Archive for Black Hymeneal: The Black Light Verse and Gothic Vignettes of Manuel Paul Arenas

Update 06/06/2018

Posted in Black Hymeneal, Clark Ashton Smith, Denisse Montoya, Gothic Poetry, Gothilocks, Grimscribe Press, Poetry, Self Publishing, Test Patterns: Creature Features, The Audient Void, The Fell Fête, Vastarien, Weird Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

I have had a lot of stuff going on over the last month or so and many of my previous plans and aspirations have been put on hold till further notice. My friend Denisse, who was helping me put together Black Hymeneal has had some personal concerns which demand her time and attention so the work she was doing for me has been put indefinitely on hold, which may work out for me in the end since it has been suggested to me by some friends in the field that publishing a book before one has an audience to sell it to may be an unsound investment.

So, instead, I have been focusing on getting my work published. At present, there are five publications which I am waiting to hear back from. I have sent poems to The Audient Void, Vastarien, and Mirror Dance for consideration and I have also sent The Fell Fete to a UK publisher which is putting together a book in tribute to Clark Ashton Smith, and just last night I sent Gothilocks to the magazine Test Patterns: Creature Feature for their next issue. I’m not sure that I understood their requirements and may have just made a futile submission, but we’ll see what Fate has in store for me in that regard.

I have been thinking that I want to do some video recitals of my poetry for a proposed Youtube channel. In the interim, I have contacted my good friend Rand to see if he knows anyone who can perhaps shoot a video of a brief recital to post on here. I’d like it to be up close and personal, as if I were reading directly to the viewer and maybe even have a moody setting. I might even dress up a bit for it. We’ll see what we can pull off.

Update 6/14/2018:

Vastarien sent a very polite rejection notice recently for Moribond. I was surprised, since they emphasized their interest in poetry of the Park Barnitz persuasion, and Moribond is definitely within that charnel house genre, but I think my little poem may have less to do with the artful poesy of that doomed scribe and more to do with lurid Gothic broadside ballads. Either way, they didn’t take it.

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Goodbye 2017

Posted in 2017, Black Hymeneal, Krampus, Nativity in Black, Uncategorized, Year End Review with tags , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well,  December is almost over and 2017 has already got one foot out of the door. Unfortunately, it will just be yet another in a sequence of shitty years for me. For starters nothing has changed since my last year end update. Black Hymeneal is still in limbo, waiting to be published. I have revamped the original manuscript, made some changes in the selection of poems, and rewritten the introductions then sent the manuscript to my friend Denisse Montoya who is supposed to help me with the cover art and layout, but I do not have an ETA on that at present.

My buddy Dick Kelly got sidetracked and wasn’t able to complete the Krampus illustrations for our proposed chapbook, but we recently talked and he said he was getting back on it. Again, I am hopeful, but there is no ETA at present.

I have been writing more these days and actually was able to write a prose piece I had conceived of last year then shelved. It is called Nativity in Black and I debuted it at the Space 55 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe on 12/15/17. I have recently requested a video of my performance which I may post on here once I receive it, if I can figure out how to do that. Perhaps Denisse can help me with that as well. I also have been working fairly regularly on two stories from my Helldorado series, however, what has kept me from completing them in a timely manner is that my tablet shit the bed back in April and I cannot afford to replace it so I have had to do my work at the library where my access is limited and there are multiple distractions and no privacy.

I am still at the caption job and still have yet to make a single friend. I hate some of the calls I have to dictate, most actually, but it pays the bill for now. I still long for the day when I can make my living off of my art.

Speaking of living, I may have to live somewhere else by the end of 2018. My landlords are raising the rent so I have renewed my lease for the last time then my roomie and I are parting ways. So now my future living situation is uncertain.

Without getting into the boring details, my personal life hasn’t changed either. I had hoped sometime in my 50th year things would look up for me in that department, but no such luck so far. Perhaps it’s just as well. If I should decide to leave Arizona at the end of 2018 I will only have to worry about myself and no one else.

If I had to live in AZ for the rest of my life, I had hoped to make a name for myself writing Southwestern Gothic Horror, with a Latin bent, but I would gladly give that up if I can leave the Southwest all together.  I am so unhappy here. I would love to return to my beloved New England, but I don’t think I can afford that. I also don’t relish being so far away from my family if anything happens. Perhaps the Northwest would work. I will have to weigh my options very soon.

