Sunday, July 30, 2017

From the One and Only Steve Rasnic Tem

From Facebook:

"A couple of people who were at the "weird fiction" panel at WFC have asked me to post my definition of "the weird." I first wrote this down after reading through all the stories in the Vandermeers' THE WEIRD anthology. It takes an idea or two from their intro, combined with my raw reaction to the stories, with a few ideas thrown in while I prepared for the panel. It's not intended as a comprehensive critical definition--it reflects my taste, and my writing practice more than anything else."

"Definition of THE WEIRD: Dark fiction which eschews traditional tropes such as vampires, werewolves, etc. in favor of personal & idiosyncratic perceptions of the strange. Many of these tales seem to come from a broken place and are imbued with threads of sadness. This is also a literature which more clearly reflects the influence of surrealism, absurdism, & decadent literature.
In the best of these stories impossible or highly improbable things occur & yet they have this unmistakable ring of profound truth—I think this is key. We respond to this contradiction in various ways—fear/anxiety, humor, spiritual awe, sadness—this range of response is what distinguishes weird fiction from horror."

"In less successful stories the events seem arbitrarily strange, disconnected from real human concerns. In a sense, they lack a necessary foundation of realism."

"Although weird fiction seems to be almost 100% dark fiction, I wonder if this has to be the case. Given the premise that these are “impossible events which are true,” wouldn’t it be possible to have a variety of weird fiction which we respond to with joy and enthusiasm? Alice in Wonderland was suggested. Are there others? Or perhaps “weird fantasy” would be a better name for these?"

Another Link to my 2016 "Erma Bombeck Writing Competition" Entry

"Dog Days" by Tim Walker

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Get Off My Lawn!


I'm a writer. I’m also a husband and a father, a strip club DJ, a chili cook, an ordained minister, and a lover of books. I was encouraged to try and write professionally by one of my college professors, and the first piece of writing I ever sold was published in 1988 by HORRORSTRUCK Magazine. It was an article about rock songs with horrific imagery, and it was printed in their final issue. Since then, I have seen my work appear in a wide variety of small press and pro publications and websites, from the DAYTON CITY PAPER and MAGIC REALISM to ADAM FILM WORLD, GENESIS, and DAYTON MAGAZINE. For 3 straight years, I served as a judge and helped organize a regional poetry and short story contest for the DAYTON VOICE which drew hundreds of entries. I've been a contributing editor to three different literary magazines, and my short fiction has won several small contests. Over the past two years, I've edited custom publications promoting the nearby cities of Hamilton and Montgomery and the 20th U.S. Air Force Marathon, all in association with Cincy Magazine. Also recently, a short humorous piece I wrote was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.
My name is Tim Walker, and I'm 52 years old. I live in Dayton, Ohio with my wife and our two children. I love reading and I do a lot of it. I also love music, writing, spicy food, weird fiction, animals, offbeat films, cooking, and spending time with my family. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia in August 1965 -- I then lived in nearby Barboursville until I was 12, when I moved to Point Pleasant, home of the Mothman and site of 1967's Silver Bridge disaster. My family later relocated to Fairborn, Ohio, and in 1983 I graduated from Fairborn High School. Go Skyhawks! I've lived in the Dayton area ever since, except for 2 years when my wife and I lived in the San Fernando Valley. I spent most of my childhood living in trailer parks -- never really minded it, either. While living out in California, I hosted a weekly talk show on KSEX Radio, an internet radio station, which was called "Lust for Life". At a recent job interview, I was called a "freak" by my potential employer... he may be onto something.
I started working at Emery Worldwide, an overnight air freight courier, one week after I turned 18, and I stayed there for 12 years. I love books and review them when I can. An old Factsheet Five reader, I’ve always been interested in zines and I’ve published two. I've won a few trophies at local chili competitions for my chili, minor stuff but still fun. I spent 3 years dressing and singing like Ozzy Osbourne, performing at local clubs in an Ozzy/Black Sabbath tribute band called Damaged Soul. For 6 years, I was general manager of the Flamingo Showclub, a gentleman's club in Dayton. I am currently a DJ at The Harem, another local club. I worked for several years on an assembly line for Navistar International, building school buses and heavy duty trucks, and I'm hell on wheels on a forklift. While I was at the Flamingo, we became known for staging outlandish promotions like Mashed Potato Wrestling, Topless Karaoke, and our very own game show, "Are You Smarter Than a Stripper?" As an ordained minister, certified by the state, I have officiated at over two dozen wedding ceremonies. During my first ceremony, the couple exchanged their vows while the three of us stood in the middle of a river.
I once met and chatted with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi while backstage at Ozzfest. One night at a karaoke bar in Burbank, I sang Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” with backup vocals provided by Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Society One’s Matt Zane. I've drunk beer with Zakk Wylde on his tour bus several times. I've interviewed Joe Jackson, Wynton Marsalis, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Jane Wiedlin, Christine McVie, and Derek Trucks. I've met Clive Barker, Herbie Hancock, Penn Jillette, Vince Neil, Jenna Jameson, Vinnie Paul, Maynard James Keenan, Larry Flynt, Gene Simmons, and Nine Inch Nails bassist Danny Lohner. I've eaten dinner with Ron Jeremy and Dennis Hof, with Jesse Jane (before she was a star), with Steve Rasnic Tem, and with Mike South, y'all.
I believe in literacy. I believe in fantasy. I believe in the power of imagination. I think that with words, courage, love, strength, and determination, we can make the world a better place.
[If you enjoy this blog, feel free to connect with me on Facebook by clicking HERE or on Twitter by clicking HERE

