Category Archives: News

Thievin poser filmmaker Arya Ghavamian

Arya Ghavamian Plagiarized Film by M dot Strange

One of the most fucked up things I’ve heard in a while: Arya Ghavamian (not linking to content thieves, use Google)–ostensibly a filmmaker, although one must wonder what HE has actually created, given everything that has come out–has plagiarized the film “Heart String Marionette“, one of M dot Strange‘s bizarre and amazing creations. He made a few edits, ripped out and replaced dialogue and audio, and then claimed it as his own, going so far as to submit it to film festivals such as local event Cinequest…which is located in M dot’s own stomping grounds.

Cinequest will instead be showing “Heart String Marionette” (if I could get over there from Santa Rosa easily I would go just to see it on the big screen), but that doesn’t change the fact that this thief has attempted to opportunistically steal credit for the work of one of the most interesting and creative minds I have run into.

To M dot: I’m sorry this has happened to you, man. Keep the faith, been enjoying watching your gamedev vids.

To Arya Ghavamian: I hope that you learn from this, but I also hope that this never dies down and your reputation is eternally stained, marking you as a plagiarist and thief of creative work.

You can find out more by reading M dot Strange’s post on his studio’s main blog. You can learn more about M dot and his work on his About page, and you can watch Heart String Marionette in it’s entirety here. Please consider supporting his work, and please consider supporting the work of independent artists like him (and myself)…drama like this is only skimming the surface of the bullshit we have to put up with just to do our thing.

One Week Left For “Black Labyrinth: Book II” Kickstarter

Cover of "Bubba Ho-Tep (Limited Collector...

Cover via Amazon

Joe R. Lansdale, Santiago Caruso, and Dark Regions Press working on a new Black Labyrinth, and he needs your help:

PORTLAND, OR. October 25rd, 2013 – Dark Regions Press, a specialty publisher in business since 1985 has launched a new Kickstarter campaign supporting a new book project by Joe R. Lansdale, award-winning author of Edge of Dark Water, The Thicket, The Bottoms, Bubba Ho-Tep, the Hap and Leonard series, Incident On and Off a Mountain Road and many other novels, short stories, comic books and screenplays. The book will be lavishly illustrated by Santiago Caruso, a renowned surrealist artist of the macabre and fantastique from Argentina.

The new Joe Lansdale novella is slated to be Book II in the Black Labyrinth imprint published by Dark Regions Press.

Black Labyrinth is an imprint of ten original psychological horror novels and novellas from the living masters of horror and dark fiction all illustrated by surrealist artist Santiago Caruso. The first book in the imprint, The Walls of the Castle by Tom Piccirilli has been met with wide critical acclaim, and the hardcovers are considered some of the finest that Dark Regions Press has produced.

The Kickstarter campaign for Black Labyrinth Book II: Joe R. Lansdale began on Tuesday, October 8th and will run until Sunday, November 10th. As of Friday, October 25th the campaign has reached 54% of its funding goal. The campaign can be found by searching “Black Labyrinth” on or by visiting the campaign page directly at:

Join Dark Regions Press in bringing a new novella by one of the most well-respected authors of horror and dark fiction in the world: Joe R. Lansdale. Accompanied by the fantastic artwork of surrealist artist Santiago Caruso, this is going to be a very special book that readers of Joe Lansdale and art lovers will celebrate.

So hit the link in the press release above, the banner below, or the image in the sidebar over to the right and give what you can…it would be a damnable shame to miss out on something like this.

Kickstarter campaign for Black Labyrinth Book II: Joe R. Lansdale

I’m Changing My Name, New Poetry, and More!

Hello, Faithful Readers!

As some of you may know, I was adopted at birth and only met my real father a little over ten years ago. Over that time, he and I have built a strong bond, though I still don’t get to see him nearly enough. Because of this bond, and my desire to honor my father and his family, who have been so accepting and supportive of me, I have decided to change my last name to match his: Spurlock.

