hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘horror’

An Announcement Regarding Some Of My Books

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2022

This is one of what I expect will be several announcements of some cool or groovy or awesome or for some maybe a ho hum (hopefully not too many of the latter!) piece of news/info regarding my writing career, my authorship, the status of some of my old, out of print books, and some other things I’ve been busy as hell working on since last summer. I hope someone will appreciate some of the info I’ll be putting out.

If you look at most any of my profiles that have to do with writing, whether it be info on this site, or perhaps my Poets & Writers Directory listing or my Authors Guild profile or even my Goodreads Author profile among many you could find, you’d find a couple of things that might stand out. 1) This actually is no surprising, but it’s been disappointing. Virtually every books I’ve written that was published has been out of print for awhile, some far, far too long despite some going into three and four press runs. Because of this, what little supply various retailers or booksellers had slowly dwindled to nothing and since then some books have been relatively easy to find used but most have been very difficult and some literally totally impossible. All but one of my books were $10 or less (Cells was $20 or $25, but it was a huge book). So I’ve kept my eyes open for the past decade just looking occasionally at what was out there, what the list prices were, what was in demand, etc. Those of you who have visited this site may have noticed a tab for a page I have at the top of the homepage titled “My Books — Crazy Prices” and some of them WERE crazy! I think that was back in 2011 and you can look at some screenshots for yourself but one example was two new copies of Cells, being sold by third party vendors on Amazon for $100 and $170 respectively! Nuts. One place was offering to rent students a copy of The Napalmed Soul for $65 per semester. (I’m updating that webpage with new, current screenshots of what’s out there now.) I’ve moved a lot over the course of my life, close to 35 times. During all of those moves, I had to get rid of stuff, dump stuff, I lost stuff and some movers were nice enough to lose or trash a ton of my stuff, the last group from two years ago succeeding in losing over half of the magazines, newspapers, etc., that I was ever published in — I’m talking tons of boxes with hundreds or more of contributor copies. To top it off, they lost EVERY damn copy of all but one of my own books! And not only were they out of print, but some of the early, distant publishers were very small presses and were long gone themselves, and as I mentioned, over half of my books were/are literally impossible to find on the market anywhere, any time, so I’ve been screwed out of any copies of my own books with one exception. Which has really ticked me off. I wanted a copy or two of each for my own library, and frankly I wouldn’t have minded a few more to get back into the stores or on the marketplace somehow since several have remained in demand for so unbelievably long. And I’ve gone years without seeing any.

