Goldfish Grimm’s Issue 20 is out! Includes “The Call of Gold Cat”

Issue 20 of Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi is out! Includes my weird short story “The Call of Gold Cat”, plus an interview. This short story was heavily workshopped at Scribophile. Thank you to all the readers who provided guidance.

Issue also includes new flash fiction from Mari Ness, “Survival.”

Holy Table-of-Contents mates!

I hope you enjoy this raw fresh fiction. It’s good for you!

Ask a Mad Scientist – Dr. Berm, Part 1

Dr. Berm - Ask a Mad Scientist - The Tory Party

The first part of an exclusive interview series with the very finest mad scientists in the business.

More may come. Be advised.

Flash Fiction: Idle Hands on Raptor VII

Speakers in the transcript are identified as follows:
Spacecraft:
CDR Commander Eugene S. Paul

MMP Martian Module Pilot Brian R. Cho
MSP Mission Specialist, Biology Gregor K. (Reggie) Mamchur

CDR Brian, may I speak to you privately?
MMP (Laughter.) That might be a challenge, Gene.
CDR Indulge me. Over here?
MMP Sure. (Indistinct.) What’s up?
CDR Well, I have sort of a situation I hope you can help me with.
You know our Community Simulator?
MMP (Laughter.) Yes, I’m familiar with it.
CDR Thing is, Reggie is logging an, ah, excessive number of hours on it.
MMP Oh? Is that a problem?
CDR He’s missed a meal and two workouts, so, yes.
MMP This mission’s been rough on all of us. Maybe he’s just busy in the lab?
Modeling spongifores is time-consuming –
CDR So my question for you is – and I’m not accusing you at all, but –
Did you make any changes to the Simulator?
MMP Changes?
CDR To the code.
MMP Oh, ah – (Laughter.) I did actually. Nothing big.
CDR … Brian, that is – That is very dangerous.
MMP Just a few things to keep everyone engaged. The personality modules.
Some conversation options —
CDR This isn’t Tetris you’re messing with. It’s a complex, carefully controlled
social simulation. It’s what’s going to make sure we’re scientists when we
get there and not just a bunch of non-functional meatheads.
MMP I understand.
CDR It took the psych team and the dev team twelve years to put that thing
together. This mission is too sensitive for you to go splashing around in it.
MMP Yes, Gene.
CDR So I want you to undo your changes before 2300.
MMP Ooh —
CDR “Ooh”?
MMP I don’t think I can do that.
CDR What?
MMP They didn’t have a repository in place, so I had to change the live code.
An oversight on their part, I’d say.
CDR They didn’t have a repository because no one was supposed to change
anything! You didn’t make a backup?
MMP I’m not really in that habit.
CDR Where is Reggie now?
MMP In the simulation room, I believe.
CDR All right. Let’s see what the hell you’ve done.
(Indistinct. Crosstalk.)
Reggie? Reggie, a moment…
MSP In a minute.
CDR Now, Reggie.
MSP Oh, for – Just a moment. Let me wrap this up.
CDR Is that – ? That looks like your wife!
MMP I know!
CDR And that’s your back yard! Oh, my God! Even the compost pile…
MMP We’re about to get some gardening done, if you don’t mind.
CDR The graphics – Like you could just stick your hand in and dig!
And her freckles! Did you do this, Brian?
MMP I guess. I didn’t think I got in the render modules, though.
CDR This – This is crazy. Reggie, can you turn the camera –
MSP [Indistinct.]
CDR When you get a chance. Are they all in there? I just want to see. Tell her —
MSP It’s my wife.
CDR Yes, of course. It’s just – I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever.
(Pause.)
Brian, you didn’t do this.
MSP Yes, I did.
CDR Not all of it. You couldn’t have.
MSP Pretty sure I did, Gene.
CDR No. Something else did this. Did Mission Control send an update and
we missed it?
MSP Not a chance. I verify those logs.
MMP You two are making it hard to concentrate.
CDR Maybe … Maybe you just opened the door. Caught their eye. Let them in.
MSP Who?
CDR Maybe we moved into their neighborhood.
MSP Are you talking about Grant and Taka? We let them take their turns.
We’ve been talking about a two-player –
CDR No. Something else. God, that looks just incredible.
The sky – That sun is making it warmer in here. Am I crazy?
MSP What something else?
CDR Something smart. Something that doesn’t want a visit.
MSP Commander, what are you talking about?
CDR We should figure that out. We should do that right away.
(Pause.)
Reggie, can I play next?

Flash Fiction: Iguana Man

I write stuff. Sometimes it’s too weird to live anywhere but here. Here is one.

