Archive for December, 2018

Update 12/30/2018: Vampire Vigil to appear in Spectral Realms

Posted in S.T. Joshi, Spectral Realms, Updates, Vampire Vigil with tags , , , on December 30, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well, I got a reply from S.T. Joshi and he said that although he’d pass on Black Hymeneal and The Golem of Prague, he did like Vampire Vigil. So, as I understand it, I shall be having Morbidezza and Gargoyle in Spectral Realms #10 and Vampire Vigil in Spectral Realms #11. More on that as things develop.

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Update 12/29/2018: Close, but no cigar

Posted in Obediah Baird, Spectral Realms, The Audient Void, The Baleful Beldam with tags , , , on December 29, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Got a friendly rejection notice from The Audient Void for The Baleful Beldam. Like Miss Ashley before him, Mr. Baird said he liked it enough to make the first round of cuts, but he dropped it in the end. Perhaps my prose poetry will fair better with him. I may try sending him Rosaire when submissions come up for issue #8.

In the interim, I may submit my witch poem to Spectral Realms, but not yet, since Mr. Joshi already has three pieces from me to consider.

Update 12/25/2018: Krampus chapbooks and Rosaire

Posted in Averoigne, Clark Ashton Smith, Dick Kelly, Greetings from Krampus, Rosaire, tribute fiction, Updates, Werewolf Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on December 25, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Merry Christmas! Just a quick note to say that my buddy Dick Kelly has finally given me a handful of our Greetings from Krampus chapbooks, which I gave to my family for Christmas, and a few friends who were helpful in my travails in trying to get my poetry collection put together. There are more coming, probably about 45 in all. Some are spoken for, but whatever I have left I may sell. Once those are done I shall be printing paper copies through Kinkos. These, however, are the handcrafted editions. I wish I had numbered them but I wasn’t sure how many exactly Mr. Kelly was going to be able to make. I have signed all the copies I gave out though, and my buddy Rand got one signed by Dick and I both.

In other news, I just completed my story Rosaire. It is the story of the formative years of a werewolf pack leader and warlock set in the imaginary French province of Averoigne, which was created by Clark Ashton Smith. I hope to write more about this character at a later date. The funny thing is that in the story he, Rosaire, is born on Christmas Day, and I actually finished the story on Christmas Day, in between calls at work! I believe it will be as significant to my oeuvre as Morbidezza may yet prove to be.

Reminiscences of Halloweens Past

Posted in Ben Cooper Inc., Halloween costumes, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)., K.A. Opperman, Pirates of the Caribbean (attraction), The Mummy (franchise) with tags , , , , , on December 20, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

This past year I went trick-or-treating with my little cousins (as a chaperone, not as a trick-or-treater) and it made me nostalgic for the Halloweens of my own youth. Recently, my friend, poet K.A.Opperman, posted a meme on his Facebook page which mentioned the magic in the air at this time of year. I often use that very same phrase when describing it. Many people describe Christmas as being a magical time, and I agree, although for me, the magic begins with the advent of Autumn, when the temperatures drop, the days are shorter, and the leaves turn on the trees from green to gold and red. In fact, one of my fondest memories of this time of year is the street that led to my school which was lined on either side of the street with large oak trees. I recall how I would marvel at their panoply of colors from the school bus window as I rode down the arboreal aisle.

I know we used to have some seasonal activities in school, such as making some sort of arts & crafts decorations, but none stand out in my mind. I think there may have been some costumed events or parties as well, but all that I recall for certain is the teacher writing a list of television specials on the chalkboard underneath our homework assignments. Shows like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966).

Unlike here in Phoenix, where many consider Halloween to be “The Devil’s Holiday” and even forbid their kids from going to school in fear of them being tainted by exposure to the festivities, most everyone in Brooklyn partook in the celebration of the season and would decorate their houses with spooky ornamentation. Of course, this was the 70s, so the decorations weren’t as elaborate as they can be nowadays. Mostly people put up cardboard decorations (famously by the Beistle Company) accompanied by faux spider’s webs and the odd jack-o’-lantern as well.

01016-Retro-Vintage-Halloween-Cutouts-4-pkg-

An assortment of vintage Halloween cut out decorations from Beistle.

My costumes over the years were fairly simple. The ones that stand out are my Frankenstein monster costume from Ben Cooper Inc., and my pirate costume. My Frankenstein costume, as anyone familiar with the Ben Cooper Inc. costumes can attest, consisted of a plastic mask held on with a rubber band, and a smock with an image of the monster on it. I couldn’t find a professional photo of it online, but here is one I found on Frankenstein Lounge that shows the version I used to have. It was while wearing this costume that I won a dance contest at a Halloween party in the basement of our apartment building.  My dance partner was the lovely Deborah Tytone. She was dressed as a princess or ballerina I think. Anyway, her costume was pink and she was picture-perfect and at least a head taller than me. Everyone around us was doing the funky chicken or some such thing, and we were waltzing. I think we won for that reason alone, plus how absurd we must have looked together.