 

 

7 Minutes in Hell (10/14/2017)

Posted in 7 Minutes in Hell, Black Hymeneal, Jobot Coffee & Bar, Melt Ice Cream Shop with tags , , , , on October 16, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Facebook event banner for the 2017 edition of 7 Minutes in Hell.

Saturday night I took part in what is to be the last 7 Minutes in Hell to be performed at the Pierce Street location of Space 55. It had been a while since I had read there, at least a year or more, and I figured it would be a good opportunity to plug my forthcoming book, Black Hymeneal. I went to the theater directly after getting off from work, so I was a bit early and so I decided to go to Jobot, a hip local coffee shop on 5th street & Roosevelt, for a quick snack, but they seemed to be closed for some reason. Moving down a few doors I stumbled upon an ice cream shop called Melt. The flavors were very unusual, pistachio with cherries, churro, horchata, etc. I settled on a single scoop cake cone of horchata and was not disappointed! It even came topped with a fortune cookie; the message within read: “You will lighten another’s heart.”

I don’t know if I did that, but I believe I entertained a few people in the audience at least. I was 3rd in line after a boisterous opening song by host Russ Kazmierczak and a hilarious skit by Ashley Naftule. Russ had what I assume was a karaoke track for Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive over which he sang a lyric about all the wondrous things he’d seen at Space 55. His voice wasn’t always on key, but his heart was in the right place and he got the whole room, myself included, singing the refrain “I saw it at Space 55”.

Ash came on in character as a film critic whose name was a spoof on Cliff Notes, but I cannot recall exactly what it was. His deal was that he was a critic who would do reviews of movies he’d never seen. He asked the audience to shout out some film titles and he would do these brilliantly hilarious reviews. Ash is a master of improv and his broad knowledge of film and pop culture was put to good use here.

Then I came up, plugged Black Hymeneal and my blog, then read 3 poems selected from my book. I started off with Manurog to ease the crowd in, then moved onto Manqueller Manque finally wrapping up with Love Song of the Lugubrious Gondolier. My preamble was a bit rusty, and it soon became apparent, to me at least, just how long it had been since I’d last read in public. I introduced Manurog as a poem about a goblin that takes his grooming tips from Ed Gein and ended by saying it was “one for the kiddies”, which got a chuckle from the audience. My explanation for Manqueller wasn’t anything special, I just explained how the inspiration came from a book on obsolete words and how it was about a would be murderer. My explanation for Love Song… was a bit clunky and when I explained it was inspired by a movie they asked for my review (in reference to Ash’s skit) I replied that I couldn’t do that because I had already seen the movie. The set seemed to go over fairly well, despite my losing place in the middle of Manqueller. The reason for this was that my old book of poems has so many corrections and cross-outs in it that I couldn’t tell where to look for the marginal notations. That being said, I did get a few compliments afterward.

Now, I tend to get antsy after I come off stage and generally only stay for the next act so as not seem ungrateful for a chance to read or non-supportive of my fellow artistes.  I waited for the next act, Steve Marek, a stand-up comedian to do his bit. His set began with a eulogy to Hugh Hefner, which was clever, and ended with a political “horror tale”. He asked the house to dim the lights and he used the light from his gadget (i-Phone, or whatever) like one might put a flashlight under one’s chin to tell a campfire tale, as he regaled us with an explicit piece of horror-otica featuring Sherriff Joe and Jan Brewer engaged in some rather compromising  hi-jinks. It was a bit sophomoric, but it had some poignant political digs thrown in for good measure.