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Preoccupations: JG Ballard. Jeff Vandermeer. Nathan Ballingrud. Laird Barron. Thomas Ligotti. Joe R. Lansdale. Steve Rasnic Tem. The New Flesh. David Lynch. Harlan Ellison. David Cronenberg. Todd Rundgren. Thomas Harris. Cryptids. Joseph Campbell. Miles Davis. Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Bruce Cockburn. Chili. Annie Proulx. Mozart. Neo-Noir. Thomas McGuane. Jimmy Buffett. Stephen King. Clive Barker. John Simon. Gemma Files. Thomas Pynchon. Neil Gaiman. Neil Young. Stanley Kubrick. Surrealism. John Coltrane. Barry N. Malzberg. Tool. David Foster Wallace. Kathe Koja. Jeff Lynne. Indian food. Herbie Hancock. Dennis Etchison. Franz Kafka. Group Mind. Jorge Luis Borges. Bruno Schulz. Planet Drum. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Joe Jackson. Laurie Anderson. RA Lafferty. Jeffrey Ford. Thomas M. Disch. Samuel Delany. Prince. John Hiatt. Mythology. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Steve Erickson. Hunter S. Thompson. Alan Moore. William S. Burroughs. Robert Williams. Grant Morrison. James Joyce. HR Giger. Gottfried Helnwein. The Neon Gypsy. Robert Crumb. Pink Floyd. Tedeschi Trucks Band. Cornell Woolrich. James M. Cain. David J. Schow. The Mothman. Jim Thompson. Christa Faust. Maurice Sendak. Roald Dahl. Francis Bacon. Salvador Dali. HP Lovecraft. Pizza. Ernest Hemingway. The Third Eye. Harper Lee. Mark Twain. Re/Search Publications. TS Eliot. The Grateful Dead. Dan Simmons. Ray Bradbury. Isaac Asimov. Hannibal Lecter. Arthur C. Clarke. Norman Spinrad. Edgar Allan Poe. John Shirley. Bruce Sterling. Schizophrenia. Lewis Shiner. Brian Evenson. Shamanism. Jeffrey Ford. CV Hunt. KW Jeter. Frank Bill. Todd Robinson.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Narcan Debate -- How Many is Too Many?

"Jane, you ignorant slut."

Each week the Dayton City Paper newspaper runs a section entitled the Debate Forum. It has proved to be one of the more popular sections of the paper -- in fact, I've been told by some readers that it's the first (if not the only) section of the paper to which they turn each week.

The premise is simple: each week the editorial staff chooses one timely and somewhat controversial topic to address, a topic which lends itself easily to two diametrically opposing points of view. Forum moderator Sarah Sidlow writes a "center" piece which introduces that central question and describes how people on either side of the topic might feel, then two writers step in and, with 800 words each and the weekend to work with, they try to explain and defend their opposing points of view. Usually, though not always, one writer is very much a left-leaning liberal, while the other is a more right-wing conservative. The writers are chosen by the paper's editor-in-chief, Amanda Dee, and -- in my opinion -- she generally chooses writers she feels are passionate about the week's topic, and have a well-defined opinion on the central debate question.

I participate in the debate forum as often as possible. (Hey, I'm a working stiff just like you, and those kids need new fidget spinners). Also, as you might imagine, my work tends to appear on the left side of the page.

