Noir at the Bar Queens 9/28

I will be reading at Noir at the Bar Queens, September 28th! Held at Kew & Willow Books, hosted by Alex Segura and Scott Adlerberg. They have really raised the bar (no pun intended) and run a great reading series. I’ll be reading from Riff Raff, the second Jay Desmarteaux novel, which will be released by Down & Out Books in autumn 2019. A great line-up: Kelly Braffett, Radha Vatsal, SJ Rozan, Carrie Smith, Hilary Davidson, Dave White, Wallace Stroby, Lee Matthew Goldberg, Nick Kolakowski, Hector Acosta, David Gordon, Jen Doll, and our hosts. It’s always been a good time, and a very short walk from the train. 

It also looks like I’ll be reading at the New York Public Library on Halloween about writing supernatural stories–like “Truth Comes Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind” and “The Summer of Blind Joe Death” among others–and I’ll share more details once I know. Damn right, I will be in costume…


Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee!

I’m honored to be a guest at Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee this year. Thanks to the Jordans and everyone involved. I was planning on attending anyway–I’ve heard so much about this great convention/party–but this makes it extra sweet. I’ll be on a panel moderated by Shaun Harris, author of The Hemingway Thief, which is a great fun read whether you love or hate Ernest, so check it out.

The Malmons will be there as will by publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, with copies of Killing Malmon, where 30 writers (including myself) killed Dan in amusing ways, to raise money for the MS society. If you can’t make it for a signed copy, get yours here.

Of course I’ll have Bad Boy Boogie and I’ll be writing Born on the Bayou, so if you want to influence a scene that I’ll write hungover on Saturday or Sunday morning, or late in my motel Friday night, now is the time. I can’t incorporate the Bronze Fonz, as it is all set in Louisiana, but I may have Jay meet the statue of Ignatius Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces… I’m 17,500 words in and having a blast. Which I hope means you will too, when you get to read it next year.

There will be a lot of beer. I’m going to the Lakefront Brewery to see the Schlitz bottling line filmed in the opening credits of Laverne & Shirley and I will only answer to the name The Big Ragu during this trip. I do not care if Milwaukee is “trying to shed the L&S image” as I read on one website… embrace it. You are so much more, I am sure, and I will see that, but come on. Hassenpfeffer Incorporated! Bah. It’s like Jersey trying to shed The Sopranos. It’s not like Laverne and Shirl were the cast of Jersey Shore.

And I’m jealous that your city has such a great song named after it. Written in 1903 by Dan Quinn before Jerry Lee Lewis made it (more) famous… I like this version:

What Made Milwaukee Famous Made a Loser Out of Me

And in case you missed it, I went as Bluto for Halloween. S.W. Lauden went as a California Highway Patrolman, mirror shades and all. If he brings his costume, we may walk around the con looking like half of The Village People.



Happy Halloween from Pyewacket!

Kim Novak and Pyewacket, her familiar from Bell, Book, and Candle

One of my favorite Halloween movies is Bell, Book, and Candle. Tonight I’ll be watching The Witch, though. I highly recommend it, if you like disturbing stories. It tells a tale straight from the Salem Witch trials, as if the stories told were truth, and it succeeds with chilling efficacy.

But if you don’t like being scared, here’s a very funny pastiche of Lovecraft and Schultz, by John Aegard, over at Strange Horizons:

The Great Old Pumpkin.

I loved it. And here’s my costume, the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. My favorite line isn’t why a raven is like a writing desk, but rather when Alice says, “I don’t think…”

and he quips. Then you shouldn’t talk!

Nasty fellow, that Hatter… lay off the mercury.



A Visit to the Fun-Ghoul

I’m not huge on Hallowe’en but I do dig the spirit of dressing up however you please, celebrating the joyful acceptance of the morbidity of human existence, and pillow cases full of terrible candies. It’s the closest some of us get to cultural anthropology, wondering where the heck your neighbor found Zagnut bars and who actually enjoys Necco wafers. (Harlan Ellison, for one. I think he likes the chocolate ones. I remember him writing about the first time he found entire rolls of just chocolate flavor, as if he’d discovered alien life). My favorite candy? I like fake peanut butter. So, Whatchamacallits and Goldenberg’s Peanut Butter Chews (not Mary Janes, those are abominations). Not that I’d turn my nose up at a Twix or a mini Chunky with raisins (good luck finding those anymore).