I considered leaving then, but ended up sticking around for the next act. This one was a woman named Dineta Williams-Trigg who I guess is a regular in the scene, I did not know her but she was very personable and even approached me before the show to ask me about my Venom t-shirt. She explained that she was a fan of B-movie Horror and had recognized the Baphomet symbol on it. I returned the compliment by saying that I liked her Glen or Glenda t-shirt. She gave her time up to invite people to come up and talk about their experiences at Space 55 and what it meant to them. First up was Amy Ouzoonian who came up with her precious infant in a make-shift papoose fashioned from of a long swaddling blanket wound around her torso. She told of her experiences there as part of the Arcana Collective and as a cast member in one of the past productions featured at the venue. She would later come back up with her babe to recite a monologue about the questionable joys of mother hood. Then came Marcella Grassa who told a similar tale of working with the Arcana Collective and being in shows, most recently as one of the leads in Ashley Naftule’s play “The Ear”. Lastly, was an audience member who told how seeing some of the wacky skits there gave him the courage to try his hand at performing on stage.

After this heart warming tribute, I began to relax and just enjoy the show and stopped looking for a chance to make my exit. I believe the next act was Marcella and her friend Gullveig (spelling?) who did a skit they’d penned about the legendary water spirit Melusine explaining to the goddess Kali her decision to allow Starbucks to use her image for their brand logo. It was a bit rough in spots (Marcella gave the disclaimer before they began that they had just written it a couple of days before and were under-rehearsed) but very clever and on the money on certain points about cultural appropriation by big corporations. I also dug their costumes, which were simple but effective for featuring identifiable attributes of the entities they portrayed.

Space 55 regular Leslie Barton did a shtick as a brontosaurus comedian called Brontobill Hicks, Bill Brontohicks, or something to that effect.  She basically wore a brontosaurus mask and told  brontosaurus themed jokes in the manner of Bill Hicks. Up next was Paul Kolecki, one of the current Space 55 troupe who played the male lead in “The Ear”. He did a passionate monologue from “Death of a Salesman”.

Following him were the Arcana Collective the fluid line-up of which this time consisted of Ernesto Moncada as the shaman Don Pablo Xibalba (Xibalba, roughly translated as “place of fear”–according to Wikipediais the Mayan word for the Underworld), a character he played in “The Ear” and Allison Dee who was topless, dressed only in skimpy panties and a body-length, diaphanous, black veil which, along with the usual Arcana eye kohl, made her look like a vamp from a Paul Naschy film. She played the theremin and some Eastern-looking variation on a percussion triangle. Don Pablo, also topless but not creating quite the same effect on the beholder (not to disparage Ernesto’s rakish good looks), called for a volunteer from the audience  and a young man came up. Don Pablo made him drink from a glass bottle filled with the “waters of the dead”, I believe he said, then covered him with a red cloth and did some mock ritual over him involving maracas and some amusing mumbo-jumbo. There was more to it, but I cannot recall the detail.  Either way it was very amusing and one of the more accessible things I have seen them do.

Closing the show was comedic singer Scott Gesser, who began with a brief monologue introducing the song he was to play. The intro went a bit too long, but the song, a tale about his misadventures in Nebraska, was fun.

In the end, I stayed for the whole show and not once had the usual anxiety fueled  urgency to bail the premises, which is saying a lot. All the artists and entertainers were fun and unique in their way and I was glad to have been part of the show. I look forward to upcoming events at their new location and even have an invite to participate in a planned Horror themed Christmas show to make up for the last Lovecraft bash in August which had to be postponed for real life stuff. Good times.

“Black Hymeneal” Reboot

Posted in Black Hymeneal, Gothic Poetry, Gothic Prose, Poetry, vampire poetry, Weird Poetry with tags , , , , , , on June 16, 2017 by Manuel Paul Arenas

My first poetry collection, “Black Hymeneal”, is back on track. It will not be the beautiful book I envisioned so long ago, but it will at least get out into the world. It shall not feature any specific artwork. Unfortunately, my friend Michele has some pressing familial responsibilities which have taken precedence (understandably) over helping to complete the artwork for the book, so I am going to just continue without it at this point. Perhaps someday we can collaborate on a portfolio of the completed artwork she did for the book, if the collection proves to be successful enough to warrant that. Her lovely artwork deserves to be seen, and I hope some day it will be. I appreciate the hard work she did and the help she gave me in showing me the ropes of the publishing business. I shall never forget her kindness.

The table of contents for the new book has changed, since I have decided to pull a few pieces for another planned collection of song lyrics for my old band, The Dark Young. More on that after I get “Black Hymeneal” into the world.