Every customer at Platinum made promises:

“I’ll show you the world.”

“I’ll treat you right.”

Lena of the long legs, lavender scent and vertiginous pole tricks had heard them all. So when the man with the silver suit and staring iguana eyes said, “I’ll change your life,” she just said, “I bet you would, baby,” and brushed his hand, taking her twenty a dance.

It was only after closing, in the darkened lot, when a blur of disgruntled drunk and wild defensive swing left her staggering over exploded fragments of skull and acrylic shoe, that Lena suspected he’d been sincere.

Kleenex for Valentine’s Day?

This ad showed up in my sidebar.

(Emphasis mine.)

1) Let’s not pretend Valentine’s Day is a “list” holiday. There is only one “list” holiday, and it ain’t in February.

2) If it were a “list” holiday, I’m not sure how a custom-printed box of facial tissues is going to fit the bill, unless you’re taking everyone out to see Titanic 3D.

Poo Candle

This exists.


At Dog Lover Gift Baskets

I do not find it amusing because I am a lady and also pure class.

5 Nitpicks With Black Swan

I have seen Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, and I have findings.

MASSIVE SPOILERS about a movie that’s really best not to know anything about going in.

The next episode of Clone Wars
If there were ten Natalie Portmans then maybe they could have saved the prequels

It’s gorgeous. It’s gripping. The acting is perfect. Natalie Portman runs the universe.

The world of the movie is watertight. Things that require a deft touch — melodrama, digital effects, BALLET DRAMA — work perfectly.

If you were this rad, you'd preen, too.
This is the pose I will do when they give me my Oscar

That’s probably why I’m picking at it. The closer you get to perfection, the sharper you can see the contrast, like a skinny girl trying to get skinnier OW MY METAPHOR.

Meanwhile step-sibling Splice is hanging out eating pizza and playing video games and no one is bothering it because no one had higher expectations from it OW MY EXTENDED METAPHOR.

I’d say Black Swan is perfect a-a-a-all the way up to Natalie Portman’s Nina returning to the theater for the climactic opening night performance. Then I would have preferred the following:

1) Nina enjoys the transformation for the rest of the movie, the way she does during her performance as the Black Swan (which is badass as hell).

2) She sees her rival, Lily (Mila Kunis), flirt with director Thomas — the man she’s been working to win over for the whole movie. It does not disturb her. She performs perfectly.

3) Before the second (Black Swan) act, Nina plants a terrible, plausible rumor — perhaps that Thomas got elder dancer Beth (Winona Ryder) pregnant? Or drove her to her suicide attempt? — that warns the other dancers (including Lily) away from him. If it were evil enough, it could justify her Black Swanliness.

Ewwwww.
I see you had onions for lunch

4) Her mother commits suicide (by jumping out the window of their claustrophobic apartment.) Nina learns of this before the third act, and it gives her the capacity for flight. Now she literally walks on air.

5) Nina completes the ballet. She looks at the only empty seat in the house (her mother’s). Satisfied with her perfect performance, she jumps from the scenery “cliff.” Deliberately, she lands wrong, breaking her feet. She is free of her mother, and, having achieved perfection, she is free from her drive for it.

–UPDATE December 7 —

I wrote most of this right after seeing the movie. After letting it sit a bit — and feeling it jangle in my memory — I have no beef with it. It was gorgeous, insane, precise. It pressed my buttons. I keep comparing it to The Fly and I begin to realize that’s a compliment; it’s the best body horror movie I’ve seen since that one, and, at the risk of sounding monumentally disturbed, I do like me some body horror. Black Swan left me with the lingering sensation that *I* experienced what Nina did — from the split toenail to the bulimia to the sports trainer jamming a hand under her ribs, leave alone the sexy stuff — and if that’s not art then I don’t know what is.

Gamine enough for ya?
At least Jeff Goldblum looked like his body could take the abuse

A-a-a-a-a-and spenditioned.

Raw Deal (the movie)

While typing up a treatise on Pumping Iron, I discovered “Day of the Schwarzenegger” on the USA network. Terminator 2 was on, and it was up to where Linda Hamilton’s attacking Dr. Dyson. Cool, let’s watch. Some notent notables:

  • Edward Furlong’s wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt. Who needs cyborgs from the future to off this kid? Surely SOMEONE at his high school wants to beat up the white kid wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt — especially if he’s got a sheaf of bangs in his face like that one goth kid in the Raisins episode of “South Park.” (By the way, someone totally had to explain “Raisins” to me.)
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (of “Law & Order,” but then again 90% of all actors are of “Law & Order”) plays Dr. Dyson’s wife. Not exactly a plum role — pretty much just crying and screaming — but still.
  • Robert Patrick is underrated and good. Even if he were overrated he`d still be underrated. Kind of like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Kind of the opposite of Duke University.
  • Linda Hamilton is underrated and good. But I can’t think about her too much or it reminds me of James Cameron. Mojitos and mid-life crises for everyone!

