Interview on the Surreal Grotesque Podcast

Surreal GrotesqueA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Jeremy Maddux on the Surreal Grotesque podcast. It was a great experience, and I regret that it has taken me so long to post it here. As belated as it is, if you click on the image to the left the link will take you to the interview.

Among many things, we talked about people marrying inanimate objects. Here’s a link to more information on that: CLICK HERE

We also talked about the Philadelphia Experiment, which you can learn more about that business if you click to the right, RIGHT HERE

We also talked about butts, which you can learn more about HERE



My New Book is About Butts

AbortoBookAfter almost four years, one of my books has finally hit the shelves again. This one is about butts. It is about time-traveling butts, and gluteomancy, which allows people to see the future by reading the patterns of hair growth on butts.

Of course it is about more than just butts, but I know that’s what you want most, so that’s what this book aims to deliver.

You can laugh at my sales ranking by clicking HERE

Or you can send me straight into the bowels of hell by clicking HERE

You could also save the world from environmental destruction by clicking HERE


We’re Going to Die. Everyone Reading Our Work Will Die. And That’s OK. Write On.

All roads traveled . . .

It looks like a few more of the publishing houses I’ve had the pleasure of working with have died. I just acquired the rough equivalent of a death knell from one of my former publishers, which I’ll leave unnamed because they haven’t given up the ghost yet. Obviously it is NOT EP or NBAS. They will live on FOREVER! I also found out that Pill Hill Press is no more, which is sad because I just barely got my hands on Shane McKenzie’s Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, which one of my stories appeared in quite some time ago. I hope it doesn’t go out of print. Shane did an awesome job on that one, and it was an honor to be included in an anthology with some of the greats in horror.

Found out a few months back that my second book, accepted last year, likely won’t be seeing the light of day any time soon. If it does under the publisher I’m currently (presumably) under contract with, there’s a chance it won’t get many sales due to author-publisher conflicts in the community I’m a part of. CLICK HERE for more info on that. This is the second time this damned book has been delayed due to folding presses. Black Sails expressed interest, then disappeared. It’s starting to become fairly common.

Of course it is time to re-evaluate my approach . . .

I’ve been thinking of carving my next novel into a fucking rock ledge somewhere, maybe an Adirondack slide or something. It should have some staying power then.

You won’t forget my bizarro cautionary tale of masturbation now, fuckers!

I think for many authors, the allure of the printed page surviving us is part of what drives us to write. Ever since I was 18, I’ve been obsessed with leaving more behind than two dates on a marbled stone with my name above it.

For a while I took solace in family. You know, at least our offspring will give a shit about the legacy we leave behind, right?

Then, when my grandfather died, I remember my father digging through a pile of trash to extract letters and pictures from our ancestors. They were discarded during auction because they had no monetary value. My dad fished them out, thankfully. Three or four generations go by and the legacy means little to most. Put all your eggs in the familial basket, you’re rolling the dice to lose. You become a footnote in your progeny’s legacy.

Friends are the same way. We can invest in others socially. We’re physiologically driven to do so. We can reinforce the importance of our peers. But when it comes right down to it, even if we outlive our peers by a decade or two, we’re all going to boil down to a pile of bones and a series of ideas we shared with others who also end up as bones. But don’t get me wrong. I still think there’s got to be something more, perhaps a selfless dedication to humanity as a whole.

Butterfly effect optimism. Some sort of pay it forward policy that can live on and make the world a better place.

There comes a point where we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re all going to end up as dust. The older I get, the more delusions start to become outweighed by reality, the more I’m reminded of Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” His kingdom turned to dust, and he was so arrogant and prideful that he never conceived of its demise. I’m not a big fan of classic poetry, but this guy hit the existential nail on the head. Pride, in all manifestations, is shortsighted at best.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

I find it amusing that in mythology, we conjure up these images of the muse, the timeless Calliope who grants us inspiration. Imagine: immortal beings concerned with scriptures that last only a handful of lifetimes. Any manuscripts that live longer are perverted into tools that cause pain and suffering just as often as, if not more than, enlightenment, (e.g. The Bible). Why would immortals ascribe so much importance to things that in the grand scheme of things are so insignificant?

Even more ironic is the fact that over time these legendary characters have become mere footnotes in modern fables that are little more than compilations of past lore. Calliope is relegated to cameo appearances in “high brow” popular fiction.

I like to believe that if she existed, she would have moved on to better things by now.

“Let me double check . . . yes. It says here that I give 0 fucks about your creative endeavors. I’m too busy helping Maroon 5 make timeless hits. Lolz. Just kidding. I don’t give a fuck about them either.

