November 4, 2011

Author Photo Comics – Judy Budnitz, Brian Evenson, William Gay.

This is a guest post byCalebJRoss (also known as Caleb Ross, to people who hate Js) as part of his Stranger Will Tour for Strange blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin and novella, As a Machine and Parts, in November 2011. If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, pleasecontacthim. To be a groupie and follow this tour,subscribe to the CalebJRossblogRSSfeed. Follow him on Twitter: Friend him on Facebook:

When I get bored, I get realllllyyyy bored. Time that would be better spent writing usually ends up being wasted by creating not-so-clever comics to go along with author photos that I find strange in one way or another. I give to thee, dear readers of Chris Deal’s blog, two new author photo comics (and a list of my previous attempts below). Please don’t hate me. I create these out of love.

Judy Budnitz and Brian Evenson


William Gay



Here are a few others. My apologies in advance.

August 22, 2011

VHS by Pablo D’Stair

The following is an excerpt from VHS, a literary novel by Pablo D’Stair being released in various e-formats, absolutely free-of-charge (and in limited edition print-editions-by-part through giveaways). Information on the project, including links to what is currently available, can be found at


Lexi was in the parking lot of my neighborhood, still in her car, motor going for the heat and I heard the slow pulse of some music or another in there with her.  Tapped on the window.

“Lexi, how are you?”

“We need to talk about your friend.”

She seemed pretty upset, but not in a hysterical way.


“No, Edvard.”


She told me to please get in the car because having the window open was counterproductive to the heat.  I asked could we drive out of the neighborhood, since she knew I always hated thinking about neighbors looking at me and it was bad enough already, her having been idling there, who knew what that’d looked like.

While she drove us to a nearby office park, I regretted having said “bad enough” and “idling,” thought they gave the wrong tone to things, worried her silence was as much about these poor word choices as about whatever it was with Edvard.

She waited until a song she liked finished, then turned down the radio almost all the way, undid her seatbelt to face me better so I did the same.

“Edvard keeps calling my house and leaving messages.”

“Calling your house or you personally?”

“My house.”

“Because I didn’t know Edvard knew your telephone number, let alone your house number.”

She looked at me—I wanted to defend myself but it’d be hopeless, I said I was sorry and asked her politely to continue.

“He calls my house and leaves messages where he counts.  He just counts.”

“Counts as in he says numbers?”

“Yes, Desmond.  Counts in the usual meaning of the word ‘counts,’ he says numbers, sequential numbers, otherwise I would have said he calls me up and ‘says numbers,’ meaning ‘in no particular order.’”

It was a good point.

“He counts and counts then just hangs up. But the next time he calls, he picks up from where he left off in the count.”

“Wait—I’m not being a dick by asking, I’m just curious, but how do you know it’s Edvard? He doesn’t really have a particular sound to him as far as I’d be able to tell and haven’t you only met him twice like years ago?”

“He says ‘Hi, this is Edvard Demoines, Desmond Argyle’s good friend, Desmond Argyle meaning the guy who works at the video store’ and then he starts counting.”

I scratched behind my ear, unable to stop even when I knew the skin was getting irritated.

“He introduces himself every time?”

“Only a few of the times, not every time.”

I shrugged, said I had no idea what to make of it, but that it seemed strange then added that—as much as I hated to suggest it—it could just be a coincidence, because I hadn’t really seen Edvard in a very long time, maybe he’d just started calling people and counting and it happened to be Lexi’s home number.

“Do you say on the message anywhere your name or does your mom or whoever made the message say a surname?”

“My mom? What do you mean?”

I really didn’t know why I’d said that, knowing full well Lexi lived alone and even knowing full well the content of her answering machine message.

“Did you try unplugging the machine? The phone? Do you even use your home phone?”

But she didn’t answer and I got the picture, told her I could track down Edvard and see what he thought he was up to.

“Should I say it’s freaking you out or something?”

“It isn’t freaking me out, I just want him to stop.”

