Tuesday, 29 December 2015

But Enough About Me #8


My friend the great George Clayton Johnson died on December 25th. The date, being Rod Serling's birthday, suggests a kind of hand-picked and narratively-appropriate closure to George's long and accomplished life. There are heart-felt and eloquent tributes all over the web and, rather than try and compete with them, I thought I'd mark his passing not with any words of my own, but with some justly-celebrated ones of his:


Mother, give me your hand

Looking at him, seeing the quietness in his eyes, her expression softens. Her hand trembles toward his. She tenses herself for a shock as her hand touches his. Nothing happens. She looks questioningly at him.

You see? No shock. No engulfment. No tearing asunder.
What you feared would come like an explosion is like a
whisper. What you thought was the end -- is the beginning.

Beldon smiles warmly ...


In BACKGROUND, we see Wanda turn to Beldon eagerly. The LIGHTS go down in the ugly room as they pass through the door into the white, bright sunlight beyond. The door cuts a blazing hold in the blackness.

There is nothing in the dark that wasn't there when the light
was on. Proven in part by this brief excursion through the
strange geography of The Twilight Zone.

And we:


(From The Twilight Zone episode "Nothing in the Dark" by George Clayton Johnson, 1/5/62)

George, me, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison

(back row) George, Dennis, me, Ashley Laurence, Mark Carducci, Paul Clemens.
(second row) Roberta Lannes, Christa Faust, Nancy Holder, Steve Jones.
(sitting) S P Somtow, David J Skal, David J Schow, Lisa Morton.

George, me, William F Nolan. (This is outside Mystery & Imagination and is the second-to-last time Bill and George, the co-authors of Logan's Run and friends for fifty years, saw each other.)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

"So How Bad at Math ARE You Guys?"

Okay, nobody's actually been rude enough to ask that question directly. But I see it in their eyes (at least the eyes of the ones who can add up) whenever I carelessly refer to the upcoming Rolling Darkness Revue extravaganzas as our Tenth Anniversary shows.

And their disdain is thoroughly justified. The RDR started in 2004. So, etymologically, we don't have a leg to stand on because 'anniversary' comes from 'annus'* which, as your classically educated friends will tell you, means 'year' and it's been eleven years, not ten, since then.

(*Get your mind out of the gutter, you appalling little degenerate. And learn to spell.)

Perhaps we're trying to skate by on a technicality: The 2004 shows didn't feature new stories and didn't have a tie-in chapbook, so maybe we're celebrating ten years of chapbooks. Well, that'd be fine, but the problem is, this year's chapbook is the ninth, not the tenth. Here, take a scroll down the entire run:

See? Nine, not ten. So if it's eleven years and nine chapbooks where the hell do we get 'tenth' from?* While I'd love to tell you it's all due to an anomaly in the space-time continuum ('cause wouldn't that be exciting?), the truth, sadly, is much more mundane. There was no RDR in 2011 and 2014. So 2015 marks the tenth time (if not year) that we've put the show up.

(*No, we didn't pull it out of our annuses, you sniggering perv.)

Hey, while we're traipsing down Memory Lane, here's a look at the very first show we did. 2004, at Dark Delicacies. Dennis was still with us and Glen and I, not yet smart enough to have roped in Jonas and Rex to provide the music, were doing it ourselves. I'm at the back, almost lost in the dry ice, complete with shaved head and trusty Telecaster and Glen's manning his Korg up front while Dennis reads.

Interestingly, though Jonas wasn't yet part of the Rolling Darkness Orchestra, it was he who snapped that atmospheric little pic. Man of many talents. Go check him out at jonasyip.com

Anyway, whether it's the ninth, tenth, or eleventh anniversary, it's next weekend -- Friday October 23rd and Saturday October 24th -- and we'd love to see any or all of you there.

The Missing Piece Theatre
2811 West Magnolia Boulevard,
Burbank, CA 91505

8:00 pm curtain

$12 admission (including free chapbook)
Cash on the night or PayPal at glenhirshberg.com/appearances

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Keep That Darkness Rollin'

All aboard!

