Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who are we allowed to make fun of now?

Seriously, I need to know.


There have to be some people we can make fun of without anyone giving a shit. Right? Please respond below.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hey, it's pop fiction!

"Hey, did you hear about HORRIBLE THING?"
"Boy, yeah, what a mess. I hope HORRIBLE THING doesn't happen to us."
"It's okay, I'm sure it won't. After all, we live in NICE NEIGHBORHOOD with NO KNOWLEDGE OF POPULAR CULTURE."
[HORRIBLE THING happens down the block.]
"But this can't be! It's not real!"
"Y'know, this is just like POP CULTURE REFERENCE."
"Come on, man. Everyone knows POP CULTURE REFERENCE isn't real. Besides, we live in NICE NEIGHBORHOOD, and HORRIBLE THING doesn't happen here, because DELUSION."
"Phew, you're right. What was I thinking?"
[HORRIBLE THING keeps happening.]
"Oh no! HORRIBLE THING is really real!"
"Quick, toss me my EARLIER REFERENCE or perhaps even some DEUS EX MACHINA!"
[Hands over DEUS EX MACHINA]
[Kills/fights/subdues HORRIBLE THING]
"Man, that was close. I'm glad HORRIBLE THING is over with."
"So am I, friend. So am I."
[Lather, rinse, repeat.]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ligotti, True Detective and The Ridiculous Number Of Influences On My Writing (Updated)

One Nation, Under Cthulhu - 99% certain this is a parody of a right-wing painting, and re-created by a Something Awful goon. Majestic, isn't it?

(I will randomly update this post as I remember names.)

I was reading Mike Davis' piece about Nic Pizzolatto and how 'True Detective' appears to have aped a LOT (at least in terms of the weird) from Thomas Ligotti. Specifically, Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against The Human Race. You should read it.

My first thought was: Well, shit. I liked True Detective, but now I don't feel that great about it.

My second thought was: Well, shit, I go through a lot of effort to make sure my influences are well-known. If it's not obvious enough in the stories themselves (INFECTED has a whole chapter entitled: Paging Dr. Romero), then it's usually in wink-wink, nudge-nudge fashion (huskies and a crashed alien saucer in STRANDED, a character named Leonard in BARTENDER).

Kulture Vultures is literally littered with pop culture references.

But, I figured, why not just list all of my influences here? I am not in the same league as these people. I just want to make sure they're noted with respect.

So, in no particular order, the obvious and the not-so-obvious off the top of my head in order to recognize them (and I will randomly update):

(Written Influences)

Elmore Leonard
Douglas Adams
Philip K. Dick
Harlan Ellison
Hunter Thompson
H.L. Menken
H.P. Lovecraft (duh)
Stephen King - Particularly the Dark Tower series and The Mist, though King deus ex machina-s way too goddamn much.
Christopher Hitchens
Clive Barker
Max Brooks
Chuck Palahniuk
Joe R. Lansdale
Richard Dawkins (before he got all ... ugh)
Robert A. Heinlein
Ernest Hemingway
Stephen Hawking
Walter Isaacson's wonderful biography of Albert Einstein
Gary Larson (I shall never get enough Far Side)
Richard Matheson (Everything)
Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes was effectively my childhood)
Kevin Phillips
Edgar Allan Poe
Carl Sagan (Everything the man ever did)
Leonard Susskind
Brian Greene
H.G. Wells
Bill Vitka (my dad was a writer, too)

(Film Influences)

Aliens (Hoo boy)
The Blob (1988 remake)
The Thing -From Another World- (1951 Hawks/Nyby) (All hail Kenneth Tobey and Margaret Sheridan)
The Thing (1982 remake - I've used Palmer's line "You gotta be fuckin kidding" or some variation thereof in every single book I've ever written and Rob Bottin's special effects are breathtaking)

*******Speaking of John Carpenter, every single movie he's made has had an impact on me. Especially anything he worked on with Kurt Russell, who is my crush. Also, They Live still owns.*******