Sighed, decided I would say it was freaking her out, but kept this to myself—to not say that might cause more trouble and I just wasn’t in the mood for any of this.

“Just call him, okay?”

“I will.”

“And don’t say the counting is freaking me out.”


“Because it isn’t, and if he wants it to be that might just rile him up, make him think he’s making progress.”

“But won’t he just infer that, one way or another?”

“That’s not up to me, but if he does it’s all in his own head, not something I’m countenancing, you know?”


“Just call him, alright?”



I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. When it got to be two in the morning, I began watching Infomercials and trying to get in a very gullible mind-frame, just because if I called to take part in any offer or something I wouldn’t want to be ironic about it, figured it would be defeatist that way.  Genuinely, I was interested to know how all that stuff worked and to be on the line placing an order for a music collection or a specific piece of exercise equipment or an “inventors kit” or an “entrepreneurial guidebook” or a directory of ways I could get free money from government programs.  And I could afford it, any of it.  I just wanted one to really hit me just right—the abdominal machines came the closest, physically fit people luring me, such ease and grace—but no, turned off the television eventually and blinked in the dark until my eyes got used to it enough I could probably have read a book.

Probably I should call Edvard, get that out of the way, I thought, found where I’d written his phone number down once in an old notebook, sat on the end of my bed and had a cigarette.

Got dressed, decided I’d go for a walk and call him from a pay phone someplace—it made me feel funny to think of making a call to him under the specific circumstances from one of the house phones and also I didn’t want anyone listening in, forming their own opinions on matters without the full story, maybe going so far as to entangle themselves in the whole thing.

I miserably smoked the whole way to the shopping center, unable to take any of the short cuts because it’d be too tricky in the dark and likely I’d slip and fall due to the snow and the unevenness of the ground—smoked five whole cigarettes and got to a phone only to realize I didn’t have coins.

Dialed the call collect, which turned out it might be better, put Edvard on the defensive, he’d have no way of making heads or tails out of me charging him for a call in the middle of the night, it was just a matter of him answering, then I’d have him riveted from the get.

“Where are you, are you okay?” he said after a beep.

“I’m on the phone outside Wendy’s and all.”

“By the school?”

“Yeah.  By the school.”

An odd description, but perfectly accurate—our grade school was just a short way from where I was leaning, shivering, new cigarette getting lit.

“Why are you calling Lexi and counting into her answering machine?”

He groaned, had a real exasperated tone, right away.

“That’s not me, I don’t know who’s doing that but it’s not me.  I actually sort of thought it was you, to be completely honest.”

“Bullshit, Eddie, we both know it’s you, just knock it off alright.”

“It seriously isn’t me.  You’re like the twelfth person to call me about this, I’m just tired of it, I’m not meaning to take it out on you but fuck off.”

He ranted about how in the last three days he’d gotten calls from all sorts of people—some who he knew, some who he kind of knew, some complete strangers—all telling him to stop calling up their houses or places of business just to count.  He was very upset and I started to sympathize with him.

“Imagine having to deal with this over and over, man.  At first I’m at a total loss—first two people call up and I think it’s a prank, but then this one kid calls and his mom is crying in the background, it’s a real mess and I start to realize these people genuinely think it’s me messing around with them, like I get perverse kicks from counting into telephones.  It’s making me a little insane, quite frankly, so look I just don’t want to talk about it.”

I started to apologize, but then needed to clarify one thing, which I did in as politic a manner as I could come up with.

“Now wait, if you didn’t know some of these people, even if you introduced yourself, how come they knew how to call you? They looked your number up, I guess?”

I was satisfied with my own explanation—the idea of looking him up occurred to me even while I asked—but instead Edvard said “No, in the instances where it’s strangers—because believe me, this is one of the first things I asked—whoever is making the calls leaves my number.”

“And do they always mention me?”

“As far as I know, yeah. I’d’ve thought you might be getting calls, too.”