Ben Cooper Inc. Frankenstein costume. [image retrieved from https://frankensteinlounge.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/ben-cooper-costumes/%5D

Ben Cooper, Inc. also had a devil costume which I recall seeing one year while trick-or-treating with my cousins in Long Island. One of the local boys had it on and I was afraid to look at him. Ah… my Catholic upbringing comes to bear.

A GIF I found on the Internet of a child wearing the devil mask. Very menacing, n’est-ce pas?

Other than the creepy devil kid, I only have two other stand-out memories of trick-or-treating from my youth. Both took place when I was living in Latin America; the first while I was living in Bogotá Colombia. At the time I lived there in 1979, Bogotá had a  community of street urchins called gamines who would roam the streets. As Bogotá wasn’t the safest place to be roaming the streets at night, especially dressed in costume, I myself did not go trick-or-treating. However, our house was visited by many gamines trick-or-treating, mostly without costume. They were a little wild and I did feel some apprehension about opening our door to them. They were young, average age of about 8-10 years, but they were many and they sang a little song, which as I remember went something like “Triki triki Halloween, dame dulces para mí, y si no me das, te romperé la nariz”, roughly translating to “Tricky, Tricky Halloween, give me sweets for me and if you don’t I’ll break your nose.” It sounds better in Spanish, and there are other variants I’ve seen online, but that’s the gist of the one I recall hearing.

The second time was a few years later when I lived in Montevideo, Uruguay, where they didn’t really celebrate Halloween. Some friends from school and I went Trick-or-Treating to some of the houses of the American families we knew who lived in the area. We were a motley looking bunch, some of us were in costume and the rest were just long hairs and bohemian types. We were stopped by some local cops who were wanting to know what a group of questionable looking teenagers was doing walking the streets at night. We explained ourselves but they weren’t convinced at first and things were looking like they wouldn’t end well for us until one of the cops recalled having read an article in the newspaper about it just that morning, so they let us go. Talk about a scary Halloween!

Ben Cooper Inc. also made rubber toys known as wigglers. While researching for this blog post I realized that I actually had many of their creepy crawly and monster toys. I had the Frankenstein Monster, as well as the spider, the bat and possibly others from their Scary Monsters and House Haunters series.

Ben Cooper, Inc. wigglers: Mighty Monster (Frankenstein) and Danny the Devil [retrieved from https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/14143258_ben-cooper-toy-monster-jigglers%5D

In fact, I believe it was the werewolf wiggler that I buried in the sand at Jones Beach when I was about 7 years old, and never recovered.

When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I discovered the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. I became obsessed with all things pirate-related and through the next few years I collected any Pirate gear I could find during my yearly summer visits to the Magic Kingdom.

Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise. I had most of these along with some other odd items.

Eventually I had a pirate hat, an eye patch, a hook, a pistol and a musket, and for the next few Halloweens I dressed up as a pirate. Somewhere in the family albums there is a photo of me dressed as a pirate, sparring with my cousin Jason, who is dressed as Kharis, from the Universal Studios Mummy franchise. If I find a copy, I’ll scan and post it on here.

In 2007, with the help of a co-worker who had connections to a local theater company, I dressed up as a pirate again for a “Fall Festival” celebration (which one co-worker refused to partake in for the aforementioned reason) using an admixture of costume bits from the company’s wardrobe department as well as a few things from my own wardrobe. The result was something of a poor man’s Captain Morgan look, but it was a very nostalgic experience for me, which I enjoyed immensely, despite my thrown-together look. My co-worker let me hang on to the costume bits for a couple of days and I went to a party at my buddy Rand’s house where he took this charming photo of me:

The Dread Pirate Manny

I haven’t dressed up much since then save for the occasional fun hat or creepy t-shirt. My good friend Sali used to throw yearly Halloween bashes, which I occasionally got dressed up for. Most significantly, were the time I shaved and dressed as (a rather diminutive) Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse and the time I dressed as an evil clergyman.

Padre Manuel sticks a foot in his mouth, Halloween 2011.

I have accompanied my little cousins on their trick-or-treating rounds in recent years and that’s been fun but the magic I knew as a boy is gone for me. Part of it is location, Phoenix isn’t known for autumnal weather or landscape, and many folks out here are just too uptight to celebrate Halloween. You can go through whole neighborhoods without a single harvest decoration or spooky lawn scene. It does help to be around the younger generations though as they tend to carry on the traditions, no matter how commercial or diluted they may seem to me.

 

 

Update 12/20/2018: Vampire Vigil

Posted in Golem of Prague, Gothic Prose, Morbidezza, Prose Poetry, S.T. Joshi, Spectral Realms, Vampire Fiction, Vampire Vigil, vampires with tags , , , , , , on December 20, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I have just completed and sent out a prose poem to S.T. Joshi at Spectral Realms, which I call Vampire Vigil. It is a companion piece to Morbidezza, describing the implied confrontation at the end of the former vignette. I am very happy with it, although of course as soon as I sent it out I thought of a slew of things I should have included or said differently. Either way, if it is accepted for Spectral Realms #11, I hope readers whom may not have read Morbidezza can still follow the story and enjoy it on it’s own merit.