Hence, from now on, all publications will be under the name Neal Alan Spurlock instead of Neal Jansons, and my wife and I will be pursuing the legal side of the name change over time. I will eventually purchase a new domain name, and simply point it at this same site. No links should be broken.

And Speaking of Writing…

One of my newer poems is called “Sigh”, and was conceived as an answer to Ginsberg’s seminal Beat poem “Howl”. It clocks in at 427 massive lines of free verse which wends into and out of different rhymes, semi-rhymes, and meters, much like the original. Several early readers have considered it the best poem I have ever produced, and after having left it alone to get some distance, I read through it last night, revised it a bit, and think they may be right.

Now the issue is to find someone who actually wants to publish a 427 line poem. Sometimes I really feel I would have done better had I been born a century or two earlier. I recently reread the first volume of “Lyrical Ballads” by Coleridge and Wordsworth, and it made me think about how hard it would be to publish “The Ancient Mariner” today…and it made me sad.

So anyone out there interested in publishing a poem on that sort of scale? If you are, or know someone who might be, please let me know.

I Am Officially A Grown-Up…Sort of.

As some of you know already, last month I turned 35. This has always been, to me, a very symbolic age. It’s when the “young man” becomes just a “man”, and as such, I have reassessed my career, and feel as committed as ever to my writing, despite my health problems. I have several projects going on right now, and hope to have something new for you folks to read before long.

A Little Appreciation For You All…

It’s been a rough couple of years. Not only did I go from reasonably healthy to crippled for life in a very short time, but my wife has had more health issues as well. I also have had two long-term, close friends–people I had known since my teenage years–die, and two of our beloved cats have also died from diseases that were horrific and unfair.

But at the same time, I’ve also enjoyed more support from my fans, readers, and fellow scribblers than ever before. So many of you have been so helpful and gracious, and that has made all the difference in the world to me, and I want to thank you all. If not for some of you, I couldn’t have gotten through the last two years, and I am very grateful.

So going forward into the next year–and with some truly unique and interesting projects to hopefully bring to you all–I want to tell you all thank you…and stay tuned for new publications and announcements in the future!


The Lovecraft eZine SERIOUSLY needs your help

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A really great magazine that really deserves everyone’s help and support is in financial trouble due to the owner, Mike Davis, having health problems leading to serious expenses. Mike is a goodguy and has been operating the Lovecraft eZine at a loss since it began. He charges next to nothing, pays his writers, and weird horror luminaries like Wilum Pugmire, Joe Pulver, William Meikle, and even yours truly have filled his electronic pages with some great short stories and novellas. Every issue can be read online for free, and the ebook versions of each issue are some of the lowest prices in the industry. The magazine has even been praised by Lovecraftian scholar and master of the weird, S.T. Joshi.

So please, go read this post and help the zine out. This is one of the best Lovecraftian zines around, and if it falls apart we will have lost a great resource to the entire horror and weird fiction fandom. Please read the post and donate as much as you can afford.

Words of Wisdom for the New Year and Thanks

Hello, Faithful Reader. As always, it’s a pleasure to have you here, in my little corner of cyberspace. I’ve always felt a little awkward with groups…my best moments are with two or three people at a time. This is why I love being able to write my little messages to you in this way, instead of with a video or in a chat room. I can imagine you and I, sitting together comfortably in a warm, cozy room, drinks in hand and a smile upon our lips, ready to discuss whatever comes to mind with candor and honesty. I’ve never wanted to be on TV or lecture to a hall full of students (though I have had to, from time to time). I’ve always wanted to have a conversation, to be intimate with individuals, each and every one. This has led me, throughout my life, to the written word. Reading is always a private affair, between author and reader, no matter how many readers there may be. The conversation is always one-on-one, and the only frustration the written word has ever given me is the fact that it can be so one-sided.