I wondered if I was—the house had a voice mailbox, but I never checked it, didn’t think anyone did, really—the receiver did beep when I picked it up, indicating messages were there, but it had been like that forever, the mailbox pretty much abandoned.

I told Edvard I was sorry, but now he was in a better mood, seemed relieved I just saw the truth of the situation and didn’t insist on holding it against him or nursing it into a grudge.

“I mean, I can well understand that Lexi would be pissed off, if you want to you can explain it all to her, but you don’t have to if it’d be weird or you think she’d get in a fight with you.”

“Get in a fight with me?”

“Because she’d think you were lying to her, taking up with me in some plot.”

“I see.  Yeah.  Well, not for that reason, but I’ll keep it to myself.”

I told him to go back to sleep and that I would cover the cost of the call, but he told me forget it, because he had a lot of money all of a sudden and didn’t mind spending it even if there was no reason to.

February 2, 2011

Not So Out of Date

But still, pretty out of date.  Yeah, apologies for that.

Old Movies in an autobiographical story that has zombies in it.  It went up at The Molotov Cocktail and they win for best journal named after a weapon.

The Song is over at InfectiveINK and they’re just cool.  I will write more for them hopefully.

Fulgurate is over at the amazing Thundahdome (their name is really Thunderdome but I think Thundahdome works better).  They print cool people there, I think.  Bob Pastorella’s story was pretty dope, I remember that, but then so was Karpuk’s, that dude is all sorts of great.  ‘Doc’ O’Donnell (note: his real name is Mark) had a story that first issue too.  But then, don’t get me started on the second issue, the first official one, cause that shit just came out and boy is it great.  Yeah, I have to work on maintaining tone throughout my posts, but anyway, go read the new issue here.  And remember: THUNDAHDOME!

So, yeah, then I had a story ran during Do Some Damage’s Christmas Noir contest thingy.  The Christmas Spirit.  Nik Korpon, he also had a story in that contest, The Reindeer Incident.

Korpon and I are also in the BROWN PAPER PUBLISHING anthology, you’re dead and i killed you, along with Pablo D’Stair, Gregory Frye, David S. Grant, Darcia Helle, Stephen Honeycutt, Robert Johnson, Corey Mesler, Jason Michel, and Sonia Tabriz. This thing is really cool.  I could link to the free PDF you can get on the BPP site, but it only costs $5.00 on Amazon, so do something good and grab that.

I believe that’s it for now.  Please do enjoy yourselves.  I’ve at least one more story coming out soon, not too sure beyond that, but I’m trying.

December 1, 2010

Out of Date

So, yeah, it’s been a good long while since I updated this here site.  To all the people who read my blog and have wondered where I have been, well, you don’t exist, so I guess I really don’t have anything to apologize for.  So, there.

Anyway, I have been very busy with publications, so much that it’d take me several long hours to sit here and find every little thing of mine that’s out there.  The last time I counted, around about the time of the last update, I was around 80 publications.  Not sure exactly where I’m at now.  So, right now, what I’m going to do is simply add a few and try to hit the more recent ones.  At some point, well, maybe I’ll manage to track down every single little story and poem.  Perhaps I should start updating as soon as a publication comes in, but that seems a little silly.

This morning, my story Shadow went live over at Eschatology.  Cool little Lovecraft-inspired short, which is always a hoot for me to write.

A Waste of Time and Ink, a poem, is live in the latest issue of the wonderful Red Fez.   There is a great story by the esteemed Craig Wallwork in the same issue, Red Fez and Pancakes.

My story Depression is in the latest issue of MiCrow (PDF download).

A Twist of Noir is doing a great project, the 600 to 700 Challenge, where each story’s word count is also their listing in Twist’s catalog.   Fugue is number 636.  I have another story coming up in about 50 stories there.  Also, up at that there Twist of Noir, The Sea of Trees, one of my favorite stories of mine.

Fata Morgana went up in Bartleby Snopes, a journal I quite dig.