Despite this seemingly dismal foray into the reality of writing and publishing, I can’t stop. Like many of my friends, something compels me to move forward. But I’ve reached a new stage. I’m no longer infused with the sense of self-importance that once inspired my writing. I write expecting to fall on deaf ears, so that every time my voice is heard, it propels me forward. I feel like my stories and I are comrades in battle, and I become more of a veteran of the small press scene every time I see one of my stories go out of print in an anthology no longer published. I feel like a hero in some small way when I rescue a story or novel from imminent death. I’m hoping I can do that next year with the book I was supposed to publish with Spectacular Productions.

In a fucked up way, authors all like catchers in the rye for our stories. We stand at the edge of the field, trying to save our ideas from falling over a great precipice into non-existence. Each one is a part of us. Self-preservation is our instinct, and it is wonderful that artists have transcended the need to preserve only our biological kin, that artists produce ideas, images, experiences as offspring. There’s something romantic about the futility of trying to outlive ourselves against all odds.

Introducing the blog space for Imperial Youth Review. I was invited to join the ranks of this project a while back, and watching it build momentum has been awesome. To kick things off, they’ve offered a story from the mind of Nikki Guerlain, who was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also has great taste in films. Rock on, IYR. Rock on, Nikki.

Michael Allen Rose: King of Trades

Michael Allen Rose in Hot and Heavy Productions version of "The Wall" at Stage 773 (C) 2012, Hank Pearl

Some folks dabble in multiple areas of interest. The risk, of course, is spreading oneself too thin. But that’s not a problem for Michael Allen Rose, author, actor, and musician. I had a chance to converse with him recently about his many artistic endeavors and past successes, including the recent publication of his first book, Party Wolves in my Skull.

1. First and foremost, can you tell us a little about your book?

Of course! Party Wolves in My Skull is about Norman Spooter, who awakens one morning to find that his eyeballs have fallen in love and are leaving him. They tear themselves out of his skull, steal his car, and take off for parts unknown. He doesn’t know what to do, so he does what most of us would – he goes back to bed, hoping it’ll all resolve itself. Unfortunately, a pack of wolves moves in overnight, since his skull now has a vacancy, and worst of all, they’re party wolves. They end up joining forces, and go on a wild road-trip as poor Norman tries to track down his eyeballs. A woman named Zoe joins them, and she’s on the run from her psycho ex-boyfriend who happens to be a walrus. Really, it’s a satire of road-trip stories with some really crazy characters and some fun set pieces, like the Motel Sick and a tiny cult town in the middle of North Dakota. Oh, and crazy walrus violence! It’s a sweet story though, I think, and the reviews so far have found it a very funny book, so I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

One of the fun things for me about writing this book was that each of the party wolves has such a distinct personality. Through them, I get to explore parts of myself as an author I might not always give voice too. That’s especially becoming apparent with the reviews I’ve been doing on where I’ve been reviewing books as the party wolves. It helps me really accentuate the positive, since I can let different books appeal to different parts of me and use that particular character to talk about an aspect of the book I’m reading. It’s also a nice way to extend the fiction into the real world a little bit, which hopefully will get more people interested in the book.

2. You work in theater as well. Can you tell us what the strangest or sexiest production you acted in was? Give us details. Juicy details! (and photos!)

Mr. Rose (far right) with the cast from Hot and Heavy Productions version of "The Wall"The Wall (C) 2012 Mandy Dempsey

I’m actually pretty proud of the work I’ve been doing with RoShamBo Theatre and also with Hot and Heavy Productions here in Chicago, because everything we do is both sexy and strange! I think my crowning achievement with RoShamBo so far may have been our production for a WBEZ (NPR) event last year themed around the history of Chicago theatre. They had a bunch of famous people come in to do a panel discussion and story share about the history of professional theatre here in the windy city. We were tasked, along with a handful of other tiny theatre companies, to create a piece illuminating some aspect of that. We chose to highlight a “brief history of nudity in Chicago theatre.” It was amazing. We took real stories of actual “naked moments” and productions featuring actors in the buff from the last 40 years and performed little blackout sketches about them. As I narrated from backstage over the mic, the cast cleverly covered themselves with strategically placed props, body paint, etc so that none of them were actually naked. Of course the twist was, at the end, they’re all lined up at the front of the stage and I’m narrating about how audiences have come to expect that they could see nudity on a Chicago stage at any time without warning. As I’m doing this, I come out from the back buck naked. The only person in the production who didn’t need to be naked. We got a pretty nice reaction from the crowd for that one. That led to us producing one of (Emmy winner) Joe Janes “50 Plays Project.” I directed a piece that involved a cast of four in this bizarre mash-up of Butoh dance, S&M bondage and absurdism regarding a possessed ATM machine. Good times. More recently I’ve been working with my friend Viva La Muerte and her Hot and Heavy Productions group. I was honored to be part of their tribute to Pink Floyd’s The Wall recently, where I got to show off my amazing back-bend and paint myself red. Sexy and strange all the way through.