This week, the debate question was exceedingly simple: "Are Municipalities Obliged To Respond to Repeat Overdose Victims?"

Check it out, if you're so inclined, by clicking HERE and comment if you can. The editors love feedback from our readers, even if they're not from Dayton. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

As Franz Kafka once said...

Great Writing From Raymond Chandler

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

— Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Nightmare Factory

My Wishes for a Very Happy 64th Birthday to the one and only Thomas Ligotti.

For lovers of weird fiction, the name of Thomas Ligotti needs no introduction. He is a writer unlike any other, one whose evocative, surreal short stories strike deep into your consciousness like darts from a blowgun. If you haven't had a chance to read his work, by all means check out the 2015 Penguin Classics release of SONGS OF A DEAD DREAM AND GRIMSCRIBE, which collects both of Ligotti's first two short fiction collections into one volume. His work is simply amazing.

You can order the book HERE

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Portrait of the Author as a Young Nerd

Erma Bombeck and Honorable Mention

Although I was born in West Virginia and lived there until I was 15, I now reside in Dayton, Ohio. One of Dayton's claims to fame is that the world-renowned humorist Erma Bombeck lived and worked here for most of her life, before she relocated to Arizona (I believe). 

In honor of the fabulous Mrs Bombeck's legacy, the University of Dayton holds an Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop every other year in the spring. The workshop focuses on humorous write, I think and it is very popular, drawing attendees from all over the world. In conjunction with each workshop a contest is held for the best humorous short piece, and the contest also draws entries from all over the globe. First place winners each receive a cash prize and free tuition to the workshop. 

The workshop and contest were most recently held in 2016, and I entered and was awarded with an Honorable Mention prize, one of only two presented, if I remember correctly. I am still very proud of that, even if I didn't win. Of my story, the judges wrote: 

Judge #1: Good stuff. Great detail and visuals, and I loved the dialogue. Very relateable and amusing. 

Judge #2: I'm biased, but I'm a sucker for a dog rescue story. His descriptions of the dogs were spot on and laughter-filled. I saw the ending coming, but still enjoyed it.

I'll definitely be entering again next year. In the meantime, I've reprinted my entry below, in case you'd like to read it. 


   “I'm starting a rescue,” my wife announces one day at dinner. “A dog
rescue.” The children and I look up from our spaghetti, and a series
of images pass through my brain. Rescue: flashing lights, ambulances,
EMT's with stretchers. Dogs, however, remain conspicuously absent from
my mental picture.

   I swallow my mouthful of garlic bread – one tries to be polite with
children present – and ask, “A dog rescue?”

   “Yes,” she says. “I'll save unwanted dogs from the county shelter,
then rehabilitate them and adopt them out to local families.”

   That was two years ago – 14 in rescue years. Of the 51 dogs she's
re-homed, 32 have urinated on the couch, 19 have chewed on my shoes,
and one ate an entire pound of thawing chorizo. The garage, which once
housed our cars, is filled with dog food. I de-fur the furnace filter
once a month, strangers stop by at odd hours to donate blankets and
chew toys, and I haven't seen the postman since last spring. There's a
one-eyed dalmatian who lives in my closet, a shih tzu in the bathtub,
two pugs with allergies behind the TV, and a papillon with irritable
bowel syndrome who makes her home beneath my desk.

   Once, a typical evening of ours might be spent watching a movie with
the kids. Now, Friday nights might go something like this:

   Her phone rings. I pray it's her mother.

   “Hello?” says says. “Yes, this is Paws-4-Ever.”

   Her eyes light up. Her breath quickens. If I didn't know better, I'd
think she had a boyfriend.

   “He's hairless? Oh, no. And he has no teeth? Oh, the poor thing! Yes,
yes... of course I'll take him. We'll be there in twenty minutes.”

   “No, Beth,” I said as she hangs up the phone. “Look, I have to draw
the line. No toothless dogs. Please.”

   “But he's a chi-weenie!” she squeals, pulling on her coat and
grabbing her purse. I stand up, dislodging Taco, the chihuahua who's
been with us for 9 months. “Beth?”

   Brushing hair from my jeans, I reach for my jacket, laying on the
armchair under Kojak, the poodle with PTSD.

   “He's a stray,” she said. “The poor thing. And they found him
downtown, wandering alone. And he's HAIRLESS, Tim. Completely bald.
How would YOU like to be bald with no teeth?”