Buckaroo Banzi Across the 8th Dimension (W.D. Richter, where are you?)
Them! (James Whitmore and James Arness [The Thing in 51s The Thing!] are just awesome)
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (anything Ray Harryhausen did pretty much changed my life)
It Came from Beneath the Sea
20 Million Miles to Earth
Explorers (anything Joe Dante did had a huge impact)
Gremlins 2
King Kong
Blade Runner
Night of the Living Dead (original)
Dawn of the Dead (original)
Day of the Dead (original)
Return of the Living Dead
Shaun of the Dead
Dead Alive
Night of the Creeps
Die Hard
Die Hard With A Vengeance
Dr. Strangelove
Dog Soldiers
Escape From New York
Event Horizon
Evil Dead
Evil Dead 2
Evil Dead 3; Army of Darkness
From Dusk Til Dawn
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (and just about anything Terry Gilliam does)
Forbidden Planet
For a Few Dollars More (I'll keep this short by saying I love anything Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood did together. Both of those guys are/were huge to me)
Hard Boiled
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Last Starfighter
The Gate
Invaders From Mars (Tobe Hooper remake)
The Naked Gun trilogy
North by Northwest
The Phantasm series (Phantasm II continues to knock my socks off, and I will never stop loving Don Coscarelli, Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister)
The Princess Bride
Re-Animator (Anything involving Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Jeffrey Combs is a good time)
Rebel Without A Cause
Pitch Black (I unabashedly love all the Riddick movies)
The Rundown (Just so fun)
The Wild Bunch (ie; anything Sam Peckinpah did)
War of the Worlds (1953, fuck that Spielberg remake... But the ships were cool, at least - still not as cool as the Art Deco swans of death from 1953, though)
Animal House
Back to the Future
Back to the Future II
The Monster Squad
Jurassic Park
Return of the Killer Tomatoes (I totally forgot about FT until 8/14)
Starship Troopers (and basically everything Paul Verhoeven has ever done)
The Blues Brothers
Pacific Rim (and just about anything Guillermo del Toro does)

(Gaming Influences)

Blood (Aspects of this are so Lovecraftian that it's awesome)
Bulletstorm (I have absolutely stolen dialog from this game, especially in EMERGENCE)
Call of Cthulhu RPG
Doom (Obvious, though my monsters never stem from anything related to religion)
Half-Life 2
Fallout 2 (this is a biggie - do you have any idea how many hours of my life I've spent keeping Dogmeat alive?)
Fallout 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead 2
Resident Evil
Resident Evil 2
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
...And, in a very strange way, Garry's Mod.

(Music influences)

Hammer Smashed Face by Cannibal Corpse... Hell, all Cannibal Corpse.

Special mention: The Twilight Zone, because Everything
Special mention: Chuck Jones, because Everything
Special mention: Monty Python, because: Everything
Special mention: Mystery Science Theater 3000, because: Everything
Special mention: Rage Against The Machine's Evil Empire.

I started some of this in alphabetical order, but it went all cock-eyed.

I should mention that this probably isn't a complete list, but it's a pretty good place to start.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear Evil Landlady;

Dear Evil Landlady;

Are you there? It's me, Vitka.

I was recently made aware of the fact that a dear friend of mine--she could be called kin, in a literary sense. Family, really--was stricken with respiratory failure. And, yes, wait... Yes, she's a tenant of yours. I don't know why you're being so... Okay, do you remember what you said when we told you?

This is what you said:

"Hi [redacted], I am Laurie's landlady. I am really sorry for her being sick. I have been trying to get her to go to the doctor/hosptial [sic] for 2 weeks now. I will need her rent to be paid immediately. It is still partially due from the 1st of March it is $316 due. Our agreement was she would be paying it yesterday and part of Aprils [sic] I believe. Will you be paying this? I know it is a hard time for her, but this is my family's support. Please call me ASAP to let me know about this and I will send her a copy of this email also. The rent can be sent PayPal."

Oh, good. I'm so glad you're willing to accommodate. PayPal! Immediately!

The issues that come to mind are: $316 and 'this is my family's support.'

Laurie's a worker. Unlike YOU. You run a building, don't really give a fuck about a tenant having respiratory failure, and in the same breath hint that $316 dollars will potentially put YOUR family in the poor (or, perhaps, pour) house.



Hey, I get it... Yes, shut up. I get it. You have a business to run. Same business my slumlord had when I was living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and he didn't want to pay an exterminator to let us all be rid of bed bugs.

That's a solid business practice, right?

Just either give no fucks about your tenants or put your tenants at risk or, ho ho, demand money from your tenants WHEN THEY HAVE A BREATHING TUBE SHOVED DOWN THEIR THROAT and they can't EVEN FUNCTION.

But, oh, no, yes ma'am. I understand. There's the bottom line to consider. And if you're to be believed, you've managed to utterly FUCK the concept of land ownership so badly IN AN AREA WHERE THE RATES ARE AMONG THE LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY that $316 will surely put your dipshit family on the street while my friend struggles to breathe.


Here's where you can help Laurie and shove a dollar sign down this landlady's throat so hard she chokes on it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Free fiction on Medium

I've been publishing some short stories on Medium -- a website I've come to adore.

It was designed (really) for longer form 'twitter'-esque posts, but I've been loving it as a method of publishing short stories.

It's free and intuitive and super clean. Just great.