3. You’re also a musician as well. Are you still active?

For a while I had to put Flood Damage (my industrial band) on hiatus, but it’s back with a vengeance. It’s finally coming together in the way that I dreamed when I was a sixteen year old kid in my parents’ basement. Last summer was our first show in years, and with the new incarnation, and it involved fire, sparks shooting from a woman’s crotch, zombie abortions, strippers peeling skin off, and the summoning of a tiny Cthulhu, among other things. I always wanted to be synonymous with blood, fire and titties. It’s finally happening. We’re planning a big show in April (4/20) here in Chicago in conjunction with Hot and Heavy, doing a burlesque tribute to industrial rock. It’s going to be one hell of a show.

Michael Allen Rose even delivers for the pervs who find my page each day by searching for bulge shots!

4. Can you give us a brief explanation of how you made your way from musician to head of RoShamBo Theater?

I guess all the things I do kind of cross-pollinate. I never claim to be particularly good at any one thing that I do, but I do a lot of things, and sometimes I get lucky and wonderful people come along who support my vision. RoShamBo, Flood Damage, and my writing are all just different arms of what I like to do trying to “make art happen.” I’m just happy that there are people surrounding my life who are talented and generous to help me make all these things work.

5. You’re a Chicago native, correct? What’s the strangest place you love to frequent in the windy city? (you’re under no obligation to answer if you have stalkers).

I grew up in the frozen wastes of North Dakota (at least the summers are nice). I moved to Chicago in 2007, after finishing my playwriting MFA in southern Illinois. I moved here because of the amazing art scenes, the awesome people and the best food in America. We combine world class restaurants and urban diversity with the Midwest love of eating. There’s no other place like it.

There are lots of places I regularly hang out. Actually, I’m looking for stalkers, particularly attractive women, so I might as well divulge. I spend a lot of time at Knockbox Café over in Humbolt Park. It’s a great little coffee shop with some super cool owners, and they’re also letting us use their space to host the Bizarro Hour on March 1st, featuring myself along with the amazing Mykle Hansen, Garrett Cook and Andersen Prunty. Hell of a lineup. Oh! And the Pop Tarts are hosting! They’re the most famous British pop duo since… the last one!

6. Who were some of your biggest inspirations when you were growing up? (music, writing, drama, film, etc.)

Music has always been a huge part of my life, and many of the artists I most admire are multi-threat artists, like I’ve always tried to be. I’m a huge fan of Jim Thirlwell (Foetus) who I think is one of the greatest composers in the last century, bar none. He’s literally able to go from an industrial rock god to a symphony conductor to a big band nut to a dark and disturbing score creator in the scope of a single album. He’s also been releasing music since I was born, which is pretty amazing. There are tons of others of course… Tod Ashley of Firewater, Trent Reznor of nine inch nails, Johnny Cash… people who have really done it all in a variety of arenas.

I’ve also developed a healthy interest in philosophy, of the armchair variety. Jean Paul Sartre is amazing. Samuel Beckett is one of my favorite playwrights ever. I love the existentialists in general, because it really is a fundamental humanist view. The choices we make are what matters.  Not some uncaring, chaotic universe, but how we define ourselves as humans and move forward, choosing to act, making our own destiny. It’s really an optimistic philosophy, but a lot of people miss that I think because they get caught up in the “uncaring Godless universe” thing. I feel like that gives us our power back, as well as making us take responsibility for our actions, which is always a good thing.

7. What are the benefits of each art form you participate in? Why do you engage in multiple forms of expression? There must be benefits to each.

Like I mentioned earlier, I think everything feeds everything else. I’m a better director because I know how to write a play. I’m a better actor because I’m thinking about how a director might want me to act. I write better fiction because I’m used to writing dialogue. It goes on. Not saying that I’m amazing at any of those things, but I think being a jack-of-all-trades, while it may not ever get you to the top of any one field or art, is the way to go. You don’t limit yourself by choosing form before idea that way. If I have inspiration for something, maybe it’ll be a song, maybe it’ll be a short story, you know? Again, most of the people I admire are those folks who delve into whatever form strikes them for a given project.