Extispicy is up in Episode 6 of In Between Altered States.  So you know, Extispicy is what they call divination using freshly spilled animal entrails.  Oh, also, in Episode 4, check out my story No Dominion.  Check out Jason Michel’s story in that same issue.  He’s one of the forces behind Pulp Metal Magazine and will be publishing soon on BPP.

Mártir is up in Rusty Typer, near the amazingly great DB Cox.

Also, speaking PMM, my story Torrent went up over there, Them Monstrous Blues, a review of Goodloe Byron’s great record, The Monstrous Blues.  I’m good at making up titles, aren’t I.  I think I haven’t mentioned this before, but my story Mass (for Henry Darger) went up in April/May.  I like that story.  Wrote it after I caught the documentary about the man, In The Realms of the Unreal.

At Sea is up at Title Fights.  Love that story and that journal.

Momentum went up at the Outsider Writers Collective.  Also, Three Poems.

Juarez, one of my numerous Mexico stories, is over at Underground Voices.

I had a story in Barrier Islands Review, but apparently not.  Bummer.  I’m actually a little pissed about that, it looked all cool and was my own version of steampunk, but what’re you going to do?

Cut Through Road was republished by  I love those guys for publishing that story.

The Whiskey Priest is over at Thrillers, Killers, and Chillers.  It’s a werewolf story in Mexico.  I like it.

Novella, a zombie story, was published in Weird Year.  I like zombie stories.

Let the Bells Ring went up in Writers’ Bloc.  I miss those guys.

You know, that might actually be it.  Probably something I’m missing.  I’ll try not to let so long go between updates in the future.  And, of course, I’m ignoring several reviews I wrote, which I probably shouldn’t, but you know, sorry.

May 2, 2010

And, lo, when it came that I was sober

Hey there.  How’re you?  That’s sweet.  Really?  You got it stuck where?  Didn’t that hurt?  Well, enough lubrication can get anything up there.  Anyway, what would you like?  Surely not.  You’re kidding.  Why?

Anyway, there’s been some slightly cool things happening of late.  Such as?

Well, my story Con Leche just went up there live at Bartleby Snopes.  This one, this is cool.  To me, at least.  I tried for a good long while to get something into there.  Yay me.

This isn’t as cool as the above, but still cool.  A random poem of mine placed third in a contest o’er at Outsider Writers.  The amazingly readable and damn cool D.B. Cox won first place.

I dug this one, a short little thing called Still Life was taken by A Twist of Noir.  Those guys are cool.  I want more stuff there, or I will when I’m back in the crime scene.

This one, The Quiescent, went to Short, Fast, and Deadly.  I actually wrote a cycle of four microstories, and the Quiescent was the first part.  Sometime I might actually do something with those other three.

That’s about it, actually.  Well, no, no, that’s not quite true.  A couple other things: My story Anhedonia, which was published some time earlier by Absent Willow Review, is one of the storySouth Million Writers Awards.  Pretty cool, considering how many other damn cool stories are up on that list.  Like who?  Seriously, just go look at the list.

Then, your’s truly (that’d be me, but probably not, i know, just go with it (if you are so inclined)) was featured along with three really smart and damn handsome men in a podcast.  Podcast?  Podcast.  The Velvet Podcast, Episode 2: Hey, is that a copy of Kiss Me Judas on your desk, Professor Meriweather. It’s cool.  I’m the weird guy.  Further, you really should listen to all the Velvet podcasts.  Most of them are from the Velvet/OWP reading that took place o’er the AWP.

And that’s about it.

Yeah, no.  I should have done this a long time back, but really, I had no honest idea what to write about, how to go about it.  So, I’ll say this: I have a book.  Cienfuegos.  Pick up a PDF o’er at the Brown Paper Publishing website, along with a ton of damn good books, or hit up Amazon and pick up the book for a paltry five dollars.  Or you could go see a matinee movie.  Something good. If you actually do want to buy it, I’d be glad to autograph and draw pictures in your copy.  I draw a mean toaster pig, but my pirate panda sucks.

March 25, 2010

We’re most likely up to date, here.