The point is I haven’t had ANY of my own books for many years and I’ve wanted some for god’s sake! So a couple of months ago when I couldn’t sleep one night I was puttering around in the basement and found a biggish box labeled Places, opened it up to discover quite a few copies of that book. Yay! However, for whatever reason, despite being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and some very good reviews and press, that book really hasn’t retained the value that some others have, so I was elated when a week later, I found a small white box behind some curtains against a basement wall that was labeled Shadows and I thought surely I’m not that lucky. But I was! Barely a fraction of the number of copies I’d found the week before, but still more than 20 and not only did a few major libraries’ Special Collections want a copy, but that book has been far more successful than I ever anticipated and is one of my most ripped off and pirated books (that is a different ticked off story) and its value has remained much higher than the original retail list price and at times has gone up to crazy figures. And I have screenshots, including ones of various pirate sites and IP thief sites, but I came across one a couple of weeks ago illegally selling a PDF copy for $100! For a $7 book! All of these criminals have been selling my stuff for years, but more and more the past few years, and I’ve not gotten a dime for it. In fact, I discovered last year they’re even selling my published scholarship for students to buy and use as their own and some of my papers do big business! Shocking. I never knew, I’m not very important, who’s heard of me, I never got a penny for those peer-reviewed publications and these assholes are making a killing because I’ve seen what some are charging. The worst of it is, academics don’t make a dime from publishing original research, at least not in the social sciences. You’re lucky if you get a contributor’s copy because I didn’t for at least a third of the journals that published my work. (Yes, I’m on Google Scholar, which isn’t remotely accurate about my work and citations. You can find me here if interested.) Anyway, what I found inspired me to start opening boxes I could both reach and maybe could physically handle — something embarrassing and difficult to admit as I was always strong but no longer am. So recently I found a small box within a larger box within an unopened wardrobe box and I was elated to find it had copies of all but a couple of my books! With some, there were just one or two copies, but with a few others, there were dozens! THUS, the point of all of this is those books of mine that I have sufficient surplus, after I donate 2-3 copies to some Special Collections libraries, will be the object of my focus as I attempt to find out how to get some out onto the marketplace, both ones that have been in massive demand and maybe some that never were listed for sale (predating Amazon — god!) in the first place, so I’m not sure if I can get them carried again by Amazon and other similar stores — I have an official Amazon Author page which has seen titles sadly decline from 9 to 7 to 5 to 3, etc. I approached Amazon about carrying some digital or tactile copies once more and they asserted they would only deal with the publisher when it came to that, and/or whomever holds the copyright rights. Which is me. And I had had no interaction or even knowledge of this one particular publisher in years, so I tried to look him up in New Orleans and found that he’d died a few years ago and there no longer was any company. Which got me worried. I started looking for the publishers and companies of most of the books I was interested in and found virtually none were either still alive or findable and most of the companies were long gone. I don’t know if Amazon will accept that and I intend to consult the Authors Guild legal department for advice, In the meantime, I see no reason why I can’t announce now my intended goal of making some available for sale here on this site, Yay! Of course I must figure out a way to accomplish that. I have a PayPal account and had a business account for some years for one or two businesses I owned before retiring. I also had a Stripe account. I suspect PayPal would be accommodating, but it’d be the logistics of simply setting it up here, provided they give me a go. Until then, I’ve figured out a possible way of making this feasible and workable until making it more obvious and official looking. I know how to do this from when I was a merchant previously, as well as a consumer. You can make a PayPal payment by sending it, provided you have a PayPal account, to the email address associated with the seller’s PayPal account (me) and unless things have changed over the past couple of years, it was that easy. There are other options too, but that’d be the first I’d explore. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, ideas, etc., I’d be grateful for any comments to help get this accomplished. I have no planned date or time for my next announcement, but it won’t be one involving sales. It should be pretty cool and I think many of you will dig it. Thanks and have a good one! — Scott

PS: some cover shots of some of the little books I may be trying to make available to the public…

My book Places (Sterling House Press, 1995), Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.


Grungy Ass Swaying (1993). A collaboration with Paula Weinman that I regret enormously. Raunchy and naturally representing me in the Library of Congress!

Distant Visions, Again and Again (1994). Probably known as my only “tranquil” book, the reviewers generally liked it while noting I apparently was taking a break between raunchiness and violence. Hah!

Shadows Before the Maiming (Gothic Press, 1999). One of 5 books I had published in 1999, I didn’t have any major expectations for this one. I found myself surprised to be reviewed, labeled, listed, indexed, cataloged, etc., as a Horror writer and this evidently was a book of Horror poetry. So much so that it was listed in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror for 2000 (Carol & Graf), as well as both the book and myself reviewed and listed in magazines, books, on websites, etc., and despite that appearing in 1999, it continues to this day and that book has remained in high demand and is viewed as a collector’s item that’s typically very hard to find.


How about some screenshots of pirate sites of groups ripping me off, making some of these books available illegally with me naturally not getting a dime, nor having even known of it until I started looking last summer. Nice gig if you can get it, I suppose…

For your amusement.


This tricky outfit looks virtually identical to the plausibly legit Open Library where one checks out a book at a time, as with a real library. This outfit is clearly trying to emulate the real thing while drawing people in to swindle them and the authors. I have an older screenshot with their insignia at the top looking identical, but it read “Digital” Library rather than the actual Open Library they’re now screwing. One of the many ways you can tell it’s a pirate site is — most do this and it’s clever — after listing title, author, ISBN, publication info, etc. — they, and most others, then try to confuse any bots or web crawlers that might spot them for what they actually are by filling the text of their webpages with garbage containing keywords — title — but in relation to what someone would literally expect, usually scientific or agricultural and as a result, they get passed over due to their “educational” content. It’s always a game of catch up with criminals.

