Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review of "A Gothic Nomad Visiting Poe's Home"

Nicky's creative non-fiction story "A Gothic Nomad Visiting Poe's Home" appears in Dirty Black Winter.

This odd little tale starts with an explanation of the difference between an urban nomad and a homeless person. It boils down to urban nomads have "a debit card and a digital camera". So there, Mr. Policeman. You can't arrest Nicky for vagrancy (or whatever) because he has a debit card and a camera. The fact that Nicky includes this bit makes me think that he has been accused of being homeless before. Heh.

Then we jump into the story itself. Nicky explains that he took this trip back in March and April of 2003 "in the wake of the crash and burn interview on the radio were I got eaten alive and was interrupted every other line." I remember hearing about this, but it was before my first encounter with Nicky. I'd be interested in details if anyone has them.

From here on, I am no longer going to follow the text in the order that it's written. Nicky jumps around in time frame like a gecko on speed. I'll cover what happened in chronological order, as best I can figure it out. Unsurprising to anyone familiar with Nicky, this whole story is just one big bucket-o-fail, and I could probably post about 75% of it as lulzy outtakes. But I'll spare you.

Nicky took the train to Baltimore and arrived with "all [his] bags that [he] carried n.[sic]", "that black Kelty fleece liner, and one other thing [he] actually picked up for when [he]I went to New Orleans" and a large carton of Goldfish. He has no map. He's such a stud that he can simply find his way around by remembering episodes of "Homicide:Life on the Street". LOL. He also has not arranged for accommodations.

Then he takes a cab to...somewhere. He couldn't find Poe's grave and the house where Poe lived was apparently closed so Nicky had the cab driver take a photo of him in front of it. Then he writes that the camera died before the end of the trip and he could never get the pictures off it. That leads to the question: is an urban nomad still a nomad - and not a homeless person - if he has only a debit card and no camera? Inquiring minds want to know.

Nicky then wanders around - or perhaps stands in the place the cab driver booted him out of the cab and wrings his hands - trying to find "a  hostel or a hotel that was under $33.00 a night there. There’s nothing." So instead he "crashed for a little bit in the college." No, wait. Later he admits that he actually "pass[ed] out in the main part of Baltimore’s community college hall’s couch." Vagrant, what?

Over the next few days, he wanders around Baltimore. He takes a picture of himself with a statue of Poe because "it was one of those things I could picture Poe doing over me if he was alive to this day." I'm not sure *what* exactly Nicky thinks Poe would be doing to him but that sounds just a Nicky's not gay! No, no, he's not.

The statue is apparently in a "historic park" and when Nicky visits the information office, "the guard on
duty knew who [he] was from [his] website." Nicky is clearly delusional from his lack of sleep from crashing passing out at the college. The guard, a woman, takes pity on Nicky and lets him "take a nap in the area until closing". After she boots him out, he runs into the guy who offers to take him home for the night.

Yes, that guy. Who's been immortalized in Nicky lore ever since.

Short version: Naive-Nicky accepts an offer to crash at the house of a TOTAL STRANGER who hangs out around homeless people urban nomads. The guy takes him home and, if we believe Nicky's version of events, demands sex. Nicky freaks, grabs his pants and runs off with his hands over his ass as fast as his stubby little legs will carry him.

He spends the rest of that night sleeping on a park bench in the snow. More than once: "Waking up with snow covering me with only fleece sleeping bag liner on a park bench or drenched with rain was something that became the common thing for the first two days. There were times I unrolled my bedding in places where the Homeless would sleep just so I can get my medication wearing off." And the close encounter with temptation leads to much defensive "I'm not gay" whining scattered throughout this story.

Nicky also crashes at a mission one night and spends another few nights on someone's couch. Nicky says, "I was able to sleep comfortably in the living room as I’ve always been accustomed to sleeping on couches all my life." Said couch was promptly fumigated thereafter. The "someone" also apparently did not let Nicky stay at the house during the day while he was at work; Nicky had to pack up all his stuff and get out every morning.

This gem is buried in Nicky's recounting of couch-surfing: "I did this often when I was at the apartment in Justice too. My bed was two places at the apartment, my sick bed was the living room as much as Michelle hated when I did that." Michelle hated when Nicky parked his sick ass on the couch for days at a time instead of in his bedroom. How utterly unreasonable of her! To want to be able use the living room as room. I can only imagine how bad of a roommate Nicky must have been. No money, no hygiene, and no common courtesy. Yikes.

Nicky runs out of money before the trip is over and has Granny wire him some money because he "didn’t have a debit card just yet."

What? He has neither a debit card or a (functional) digital camera! Guess he's not really an urban nomad, then. Just a crazy man loose on the streets of Baltimore.

He tries to find an author and "friend" named Diane, but she wisely avoids him. He eats a lot of  "street food", probably because sit-down restaurants won't let him in because he looks and acts like a crazy homeless person. He also has weird dreams about Poe being his BFF and loving all his (Nicky's) work. He writes that dream-Poe "was dressed in modern clothing almost if he was borrowing the grungy take on the Gothic community with the torn up black cargo shorts, hooded sweatshirt, and hiking boots."

Predictably, Nicky gets sick as his odyssey in Baltimore is wrapping up. We are treated to a paragraph or five lovingly describing the blankets and sleeping bags that bondage-sleepsack-Nicky preferred to wrap up in both while sleeping and while travelling on the train.