Well, there was The Man Stood in the Doorway in Everyday Weirdness in early February.
Then there was Pursuit in issue I of Crow’s Nest Magazine.

Next was Taninim at the Outsider Writer’s Collective.

Finally, there was Anniversary over at 365tomorrows.

No, not finally.  Most recent of them all was Spider Bites in the first issue of Bastards and Whores.

Earlier , I got the contract to have my story the Battle of Bloody Porch in Sonar4 Publications upcoming anthology, Throwdown, Western Horror.

Some more cool stuff coming up in the next day or two.

March 25, 2010

The New Breed

Firstly, my short Anhednia was the featured story for January’s issue of the Absent Willow Review. Probably my last story of the zombie persuasion for quite a while, though there are still a few slated for publication. I’ll let you know when those anthologies are out.

Speaking of anthologies, Eternal Night: A Vampire Anthology is now on the virtual shelves. I just got my copy yesterday, and I’m already enjoying it greatly. Perhaps, if I have the time, I’ll be giving you a story by story review. So far, I’ve read Axel Taiari’s “A Light to Starve,” and buddy is that something fun. He seems to hitting the Huston example of vampires, with emphasis on the clan aspect, but though substituting the Manhattan base of Huston’s Joe Pitt Casebooks with Paris and adding in the “hunters” of the church, perhaps a reference to Carpenter’s Vampires and John Woods’ warrior priest. Regardless of the touchstone’s, Axel’s prose is top notch and world creating, and my piece, “Goat Sucker Blues,” suffers by having to follow up that one.

If you want to read up on vampires of a distinctly none Rice and Myers vein, definitely check this collection out. I’m looking forward to hitting “Amiko” by Simon West-Bulford, “Suicide Angels” by the beast, Christopher Dwyer, the tall one Richard Thomas‘ “Transmogrify”, Edward J. Rathke’s “Song for Shadows”, Caleb J. Ross‘s “Born Again Michael”, and “Devil Children Unite” by Nik Korpon. Sure, there are other authors in the mix, but the above gents are some of the most talented writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

And, of course, that brings up some other rather cool news:

Otherworld Publications of Louisville, KY is excited to announce the signing of Chicago author, Richard Thomas for his debut novel, Transubstantiate, for release in June of 2010.

With this being the debut novel for both Otherworld Publications and Richard Thomas, they are thrilled to reveal that they will offer a signed, limited, hard cover edition with special features as well as a paperback version at its release.

About Richard:

He was the winner of the ChiZine Publications2009 “Enter the World of Filaria” contest. His short story “Maker of Flight” was chosen by Filaria author Brent Hayward and Bram Stoker Award-Winning editor Brett Alexander Savory. Some of his publishing credits include Cemetery Dance (Shivers VI, early 2010), Living DeadPress (Eternal Night: A Vampire Anthology), 3:AM Magazine, Word Riot,Dogmatika, The Oddville Press, Colored Chalk, Cause & Effect, Gold Dust,Vain, Nefarious Muse, Troubadour 21, Cherry Bleeds and Opium.

In his spare time he edits and designs for ColoredChalk and Sideshow Fables and is a workshop moderator at The Cult (

He is currently writing his second novel, a neo-noir, transgressive thriller entitled Disintegration. Richard is also a member of the Horror Writers Association.

Richard lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago where he has worked as an art director for the past 14 years. He was born in St. Louis, MO, attended Webster Groves High School, and did his undergraduate studies at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. He is currently pursuing an MFA at Murray State University in Murray, KY. (note: he is also rather tall.)

About Transubstantiate:

“They say Jimmy made it out. But the postcards we get, well, they don’t seem…real.”

