6. Live and Let Live: Diversity, Conflict, and Community in an Integrated Neighborhood, by Evelyn M. Perry (2017, The University of North Carolina Press)
I took a break to read my first title this year that wasn’t related to The End of the World as We Know It in fiction or non-fiction form, and what a treat it was. Live and Let Live is a sociological examination of the neighborhood I’ve lived in, Riverwest…oh, for about 17 years now. Author Evelyn M. Perry moved to Riverwest for three years to work on her study, in a style known as ethnography, or as I describe it, “hey, can I hang out with you guys for a couple years?” As she rolls through the chapters, she investigates the neighborhood– warts and all– and if you live in the neighborhood (or one similar) you’ll see a lot of issues examined that are common discussion here: gentrification, diversity, violent crime, public intoxication, “live and let live.” Perry has pulled a lot of great quotes on the neighborhood from a variety of local characters (disclosure: part of a jokey thing I wrote about Riverwest drinking culture is the epigraph for Chapter 6).
I have a Q & A set with Perry for the April issue of the Riverwest Currents and she makes an in-store appearance Friday, March 31, 7pm at Woodland Pattern Book Center here in Riverwest.
Recommended? Definitely. If you live in the neighborhood, you’ll learn a new perspective. And if you want to read a well written sociological examine of a diverse neighborhood, this is it.
I’m so excited about this. I’ve wanted to start some kind of book club for a long time, but didn’t have a particular inspiration until today.
I’m working on a non-fiction book that has to do with end of the world predictions, pop culture, prepping, etc. I’ve been reading a range of non-fiction titles related to these topics, but I want to read dystopian themed novels. When I was researching my book Heroes in the Night, about the Real Life Superheroes subculture, I read tons of comic books. I found it helpful to read a range of superhero comics just to help me wrap my head around the lingo, style, tropes, etc of the genre so I could be generally well informed. Same thing with dystopian novels, I’m curious to see what parallels between fact and fiction I might discover. As I thought about, I decided it would be a rewarding experience to discuss the books with others.
Fortunately, I have awesome friends who have already suggested a lot of appropriate titles. I set up a FB group where I will be listing suggested titles people can vote on to read first.
Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1482975718409410/
List will be posted this evening, voting will be open a couple days and then I’ll announce title and meet up day. We’ll do one title per month. If you are in the Milwaukee area, we will have a monthly meet up to talk on the title. If you’re elsewhere in the world, you can join our online discussion of the book at the above-mentioned FB group.
They are updating the Doomsday Clock tomorrow morning and I got to tell you, I don’t think it’s going to be good
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is an organization and publication that was formed in 1945. The idea, basically– “oh shit we just created an atomic bomb and that might not have been such a great thing, so let’s keep tabs on where this is going.”
In 1947, the nerve-wracked scientists debuted the Doomsday Clock, a metaphorical visual aid to show just how close we are to nuclear annihilation. Some years the clock ticks forward to Doomsday (aka Midnight on the clock) and other years, to a sigh of relief, it falls back in time. Over the years, the organization has added other factors to consider, in addition to nuclear proliferation: climate change, bio-weapons, and cyber threats.
Here’s some Doomsday Clock highlights:
1947: Doomsday Clock debuts at 7 to Midnight
1953: 2 to Midnight, the closest to Midnight the clock has ever been. This is the year the H-bomb was created.
1991: 17 to Midnight. The end of the Cold War pushed the clock the furthest it’s ever been from Midnight.
2015: The clock ticks to 3 to Midnight. Only two other years chimed this close: 1949 (when the Arms Race was heating up) and 1984 (the height of the “mutually assured destruction” days of the Cold War.)
2016: The clock remains stuck at 3 to Midnight. It is, as the Bulletin notes “not good.”
You can see a longer timeline of the clock here: www.thebulletin.org/timeline
What will 2017 bring? I think it’s painfully obvious that tomorrow morning we will see the clock edge even closer to Midnight.