   She pauses as I pick up my car keys and smile at the mirror,
examining my gums and hairline, both of which, I notice, are receding

   “Okay, Honey,” I say. “We can bring in one more. But do you know of
any rescues for balding, toothless, worn-out old husbands?”

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Joe Jackson - Steppin' Out Once Again

 [a slightly different version of this article first appeared in the Dayton City Paper on June 6, 2017]

Joe Jackson -- Steppin’ Out Once Again

Iconoclastic Musician Brings Current Tour to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre


Tim Walker

    “I don’t think anyone knows what the hell to do,” says Joe Jackson when speaking to me recently about the state of the record business and his place in it. “The music industry now is like a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off.”

    During his nearly four decades as a working musician, Jackson has released a total of twenty albums, albums which run the gamut from power pop and movie soundtracks to jazz and neo-classical orchestral music. Refusing to be pigeonholed, the artist has toured the world numerous times, written books (1999’s superb A CURE FOR GRAVITY), won Grammy awards and other industry accolades, and has seen firsthand the changes that the internet and digital downloading have wrought upon the recording industry. And yet, Jackson remains unsure about the future of the music business.

“All of these questions about the state of the music industry now,” the musician says, “They kind of give me a headache, because it’s such a weird time. It’s changed so much, and it’s still changing so fast, that I don’t think anyone knows what to think or what to do. And I think that includes all the people who are are supposed to be the smart people -- the big time managers, the big publicists, and so on.” Jackson pauses to collect his thoughts before continuing. “My feeling is, how does it affect me? The more I think about it, the more I realize that the only thing I have any control over is my own work. So the only thing I can really do that might make the world a tiny little bit better is to make the best music I can, and put on the best show that I can.”

Joe Jackson brings his current tour, the fourth in support of his most recent album, 2015’s FAST FORWARD, to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre on Tuesday, June 13th. The show, which starts at 8pm, features Jackson and a band featuring longtime sideman and crowd favorite Graham Maby on bass, with Teddy Kumpel on guitar and Doug Yowell on drums. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster and the Taft box office.

When asked what people can expect to see at the upcoming show, Jackson laughs and replies, “Some old stuff, some new stuff. And a few surprises.” When it comes to making good music, performing live, and being surprising, Joe Jackson knows what he’s talking about. His first album, 1979’s LOOK SHARP, featured the acerbic hits “Sunday Papers”, “Fools in Love”, and “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” and was hailed by music journalists as a leading example of “New Wave” British pop. The Joe Jackson Band’s two stylistically similar follow-ups, I’M THE MAN and BEAT CRAZY, were also successful, but it was the breakup of the band and the artist’s subsequent solo releases like JUMPIN’ JIVE, BODY AND SOUL, and BIG WORLD which saw him approaching music from a variety of angles and styles, some of which admittedly proving more popular than others. He struck gold worldwide in 1982 with the guitar-less pop of his NIGHT AND DAY album, which featured the MTV-fed smash hits “Real Men”, “Breaking Us in Two” and “Steppin’ Out”, still his biggest-selling hit single, which received two Grammy nominations and practically made him into a pop star.

Full disclosure: I am an enthusiastic Joe Jackson fan. I’ve followed the man’s work since I first heard his music as a teenager in the early 1980’s. While those handful of pop hits may define Jackson’s career for many, it is his music from the past two decades which I find myself returning to again and again. 1999’s SYMPHONY NO. 1, which won the 2001 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, is like no other -- a four-movement orchestral piece for jazz and rock musicians, the album was released on Sony’s Classical label and features Steve Vai and Terence Blanchard. 2012’s THE DUKE, Jackson’s 17th album, is a stirring tribute to Duke Ellington and debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart.

When asked, Jackson, who turns 63 later this year, insists that at this point in his career he makes no assumptions when releasing a new record into the marketplace. “I have no expectations at all, when I finish a song or put it out,” he says. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if no one gave a shit, if it never got heard anywhere at all. How do you define a successful record? There are lots of different ways to define it now, whereas it used to be a lot more obvious. The only time I really feel like I’ve made a connection is when I play live, and that’s one of the reasons I keep doing it, keep going back out on the road yet again, because I love it, and I love being able to make that connection. I think you only really get that when you play live.”

Playing live at the Taft Theatre on June 13th, Jackson and his band will no doubt bring to life his own unique brand of challenging, inspired music, and whether you’re a fan from years ago -- like I am -- or a newer convert, chances are it will be a show you’ll long remember.

[Joe Jackson will perform at Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 at 8pm. Tickets are still available. For more information call 513-232-6220 or go to]