And now things get a bit confusing. I think Nicky also went to Washington D.C. on this trip, and I think he ended up back in Chicago via train with a couple of days to kill before he could catch the bus back to Granny's Basement. He stayed at "a variety of places," with "a fingernail that was falling off when [he] was in D.C. that was infected pus everything." Gross. TMI.

It gets better, though. Nicky writes, "In fact in D.C. it fell off and I was feeling very ill from it. So when I came to Joliet Union I called an ambulance to get me over to the hospital. I was x-rayed and everything. It was my bronchitis acting up, and tired as hell." He called an ambulance over AN INFECTED FINGERNAIL.

At the hospital, they take some blood, treat whatever his issue is, and kick him out. Nicky is then  accosted by a "drug addicted lady" in a station wagon who asks Nicky if he is homeless. Has Nicky learned from his encounter in Baltimore with the guy picking up homeless guys urban nomads? Of course not. She offers to let him "stretch out" in the back of her car, and he accepts and promptly falls asleep. Unfortunately, we never learn how Nicky got from there to Granny's Basement.

The story ends with more whining about the gay guy in Baltimore and how "visiting Poe’s home ended up becoming a Gothic story within itself, one that would scare more people than a work of fiction." The end.

Overall, this story is completely lulz-worthy and demonstrates once again that Nicky should not be allowed to travel on his own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reviews of Nicky's Creative Non-Fiction

Since I last posted, the Great Poe Museum Edgar Allan Poe Birthday Bash and Scheduling Debacle has occurred. The Birthday Bash is the fun part; the museum is holding an event on January 14th in honor of Poe's birthday. The occasion that Nicky supposedly bought train tickets to Richmond to attend, to speak at, etc. The only problem - and here is the Scheduling Debacle part - our favorite travel-challenged troll from Morris, Illinois, planned his trip for January 20th to January 25th. Oops.

In honor of Nicky's issues with dealing with the outside world, my next two reviews will be for two of  Nicky's creative non-fiction stories - "15 Minutes Before the 11th Hour" and "A Gothic Nomad Visiting Poe's Home". The first is about Nicky's close encounter with a Lexus, and the second is about an ill-fated "I navigate Baltimore by remembering episodes of Homicide:Life in the Street" trip to, you got it, Baltimore.

Fear not, though, I am still working my way through A Library of Unknown Horrors as Nano writing permits.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review of "Blood Contender"

We now take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to discuss a different offering by Nicky - his short story “Blood Contender”, from the brain-numbingly bad Dirty Black Winter.

Nicky has stated that “Blood Contender” is a paranormal romance and “a man’s version of Twilight” (from the intro to Dirty Black Winter). It’s neither. It contains no romance, and the only resemblance to Twilight is that it has a vampire in it. And not even a sparkly one. Just a stupid one. What I do find interesting is that Nicky has chosen to show the main character, Vito, as dumb, lazy, and unethical. And a Gary Stu. I’m not sure if that is remarkable self-awareness from our favorite troll or simply an amusing display of karmic irony.

BTW, for extra fun and horrible hangover, take a sip of your favorite alcohol every time “(Gary Stu!)” appears below.

The story opens with the following Nicky-ese: “They don't know what I am, nor do I really know what I am myself these years. It was almost 80 years since I really knew what happened to me...” “I” is Vito. In 1919, when he was 22 years old, he was wandering around the European countryside after WW1. Despite joining the Army with “health issues” (Gary Stu!), Vito was a good shot with a pistol and had killed several men and one werewolf. The werewolf had Gypsy kin, one of whom put a curse on Vito, forcing him to “to wander the earth for [his] eternity” and “to live off the blood of the living without killing them.”

He was so disoriented that he couldn’t remember his own name. Although, he could remember his Army nickname. Go figure. In 1920 or 1921 (the story is unclear...go figure), Vito, being the upstanding and honorable guy that is, decides to take his supernatural speed and strength into the boxing ring (Gary Stu! for cheating) in the Netherlands. Vito “didn't have a name for [him]self at that time, but they've called [him] Vito Diablo.”

Vito’s unethical entry into boxing has predictable results: “The referees stood there in fear because the person would get up in a bloodied mess, staring at me in sheer horror because of the damage I caused. I could hear the crowd saying, “That figher, is not natural”

Then the reader is treated to a depiction of a boxing match. Vito has a physical before the match, and even though the doctors can find no pulse and think Vito feels “dead and cold to the touch”, they clear him to fight. Vito’s then-wife shows up to watch the bout “wearing a black dress and red lipstick.” (Gary Stu!) as all good Danish Goth wives do. When the referee introduces Vito, we find out he is from Chicago, Illinois (Gary Stu!)

Vito and his opponent, Igor,  exchange a bit of wimpy trash-talk and the bout begins. Vito, being inexperienced, leaves his hands down and Igor belts hits him a number of times with right crosses and/or left upper cuts (Vigo is too stunned to figure out which). Igor even hits Vito right on the fang, hard enough to break the bone if Vito were mortal. Since Vito apparently didn’t wear a mouth guard, it’s a good thing he’s immortal.

But then - oh wait, Vito does have a mouth guard - Vito hisses through it, “I’m going to get you my pretty,” “My turn,” and finally fights back, landing a few punches, breaking ribs each and every time because Vito is such a stud. And a cheater. (Gary Stu!) Tsk, tsk. Concealing his supernatural strength in a contest that relies heavily on strength.

Vito hisses again and punches some more. Then...ding, ding, ding, the round is over. Vito retreats to his corner, drinks a little blood to recharge, and then back to the center for round two.