But enough about candy. The Fun-Ghoul Costume Store has been a New Jersey landmark for decades. In a county where real estate kills off most interesting stores, they’ve expanded. Because they have a great selection and enthusiastic employees. I chatted for half an hour with them about The Thing after buying a t-shirt and a top hat. And they are open year-round, renting professional quality costumes and selling everything from Videodrome t-shirts to skulls and platform ruby slippers.

The name is a joke on an Italian-American pronunciation of a very profane exclamation… Va fa’nculo. Google if you like… Fongool also works.

The Fun-Ghoul Costume Shop, 155 Park Avenue, Rutherford NJ.

Good Reads and Goodbyes

I left GoodReads recently. And I also deleted my 15 year old IMDb account. One reason was that these ratings are monetized, but another is that stars don’t tell the whole story. It was a personal decision, not a matter of principle. I am a reader and a writer, but not so much a reviewer. I found both sites useful, but not enough to share my stars with them. As you may have read, authors sometimes behave badly on Goodreads. I am reasonably sure I wouldn’t, but now that’s a certainty.

So here are a few books and films I’ve enjoyed recently, and why. It’s the month of Halloween, so some of these are creepy.

I just started WEIRDO by Cathi Unsworth, and I’m enjoying it very much. Some of that is ’80s nostalgia and old punk camaraderie, but she has a fine voice, a sneaky and subtle one that stands back and lets the story tell itself. The story is about a young woman who was institutionalized for the ritual murder of a fellow schoolmate, and a PI and activist who want to shed light on her trial, because she may not have acted alone. It has echoes of the “Paradise Lost” murders of Robin Hood Hills, the Satanic Panic of the early ’80s, and how anyone who was a “weirdo” felt back then, when having rocks thrown at you was commonplace.

PHANTASM, the infamous 1979 horror film by Don Coscarelli, who went on to direct Bubba Ho-Tep and John Dies at the End, was a blast. Yes, it’s cheap and cheesy and low-budget, but they managed great creepiness and well-spent gore with what they had. The Tall Man certainly is memorable, and what he’s doing with those corpses… well, it reminds me of another book I just finished, which was excellent:

THE CRONING by Laird Barron is a modern Lovecraftian masterpiece, without the sickly xenophobia beneath the surface, and a paranoid touch of Pynchon as well. The story is a slow burn but is well worth the wait, I kept expecting it to become twee and quaint like James Blaylock’s The Last Coin (a personal favorite) but the adorable ineptitude of its protagonist has an all too chilling reason, and I wouldn’t rob you of that revelation. Simply one of the best books I’ve read this year and one of my favorite horror novels in a long time.

And not as creepy, I enjoyed COME HERE OFTEN? 53 Writers Raise a Glass to Their Favorite Bar. Edited by Sean Manning, it includes entries by Laura Lippmann, Frank Bill, Alissa Nutting, Andrew WK, Duffy McKagan, Malachy McCourt, Tom Franklin, and a host of journalists, writers, musicians, and more, giving us a tour of bars from McMurdo Station to the ’70s Lower East Side, sneak-drinking in Tehran, literary bars from Oxford Mississippi to remote islands in the Pacific, James Crumley’s favorite watering holes, and more. A handsome little volume full of interesting reading.

But if you want some good scary reading, you can do worse than Flavorwire’s 50 scariest stories. I’m reading my way through the list. In daytime. With the lights on….



Happy Halloween!

That’s me, age seven or eight, as the Hulk. I was strong enough to pick that table up over my head, but the adults freaked out and wouldn’t take the photo.

Have a safe and happy Halloween all- maybe share some candy bars with the neighbors out on your soggy porch. We’re gonna bring hot coffee to some family without power. This storm was scary enough.


Happy Halloween

Some photos from the Halloween party I went to at the Pourhouse in D.C., and my favorite costumes there.

 Our friends went as Holy Shit, “Peace” of Shit, Shit-Ton, Shit Hit the Fan, and… the Shit Show!

Our friends Paula and Dennis as Jules & Vincent from Pulp Fiction. I gave Paula the 3-slap “I’m-Not-Gay” hug because I didn’t recognize her.

 Godzilla and Mecha-Godzilla. They won the contest. Godzilla is eating a train.

 The band was in drag and played covers of all female bands like Blondie, the Go-Gos, Hole, Lady Gaga, Heart, Joan Jett, and many more. I was in heaven.

 Vincent meets a Mia Wallace!

 Jules and Vincent in… Slash Fiction! So wrong.

 Vincent was always a bit of a brown noser.

My Viking costume on the kitties.

 And… the scariest costume of the night, the singer without his Madonna cone breastplate on.

© 2010 Tommy Salami