A link for an illegal copy of my popular Never-Ending Cigarettes. Notice the textual gibberish.

Notice the identity of the seller in the cute little URL. I’ve spent MONTHS trying to access that site and it’s like it knows I’m the damn author or something because it’s blocked me every time no matter what browser, what device, what IP. Until finally … the next screenshot.

Note the standard pirate tactic, or one of them. Totally accurate book info, including even IDs from WorldCat, etc., and available in 5 different digital formats, but look at the content below and once again, biology — cells. Way to beat the good bots. This is an educational site, obviously. Many of them load the keyword, usually the title, into the gibberish 2-3 times per sentence which I would think should be a red flag to a properly coded bots, but I guess their AI isn’t as advanced as one would think…

And now for the amazing SHADOWS


This one really gets me. No physical copy of course because no one has any (except me now!). But a PDF version and for $100??? I never made that for the whole damn press run! ASSHOLE! THIEF! And just flat out brazen about it. Grrr…

The next and final one is hard for me to comprehend as a service because I can’t imagine them having any customers — for me. It’s a company called Dataresearchers and I guess they’re legit, maybe, and they don’t appear to be ripping me off at all. They not selling anything by me as far as I’ve seen. What they ARE selling are custom writing services to students for outrageous amounts of money and the two ads I’m about to show in a collage so it’s one graphic just blows my mind because I don’t have any idea at all who in the hell would pay anything for these services. I’m not that big or important or even known! Check it out…

Yes, you are not hallucinating. On the left, they’ll charge a handy fee to write a custom BOOK REVIEW (???) on my Shadows Before the Maiming? I actually AM being taught in some universities and am in some textbooks, but I can assure you it’s not for “horror poetry.” Rather, original literary criticism on authors like Yeats and Jane Smiley among others. A book review? As crazy as that is, even crazier is the service advertised on the right. They will write a “custom essay” INCLUDING a graduate thesis or freaking doctoral dissertation on me — Scott C. Holstad! For ungodly amounts of money. Frankly, it’s nearly a compliment, to be honest. But also to be honest, I think if I ever found out that anyone anywhere were actually doing their dissertation on me for any reason, I’d probably have a heart attack on the spot from the shock! There’s a greater chance of me flying to Mars on my own with no vehicle, oxygen, anything than someone getting their doctorate on me.


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On Thomas Ligotti’s Book, Death Poems