This round is even more brutal. (that was sarcasm in case you missed it). Presumably Vito is still breaking bones with every strike, but Igor is stands fast. He’s almost as much of a stud as Vito. Igor gets bloodied. The referee, who is either a complete novice or a complete wuss and deserves to be fired, freaks out about the blood. The spectators are even worse; they’ve come to sports event known to get bloody and then faint at the sight of blood (at this point I’m waiting for EMTs to show up, but alas, that is another story with specters and exiles and such).

When the second round is over, Vito is thinking he’s pretty hot shit, just like “if a Great White Shark went in and grabbed a seal out of the water then putting all its weight in the air...” (Sharks!) The fight continues two more rounds, and Vito The Cheater is declared the winner.

Now the reader gets more backstory. Vito, clearly not the shiniest Christmas ornament on the tree, thinks that boxing “was the only way [he] could really disguise [his] age years after becoming a vampire.” His reasoning has something to do with being sick all the time before joining the Army (Gary Stu!) and after he became a vampire, he got better but he still need to test himself or stay fresh or some such bullshit. Vito and logic...they do not go together.

Vito’s father was in the U.S. Army, and Vito still keeps his (Vito’s) uniform under glass. He lifts weights to stay in shape, cheats at boxing boxes to put money on the table, moves to the Netherlands after WWI, gets married, moves back to the U.S in the 1950s to...guess where … anyone … Bueller ... anyone … Yes, you got it, the Chicago area. (Gary Stu!)

(And if my last paragraph sounded coherent, believe me, it took several readings of Nicky’s convoluted prose to extract those details.)

Now Vito is Vito Dioverde. Vito believes he has citizenship from back when he lived in the States in the 1910’s, but fortunately he doesn’t stress any employer’s credulity by doing something responsible and manly like trying to get a job to support his family. Instead he sends his wife out to get a factory job. She’s got a green card, so she’s good to go. He lifts weights, sleeps on the couch, drinks beer, belches, and occasionally fights.

He hooks up with an old friend, Frank, who now works at a blood bank and talks Frank  into stealing blood for him. Vito is such a wuss, though, about the whole vampire thing - despite the fact that he can cheat at boxing and win - that he mixes the blood with alcohol to disguise the taste of it. Frank, who is far nicer to Vito than he should be, sterilizes used beer bottles in bleach water before filling them even though germs can no longer harm Vito and fills them with the blood/beer or blood/vodka.  Vito doesn’t even provide his own booze; he just shows up at the blood bank and asks for more of the mixture. Poor Frank, he deserves better.

But it is not to be. Frank, who is “a guinus in the territory of medicine” and who specializes in “things that will keep a vampire going in sports such as wrestling or boxing” (Gary Stu!) becomes Vito’s personal doctor and then Vito’s manager. I’m unclear on the timeline of all this because Nicky’s writing rambles all over the place.

More backstory from the 1950’s follows. Poor dumb Vito changes his name to Vito Deadfall because he thinks this will keep people from getting suspicious about his age. Vito, despite his lack of brains, is a stallion in the ring. In practice sparring, he can last four hours! Although he originally fought with a shaved head, he now wears his hair longer (Gary Stu!) and in a ponytail.

Vito also has a son during these 10-14 years that he is “training”, couch surfing and living on his wife’s income. Vito laments that his son does not, upon the instant of his birth, realize Daddy is a vampire, but he thinks fondly that his son will figure it out as soon as the boy gets into a couple of fights. Daddy of the Year, he is not.

Finally, Vito gets back into boxing when his son is 14. In 1957. Or wait, that’s not 14 years... but... oh fuck it, I have no idea how long Vito was a lazy-ass, but now he’s back for his first fight in the U.S. He’s announced as Vito Dioverde and his European record is listed. 30-0.

Vito, still trying to conceal his true age and identity, is mortified at this horrendous slip. He turns to  Frank, who is still standing by his side, and rips out his throat . He is exposed! A riot ensues, and he fights his way through the crowd, killing at will, ripping off arms and heads, and... Strike that, that whole paragraph never happened. Wishful thinking.

He’s announced as Vito Dioverde and his European record is listed. 30-0. Vito doesn’t bat an eye. He swaggers into the ring to meet his opponent, an ex-Army dude (Gary Stu!) from Rockford, Illinois (Gary Stu!) The fight begins.

Vito takes a blow from his opponent that felt like “it was enough to dent a few bones.” Dented bones? Ah Vito, you big dumb ox. Then said ox punches his opponent in the kidneys even though this was a no-no in previous matches. He also knock the guy down a couple of times, but the guy gets back up before the eight-count expires. Ding, ding, ding. End of round.

Vito swills down some pig’s blood on the break. I guess with Frank being his manager now, Frank has no more access to human blood at the blood bank. His opponent, meanwhile, is far from stupid. He looks at Vito and says, ““Jesus Christ, that guy isn't human.” You got it, dude. You’re fighting a slimy cheater.

Vito gets all puffed up. He thinks about he is a GLADIATOR, just without a sword and a shield; he is most definitely not “that kind of vampire portayed in what's her faces books.” (LOL!) He thinks that the Chinese and Japanese invented all the martial arts, but forgets about the styles originating in Brazil, Israel, Korea, and the United States, just to name a few. He knows that the media knows “[he] was an undefeated boxer who fought over in Europe professionally in the 1920s” but he’s not worried. No, he’s a GLADIATOR!

He’s so lost in his self-aggrandizing thoughts that...we never learn about the end of the bout with the military dude.

Instead we get another mass of “telling” text. Show, Nicky, don’t tell.