I enjoyed T2 and its weirdly poignant ending (sneefiest robot thumbs-up ever), so I decided to stick around for the Big Arnie movie that followed it: Raw Deal (1986).

Oh, my frippin` frip. Monty, this seems strange to me. I wanted to watch all of it so I could provide a full heckle, but I just couldn’t. It was so Grade Z and inscrutable — traits exacerbated by the fact that EVERYBODY is in this movie. As in, “That’s that dude from Law & Order — normally the stuff he says makes sense.” I facepalmed twice from the cast alone.


Steven Hill, the dude on the left, is the one from Raw Deal. S. Epatha Merkerson is on the right.

(Quick sidebar about this picture: Separately they are dude from Raw Deal, lady from “Baywatch Nights,” Lumiere, Sam the Eagle, dude from Catwoman and Reba the Mail Lady. But together they are the Best. Cast. Ever. Also, Angie Harmon burns my eyes with hottness. Also, no one puts Baby in the corner. )

Okay. Back to Raw Deal:

  • I went to IMDb to check out some things. The plot summary says something about Big Arnie having to be the sheriff of a small North Carolina town and crossing and double crossing and shenanigans. Yeah, I didn’t get that at all. I pretty much couldn’t tell who was good or bad or double agent or triple agent, but verily I wasn’t trying too hard. And if anything was supposed to be North Carolina I`m going to have to give that a big no. The whole movie looked shot in Vancouver before “shot in Vancouver” was invented — replete with Degrassi High film stock.
  • Here’s an idea — if your star has a huge Austrian accent, why not give him an Austrian name? Mark Kaminsky? Pirates.
  • Big Arnie has his hair slicked back like Renaldo the Heel. Every time he appeared in a scene I had that complete, fully articulated thought in my internal monologue: “Big Arnie has his hair slicked back like Renaldo the Heel.” It was very distracting.
  • At one point he robs a woman at gunpoint in the back of a car, and she just reacts like, “Oh, you dashing rake, here’s all my jewelry.” But wa-a-a-it, I know that redhead from somewhere. Also, she looks like Mischa Barton, fulfilling today’s “hey, she looks like Mischa Barton” quota. Thanks to IMDb, I see she is Micki from the “Friday the 13th” TV series! BRAAAAAWK! This is a series that needs to be released on DVD in a big way. Cursed antiques, people — CURSED ANTIQUES. Of course, the part before the opening credits was always the best part of the show — except maybe for the spooky tinny trumpet Tower of Terror credits sequence (owowo cursed antiques!) And the dude was totally proto-Xander. But I digress.


    I snarfed this image from Olaf’s F13 fan page. She made this face in *every episode*.

  • A kingpin refers to “smack” and “junk.” I dunno — seems like a big drug kingpin wouldn’t talk like a community college narc. Maybe you shouldn’t write a screenplay after a latte and a reading of “Naked Lunch.”
  • It had Robert Davi in it. Prolly you don’t know him by name — I sure didn’t, so here’s a picture:


    Okay, don’t freak out? But you’ve got some DiCaprio on your shoulder.

    So he sort of looks like Edward James Olmos. He and Big Arnie have these pointless Grade Z manlier-than-thou zing-offs:

    Big Arnie: I`m sure Max has made many mistakes.
    Robert Davi: Never the same one twice.
    Big Arnie: That’s what she said.
    Robert Davi: Takes one to know one.
    Big Arnie: “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb.
    Robert Davi: “I Know This Much Is True” by Spandau Ballet.
    Big Arnie: Faced.

  • It had Joe Regalbuto in it — you know, Frank Fontana from “Murphy Brown”? And I didn’t have to resort to IMDb to find any of that information. So if it’s wrong feel free to mock me. Hell, feel free to mock me regardless.
  • This movie supports my conviction that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a bad actor. All the actors here are hung out to dry — whether it’s Steven Hill fake bad golfing or Darren “poor man’s Gene Hackman” McGavin strolling in and out of a poorly-blocked and poorly-framed scene. And yet Big Arnie holds his own. The dialogue, with the Austrian accent that wouldn’t die, is as through a glass darkly, but for a dude that took up acting by force at 28 he’s really kind of a natural.

There is much more to say about Big Arnie but I`ll save it until I`m master of this Mac issue.