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 7, 2022

Death PoemsDeath Poems by Thomas Ligotti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m disappointed because I had been told I would love this book, I guess because I’ve had some “horror poetry” books published over the years. Mebbe so, but I’ve had far more books of poetry in other forms published. It’s simple, and I kind of feel this largely applies to this author’s entire canon — I like the themes, tone, morbid world view (much of which I tend to share), but that doesn’t make this guy a good writer and for god’s sake, I doubt anything could save this train wreck of so-called poems that don’t suck because they are formal or because they’re confessional or populist or postmodern or experimental or anything. He’s just a really bad poet! And honestly there’s no shame in that. It’s irritated the shit out of me to see and hear more and more people over the past couple of decades excitedly telling everyone they write poetry. At this point in time, EVERYONE thinks they’re a poet, and damn good at that. Trouble is that’s bullshit and always has been! Just because you throw together a few lines, maybe even self-publish a small volume of verse, doesn’t make you a fucking poet! I cringe every time I have to go to a wedding or funeral cause I know I’ll hear the worst kind of crap written by sincere, well meaning people. And they’ll get applause. From an audience that doesn’t realize the stuff they grew up reading and studying 50 years ago is so obsolete and a part of the distant past, they don’t realize they’re both showing themselves to be amateurs and a bit ignorant. Not that one has to be on the cutting edge. Many mainstream poets I can’t stand are still GOOD at their craft. Many populist poets, spurned by the Academy, like Bukowski, despite the image he fostered, knew how to write a poem and good ones. He knew the literary and poetic “rules” AND he knew how and when to bend or break them and pull it off effortlessly. Here’s a very famous American writer nearly everyone in the world has heard of and who has millions of fans (including me). Could tell a mean story, had real talent and influence. Most people can name more than one of his novels. But how many people know the titles of Jack Kerouac’s books of poetry? Right, no one. And I have them all. The fact is, no matter how famous or successful a writer he was, he was by god one of the absolute worst published poets of the past century! Wretched shit! Just cause you think you know poetry or you put lines down or a couple of people make flattering comments doesn’t mean you’re a real poet and certainly doesn’t mean you’re GOOD (using Kerouac as an example). People object and argue It’s subjective, and there is a bit of truth to that, but that’s not limited to poetry. That’s the argument made and the difference between the hard sciences and the soft or social sciences. You could make a legitimate argument that not only are poetry and literature subjective, but so are philosophy, religion, the arts, social studies, etc. But that’s why some general guidelines exist in each of these areas. That’s why you will study Hegel, Sartre, and Schopenhauer in philosophy but if you innocently (and ignorantly) ask virtually any philosopher or philosophy professor why we don’t study Ayn Rand, you typically get one of two reactions: side splitting laughter lasting uncomfortably too long or a hostile lecture about what a lightweight dittobrain brain she was, a “faux” intellectual whose “school” of philosophy she created is viewed as little different from how L Ron Hubbard is generally viewed. And they’re right about her. And just to prove I don’t have an anti-Rand bias, I was devastated when I found that one of my favorite writers and philosophers, a damn Nobel winner, ALSO typically isn’t included in Philosophy syllabi or viewed as a “real” philosopher — Camus! And I’ve long thought he was one of the three greatest existential philosophers in history, a view not shared by the “pros.” See, there are guidelines that can be employed that AREN’T necessarily in black and white, thus allowing a Donald Hall and Mark Strand to co-exist with Bukowski and Ferlinghetti as “legit” poets — even if that doesn’t always sit well with them. So Ligotti? I’ve gone on too long now and am tired, but it doesn’t matter if your language is formal, informal, experimental, etc. It still has to flow, to “sound” good on the page. If formal, what fits into the rules of rhyme, meter, stanzas, etc., must sound as natural as possible, must flow, not draw attention to itself and detract from the overall poem because it feels and seems forced. And while it’s harder to argue for rule adherence in free verse, just that one topic still applies. The language should actually seem and sound MORE natural, normal, flow comfortably, even in the case of surrealists or LANGUAGE poets. Because they know what they’re doing, what rules they’re intentionally breaking and why they MAY be successful at it. Ligotti’s poetry is made up of lines, words choices, a stilted dictation and lack of flow; it distracts from any point or message he may or may not be attempting to convey. It’s amateurish, buffoonish. It sounds like someone’s illiterate grandpa might. Fans may protest and argue “That’s the point, you dolt! He’s TRYING to make people uncomfortable with his poetry and his writing style, word choices, grammar usages, etc., are all part of that. How stupid are you?” (Meaning me.) Well, a rebuttal that’s I think many would agree with is been there, done that. It’s not remotely original but is definitely legitimate. I’ve done that myself with a number of poems and short stories when I was experimenting with postmodern metafiction. But while legit, just because someone may attempt to do that doesn’t mean they succeed or are any good. Which is the case here. I’ll end by throwing out a few names of authors who did exactly that, but SUCCESSFULLY, and are well known and loved by many (though still rarely in academia). One considered one of the best was William Burroughs, starting with his infamous Naked Lunch and most of his work thereafter. He and a partner are credited with popularizing and honing the “cut up method” to create almost meaningless text but still text one could get something out of. Ironically he was not the first, as Tristan Tzara and the Dadaist movement actually created and generated that technique. In the horror genre, there are fiction writers and the occasional poet who venture there (and also not “straight” horror, but more like dark surrealism that can incorporate horror elements). In no particular order, some who come to mind might include Anthony Burgess, who was SO linguistically experimental in his shock novel A Clockwork Orange that he had to spend an ungodly amount of time inventing a new damn language to fit the characters and the book (complete with glossary at back). Obviously Vonnegut, but some more current writers in the field who may occasionally succeed where Ligotti does not might include Boston, Crawford, Wayne AS, and most obvious of all, the late Harlan Ellison. I’m not saying this author has to be or become them. But he’d be well advised to do what most serious, professional writers do, and that’s study and analyze them to see where and how he/one can grow and improve, with your own voice intact ultimately. But until Ligotti shows evidence he’s done that, or from little I know of him, even gives a shit, I’ll continue to feel generous in giving 2 stars to this book and he’ll forever be relegated to the barely knowns, the wannabes, the amateurs who some think know what they are doing when such writers really don’t. Not recommended.