Let me give you just two quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign:
“I would bomb the shit out of ‘em. I would just bomb those suckers. That’s right. I would blow up the pipes…every single inch. There would be nothing left.”– Donald Trump on ISIS
“…carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”–Ted Cruz on ISIS
Just a small sample of things the Bulletin had to consider this year, in addition to other nuclear threats, and a new administration who believes bigly that climate change is a hoax and not a priority.
Tomorrow I will be up bright and early to grab donuts and coffee and watch the Doomsday roll in. The Doomsday Clock reveal and press conference will be live streamed at 9am CST here: clock.thebulletin.org and I will be tweeting out my reactions here: @TeaKrulos
Hold on to your butts.
The Apocalypse Blog explores the topics of Tea Krulos’s third non-fiction book, which is about doomsday predictions, prepping, and pop culture. It’ll be published in 2018 (if the world survives that long). His first two books, Heroes in the Night (2013) and Monster Hunters (2015) are available from Chicago Review Press here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/krulos–tea-contributor-296670.php
2. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, by Annalee Newitz (2013. Doubleday)
This year I’m keeping track of all the books I read and you are going to see A LOT of entries that are being read in research for my own book, working title The End, due out 2018 from Chicago Review Press. I will be working on it until Nov.2017, so almost a year of reading about the end of the world and global catastrophe. When I’m done, I’m planning to read Hello Kitty comic books for a month as a palate cleanser.
I won’t be writing in-depth reviews, but I’ll share a couple notes and let you know if I recommend it or not.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember was well written, well researched, and ultimately optimistic on the Earth’s ability to survive disaster. It gave a fascinating overview of the mass extinctions the earth has faced over millions of years and how animals and humans have persevered by using the three keywords of the title. I learned a lot about a variety of things from Google Flu Trends to the ancient (literally) underground Turkish village of Göleme.
This is a wonderful Christmas present and a great honor personally and as a writer. Every year author, researcher, teacher, and museum director Loren Coleman selects his list of top books on the subject of cryptozoology, the science of examining unknown animals.
My book Monster Hunters took the top slot on “The Best Cryptozoology Books of 2015.”
There are many interesting titles and authors on the list. You can read it here: www.cryptozoonews.com/czbks-2015/
At the end of the post you can find out how to support the International Cryptozoology Museum, one of my favorite places on earth.
Many thanks to Loren and the ICM staff. I am humbled and flattered by this recognition.
Good sales of my most recent book, Monster Hunters (which has seen a boost of publicity and public appearances this month due to the Halloween season, it’s available for purchase HERE, at my public appearances, or wherever fine books are sold) have led to a deal signed with my publisher for a third title, which will have a 2017 release date.
This third book, which has the simple working title of The End, will be about what can be loosely summarized as “apocalypse culture.” It’ll have three parts: the first will look at predictions about how the world might end, either completely or at least to such a degree that our status quo will be radically different. The second part will be about how people are preparing for such a life altering time. The last part will look a bit beyond the end of the world as we know it and what our lives might look like.
As usual, I’ll be trying to get a good mix of different perspectives. I’ll be talking to people that call themselves preppers, homesteaders, militias, survivalists, ecological scientists, statisticians, potential Mars colonizers, religious prognosticators, artificial intelligence programmers, and who knows who else might show up. Suggestions? Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to this good news, I also am currently shopping around another title I’ve been working on slowly over the last five years. I think it is really good and I’m looking forward to see what my happen with it. I’ll be posting here with more info when it happens.
Last, the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference is going to happen again in 2016, and we’re zeroing in on a venue and dates. We’ll likely be making this announcement at on October 30 at www.milwaukeeparacon.com!
And now….back to work.
People know me from a variety of different phases of my life. From roughly 1998-2006 I would say a major focus of my spare time was drawing. That was the dream, to be the next R. Crumb or Daniel Clowes or some new freakish grandmaster of cartooning. I drew hundreds of pages of comics and illustrations. They appeared in publications like the Milwaukee Orbit (long gone), Riverwest Currents (still around. The Comics Page, which I founded, is now 12 years old and has been edited by 5 different Milwaukee cartoonists), a wide variety of zines, flyers, etc. I edited a comic anthology called Riverwurst Comics, that was a lot of fun.