I'm here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's MARCH MONSTER MADNESS! 5-star horror novels for $0.99

Meaning: All of my delightful written nightmares are just $0.99.

I know, I know... It's awesome.

The Hroza series, so far, is:


An invasion tale like no other. An intelligent sci-fi adventure for the working man. It's THE GREY meets ALIENS meets THE THING. Men isolated at a logging camp in Alaska spend their days working and driving dogs. Drinkers. Smokers. Tough guys doing a tough job. In the middle of a terrible storm, a black circular shape careens overhead. None of them want to admit that they saw it: A goddamn flying saucer. One loaded with biological war machines that want to tear the universe apart.

A dark, brutal and gritty Horror Fantasy. It's a coming of age story with giant monsters and super-powered kids. Twelve-year-old Caleb Svoboda is a little Einstein. He's brilliant. And even if his tough-guy older brother Jack doesn't set the best example, they're part of a loving family. They know they're lucky. But that luck runs out when an ancient creature awakens under Brooklyn ... Reality is cast into nightmares ... Everything changes when the ancient creature's evil kin decide they want to take planet Earth back ...

The only thing standing in the monsters' way are a few superkids from Brooklyn.

"What if Philip K. Dick and Hunter S. Thompson had collaborated on The Walking Dead?"

NYC has two renewable resources: Attitude and sleazy politicians. Now, one politician has ushered in the end of the world. A councilman kills a hooker with his penis. From that shocking sexual dalliance is spawned a super parasite that transforms its victims into ravenous monsters -- and it's loose on the streets of New York. There are things worse than zombies out there. Who will survive this apocalypse?

Monday, December 9, 2013

There will be Without Bloodshed

We would all like to consider ourselves 'original.' And why not. Far as we're concerned, the crap we're creating is the best thing since sliced bread. You've never *really* seen anything like it before. But you've never really seen anything like it before because... We haven't written it yet.

When I wrote Kulture Vultures with my dad, we made out influences so apparent that they're PART OF THE STORY

Matthew Graybosch has a different -- and uniquely Graybosch -- take on the idea:

He's already taller than the Empire State Building. YE GODS WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM HIM.


At risk of alienating my audience from the outset, I suspect that the last guy to tell a truly original

story was the Mesopotamian poet responsible for the Epic of Gilgamesh. Examine a story in

sufficient detail, and you'll find parts of other stories with their serial numbers filed off.

This is especially true in folktales and poetry arising out of cultures with an oral tradition. Young

people in such cultures compile a rhetorical toolkit composed of tropes, stock characters and

scenes, and descriptions. They then use this toolkit to compose their own contributions to their


If my first assertion hasn't driven you off, try this: at least half of a novelist's art lies in filing off

serial numbers with sufficient skill that most readers and critics can do little more than suggest that

an older work influenced the newer one. However, even the notion of being influenced by one's

reading can trouble novelists, who may hope to write in the tradition of a predecessor or

contemporary they admire, or avoid association with one they despise.

The latter desire is one I find best expressed by William Blake, who is reputed to have written, "I

must create my own system, or be a slave to somebody else's."

Since I dance along the line between science fiction and fantasy like Angus Young on stage

busting out a badass guitar solo, I risk comparison to old masters in both genres. In fantasy, I might

expect critics to evaluate me in the context of Tolkien, Moorcock, and Zelazny. In science fiction,

I may contend with the likes of Heinlein, Asimov, and Haldeman.

With the shoulders of such giants as these beneath my feet, I might reasonably be expected to

worry about how I stack up, and whether I'm telling my own story and not just recycling theirs. If

you expect such anxiety from me, your disappointment pleases me.

I am as proud of my influences as a heavy metal band is of theirs. I learned my craft by reading my

chosen genres. I read the best, the worst, and a fair amount in between.

I'm not worried worried about readers associating Imaginos with Saruman because they're both

wizards and cunning linguists who wear white. Of course, we don't know how skilled a tongue

Saruman has, because what happens in Lothlorien stays in Lothlorien.

If readers meet Claire Ashecroft and think she's a Heinlein heroine gone terribly wrong, I'll just

turn around and write a story about the first time Claire posed for the Heinlein Grrls pinup calendar

for charity.

This isn't a demon-­ridden competition. I don't care about writing a better book than Brandon

Sanderson or John Scalzi. I have more than enough to do just writing a better novel than my last

one. I'm not afraid of my influences, and I don't care much about what you think of my work. If

you got your money's worth, I'm happy for you. If it wasn't to your taste, I'm sorry I disappointed


Graybosch has enough guts to tell you exactly what he thinks.
The truth, whatever color it may come in, is hard to find these days.
So you'd be well off sinking your teeth into his work.
At least, if you're smart you will.

Without Bloodshed is out now, on Amazon.