A minor digression on this frustration. Once upon a time, when I was living in Santa Cruz, California in the mid-nineties, I would go to open mic night at Cafe Pergolesi to perform readings of my poetry and short stories. I was homeless at the time, and this was the only method to share my scribbled longhand available to me. It’s very difficult for a person without an address and no access to a typewriter to submit their written work and, to be quite frank, I was in my late teens and, though I had already been writing for years, this was my distinctly amateur period. I had a long way to go, and I knew it, but I also knew that I would never improve my art without sharing it and getting some feedback. And that feedback was generally good.

However, it was just words in the air. There was no way, except in memory, to go back and hear those words again, and years later I had essentially forgotten how it felt. I had been too busy running my bookshop to write too much for several years, then I went to college. During that time, my ex-wife was very clear that writing was not an acceptable career. She felt the inherent lack of security, the possibility of never making very much money, and the sheer airiness about it all excluded it from the acceptable “real jobs” out there. She wanted me to be a professor instead, which she considered the most secure of intellectual professions.

This, combined with being treated like scum in the series of writing classes I was taking at the time, put me in a pretty dark place. The professor meant well. She was a literary fiction author with an MFA, and considered genre fiction of any type to be crude, low-brow profiteering. Especially horror, which she couldn’t stand. She had never read any good horror, of course, and had no clue that authors like Clive Barker, Chuck Palahniuk, and even Stephen King had done much to bring literary themes to horror and speculative fiction. Her idea of horror was slasher movies like “Friday the 13th” and her idea of science fiction was “Star Wars”.

This attitude, which I have run into again and again throughout my life, doesn’t normally bother me. I don’t understand what people get out of stories about a mother and daughter baking cookies, either, but apparently it’s a very popular theme among a certain type of reader and writer. But at this time the pressures I was feeling on all sides made me feel like aspiring to be the next Clive Barker was like a musician aspiring to be the next Vanilla Ice…inherently wrong-headed, immature, and stupid. But my inspirations just don’t lead to stories of the so-called “literary” type. Many of my premises come from dreams and visions, and none of these are “exploration of the family dynamics of three generations of wine-makers”. Instead my dreams and inspirations are always beyond the prosaic bits of normal human life. They are of miracles and monsters, demons and demigods, the fantastic, awe-inspiring, and horrifying. I simply can’t care about plots like that of “The English Patient” or “The Joy Luck Club”. I can understand what’s appealing in them. They are, like all art, an attempt to express aspects of the human condition. But that is not what inspires me. For me, the heart of my inspiration is in the extremes, the places where we go beyond the human to the divine, the demonic, the mystical…these are my dreams and visions, and there is no room for the normal, the average, or the banal in my work.

So I found myself unable to write what my professor could respect, and unable to address my ex-wife’s attitude towards writing as a whole. I was on the verge of giving up writing entirely. I was resolved to drop the class.

But then, late that same night, I walked down to the 7-11 to buy a pack of cigarettes. There was a line, and I noticed the cashier, a young man with tattoos on his neck, kept glancing up at me as if he recognized me. Santa Cruz is a small town, at least when it comes to locals (UCSC students are another matter), so I thought little of it…there was every likelihood he had seen me around town over the years. But then I got the register, asked for my smokes, and the cashier smiled and spoke.

“Hey, you’re Puck, right?”

I nodded.

“Didn’t you use to read your poetry and stories over at Pergs on Friday nights? Like ten years ago?”

I nodded again and smiled sheepishly. Like I said, that work was pretty amateurish, and I was read to be made fun of for foisting my bad poetry on the world.

“You were really good. I liked your stuff a lot.”

I was stunned. All I could do was stutter out a thank you. Then came the moment of truth.

“Are you still writing?”

“Well…” In that moment I had to make a choice…and I hope to this day I made the right one. “Yeah, yeah I am. Going home to work on a new short story right now.”

And I did go home and write that story, and while my professor didn’t like it (I remember a comment about the “almost loving” way I described a murder within it), the rest of my workshop group did. And the comment given by one of those readers, after reading just my first scene, was “Wow…you’re like a real writer.”