When an experiment with population control works too well, and the planet is decimated, seven broken people are united by a supernatural bond in a modern day Eden. Most on the island are fully aware of this prison disguised as an oasis. Unfortunately, Jimmy is on the mainland, desperate to get back, in a post-apocalyptic stand-off, fighting for his survival and that of his unborn child. Back on the island, Jacob stares at the ocean through his telescope and plots his escape, reluctant to aid the cause. Marcy tries to hide from her past, sexual escapades that may be her saving grace. X sits in his compound, a quiet, massive presence, trapped in his body by ancient whispers and yet free in spirit to visit other places and times. Roland, the angry, bitter son of Marcy is determined to leave, and sets out on his own. Watching over it all is Assigned, the ghost in the machine. And coming for them, to exact revenge, and finish the job that the virus started, is Gordon. He just landed on the island and he has help.

Transubstantiate is a neo-noir thriller, filled with uncertainty at every portal, and jungles infiltrated with The Darkness. Vivid settings, lyrical language, and a slow reveal of plot, motivation, past crimes and future hope collide in a showdown that keeps you guessing untilthe final haunting words.

Transubstantiate: to change from onesubstance into another.


Otherworld Publications of Louisville, KY is thrilled to announce the signing of author Nik Korpon for the release of Stay God in December of 2010.


Nik has been published in numerous magazines and journals, including 3:AM, Out of the Gutter Cause and Effect, Gold Dust, Colored Chalk, Troubadour21, Sex and Murder, The Mechanics Institute Review, and Sideshow Fables, as well as the upcoming Shadow Kindred Anthology from Living Dead Press. His novella Old Ghosts is currently being serialized on Troubadour He also has a chapbook forthcoming in late 2010. He reviews books for the Outsider Writers Collective, co-hosts Last Sunday, Last Rites, a monthly reading series in Baltimore, and is a Fiction Editor for Rotten Leaves Magazine. Somewhere between all of that, he is writing his second novel.(note: he has tattoos.)


Damon lives a content life, playing video games and dealing drugs from his second-hand store while his girlfriend, Mary, drops constant hints about marriage. If only he could tell her his name isn’t really Damon. If only he could tell her who he really is. But after he witnesses a friend’s murder, a scarlet woman glides into his life, offering the solution to all of his problems. His carefully constructed existence soon shatters like crystal teardrops and he must determine which ghosts won’t stay buried—and which ones are trying to kill him—if he wants to learn why Mary has disappeared.

Plus, I hear cool things about a couple other writers in that group, and once I have the go ahead, I’ll be doing a bit more whoring.

It feels good to not be sick.

March 25, 2010

More Crap.

2010 has started off in an interesting way for me. first two days of the year/decade have given me my first two publications of the year/decade.

First off, there was Chinaski’s Nirvana over at Oprah Read This, a very cool limited-run online-anthology of sorts. Some really, really good stuff exists on that page, I recommend you hit it with a vengeance.

Our Lady of the Shadows went live over at Flashes in the Dark. A story about Santa Muerte, I’m leaning to being proud of this one.

Just heard, for sure, that a letter of mine will feature in Letters from the Dead, an anthology that will be published later this year by Library of the Living Dead. It concerns zombies, so you should enjoy that.

Oh, also, part two of the Troubadour Horror Zone went up the other day, featuring an essay of mine concerning werewolves, as well as a story, Bloodlines, by Rick Huffman. Part 3 should go up before too long, as well as part 4 of my series, Throw Back.

March 25, 2010

Fairytale of New York

Chrismas time, once again, has come. I know, seems damn near every year Christmas comes out of no where, considering the sudden replacement of all the Halloween merchandise with the wreaths and yuletidings on All Saints’ Day and the unholy madness of Black Friday, the almost obscene consumption that occurs around this time of year. Look, I’m not going to get into that, I promise. Considering the still uncertain financial outlook, yeah, I concede to you that the monetary rush of Christmas is quite important. Still, that’s not what I came here aiming to talk about with you there, dear reader. The reason, of course, is the season.

Sorry about that.

I was thinking to myself earlier today, Chris, I thought to myself, because of course I think in the 3rd person, Chris, what’s the best Christmas song of them all?

The answer was quite easy. Before I reveal the results of my exhaustive study, I want to ask you a question: what’s the best Christmas movie of them all?