Vito’s proud of his son as he grows up. Vito Jr. starts getting into fights in night clubs, but he wins every single time (Gary Stu!). In Vito’s words: “Yeah I am proud of the little bastard, beating people up just like his dad does.” (Gary Stu!)

Vito continues to limit his boxing because he’s still worried that someone - besides the media, that is, who already know about his European record - will find out what he really is. He hides his vampirism from his brother and sister by telling them he works the night shift and can’t attend family functions. His brother and sister apparently accept this and never visit him or plan functions on his days off.

Frank eventually dies and he leaves Vito “the details how to make the blood drink that he made from beer”. Find bottle, pour in some beer, pour in some blood until full. Duh.

And now it’s 1997. Vito knows his boxing days are over since “the boxing organization would be aski ng why I haven't aged one bit – then it would be all over. The tabloids and the journalists would be all over it.” So one night, Vito is sitting around, feeling lonely and sorry for himself, maybe a little drunk on blood or something, and he...

calls “a local hard rock station in the 1990's to tell [his] story – figured it wouldn't hurt.”

WTF? The tabloids, journalists, and boxing commission being all over it wouldn’t hurt?

And that is where the story ends.

Poor Vito. Poor dumb, clueless, cheating Vito.

I’ll leave you all with Nicky’s words in the intro to Dirty Black Winter: “Dave Summers loved the idea of the story but wanted me to do more with it, so did Misty of Withersin...” Yeah, I’ll bet they did.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"A Library of Unknown Horrors" Initial Impressions

I’ve just begun to look at “A Library of Unknown Horrors”, and I wanted to share my initial impressions.

One of the first things that grabs anyone’s attention when looking at a book is, of course, the cover. The cover of ALoUH is atrocious. It’s a bad line drawing of some kind of animal dressed up in human clothes. What this has to do with horror, I’m not sure. The back cover is only moderately better, but the text is mostly illegible scrawl. At least, the editor managed to spell his name and website address correctly on this back cover (unlike the recent “Ethereal Gazette 13” / "Lossil Fossil Press" debacle).

The next page inside is a badly Photoshopped photograph of someone’s face – perhaps the editor’s? Again, not a professional look by any means.

Following a surprisingly coherent, although still ungrammatical and self-centered, “Special Acknowledgements” section, we come to the Table of Contents.

Of the 28 stories included in the anthology, 12 are public domain and, presumably, on the Internet for free. Four of the non-public-domain stories – “A Night in the Unlife of Roger Sparks”, “Scarlet Frost”, "Bathtime”, and “The Eve of All Shadows” – are also available for free on the Internet where they were posted by their authors. That leaves only 12 stories in the anthology that are (possibly) exclusive content.

The TOC also contains a number of errors. In reviewing Lake Fossil Press anthologies in the past, I have assumed that the story title and author name that appear in the body of the anthology are correct, i.e. what the author sent to the editor, who then simply copied and pasted the story into the master document. Where the TOC and the body of the anthology differ, I assume the TOC is incorrect.

In this TOC, the editor misspells Scot J. Savage’s name, Douglas Araujo’s name, and Ken Kupstis’s name. He also misspells words in the titles of “Scarlet Frost”, “The Great Morgan Family Reunion and Snipe Hunt”, and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. At least he got the page numbers right this time.

Overall, my initial impression is of sloppy editing and bad artwork. I hope that the stories show more promise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time for More Reviews

Our favorite little troll has come off "hitatus" and is back annoying the Internet with his ungrammatical rants and generally whiny-ness. And that means it's time for more reviews. What should I do first:

Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Five stories left to go. I've read all but one of them and have started writing up the review, but it's been almost 10 months so my memory is a little fuzzy

Ethereal Gazette Issue 11 - The latest edition of the EG, with surprisingly decent artwork by a naive young artist on Vampirefreaks who provided him with the art work from her DeviantArt account. This issue contains eight fiction stories - two of which are by Nicky - three public domain stories, and one true-life story (I think). The preview contains some amusing typos, including three different spellings of "portrait". In a lovely deja-vu moment, Nicky has also misspelled Lloyd Phillip Campbell's middle name in the TOC; it's missing the second "i" (and this is Lloyd Phillip Campbell-Nicky's alias, not Lloyd Phillip Campbell-the gay poet). I'm curious to see what the body of the anthology contains.

A Rural Weird Tale - Nicky's "cult exclusive" post in the H.P Lovecraft cult on, from back in April (IIRC). I think it's supposed to be non-fiction...

Dirty Black Winter - Nicky's latest collection of ungrammatical hash which shares its title with a wonderful poem by the above-mentioned up-and-coming gay poet, Lloyd Phillip Campbell. Is Nicky trying to tell the world something?

A Library of Unknown Horrors - The book that Nicky managed to foist off on the Poe Museum in Virgina. Because of this foisting, Nicky was the subject of two puff pieces on slow news days in a couple of small local newspapers.

I should mention that Nano is starting up in three weeks, and I'm participating again this year. That means my time in November will be limited but I'll do the best I can.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WNEP: Another Kind of Asshat

I'm taking time out of my normal coverage of Nicky to discuss several women who have Nicky beat for narrow-minded vitriol.

Yesterday, Kena Vernon, a reporter at Pennsylvania TV station WNEP, ran a story about high school teacher Judy Buranich who writes erotic books for Ellora's Cave under the name Judy Mays. (I quit purchasing books from EC some time ago for several reasons including their business practices and their inability to consistently deliver decent prose at a reasonable price; however, that has nothing to do with their authors who should not be tarred with the same brush as EC's owners).