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Thoughts on the book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 4, 2021

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After WarmingThe Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not new in terms of primary predictions but just a hell of a lot closer than 20-25 years ago. And it’s scary as shit. Naturally the US is just one of a handful of countries that not only doesn’t give a shit (our conservative owners) but stunningly STILL argues fantasy vs reality. Of course those with brains know what is going on. The uber-rich, banks, massive corporations, the boards, top execs, etc., naturally know all of this is true and they have the whole time. But they fight bitterly to refute reality and the rest of the world — why? There’s an excellent book out there (Bruce Cannon Gibney’s A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America) with a premise that baby boomers are literally a generation of sociopaths so selfish and greedy, they’re willing to sell out their kids and grandkids and, hell, the whole damn world, content to let the earth and all on it get destroyed — in large part due to THEM and actions and inactions. Why? What will this accomplish? They’re so unbelievably blinded by narcissism, greed and power that they somehow can’t see, even as they massively fund new institutes to research extending the (their) human life span and much more, yet these big, rich mini-Kings are so fucking stupid that they seem not have realized what every powerful peoples throughout history (the Egyptians? Aztecs?) found out — you can’t take it with you! Yet they act like you can. If they’re not amassing wealth to pass down their family line/corporate descendants—and they’re not because in their continuing denial that the earth is not flat, that the galaxy spins, that humanity has set in motion, already underway, the virtual complete destruction of the earth so there will be NO descendants to speak of to pass on billion dollar inheritances. And they’ve more than proven they’re just fine with that. So the net result is what exactly? Something as basic and juvenile as the race to reach the finish line and “win” because you’re the richest? That’s brain dead stupid. But leave it to the Me Generation to not think rationally or for the good of others when considering the future.

As far as I can figure, when you die, you *might* leave one or two things to prove you existed. First, a legacy of some sort. It doesn’t have to involve fame, wealth, anything. Families can pass on heirlooms, admiration for certain religious leaders and a variety of notable people (NOT as defined by Wikipedia’s criteria) might leave a famous legacy for a period of time. Writers, artists and musicians can leave various legacies, as can certain inventors, generals, scientists, etc. You get the picture. Do you want your legacy to resemble Donald Trump’s? Cause that’s basically what we’re talking about. People who are often quickly forgotten because they leave no legacy of any real value. Except in some cases, my second example of what people can leave. Wealth, property, investments, inheritances, etc. But we’ve already established those responsible for this crisis or in denial don’t care about that. They’re willingly sentencing their grandchildren to death along with everyone else so the second example is moot. Yet surely some of them must know this. But apparently not care or we would be joining the rest of the world to try to save the planet.

So the only answer is none. Pure selfish greed to amass as much money and power as possible despite the fact that A) they really don’t want to pass it on and B) they’ve already ensured that ultimately they won’t since 2-3 generations later, their destruction of the world will have been complete. (The US DNI annual threat assessment of the US Intelligence Community for 2021, given to Congress in April labels climate change as, after dealing with COVID-19 and its aftereffects, the second greatest transnational threat to America’s greatest security and humanitarian threat there is and it provides plenty of recent examples and near-term concerns. And this is not new. I recall one of the leaders on the Joint Staff as early as about 2005 stating that global warming/climate change posed one of America’s greatest national security threats — source forgotten, insufficient time to look it up, sorry. If you don’t believe me and want to see the report or if you DO believe or are on the fence or whatever, you can find it available through the ODNI here.) So anyway this makes Reason A moot too, because what good is it if you leave a legacy of art, music, architecture, writing when it will encounter the same fate as Reason B thanks to the same cause for the same reason. Which again is what exactly? They’re the new Egyptians, Aztecs, whatever, but they’ll be the first successful ones? That’s the only possible reason, it seems, which proves their brilliance and superiority are bullshit. The Me Generation, despite a glut of educated, successful faux geniuses have never given a shit about anyone but itself, proven over the decades by all they’ve done and continue to do. Maybe they should be called The Worst Generation instead, cause Baby Boomers is too generic a term for what they’ve been and done. And honestly that’s hard for me to say considering my spouse, friends, cousins and I are all either Baby Boomers or on the back end cusp, so I’m indicting us as well (though I think a good argument could be made that it was the large percentage of Boomers prior to the last two years who are mostly responsible, but that’s both biased and a subject for a different piece).