The point of this long digression has been to explain why you, Faithful Reader, are so important to me. While my work hasn’t been loathed since I started writing professionally, I have hit plenty of setbacks and snags. I’ve been selling stories, but between my health problems, my wife’s health problems, and the collapse of the economy in general, I haven’t been selling enough. I have had some pretty dark times, and in a prior era I may have just given up. I love to write, and without it I go a little crazy, but that love can’t withstand everything the world throws at it without some help, some other person who has faith that the bad times will end and the work and pain will be worth it. Writing is a solitary business, and years ago I felt very alone, to make my way or break without any connection to anyone else.

The internet, with its ubiquitous option to comment, has changed that, and allowed me to engage in the back-and-forth dialogue that I require, and most of all…it stays right there. I can go back and read comments again and again when I am in a rough patch. I can go to my Facebook page (have you liked me yet?) and see the old comments. I can always remember, even when my feelings are hurting and I can’t believe it, because it’s there forever.

So I want to thank you so much, Faithful Reader…each and every one of you. Without you I couldn’t hang on, and if I ever manage to grab the brass ring of true literary success, I am always going to remember you. Every novel and every collection will have you in the acknowledgements, because none of this could exist without you.

Now, for the words of wisdom.

This isn’t the New Year I celebrate. I’m a Samhain baby, conceived then, born in Summer, and in love with the Autumn my whole life. But I do want to offer the purest piece of wisdom I have ever learned to all of you as you begin the new calendar year. It’s from my favorite novel of all time, “Imajica” by Clive Barker. This novel changed my life in many ways, and I am rereading it now in preparation for writing the second draft of my own dream-inspired magnum opus, “Beatrice: The Girl Who Would Be God”. I hope that you can gain as much from these lines as I have.

“…everything you learn is already part of you, even to the Godhead Itself. Study nothing except in the knowledge that you already knew it. Worship nothing except in adoration of your true self. And fear nothing except in the certainty that you are your enemy’s begetter and its only hope of healing. For everything that does evil is in pain.”

Look at these words. Study them. Apply them. They are truth, even if they were couched in the lie of fiction. And to all my fans and friends and Faithful Readers, past present and future: Happy New Year!

His Name Is Scott Olsen: Marine, Iraq War Vet Put Into Critical Condition By Oakland Police

Yesterday, Occupy Oakland was raided by police twice, first in the early morning, then later in the evening. Rubber bullets, tear gas, and “flashbangs”, concussive grenades, were used against peaceful protesters in a display of what can only be called police state intimidation.

An Iraq vet, a marine named Scott Olsen, was injured by a rubber bullet or possibly a tear-gas cannister in this brutal attack, though the Oakland PD claims they did not use them, and is in critical condition with a cracked skull and brain swelling. When a small group of protesters went to his aid, the police fired a flashbang (again, which they refuse they used, yet can clearly be shown in this video) into the group attempting to help the injured marine.

His name is Scott Olsen. Remember him when you think it’s really not that bad, that it can’t happen here, that because we’re America we just don’t do this sort of thing.

Scott Olsen, US Marine and 2-Tour Iraq Veteran, put in critical condition by the Oakland PD.

His name is Scott Olsen. Remember.

Politics and Fiction: The Story of Occupy Wall Street

The World's Greatest Superheroes

Image via Wikipedia

Like many of us, I have been watching the events of the Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupy movement in general, unfold with interest. I have my own hopes and fears about the  recent developments in my country, as many of you who follow my posts on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook know, but that’s not what I want to talk about right now. Instead, I want to talk about how our narratives disclose our attitudes about the world, and the place of social and political ideas in art in general.