Ms. Buranich had apparently kept her writing life confidential from most students and parents. The gist of the story was how three parents had found out about Ms. Buranich's writing and were upset because OMGWTF it has SEX in it. And she's teaching KIDS!! Oh the controversy. And oh the backlash.

Three women - yes, a whole three - were quoted in the story. The first two women - Wendy Apple and Deanna Stepp - simply come across as narrow-minded asshats who still believe that women can't or shouldn't enjoy, discuss, or write about sex. And yet they have kids. Unless the stork dropped off some babes in diapers, this makes them hypocrites as well.

Ms. Apple is quoted in the article as saying:
"Now my son knows so how is he thinking when he's sitting in her class knowing what she does on the side"
Does this woman also think that pregnant women shouldn't teach because her son might imagine how the teacher got pregnant. Didn't we leave this type of sexist thinking behind sometime in the first half of the last century?

And I've got news for her. Her son is a teenager; sex is pretty much all he's thinking about right now.

Elsewhere, Ms. Apple is claims that people are attacking her on Facebook for speaking out. Yup, this is America, where you have the right to say narrow-minded, sexist bullshit...and people have the right to tell you that you're saying narrow-minded sexist bullshit.

But the stupid stick today really goes to Kelly Hornberger, who says in the video version of the story (emphasis mine):
"Unbelievable. I can't even imagine somebody would write such stuff. I don't read it. I don't watch it. you know...that's just not how I want my children to be brought up. And I don't want my son sitting in her class thinking, "Is she looking at him, you know, a certain way..."
Huh? Because Ms. Buranich writes erotica, she should be suspected as a pedophile? Under what rock does this woman live? This is so disgusting that I don't really have words to discuss my outrage.

And let's not forget Ms Vernon's and WNEP's role in all this. By airing the pedophile implication and by not presenting any balance - or even any fucking common sense - to the claims made by these women, they are in effect endorsing the message in the story. I hope that WNEP has a good lawyer. I hope Ms. Buranich has an even better one.


A cool Youtube video by someone who professes to be a former student of Ms. Buranich. Go watch it!

Smart Bitches cover the story
Dear Author covers the story
WNEP's Facebook page is getting hammered
The Support Judy Mays Facebook page has 3719 likes (and it's still increasing)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Rusty Nail Has Moved Again

The Rusty Nail has moved again. Once again, someone filed fraudulent and malicious reports with the blog's former host that The Rusty Nail was spam. So now the The Rusty Nail is here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Upcoming Reviews

I should have a bit of free time over the next couple of weeks, and that means it's time to catch up on outstanding reviews:

Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Yes, finally (!!), the completion of reviews for the stories in Issue 12 is almost at hand. There are, I believe, five stories left. I've read all but one of them and have started writing up the review.

Ethereal Gazette Issue 11 - Nicky's backwards way of doing things is a mite confusing, but he has finally produced Issue 11 of the EG. I actually like the cover of this issue because Nicky didn't do it this time; he found a nice - but naive - young lady on Vampirefreaks who provided him with the art work from her DeviantArt account. Unfortunately, Nicky manage to misspell the very difficult-to-spell word "second' on the front cover of the magazine.

This issue contains eight fiction stories - two of which are by Nicky - three public domain stories, and one true-life story (I think). The preview contains some amusing typos, including three different spellings of "portrait". In a lovely deja-vu moment, Nicky has also misspelled Lloyd Phillip Campbell's middle name in the TOC; it's missing the second "i". I'm curious to see what the body of the anthology contains.

A Rural Weird Tale - Nicky's latest "cult exclusive" post in the H.P Lovecraft cult on I think it's supposed to be non-fiction...

I know that I also have non-Nicky books to review as well and that is coming. Those books are far more enjoyable than those listed above and not so lulz-worthy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Little Fun Diversion

Click anywhere within the box to feed the fish.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Rusty Nail Has Moved

Hopefully, it's just temporary, but The Rusty Nail has a new home.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

National Stop Bullying Day

Today is the National Stop Bullying Day (in the U.S.). I suggest that all of us who have been bullied, harrassed, threatened, or stalked by Nicky Pacione share our stories somewhere today - in a blog post, in blog comments, on a forum, etc. I will be travelling and away from my computer most of today, so my post will not be up until later tonight.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DMCA Conclusion -or- The Post is Back

I heard back from Blogger today, and the post that Nicky filed the fraudulent DMCA claim over is back up.

And I see that another one of Nicky's blogs has been taken down for violating a sites Term's of Service. how many does that make now? I've lost count.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DMCA Further Developments

With regards to Nicky's DMCA notification, Blogger has informed me that "The requirements for a counter-notification under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act are not the same as the requirements for the original notification." Um, yeah. While technically true, they are splitting very fine hairs.

Notification must include, amongst other things: "(iv) Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if avail-able, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted."

Counter notification must include, amongst other things: "(D) The subscriber's name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of Federal District Court ..."

The text of the law says that the notifications must "substantially include" the above information, which is where I think Google hangs their hat on not requiring complaining parties to provide a mailing address. I responded in kind by providing a mailing address (a P.O. box) but not my phone number; I don't need a basement troll calling me at all hours to whine about what a meanie I am.

Since I have responded with a counter notification, Blogger must restore my post within 10 to 14 business days, unless they receive notice from Nicky that he "has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material on the service provider's system or network." In this case, subscriber = me.