I have also sent him my prose poem The Golem of Prague, and my Black Hymeneal poem for consideration. He is usually good about getting back to one within a week or so, and I have my fingers crossed that he will like at least one of these pieces. I will of course keep you all updated on the results.

Update 12/18/2018: Spectral Realms #9 Contributor Copy

Posted in Scott J. Couturier, Spectral Realms, Thalía, Thérèse Lavery, Updates, Weird Poetry, Weird Verse with tags , , , , , , on December 19, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Got my contributor copy recently for Spectral Realms #9 and was so thrilled I had my friend Thérèse  take a couple of snapshots of me to commemorate the occasion.

Me, proudly holding my contributor copy of Spectral Realms #9.

My publication debut, featuring my poem Thalía.

You may order it now on http://www.hippocampuspress.com

On a quick note, I have had one comment from a friend, fellow poet and contributor Scott J. Couturier, which I found very flattering. He says “Cheers Manuel Paul Arenas! Your ‘Thalia’ is exquisite…I’ve read her at least a dozen times already. I can’t stop re-reading the issue in general…”. Hopefully my little poem will inspire similar reactions in others.

12/24/2018

Afterthought: I just realized that Mr. Joshi never punctuated the poem as he said he would. That’s fine though. At least it’s wholly mine and no one can claim otherwise. I don’t mean Mr. Joshi of course, I meant haters who might infer that if he had an editing hand in it he may have had a hand in it’s composition as well.

Goodbye 2018

Posted in Black Hymeneal, Dick Kelly, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Greetings from Krampus, Manny's Book of Shadows, MiscellManny, S.T. Joshi, The Dark Poetry Couple, The Grimoire of the Dark Young, Weird Poets Society with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Most of 2018 was spent in a funk trying to figure out what my next move was going to be. I was holding on to people and situations which were not helpful or healthy and I was stagnating, mired in depression. Eventually, I sat down and asked myself what was most important for me to accomplish at that point in time. I decided that the most important thing to me, moving forward, was to get my writing published. Since Black Hymeneal seemed to be in limbo, I decided it was time I got over my fear of rejection and sent out submissions to the genre journals again. First however, I had to see what publications were accepting so I got on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and Amazon and started looking at what was out there and who was being published. I have told this story elsewhere on here, but the end result was that I befriended weird poetry practitioner / advocates K.A. Opperman and Ashley Dioses, a/k/a the Dark Poetry Couple. They have both been very supportive and through my association with them I have met several other poets with whom I may commiserate and talk shop with, as well as editors who have helped me finally start the process of getting my writing into print. As I write, my poem Thalía is available in Spectral Realms #9; both Gargoyle and Morbidezza are slated to be featured in Spectral Realms #10, and My Bantam Black Fay is to be included in the collection from the members of Weird Poets Society.  Additionally, I have a handful of other pieces of poetry and prose in limbo, pending acceptation.

I feel privileged to have interacted with the likes of renowned editor S.T. Joshi and to have my writing appear in the same publication alongside esteemed poet / editor Donald Sydney-Fryer. The door has been opened and I need to work hard going forward to keep it that way. The next 6 months I believe will be critical in getting myself established within the world of weird poetry and prose. Fortunately, it looks as if I may finally be getting a new (used) laptop from my young cousin Justin and once that happens I’ll be able to do uninterrupted work on my writing as well as the manuscript for my long overdue collection.

Speaking of, I have decided that rather than do several smaller books I am going to do an all inclusive collection in two slim volumes. I plan to call the whole collection Manny’s Book of Shadows, and the first volume will consist of the first two poetry collections  I had in mind to publish: The Grimoire of the Dark Young, and Black Hymeneal. The second volume will consist of my remaining work that is fit to print. Both volumes will be limited edition to keep from creating any publication conflicts with my journal and book appearances. I of course plan to include any relevant illustrations or images I can find.

My friend Dick Kelly has been diligently working on my Krampus chapbook which is looking amazing. It will be called Greetings from Krampus and I am hopeful that it will be ready in time for Christmas. He calls or sends me weekly updates through Facebook, some of which I post on here. We plan on getting together soon for a chapbook assembling party. I will post more on that as things develop.

A slightly blurry snapshot of the rough draft of the handcrafted limited edition of Greetings from Krampus.

On a personal level I am pretty much where I was last year this time. I am still at my same job although I have been applying for other positions within the company. I finally have befriended a coworker though, my friend Thérèse, who did an awesome illustration for my story Nativity in Black, which shall be included in the second volume of the Manny’s Book of Shadows collection, which shall bear the subtitle of MiscellManny. I have begun talking again and making amends with my friend Hydroxia, although I think it’ll be a while before our friendship is completely restored to anything like it was in the best of times.

My roommate and I have renewed our lease for an extra 6 months, as I couldn’t afford a move and she hadn’t yet secured another place by the time our  lease was up, and as a consequence we had to allow them to do some renovations, which were a bit intrusive, but my roomie and I got through it. Now it should be relatively smooth sailing till Spring.