The new selection is as follows:

01. Manurog
02. Hell-flower
03. Thalia
04. Witch’s Tit
05. Sor Maria and the Devil, Luzbel
06. Krampus
07. Manqueller Manque
08. Moribond
09. Skull in an Ice Cream Cone
10. HPL RIP
11. Broceliande
12. Threnody
13. Black Hymeneal

I have already begun retyping the manuscript and adding new introductions for the poems. My goal was to be ready to publish by my 50th birthday in August. We’ll see if I can make the deadline. Keep your eyes on future posts with updates.

Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance!

Posted in 2016, Black Hymeneal, Dick Kelly, Gothilocks, Krampus, Michele Bledsoe, Year End Review, year in review with tags , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by Manuel Paul Arenas
Goodbye 2016, and Good Riddance! It may be a bit early yet to be assessing the past 12 months, but I don’t foresee much of any consequence happening between then and now. 2016 was to be a year of promise, a year for turning things around. Instead, I spent most of the year coasting and waiting for change to happen. I had planned to complete and publish my book, “Black Hymeneal”, but made very little progress at all, despite the help of a few good friends, while several of my colleagues from the local poetry scene put out their 2nd or 3rd books. I was going to go back and finish up some of the many unfinished works I have floundering in limbo, but I only managed to finish one, and added several more works to the unfinished pile. In fact, I wrote very little this year. Aside from my journal, which I write in almost every day, and some odd lines of doggerel, I did very little writing despite having some genuinely good ideas. I fear that I cannot rightly call myself a writer anymore because I do not write.
As I have mentioned before, I suffer from anxiety and depression, which holds me back from doing the things I love. I do see a counselor, which helps, but I am loathe to take medication because of the adverse side effects. I also fear it might block the creative juices. I may have to rethink that though, because I don’t know how much time I have and I have too much unfinished business to attend to before I go and I can’t let my anxiety hold me back.
This year, despite my anxiety, I took a leap of faith and on a tip from a friend left my bookstore job to work at a local mortuary. I was a “removal technician” for 3 weeks. My job was to pick up “decedents” from wherever they might be (hospitals, hospices, and even private residences) and transport them to a care facility for processing before they go on to their final destination. It is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, and I respect the folks who can do it without the repercussions I faced. The physical demands alone were intense, even with tricks and tools of the trade, and I was often in serious pain after one of my 4 weekly 10 hour shifts.
What got me, however, was the human factor. I thought that with my interest in funerary ritual and with the right attitude, I could make a career out of this job. What I didn’t count on was my empathy. I couldn’t deal with the grieving families or even the people who died alone with no one around to send them off into the great abyss. I would look at the pathetic husks of human remains and think, “Is this all we are?”
I would obsess all day over this before my graveyard shift of 7 pm to 5 am. Many times I would worry about losing my loved ones, like the time I picked up someone at a hospital morgue with the same exact name as someone from my extended family. I knew it wasn’t them, but it made me think about when I would have to pick up someone I knew. I thought a lot about my own mortality, and would have panic attacks.
Worst of all, I dreaded picking up dead children and messy cadavers, which they called “nasties”. As part of my training I was taken to the “decomp” cooler where they kept corpses in advance states of decay, or messy bodies, like gnarly accident or murder victims, so that I could accustom myself to the sights and smells. It wasn’t too bad, something like looking at a gruesome picture of a crime scene or a horror film, but I didn’t have to touch them, like I would on a run. And then there was the smell…
The smell of death, a distinct pungent smell unlike anything else, began to follow me everywhere I went, even to places it could not possibly be, and whenever I talked about my new job with friends, I would break down in tears. In desperation to save my situation from getting worse, I lit a votive candle with the image of the Santa Muerte and implored Her to help me to find the courage and strength to take on this sacred task of helping the dead in their last voyage, but to no avail.
An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

An Internet stock photo of the vela I used. I got mine from a local Frys supermarket of all places.