I can't see Nicky filing legal action. For one, he can't afford it. For another, the copyright infringement claim is obviously ridiculous to the layman. Here is Nicky's claim:
"She posted all the links to every story of a version that doesn't have the stories in there. This is unauthorized what she's doing."
Nicky is SOL. Lists cannot be copyrighted, and link addresses cannot be copyrighted. Furthermore, the links all point to legally posted content by the content owners.

Now the following is for Nicky, who I know reads this blog:

Nicky, before you even think about continuing to harrass me with false DMCA claims, know this - I have a job and can afford an attorney. You cannot. The DMCA includes penalties for materially misrepresenting that material or activity is infringing. I suggest you read it. Would you like to pay my costs and attorney's fees?

Friday, January 21, 2011

DMCA Timeout -or- How Nicky Has to Eat Crow

So as most of you know, back in July of 2010, little Nicky filed a DMCA complaint about my blog post with links to the publicly available stories that he reprinted in Tabloid Purposes. I filed a counter notification the same day. I have e-mailed Blogger/Google many times since then, and finally LAST NIGHT, I received a response. Six months to the day.

I had asked that they not pass on the personal information in the counter notification to little Nicky because he had threatened to kill me. They responded that by law they had to and asked if I wanted to amend or withdraw the counter notification.

So I asked for a copy of the original complaint, which they had never sent me. I figured if I was ponying up personal info, I wanted to see Nicky's, too. Blogger/Google sent me a copy back this morning, quite promptly. I looked at it and....

Wow.  By law, the complaining party has to provide "information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party". However, the only information that little Nicky provided was a name and e-mail address. There's no mailing address, no phone number. Ooops. Does that meet the requirements of the DMCA? I don't think so.

I have now e-mailed Blogger/Google back and explained to them quite politely that the DMCA complaint does not appear to meet the legal requirements of a valid notice and asked that my blog post be reinstated. If that doesn't work, I do have a counter notification ready. But I have asked to submit one that contains only an e-mail address for contact since that was all little Nicky had to provide.

I've also discovered that Blogger/Google was required to reinstate my blog post within 10 to 14 days of receiving my counter notification - something they didn't do, which is in violation of the DMCA.

Things should be interesting for the next couple of days...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 10

“The Scorpion Temple” by S.G. Cardin

Nicky has misspelled the name of this story in the Table of Contents, where it is listed as “The Soorpion Temple”. This story is supposedly “In Memory of Barbara Malenky”, but I can’t figure what the story has to do with her or her style of writing. The story opens with a quote from Lovecraft. Ms. Cardin has also posted elsewhere that this is a Lovecraft influenced story, and that I can see.

Most of the story takes place in 1961. A young archeology student, named Barbara Dugan, and her professor travel to a remote island in the Caspian Sea to investigate a temple protected by scorpions. The professor’s brother discovered the island in 1911, journalled extensively about it, and just before the story opens, died and left his estate to the professor. The professor sees a way to make a name for himself, and after setting Barbara to researching the brotherr’s journals, he obtains a sponsor and away they go. Of course, the trip ends badly for young Barbara, the professor, and the two other students taken along to help.

I can appreciate what Ms. Cardin was trying to do, but several issues plagued the story. First, I didn’t really get much of a sense of Barbara as a person, despite the story being told in the first person. There were also some factual errors, such as the professor’s brother writing about genetic mutation by radiation in a 1911 journal; gene research (and our understanding of radiation) was in its infancy in 1911. Another example is jars of formaldehyde left open for over 40 years with the contents not evaporating.

But the largest problem for me was the true nature of the scorpions and how that was discovered. Since this is key to the story, it needed to be well-thought out. Turns out aliens  crash-landed a long time ago on the island, were stranded, and bred with the scorpions because that was the closest life-form to theirs. OK, so far so good. Then they forced the local populace to build the “temple”. And then the scorpions/aliens wrote the whole story across the temple walls in heiroglyphics. Errr? A space-faring creature would write in heiroglyphics rather than a complete and mature language?  There are other issues with unique light from a particular star, etc. Overall, I thought the science fiction-y aspect of this story very weak.

Grade: C+

“Hex” by Larry M. Harris

If you want to read this story, don’t look in this anthology. Nicky has screwed up yet again and only included only about 40% of the story. Yes, that’s right, folks, this story just suddenly…stops. I Googled it, found it on-line, and read the rest of it.

This is actually a delightful little story from 1959. It first appeared in “Astounding Science Fiction” and was subsequently published at least four other magazines/anthologies. Nicky has lifted not only the text, but the original illustrations, which is legal as far as I can tell, but no credit is given to the original publication.

The story, which I really wouldn’t call science fiction, follows two characters – a young social worker with a very special “talent” for helping people, and an older Russian immigrant woman who doesn’t want to be helped and is resistant to the social worker’s talent. Despite the very spare style of writing, the two characters are well-developed and are wonderful foils for each other – the earnest do-gooder and the staunchly stuck-in-her-beliefs widow who recognizes what the young woman is doing and tries futilely to stop her.

Grade: A-

“Elegy” by Charles Beaumont

This story was originally published in February 1953 in “Imagination” magazine. It was also adapted into a script for an episode, also called “Elegy”, of The Twilight Zone. This is probably where it came to Nicky’s attention.

A group of astronauts who have been drifting through space, lost, suddenly come across an uncharted asteroid with what appears to be a city. They land their rocket (yes, a rocket) and upon exploring find that all of the occupants of the city are unmoving, like statues. Except for one man, who greets them and serves them wine while telling them a bit about the place they have discovered. Unfortunately, he doesn’t consider them acceptable additions to the city while they are still living. This story has a tragic ending.

