intersection in the first photo, again within view from my machine, a guy got bumped by a car, then she stopped, was rear-ended and proceeded to run the guy entirely over. Cells phones were involved. When the ambulance left, there were no lights flashing, no sirens. DOA. This was a month ago, and as the snow continues to melt, I'll check to see if his blood is still visible in the concrete...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

YBH Complete

These are the covers to the YEAR'S BEST HORROR that I am in, the last nine before Karl died. Wagner was cool enough to get strings pulled so that my name appeared on the back cover of the final edition. I added the other image as an after thought, mostly because it is also shaped roughly the same, and also because it is below zero outside and I don't really want to be typing. When its this cold, even voice activation might not work. My cheeks are so cold that I sound like Abe Vigoda if I say anything at all...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Well, in The Netherlands it was, and actually I should have posted this a few days ago, so that my post heading would be correct. I just got through mentioning Kees Buis yesterday, and in today's mail comes the Dutch reprint of my very first appearance in a paperback. It still wouldn't be until 1990, when I had a story in NIGHTMARES ON ELM STREET: FREDDY KRUGER'S SEVEN SWEETEST DREAMS that I truly made my jump from small press magazines, although I still support and submit to them today (and still get rejected, as well). This cover is the exact artwork from YBH:XIV, but I do really like the garish colors of the Dutch edition. I also enjoyed "reading" the intro to my story, because I quite obviously had little to say about my so-called career, and I see listings for poetry magazines long gone, one published by a professor at Richard J. Daley College who is most likely retired the better part of this century. This time around, I am going to send Kees one of the books Robert Bloch did not personally sign to me, since he is actually sending me books from his personal library and scouring bookstores for books I might be in. Nice guy, he is. Would other not to be named bastards simply have the common decency to let us know when a book is being reprinted overseas that we could purchase a copy direct. Ah, well. Karma and all. Some editors will die and come back as trees that will be destroyed in their infancy, not for paper but to make way for some new subdivision...Wayne