After 3 weeks of this, I quit. I had informed them of the possibility of me leaving a week prior, but when I did it was overnight. I had other reasons for wanting to go so suddenly, like how I didn’t fit in with my colleagues, and felt like they weren’t helping me get trained properly before they tried sending me off on my own, but really, the main reason was Thanatophobia a/k/a “Death Anxiety”. Anyone whom has read my poetry, especially such pieces as “Moribond” or even my beloved “Black Hymeneal”, knows my obsession with, and fear of, death. I thought I could use this job to help get past it, but it only intensified it.
The next few weeks were spent applying for jobs and trying not to spend too much money. I finally got a job working at a company that does closed captioning phone service for the hard of hearing. I haven’t started yet, but I am hopeful it will work out.
Twice in recent months I have had family members warn me of becoming bitter. I admit, I am not as hopeful as I have been in the past, and I have developed some negatively fatalistic attitudes about my life, in particular where my love life is concerned, but I don’t think I am quite there just yet.
Speaking of my love life, there is nothing going on there, which has surprised the heck out of me. I thought that within 6 months or so, I would be over my last amorous fiasco and finding solace with someone who would be less judgmental of me and more willing to settle down. Boy, was I wrong. I haven’t met anyone else in over a year with whom I would feel even a little compatible. That’s not to say that I haven’t met people I’ve liked, they just were not available to me or would have been unwise choices to get involved with. With my 50th birthday coming next summer, I fear that I may have to accept the fact that whatever time I have left in this life will be spent alone.
Perhaps this is for the better. I have heard a few times lately that attachments make one vulnerable and distracted. I need to stay focused if I hope to finish all the work I have planned for next year.
I also have family around me, who love me, and a handful of good friends, and that is what gets me through the day. I have come to realize that in this all too brief life of uncertainty and misery that is the only thing that matters.
Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

Etching by artist Dick Kelly for an upcoming illustrated edition of my Krampus poem.

On a final note, I am working on putting together a chapbook of my poem “Gruss vom Krampus” with the help of my good friend, artist Dick Kelly. The illustrations he has done already are amazing, and I cannot wait to see how it all fits together. If it goes well, and if we can recover some of the costs in printing it through sales, I am hoping to make more like it; perhaps a story this time, like “Gothilocks”. We’ll see.
Photo os me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent's th anniversary.

Photo of me with my new hair cut, holding the card I made with the help of a very talented friend, for my parent’s 50th anniversary.

PS: I cut my hair, which I hadn’t done for 7 years, and I like the way it looks. Surprisingly, I look a bit younger, and although I’m still spending my nights alone, it has garnered me a bit more attention from the ladies than previously. Looking towards the future, let’s hope it’s brighter and better than 2016.
P.P.S.: I still intend to publish an e-book version of “Black Hymeneal” with alternate cover art and no illustrations just to get it out there into the world. Eventually, however, I hope to put out the version I originally planned featuring the amazing artwork of my good friend artist Michele Bledsoe.

Goodbye 2015

Posted in 2015, Planet Poe, Year End Review with tags , , , , , on January 1, 2016 by Manuel Paul Arenas

2015 was an odd year for me. Some very big things came up, but never quite came to fruition as it were. Most of my accomplishments and failures revolved around my book, “Black Hymeneal”.

With the help and guidance of my good friend Michele Bledsoe, I put together the content and layout for the book, which I had been talking about making for twenty years or so. We arranged to have the fund raiser, through Indiegogo, but didn’t even come close to reaching our goal of $2,000. Now, we are changing our original plans and seeing how we can cut costs and use the money we do have. It will still be published, it just won’t be the hardcover art book I hoped it would be, and it may take longer than I’d hoped to get it done.

portrait

Michele Bledsoe’s portrait of me for the “Black Hymeneal” book cover.

Michele is looking into other options, even electronic, which might get us more distribution and still allow us to use our collected funds for a few books for the folks who contributed to the fundraiser. A new goal for 2016, I guess…

come hither.jpg

“Come hither, my little darkling…” one of the many great pics from the Black Hymeneal photo-shoot by Hydroxia.