It is always interesting reading science fiction stories written before the modern age of space travel. It requires a certain suspension of disbelief, or our current knowledge of space travel, planetary physics, etc. Yet I liked the story. Like the previous story, the writing is spare, but an overload of description was not necessary to convey the eerie nature of the city. Likewise a lot of character development is not necessary to the story. The key is in the nature of the city.

Grade: B+

Saturday, January 15, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 9

“Connection Lost” by Eric Mangum

This story about a writer, Michael Branson, who goes to his late parents’ cabin to get away and write and is “haunted” by his mother’s old computer is quite a mess. Odd factual inconsistencies mar the first part of the story. A 26-year-old writer with 12 best-selling books? Taking a battery out of a cell phone instead of just turning it off? A cabin that requires flashlights for light, but can support a computer and a cordless phone? A voicemail system that doesn’t let you listen to new messages first? Etc, etc., etc.

Then a spooky event – where the computer appears to have power even though it is turned off – freaks Michael out so much that he collapses on the couch in exhaustion. A healthy 26 year old guy? Weenie. *sigh*  Michael falls alseep and wakes up with his Bluetooth headset in his ear. Really really in his ear. He manages to remove it and then…..

Then the climax of the story is *told* to the reader by a sheriff who happens upon the aftermath and reads the manuscript that Michael supposedly wrote about how he killed the young girl found in the cabin with him. Because cops believe everything written by crazy persons. Yeah.

Grade: D

“Happy Anniversary!” by Todd Martin

If you believe this story, then couples who kill together, stay together. It’s Richard and Mary’s anniversary, and Mary presents Richard with a new set of steak knives that he’s been hinting about for months. Richard’s gift to Mary is something they can both use the knives on…and it isn’t a side of beef.

This story had an interesting premise and was generally well put-together, and with a bit more editing it could have been quite good. A bit more description would have brought the characters to life; there’s no last name, no physical description, nothing beyond an anonymous man and woman. The As-You-Know-Bob portions of the conversation could easily have been moved into narrative, rather than dialogue, and the head-hopping could have been cleaned up.

I think this writer has potential, but he needs someone to look over his work with a more critical eye. Too bad he ended up with Nicky for an editor. Particularly since he also got taken by PublishAmerica.

Grade: B-

“Threat Detected” by Andrew Boughton

This is also a story a man haunted – or this case, possessed – by a computer, which eventually kills him. It is also connected to the first story reviewed today because the main character Neil is a friend of Michael’s. And Neil’s little sister Allison is the girl that Michael kills (in the first story).

While having the two interconnected stories is a nice little surprise, I don’t think that putting this story second in the anthology was the most effective placement, considering that the events in this story take place before the events in the first story. This story also had issues of its own, although in general it was better written than “Connection Lost”.

The pace is initially bogged down with lots of details of Neil’s new computer and what he does to it to get it up and running. Neil, who is apparently the sole guardian of his 13-yr-old sister, spends more time on the computer and fussing over it than he does with her – there’s no cooking her dinner, making sure she’s in bed, etc. It’s just Neil and the computer. This is either unrealistic or Neil is a pretty bad pseudo-parent. I felt bad for Allison by the end of this story.

Mr.Boughton also has issues with punctuation. Specifically, commas may not be used in place of periods or semi-colons. I had to read several run on sentences multiple times.

Grade: C

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 8

Two housekeeping items first:

1. I have discovered that Nicky mispelled another contributer’s name, whose story I have already reviewed, in both places that it occurs in the magazine. Ken Kuptis is actually Ken Kupstis. I have corrected the spelling of his name in my previous posts.

2. I have updated the blog page for this on-going review, including links to those stories that are available on-line for free. If you want to read those stories, you can simply click away.

Now on to today's reviews:

“Hell on Wheels” by Terry Lloyd Vinson

In this story, an estranged husband and wife engage in a late night duel-by-muscle-car, with predictably tragic consequences. This story uses an unusual story-telling style, which I was initially skeptical about because I don’t like gimmicks. Here is the beginning of the story:

“The road war begins:
The Time: One-forty-five a.m.
The Date: June sixth in the year of our lord nineteen-hundred and seventy.
The place: A two-lane frontage road just off I-40, two and a half miles east of
Cattamount, New Mexico.
The landscape (an overview): Flat roadway; the narrow shoulders of which are
dominated by desert flooring with a light gravel mix that quickly transform into steep,
sand-dune constructed drop-off’s on either side….”

Soon the narrative picks up, and it is told using a distant third-person omniscient narrator. The reader gets to see what is happening in both cars, to know what both characters are thinking in the same scene (the story is essentially one long scene).The ending of the story is told using two supposed newspaper articles about the events.

I enjoyed this story. It won me over and held my interest to the end. There is not much character development, and the prose style is terse; yet the mystery of who the two drivers are and why they have such animosity is well-done. For most of the story, the drivers are referred to only as Driver One and Driver Two. Clues to their identities are revealed during the narrative, but the relationship between the two is only finally revealed in the articles.

You can check out the story for free at Authorsden.

Grade: B+

“Rosh Hashannah” by Scott Meade

What’s not to like about a story that includes an angel smiting a drunk in the liquor aisle at Wallyworld? How about this:

“Billy picked up the remote from the end stand between the couch and the recliner where John was sitting. He pointed the remote toward the entertainment system and pressed a button, which caused the CD player to begin pushing the sounds of the song “Promise Me” by Straight Line Stitch through his Bose speakers.”

“He had offered to buy it from Billy on several occasions, but would always be promised that it would be given to him free of charge whenever Billy would decide to buy new furniture.”