Die Hard.

Okay, fine, that’s my opinion, but still, it is commonly acknowledged (among men of a certain age) as a great Christmas movie, and who am I to go against the flow?

Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of them all, though it hardly matches the expectations among the general public as to what a Christmas movie should include. There’s the borderline alcoholic New York beat cop flying across the country to spend time with his estranged wife, which puts him in contact with a group of European thieves masquerading as terrorists, and he, of course, kills them all. Mostly. He kills a lot of them, and saves some people while he does it. I’m not saying John McClane is an analogue of Jesus, but I’m not not saying that.

Okay, I’m not saying that.

By setting a standard, and by now legendary, action film on Christmas, we have an interesting juxtaposition of violence and Christmas tidings that gave the world the sentence, scrawled across the chest of a dead German, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

Merry Christmas, indeed.

It’s the two sides of the coin, the low-brow violence (and know, I really hate calling it that), or the “Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker” attitude, and, well, the Christmas time of year that makes Die Hard so entertaining and so damned perfect for Christmas’ Eve viewing (which I will be doing this evening).

That, of course, brings me to the best Christmas song of them all, the one that won out easily on my exhaustive study (100% out of one person questioned. So what if that one person was me?):

Fairytale of New York, by the Pogues.

Believe it or not (but seriously, believe it), I’m not the only person with this view. In fact, this would hardly come as controversial. It was voted best Christmas song for three years in polling done by VH1 UK, as well as numerous other accolades.

Fairytale of New York, inspired by a novel of the same name by JP Donleavy, is the lonely story of an Irish immigrant spending Christmas Eve in the drunk tank, something you don’t see in any other Christmas tale. This young man, after hearing an older inebriate do some singing from “That Old Mountain Dew,” does some remembering in his lowly state, thinking on a woman he met back in New York City, and of the love affair that ends bitterly. “You´re a bum, you´re a punk,” sings Kirsty MacColl, whose angelic voice turns devilish. “You´re an old slut on junk,” Shane MacGowan responds, “Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed.”

“You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last,” MacColl.” It should be noted that the BBC tried to censor “slut” and “faggot” in 2007, only to receive so many complaints that they saw the error of their ways. It should be noted that, and of course I have only Wikipedia to back me up on this, in many parts of Ireland, “faggot” is a derisive term used for the lazy.

The songs heads back to the drunk take, and MacGowan’s narrator, who leaves the audience with a feeling of hope and love, despite his present conditions and the way he and MacColl’s character left things. “You took my dreams from me when I first found you,” MacColl says, to which we hear MacGowan saying, “I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own. Can’t make it all alone, I’ve built my dreams around you.”

Still, you have to ask yourself, how could such a song, one that is frankly quite depressing for the majority of its runtime, so beloved? As Helen Brown said in a recent article in the Telegraph, “It’s the perfect sentiment for Christmas – a time which highlights the disparity between the haves and have nots around the world. Those of us lucky enough,” she continues, “to spend the day with friends and families by a cosy fire with a full stomach think of the lonely, the homeless and the hungry.” When you hear this song, you either are the have or the have not, you either are thankful for what you have in the face of so many who will go without, or you take comfort in knowing the world is full of others sharing your lot.

So take a few minutes and listen to Fairytale of New York, lift a drink to your lips if you are of the mind, enjoy the holiday season, enjoy the message and not the commerce, if you have someone you love, tell them, if you are alone, well, tell yourself this: If the world still has Shane MacGowan walking around, new teeth and all, then there’s still some good, here, and find it no matter how.

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won’t see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I’ve got a feeling
This year’s for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It’s no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing “Galway Bay”
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around you

March 25, 2010

The Fives of ohohoh9

This is a guest post from Caleb J Ross, author of the chapbook Charactered Pieces: stories, as part of his ridiculously named Blog Orgy Tour. Visit his website for a full list of blog stops. Charactered Pieces: stories is currently available from OW Press (or Visit him at

Lists. Everyone’s doing them. And based off of Chris’s first line of his first post at this blog, following the pack is an acceptable way to do things. Truly. If my best friend was to jump off of a cliff, would I? Probably. There would evidentially be a valid reason for it.