I guess the short answer is, I don’t know how else to do it. I can’t focus long enough to stick with any one particular thing! Thankfully, there are people in my life who help me hone in on one thing at a time. And it seems like right now, I’m lucky enough to have people noticing and enjoying what I’m doing, which is a huge blessing for any artist.

8. How do you balance your various roles as an artist?

Very carefully.

9. This year the NBAS crew had their books in electronic format from the start. With the previous crews this was not the case. We were required to sell 200 print copies. Have the stipulations changed at all since the electronic book was added to the equation?

They have. Thanks to you guys being all successful and awesome, they made it a bit harder for us and raised the number by another hundred. Every sale matters! It’s been fun though, and it’s nice because all of us are promoting each other as well as our own books, which I think will pay off in the long run. It’s a great crop of crazy authors this year, and we hope to follow the trail that you guys have been blazing these past two years.

Michael Allen Rose (center right) with the NBAS 2012 gang

10. what are your plans for the future, in terms of your artistic endeavors?

I’m going to keep trying to spin all these plates at once, hoping none of them shatter!

11. Finally, what’s with the bathrobe?

So my first year at BizarroCon, I was meeting everyone and hanging out, and I had just come back from the amazing salt-water spa at Edgefield. As you might have noticed from the pictures, I’m not that self-conscious about my body, so I was just standing there outside in a bathrobe. People found that amusing, especially since I didn’t think anything of it until they mentioned it. So, Rose O’ Keefe (editor in chief of eraserhead press and Bizarro queen) was kind enough to give me a reading slot. I asked people if they were coming, and without fail, almost everyone asked “Are you going to wear the robe?” So I kind of had to. So it became a joke, and I wore it most of the weekend. There’s actually a character in Jordan Krall’s “Valley of the Apocalypse Donkeys” based on a situation involving the robe and a donkey-headed woman. It was a thing. So the next year (my 2nd) I didn’t want to be “the robe guy” but people kept asking, so I integrated it into my bizarro showdown performance, doing a short story about a guy in a robe, the climax being that I disrobed… and had another robe underneath! So this past year, I had to at least reference it. It’s one of those things where, you don’t always get to choose your persona, sometimes it just happens and something resonates with people. It’s fun. It’s comfortable.


Learn more about RoShamBo Theater HERE

Stop by the fan page for Mr. Rose’s band, Flood Damage:

Party Wolves in my Skull is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Click on the image below for more information:

New Anthologies/Journals Featuring My Work

The last few months have been wild in the small press scene, particularly in the realm of bizarro fiction. Content for Mellick’s The Bible Pt. II is currently being reviewed. The NBAS 2011 titles were announced (I’ll be interviewing some of them soon). And BizarroCon just finished earlier this month.

Alas, accompanying the good is a little bad. Two highly anticipated anthologies, The New Flesh: Episode I & Technicolor Tentacles, were cancelled by their proposed publisher. My work was to appear in both, which I announced in a previous blog. Unfortunately, those works won’t be released for a while. They’re currently under consideration for other publications. If all goes well, they’ll be appearing online for free in the near future.

Speaking of The New Flesh, some of you may have noticed new material hasn’t been published on the page in a while. The editor, William Pauley III, is working on some new material (which I forgot to ask if I could write about here), but told me the site will be publishing some new stories in the near future. So stay tuned! It’s one of my favorite flash fiction sites.

Two collections featuring my work, which I haven’t had a chance to announce yet, are available now. Today, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens #10 was released (picture top left). This will be the last issue edited by Bradley Sands. Sam Reeve takes over in coming issues.

A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre also hit shelves this month. This is my fourth venture with Pill Hill Press (two anthologies featuring my work will be released soon).

Last but not least, in the near future one of my works will be published in New Tales of the Old Ones, edited by Michael C. Dick and published by Knight Watch Press. The anthology will be broken into two volumes, and should be available soon. The stories revolve around the Lovecraft mythos. My story “Blood, Guns & Tentacles” is the first chapter of a book I’m currently working on. I hope to publish several of the chapters in anthologies and magazines, and follow up down the road (way down the road) with a novel that ties the chapters together.

That’s it for now. I always feel awkward about these self-promotion blogs, so I’ll be posting new content in the next few days so this gets pushed down. I’m hoping to hear back from several places in the near future, but I’ll keep these posts spaced out and consolidate announcements so the blog doesn’t get bogged down with this kind of stuff.

Happy Holidays,