This book? Well written, important book. The subject is more of a horror story to me than simple nonfiction, but we can’t hide our heads in the sand. This is necessary. Recommended.

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Some More Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 8, 2020

Being ThereBeing There by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn’t say. I actually prefer Kosinki’s The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author’s best truly “postmodern” work, translated well to the screen, and perfectly holds a mirror up to society. Will they even glance at it? I did. Kicked my ass. Couldn’t be more recommended, but for those of you don’t like minimalist postmodern, you may find yourself bored, possibly not picking up on some subtleties, or simply unimpressed. Or you may actually walk away feeling more and more impressed the more you think about it. (In fact, I was so impressed with it that I wrote a short paper on it from a Reader Response position and it was published in a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed journal: The Arkansas Review. It’s titled “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero.” It’s actually online somewhere, but I don’t know what the policy here for giving our URLs is, so if you’re interested at all, you can either do a search or go to my blog listed on my profile (hankrules2011), with hyperlink, and find it listed among a few publications.) Feel free to leave comments re your own observations, if you’ve read it. It’s definitely not a universally admired or appreciated text. Which makes it all the more delicious for me. 😉

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MashMash by Richard Hooker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always loved this book! I think it was a unique and special book for its time, a lightweight counter to the heavy stuff going on around it, such as Catch 22, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange and the like, all of which are great, but are a reflection of their times, as well as what was going on socially, culturally and politically in the US, particularly with Vietnam — and Hooker using Korea as an obvious substitute in his commentary on such things couched in humor. The beauty of this novel is, it DOES allude to and address some really serious issues and things, similarly to the other books mentioned, but again, differently so that one didn’t feel so threatened, to use an odd description of possible/probable reader response to others of that time. Brilliant, IMO. And of course, the TV show that came out of the movie that came out of this book was one of the best loved TV shows of all time, including by me as a major fan, so the book set off a chain of awesome (cinematic) events that impacted millions of people, largely in a good way. So while most people probably wouldn’t consider this novel as more than a cheap comedy, I tend to see much more value in it and I’ll stand behind that as long as I’m alive. Definitely recommended!