So, here’s my jump, a few best of 2009 lists. The best books, the best blogs, and the best cigars I happened across in 2009.

Books (buy these):

1. Last Days by Brian Evenson: I’ve been following Evenson’s work since Contagion, and since have read nearly every book he’s written (a hard thing to do considering the many, many projects he’s constantly churning out). I can say with some authority that Last Days could be Evenson’s best. The Wavering Knife may just edge it out (pun intended), but if so, barely.
2. The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Dutton: friends are likely tired of me pushing this book. Everyone should read this, artists and non-artists, both. Dutton makes a compelling case for art having a genetic purpose, above mere aesthetics. This book makes me feel valuable to society.
3. Underworld by Don Delillo: If every Delillo book is this good, I’m angry that I didn’t start him sooner. I have Cosmopolis on my shelf right now. Fingers crossed I didn’t get to Delillo’s best, first.
4. City of Thieves by David Benioff: I want to hate Benioff. He’s a successful screenwriter (Brothers, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Kite Runner, Troy, and 25th Hour), he’s married to Amanda Peet, AND he can write beautiful narrative fiction (his story collection, When the Nine’s Roll Over is also amazing). If I were a hipster, Benioff would be my Pabst Blue Ribbon: I’d pretend he’s my dirty little secret, but truthfully, the world has been taking him in for years.
5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: Who knew Nabokov could be so funny? Seriously, Lolita is, despite the pedophilia, a very funny book.

Blogs (RSS these):

1. The Self-Publishing Review: No matter how much Jane Smith (rightfully) destroys the self-published books sent to her, hopeful authors continue to seek her reviews. She is always sensible in her criticisms, yet the authors more often than not feel compelled to defend their terrible manuscripts. I would hope this blog to be a deterrent for authors who are often simply not ready for publication. I know that there are some great self-published books out there. Fortunately for me, and the other readers of TSPR, those books apparently aren’t sent in for review.

2. Lit Drift: Lit Drift manages to provide great literary content without the pompous attitude of many lit blogs. Here, one can read an article called “Everything I Know About Writing I Learned From The 650-Pound Virgin” right after one called “Dying Is Fun…And Profitable,” and come away from both with a sense of time well-spent.

3. Caustic Cover Critic: I’m a follower of a few cover design blogs. Not that I am professionally involved in any way (though I did lay out David Blaine’s Antisocial and I did the art and design for my chapbook, Charactered Pieces, images of both available here). I simply enjoy the subject. I like Caustic Cover because it isn’t afraid to make subjective judgments. I think more commentary on commercial design should incorporate the subjective with the objective.

4. How Publishing Really Works: A great hub of information about the back-end workings of the publishing industry. Don’t expect any startling revelations here, but do expect a fair amount of news that might otherwise be tough to find.

5. Bukowski’s Basement: It’s called Bukowski’s Basement! I don’t love Bukowski’s work, but his persona works for me. Anthony Venutolo has got a pretty nice nook going for him here.

Cigars (smoke these):

NOTE: I’m partial to a certain type of cigar, so I don’t venture too far. You may notice a trend with the five below (hint: Drew Estates). NOTE #2: I am not rich. I save and save to afford a couple cigars every now and then.

1. Drew Estates Natural Irish Hops

2. Drew Estates ACID Toast

3. Drew Estates Natural Pimp Stick (I’m embarrassed by the name. When smoking, I suggest first removing the ring entirely so as to avoid sneers when people try to read the label.)

4. Drew Estates ACID Roam

5. Drew Estates JAVA Wafe: the shape of these (a rectangle profile) is a bit gimmicky; I’ll give you that. I’d prefer a traditional round version. I’d also prefer that Drew Estates cigars didn’t cost so damn much.


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