Throughout human history, there has been an interaction between the cultural products we produce and our body politic. The assumptions we bring to our writing, in specific, reveal much about our culture and its values. Throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st Century, we have seen our heroes change again and again, but one thing is clear: our narratives have become cynical. The clean-cut, all-American soldier, the undisputed and indisputable hero of the triumphant movies of WWII were challenged and became more complex as our simple faith in our own moral justification has been challenged again and again in real life. The policeman, the politician, the business-leader, the everyday worker, the parent, the child…each of these roles, and the pitfalls and triumphs implied in each, are explored through our fiction. In a sense, we can use our fiction to try out futures, philosophies, and ideas. We can imagine complex and meaningful ways for our real lives to play out through our fiction.

This is not a new idea, of course. From Aristophenes and Ayn Rand to punk rock and Sartre, people have used art to express the world as they see it, sometimes in the hopes that people would embrace it, but just as often simply as play, as a means of exploration of possibilities.

This applies nowhere more than in speculative fiction; what if we developed FTL travel? What if we could engineer people to specification? What if we sent a colony of anarchists to the moon? What if we really did blow it all up?

Now we seem to be experiencing a world our fiction predicted. On some level, we have never forgotten that hubris never goes unpunished, so much of our fiction has been about the collapse of modernity. This is a new type of fiction, in a sense. While the ancients wrote many apocalypses into their religions, the notion of a post-apocalyptic story is all ours. We have told the tale in thousands of ways, but it all comes down to the same thing: the end of the world, and what we do after.

So as I observe the Occupy movement gain strength, I note the fiction that I have seen take hold. The new Batman: Year One animated movie shows us not some caricatured super-villain, but a corrupt police commissioner and a crooked system. We find ourselves loving the Batman as he interrupts the elite dinner party and tells the wealthy and privileged of Gotham that no one is safe.

There’s been a lot of that over the last 10 years or so. Firefly/Serenity showed gave us ragtag heroes oppressed by a benevolent dictatorship that through well-meaning legislation created a race of monsters. Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and Eureka all present heroes that are geeks and freaks fighting the good fight, often against a government that is not only basically incompetent and needlessly aggressive, but downright malevolent and dangerous. Torchwood’s recent big bad was a combination of all the governments in the world, hand in hand with a group of wealthy conspirators who want not only eternal life, but to profit from the whole world’s misery and oppression.

And now, in the midst of this world crisis, there is a new tale being written, and it follows this model. Around the country, across the world, people come together to stand against those that would destroy everything for their own gain. They are occupying public spaces and marching in the streets in an attempt to write a new story, to give us a new way to live, and an alternative to the path we are on. Their use of symbol and narrative is self-aware…these are people who know they are on TV. They know they are living in a story, and they’re trying to be the heroes.

But there is peril in this…so much of this story is angry. So much of it is hopeless. I know that I often feel that way reading these accounts of the protests and the arrests. We need another new tale, a sequel to Occupy Wall Street, because we need a better story than just fighting back. We need a story about what we do once we win, how we live in such a way that our grandchildren aren’t right back here in a few decades. We need a tale worthy of a new America, perhaps a whole new world. A tale that doesn’t just indict what we are, but praises what we could become.

I don’t know if I have it in me to write such a tale, but hope that others out there are scribbling right now, dreaming us a new American Dream…

But until then, games and my own writing must keep me amused, while advertisers like PartyPoker Portugal must keep my wife and I eating. If any of you have some new tales that you’re working on, leave me a comment…I would love to hear about it!

Did you have a Powerplay Subscription with Hollywood Video? Get ready to get screwed by collection agencies..

Today my wife and I received a letter from a collection agency. They informed us that we owed over $100 for games rented from Hollywood Video before they went out of business. The games listed were rented under Hollywood Video’s Powerplay Diamond Plan, where they charged each month for unlimited rentals. Here’s the flyer:

Pretty good deal, right? Except for the part where they try to screw you for the rentals after they go out of business. My wife and I are challenging this, but of course it probably doesn’t matter. Yet again, some corporation lies and we pay the price.