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The Late Great Planet EarthThe Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Utter trash! I still can’t believe how this POS swept over America during the 1970s, resulting in millions, I’m sure, for Lindsey, that asshole, as well as a horrible POS wildly fantastic, mythological horror show of a movie that was traumatic as shit to kids like me and others I knew whose fundie parents forced them to go see it. In retrospect, it was a total joke, a hoax, and Lindsey was and remains an utter fraud. Personally, I think those of us who are “fundie survivors” from the 1970s — and there are a LOT of us: read Seth Andrews — should file class action lawsuits against Hal and his publisher, as well as those assholes responsible for that shitty movie, A Thief In The Night, which traumatized me and tons of people and kids like me, not only at that time, but to this day, resulting in decades of therapy which has never been effective, scarring me for life. Another target of a wished for class action lawsuit would be the publisher of those damn Chick tracts, which also scared the shit out of me and most of the other people I knew. All those awesome cartoons and drawings of demons, the flames of Hell, drugged out ’70s hippies destined for Hell, etc. All of these and much more contributed to fucking ruining my life and tens of thousands like me, of driving us away from fundie/evangelicals forever, of feeling nothing but disgust and disdain, if not outright hatred for the hypocritical, lying fire and brimstone manipulators trying to use prehistoric rubbish to scare everyone possible into doing their damn will (and filling their pockets at the same time). I’ll never forgive them and I’ll never forgive Lindsey for this wretched joke of a piece of total shit book that did so much permanent damage to untold legions of people. If you wonder why people are leaving the churches in the US in droves these days and why over 20% of the American population are called the “Nones,” as in no church, no mythological supernatural tooth fairy in the sky, etc., you can thank Lindsey, those responsible for the other atrocities mentioned here, and the assholes who carry on their tradition, like Tim Lehay , who field a softer brand, but still put through the same apocalyptic message (while raking in millions on the side). If it were possible, I wouldn’t give this book a “0” – I would give it a “-1,000” or onward to infinity. If you value reason, logic, sanity, human decency, facts, etc., and if you frown upon or even despise those theistic religionists (particularly conservative Christians in the western world) who use terms like “love,” “morals,” “peace,” “family values,” etc., when they’re too lazy and stupid to read their own holy book and discover the atrocities committed by the god of the old testament while claiming their Jesus was a holy man of peace and love, while he stated he came with a sword to split up families and turn parents against children, etc., bragged that he spoke in parables so his idiot disciples literally wouldn’t be able to understand anything he said, and left no writings or proof of his existence, and none from any witnesses were ever written down so much could be said about the gospels, etc., aside from the millions of literal lies, discrepancies, untruths, fraud, etc., in their holy book and especially the new testament, then by all means, avoid this idiocy. I couldn’t recommend it any less than I am doing now. Truly one of the most despicable books in history by one of the most despicable humans in history… If there were an actual hell their mythology describes, he and his ilk would be destined for it.

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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not remotely impressed. For two primary reasons, among others. One, this just seems like a lot of fluffy filler. I have no idea how Godin made this into a full length book because I just got the feeling a decent, well thought out and written magazine article would have sufficed and even been more successful, perhaps. More importantly, I disagree with the title, premise and some possible conclusions that may be drawn from the book’s thesis.

OBVIOUSLY there are typically “linchpins” in most companies and certainly most successful companies. That should be so transparently understood that I fail to see the necessity in even writing a book about it at all. However, I learned early in my business career, initially from advisors and mentors, later from employers and bosses, and sadly, from personal experience as well as witnessing such with various colleagues in many companies and businesses — the thing that was drilled into my head from the beginning both verbally and through observation and experience — is that NO ONE is EVER indispensable! To think someone is, is utterly foolish, totally naive, completely wrong, and places too much value on “linchpins,” whom while no matter how valuable, can ALWAYS be replaced — I’ve seen it dozens of times at companies throughout the country from the lowest on the rungs to the very highest, at Founder, President and CEO, etc.

So, I have well over 30 years of business experience and I’ve seen this play out too many times to count. I’ve seen teachers with experience, great success and tenure get sacked. I’ve seen founders of startups that quickly grew into multimillion dollar public companies get dumped by the board. No One is Indispensable! I literally have only seen one person at one company who very likely may have been and was treated as such and who basically calls the shots as VP Engineering — after her former boss, the VP of Engineering with multiple degrees from Georgia Tech — was let go to move her up. Bizarre world… Book? Not recommended.

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Strange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of ZyzzyvaStrange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of Zyzzyva by Howard Junker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to confess that during my decades of writing several hours a day, 362 days a year, and submitting work to hundreds, thousands of zines, journals, magazines, publications around the world and during my decades of prolific success, while I had a very good acceptance percentage and was fortunate enough to be published in many high quality literary journals as well as newspapers, commercial magazines and more, there were really very few “major” ones I actually liked to read. I know that sounds nuts, but I was never a big fan of the New Yorker or the Paris Review, nor the Southern Humanities Review, Ploughshares, etc. Too damn mainstream, too much a party of the only “acceptable” literary canon, as defined by those who thought and think they are the official arbiters of such. Most of whom are idiots with no talent.