“Fright had revealed itself through him as he recalled the photo that he had found on the Internet.”

“His heart was pounding as sweat immediately extracted through the pores in his face.”

“John and Billy were peaking around the corner when Samantha caught up with them.”

I can’t go on. I could copy and paste about 50% of the story here. I’ll summarize by saying that the writing is clumsy, simplistic, wordy, and immature.

The plot is basically three people - Jimmy (no last name), Billy (no last name), and Samantha (no last name) – who are amatuer ghost demon hunters discuss whether or not a series of seemingly unrelated, except for the manner of death, deaths are all the result of an angel. One character argues that the deaths started on Rosh Hashannah, and people being killed are committing acts from a list of sins in the book of Galations, therefore it must be an angel. Yes, my religious history may be shaky, but I’m still wondering what Judaism and the Christian New Testament have to do with each other. *sigh*

Our intrepid ghost demon hunters also discuss how unlikely it would be to find the supposed angel because the deaths are occurring all over the world. Then they run out of coffee. What to do? Head to Walmart for more and - lo and behold! - there is the angel! And he smites someone (the drunk), which is the only interesting part of the story. Security cameras and Samantha's cell phone don’t record the angel, just the drunk's gory death. Several days later Samantha turns up dead the same way. Huh?

Grade: D-

“Going Wild” by Christopher Dabrowski, Translated by Aneta Szaraniec-Sandecka

This is a strange little story about aliens of a higher consciousness that, I believe, has been translated from Polish. It starts out well enough with a psychiatrist hypnotising a patient as part of a routine treatment. This time, however, he asks her an unusual question while she is under – “who are you?” The answer is unexpected.

From there, however, the story lost me. Humanity goes to hell some years later, but the connection to the original scenes isn’t clear. I read the last pages again, but I still don’t get it.

Grade: D

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

12 Days of the Ethereal Gazette Issue 12 - Day 7

I apologize for the delay (thanks to an anony-mouse for reminding me), but we now continue with our review of The Ethereal Gazette Issue 12, published by the Morris, Illinois, based Lake Fossil Press.

"Sanctuary" by Lee Cushing

This story - about soldiers battling women who have turned into blood-sucking monsters (no, not vampires) - feels like it is part of a larger work. The reader is dropped into the action with no back story to orient the reader. The main characters are barely described, and climax of the excerpt is not *really* a climax, but one small victory in what appears to be a larger battle.

I did a quick search and this story is posted on Authorsden. Nicky begged Mr. Cushing to expand the story and then allow him to publish it. A note at the beginning of the Authorsden story post reads, "A group of specialists seek refuge in a convent after discovering the location of a nest of Baobban Sith in this sequel to TANGERINE NIGHTMARE." So yes, this is indeed *not* a complete story. The writing itself is not that bad, but why didn't Nicky take the time to obtain the entire story?

Grade: C

"The Horror at Martin’s Beach" by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene

I have never been much of a Lovecraft fan, but this story appeals to me more than the others of his that I have read. And yet the story still has problems.

A boat captain catches and kills a mysterious 50-ft-long sea creature – with tiny legs in place of fins and a single large eye – and shows it off over a number of days to curious on-lookers. Scientists discover (somehow?) that it is a juvenile and from the depths of the sea (??). Um, creatures from the depths of the sea – where there is no light – typically don’t have eyes. And just a single eye? Anyway...

Needless to say, revenge is close at hand. Some unseen creature comes along  and traps a group of hapless but well-meaning humans who try to aid what they assume is a drowning person, and in turn are drowned themselves. By the unseen creatures use of supernatural or hypnotic powers. The mysterious creature from the depths is an old standby of Lovecraft’s, but how this connects to the “baby” I don’t get.

At least this story contains actual horror – the drownings – as opposed to Lovecraft’s narrator simply seeing something too horrible to accurately describe (er…I see where Nicky gets his predeliction) and going mad. Still, the disconnect between physical aspects of the baby and the supernatural aspects of the supposed mama didn’t work for me.

Grade: C-

"In the Shadow of the Emerald City" by Jason Andrew

The title of this story is listed as “In the Shadow of Emerald City” in the Table of Contents. In the body of the anthology, the word “the” is included before “Emerald”. I wonder what the author actually titled his story? His blog seems to indicate that Nicky has erred yet again.

In this story, a playboy love-em-and-leave-em type is confronted with the children he never knew he had. Jimmy likes his women young and his penis bare. When the women inevitably get pregnant, he takes them to his Uncle Sal, a doctor at a family planning clinic, to solve the “problem”. Unfortunately, Sal hasn’t really solved  Jimmy’s problem.

While this story had possibilities, it got some basic stuff wrong. Like heroes crawling inside ductwork or setting off building-wide fire spinkler systems by tripping one head, the idea open sewer systems – like the one this story relies on – is not realistic. Seattle, the “Emerald City” of the title, does not, as far as I can tell, have open sewer tunnels that people and other critters could live in.

Why Sal, a doctor at a clinic, would flush the products of abortions into the sewer rather than simply putting them in the medical waste disposal is a mystery to me. Since this act sets up the premise of the story, it is a major issue. Also puzzling is why Sal would “get arrested” for performing abortions. Were the girls underage? The story never says this. Were they too far along? That is never stated or implied either.

Finally, the reaction of Jimmy to seeing his offspring is disappointingly muted. The opportunity to explore the horror of the situation was not taken and that, in particular, made the ending of this story a let down.

Grade: C-

More to come tomorrow.