Also associated with “Black Hymeneal” was when I asked my good friend Hydroxia to do a photo-shoot promoting the book. In our travels to find the appropriate props and costume for the shoot, we realized that we had a strong connection, which blossomed into a very promising relationship, which unfortunately went awry and eventually imploded. As fraught with drama and high emotion as it was, however,this proved to be the closest I have come to a real reciprocated love relationship. I acknowledge that my inexperience in such things, added to my social anxiety,  probably sparked my friend’s misgivings about the whole affair, which translated into her slowly but surely pushing me away until I couldn’t deal with it and hastily put an official end to everything; but I still feel that not all blame should fall on me, as she was a bit impatient with me and also did not follow through on many heavy proclamations she made at the start of things, which gave me expectations that I fret over (perhaps too much, admittedly) when not realized. Even so, there’s no use crying over spilled milk as they say. What’s done is done and if I had my druthers now, I would have forgone the failed romance to save the friendship. She is a smart, beautiful, talented, fun, young lady and I miss her terribly.

IMG_0782_resize

Me and Hydroxia at the Planet Poe show in May of 2015.

In my attempt to process what I was feeling, I tried to write some poetry about it. However, the memories hurt too much for me to get much done, so all I have are fragments of poem ideas which I shall share at the end of this post. The only good which I consider having come from this is that I have some great photos, some great memories, and now know what not to do or say to a prospective partner if and when I get another chance at love.

Part the Second

Drummer Geoff Chse’s cover art for the follow-up Dark Young album, “Part the Second”, featuring a Posada print.

2015 was also the year that my old band the Dark Young finally released the long-awaited follow-up to our 1994 debut album. It is composed of recordings made in several different countries over 20 plus years, and it sounds at home along side of the original album. I wish we could have had a reunion gig to promote it, but we all live in different states now and our saxophonist lives in India at the moment, so that wouldn’t be practical.

Last, but not least, 2015 was the year I joined the Planet Poe theatrical troupe, run by Robert X. Planet, and which specializes in dramatic recitals of various works by Edgar Allan Poe. I have done two shows so far, and have enjoyed it immensely. I love the work and my companions are wonderful people, from whom I have learned a lot about the art of acting. We have plans to do another show in the Spring, so keep an eye out for more news on that in the future.

A snapshot of me, in costume, with the skeleton prop from "The Oval Portrait", taken by fellow troupe member, Joy.

A snapshot of me, in costume, with the skeleton prop from “The Oval Portrait”, taken by fellow troupe member, Joy.

Anyway, I did not quite meet my goals for 2015, but I got close and learned a lot. Hopefully 2016 will prove to be the year I finally realize some of these dreams. I wish you all much joy and prosperity in 2016. See you all next year!

As promised, here are the fragments for Hydroxia:

https://mannysbookofshadows.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/fragments-for-the-griff/

 

Fundraiser for “Black Hymeneal”

Posted in Fundraisers, Gothic Poetry, Indiegogo, Poetry, Self Publishing with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by Manuel Paul Arenas

It’s finally started! The fundraiser for my upcoming collection of poetry, “Black Hymeneal” has begun and you too can contribute! Follow the link below and it will take you to my pitch video and all of the pertinent information on how to contribute to the publication of this book.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/black-hymeneal-by-manuel-paul-arenas#/story

Each book will be a hardcover, with a full color dust jacket, and will be fully illustrated throughout by artist Michele Bledsoe.

Work in Progress: the portrait of me by Michele Bledsoe, which will be used for the cover of the book.

Work in Progress: the portrait of me by Michele Bledsoe, which will be used for the cover of the book.

Poems featured in the book are as follows:

01) Manurog

02) My Friend Boris

03) Gargoyle

04) Manqueller Manque

05) Skull in an Ice Cream Cone

06) Thalia

07) Threnody

08) The Golem of Prague

09) Flower of Evil

10) Night Hag

11) Witch’s Tit

12) Sor Maria and the Devil, Luzbel

13) Black Hymeneal

Work in progress: some of the images which will be detailed and used to illustrate the book. Images featured here are for Black Hymeneal, Skull in an Ice Cream Cone, Gargoyle, and Manurog.

Work in progress: some of the images which will be detailed and used to illustrate the book. Images featured here are for Black Hymeneal, Skull in an Ice Cream Cone, Gargoyle, and Manurog.

 

We have been allotted 40 days in which to raise this money and have only 35 days left as of this posting. Remember, no contribution is too small, and even $5 contributions can qualify you for one of our many cool perks; so, reserve your copy today!