However, there were some journals, as well as many zines, magazines and the like, that I DID look forward to, often because they weren’t so freaking obsessed with calm ponds, chirping robins, lovely deer in the forest, calm lake waters and all that bullshit. At a minimum, they’d publish a diverse selection of material and writers, typically mixing the totally unknown with the most famous around. And on more topics of interest, relatable to me and others who weren’t Black Mountain fans, and Zyzzyva was one of them. Some others included Exquisite Corpse, New York Quarterly, Long Shot, Wormwood Review, Chiron Review, Caffeine, ONTHEBUS, Rattle, Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Main Street Rag and several others. The interesting thing about Zyzzyva was it centered largely on West Coast writers, and that intrigued me even before I became a West Coast writer!

Zyzzyva was a large, beautiful perfect bound book-sized journal and Junker, as editor, picked some great stuff, a nice fairly diverse selection of works, with a great mix of writers, and it was one of the few I read through cover to cover. I must admit though that one of my great publishing disappointments was I could never get Howard to accept ANY of my stuff, and I submitted annually for years! And I couldn’t figure out why because he published a ton of writers I was often published with in other magazines. It didn’t make any sense. But every editor is different and frankly it’s often subjective. Sometimes you like a person’s work and never another’s, no matter how qualified or whatever. I was an editor and publisher myself for some years, so I know what I’m talking about. There were two sides to this. On one hand, if various literary journals rejected me a couple of times, I usually crossed them off my list and moved on, but there were – for reasons I still don’t know – some others out there that I continued to submit to every damn year for YEARS, both hoping and convinced they’d eventually accept some of my work, only to be rejected annually by 98% of them. It was disheartening. It’s been a long time and I forget virtually all of them, but I do recall one was Arizona State’s Haydens Ferry Review, the annual issue of ONTHEBUS – and Jack Grapes, the editor, was a freaking friend of mine! – the Sierra Nevada Review (seriously???) and a few others. One that finally accepted my work after over a decade of submissions was Emory University’s Lullwater Review. Funny, that… And so Zyzzyva was one of these journals.

Conversely, there were some high quality writers, editors, magazines, journals and zines that liked me personally, liked what and how I wrote, liked my work and in some cases, loved to publish me constantly. As in the opposite of the example I just gave in the previous paragraph. Some of the writers and editors who seemed to like me included the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gerald Locklin (author of over 125 books, as well as editor), Michael Bugeja at Writer’s Digest, who liked to quote me as an SME in the annual Poet’s Market they published, the incredible Charles Bukowski, the longtime editor of the esteemed Poetry Magazine, Joseph Parisi (who amusingly secretly confided in me that he loved my work but worried that some might be “too much” for the traditional Poetry Magazine reader, which I thought was funny and it made me happy to see people like myself and the most openly anti-establishment poet around – Bukowski – start to appear in Poetry and other high quality literary journals, in some cases with the editors gritting their teeth, I’m sure), Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, who was publisher of his own press, and many others. And as stated, there were some journals and magazines that seemed to like to publish my work regularly to constantly in virtually every issue. Some of these included Chiron Review, Caffeine (where I regularly appeared alongside Bukowski), Hawaii Review, Pearl, Long Shot, Finland’s Sivullinen (and many other Finnish magazines, where they often shockingly put me on their covers alongside Bukowski – I mean photos and everything!), Belgium’s De Nar, Poetry Ireland Review (with Seamus Heaney, and they paid very well!), the infamous longtime punk magazine, Flipside, whose poetry editor loved my stuff, the famous horro magazine, Wicked Mystic (they paid well), L.A.’s big Saturday Afternoon Journal, music magazine Industrialnation, and a number of others.

The point? The point is that while I was very successful, pretty well known around the world in those kinds of literary circles, appeared regularly in publications featuring Ginsberg, Bukowski, Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, William Burroughs, and other heavyweights, I felt I *should* have been good enough to have my work appear in most publications I submitted to — because I did so strategically, avoiding those I knew wouldn’t like my style or my stuff — and so Zyzzyva remained a constant disappointment for me as a writer because I could not understand at all why Junker wouldn’t publish me when he published so many others in my various circles. But I never let that disappointment ruin my appreciation for and love of that journal, and while I’ve not seen it in a long time, I’ll always remember it fondly and with great respect. If you missed out on it, I recommend looking up old issues, or perhaps … of course, getting this book because Howard picked an assortment of quality writers and material to appear in these pages, so I strongly recommend it.

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