God knows how it happened, but apparently it's October already. Which means Halloween's just around the corner. Which means it must be time for Atkins & Hirshberg to put on their fancy hats and suspenders*, assume their secret identities as Algy Black and Artie Mack, and venture once more into the dark.

(*Relax, England. Doesn't mean what you think it means.)

It seems Burbank City Council couldn't get the restraining order together in time and that The Rolling Darkness Revue will in fact be back at the Missing Piece Theatre on Magnolia Boulevard the weekend before Halloween. Stories will be read. Schtick will be shamelessly schticked. Songs might even be sung.

Once more aiding and abetting Alge & Art in their latest shenanigans will be the great Kevin Gregg, the magnificent Jonas Yip & Rex Flowers and, making her second appearance with the Revue, that lovely chip off Glen's block, li'l miss Kate Hirshberg.

This is the paragraph where, for the sake of any new customers at the Atkins Bar & Grill, I should attempt to explain just what the hell the RDR is. But here's the thing, beloved and most welcome new customers, our regulars will get so bored if I do that again, that I'm going to ask instead that you cast your eye to the side of this column and, from the exhaustive list of labels you will find there, click on the one that says Rolling Darkness Revue and take a quick butcher's* at the relevant older posts that'll show up. All will become marginally less murky.

(*Sorry, America. Butcher's hook. Look.)

I should confirm though that, once again, our valued off-stage partners Paul Miller and Deena Warner have provided a beautiful chapbook that will be given free to all attendees of this year's show and will, in a couple of weeks time, be available at ridiculously low cost from Paul's yard -- www.earthlingpub.com -- for those unfortunates who live out of state. Deena's fantastic cover is framed within the show poster above, but let's give it its own well-deserved moment in the spotlight, shall we:

The Stella Noctis is slipping harbor. All ashore who's going ashore. The rest of you, welcome aboard. We're so glad you could join us on Die Reise der Toten*.

(*Apologies, sad mono-linguists. That's The Voyage of the Dead to you.)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

A Graveyard Ballet in Cyberspace

I've never been what the tech media refer to as an early adopter. Didn't have a VCR until well into the eighties (and even then it was a second-hand Betamax), never had an iPod, still don't have a smart-phone, and only signed up for Netflix streaming about a year ago. Sad, I know. So you'll hardly be surprised to learn, my lovelies, that the Atkins oeuvre has heretofore been available only in the form of those relics of the last century, books-on-paper.

Well, strap me onto my HoverBoard and beam me up, Scotty, because we're about to make the jump into hyperspace. Fuck opening the pod bay doors, Hal, check this guy out:

That's right, droogies. It's an e-book. No shit. Thanks to the folks at Cemetery Dance Publications, and specifically the great Norman Prentiss (who, when he's not busy being an award-winning author in his own right, spends his time as editor of CD's e-book line), your Uncle Pete was invited to be one of the initial batch of scribblers in their brand-new series, Cemetery Dance Select.

These mini-collections, retailing (oh, I'm sorry, e-tailing) at $2.99 per, contain four or five stories hand-picked by the author, along with a never-before-published afterword explaining just where they get off inflicting their crap on you how and why these particular masterpieces were written.

The initial series is so new that there's not even a splash-page up on CD's own site yet. You should instead get thee to an online bookstore of your choice (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes) and type 'Cemetery Dance Select' into their search window. This will open up a panorama of all 11 of the Select titles available and allow you to hesitate before springing for my book. "Oh, wait a minute," you'll be able to say. "They've got Michael Marshall Smith? And Lisa Tuttle*? Fuck you, Atkins. Maybe next month." 

*And Jeff Strand. And Lisa Morton. And Bev Vincent. And Lee Thomas. And Terry Dowling. And Kealan Patrick Burke. And John R Little. And Kaaron Warren.

Should, however, you have the remarkably good taste to already possess every word ever written by my ten team-mates then you can settle for mine, wherein you will find a quartet of my Liverpool-set stories: "Between the Cold Moon and the Earth", "The Mystery", "Intricate Green Figurines", and "Postcards from Abroad". Here's the link, kids --  http://amzn.to/1MehCSh  -- and remember to channel your inner Ringo or Sir Paul for the narrative accent for each of the tales. They should also, needless to say, be played at maximum volume.