In 2006, I had a year of major transitions, some good, some bad. My paradigm shifted. I still enjoy drawing on occasion, but in that year I felt like my comics and my life in general was heading nowhere, the wheels were stuck, so I started writing instead. I think it was a good life choice.
One of the issues I had in my comic drawing life was that I had no patience and I had a frustratingly thin skin. A first round rejection was enough to kill an entire project for me. I would draw a comic, send it out somewhere, and with a rejection letter (or even just no response), I would scrap the idea without trying to present it anywhere else, no attempt to revise it. I would get pissed off and I would hate myself. If you want to get something published, I highly recommend you don’t act like this. You need to believe in yourself and keep trying.
Anyway, what follows is a comic I discovered while digging through a box of archives recently. I drew it in 2005, ten years ago. I submitted it to High Times magazine and got no reply, so stashed it in an archive. It has never been published anywhere. It is really stupid goofy, but it is my birthday, so I’m publishing it. It stars a stoner alligator character I invented, Hella Gator, and his girlfriend, Cat. In this comic he has a dream he where he encounters parodies of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, psychic John Edward of Crossing Over w/ Aforementioned, Judge Judy, and a cameo by Potential Future President Donald Trump. Some things have changed since then– who has a satellite dish anymore? Steve Irwin is dead, John Edward has a different show, but Donald Trump’s hair still looks like a loaf of bread. I no longer find inspiration from smoking weed and watching basic cable (apparently the basis of this comic), but here is something that survives from that era.
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Illinois Paranormal Conference in Rockford, Illinois. It was about what I expected. Some of the talks were quite interesting. Some maybe went over my head. It was a relaxing environment for me. I gave a little talk about my book, Monster Hunters. I hung out, sold a few books, talked to people.
The headlining speaker was Rosemary Ellen Guiley. She’s written about 65 (!) books on paranormal topics over her career. If you’re really, really into the paranormal subjects, you know who she is. If you’re not, you don’t.
One interesting thing she talked on was a supernatural race known as the Djinn. The French translated this into a more well known word in the Western world: Genie. It turns out that in Middle Eastern cultures, they really do try to trap the genies, or Djinn (pronounced kind of like GIN) into jars, which is where we get our “Genie in a bottle” imagery. Guiley says Djinn really do exist and can be helpful, tricksters, or just straight up evil. They can sometimes grant wishes, but sometimes there is a catch involved.
* * *
I took a walk from Shorewood over to the east side today. It felt good, but by the time my walk expelled me onto Brady Street, I was hot, overheated. I walked into the Walgreen’s on Brady. I went into the bathroom in Walgreen’s and splashed cold water on my face. This hair, I thought, running my hand through it, too hot, too thick. I looked at my face in the mirror.
I’m old, I thought, looking at myself. I’m dying. I wish I didn’t have this thick hair.
Back in the store, I grabbed a bottle of juice from the cooler and began wandering to the checkout. Too hot, I thought.
Walking through the aisle, I caught the eye of a young woman, a short, barely 5-foot elf-like rocker girl. She stared at me, wide eyed. She was wearing a ripped up Led Zeppelin shirt, nose ring, lots of tattoos (Betty Boop and a sugar skull, and others, I didn’t want to gape at her), ripped jean shorts, red Chuck Taylors. She looked frantic. She stared at me, wide-eyed, then asked, “excuse me, but can I ask a big favor of you?”
Oh great, I thought. Brady Street, where I’ve been propositioned a hundred times by people with weird, needy requests. I was jaded and braced myself for a proposition of drugs, or more likely, a query for drug money disguised as something else.
“I just need ten dollars to get to a remote hospital where my grandma is dying, etc.”
“Sure, what’s up?” I asked her.
“My hair model flaked out on me, and I need to do a haircut for my apprenticeship! Would you like a free haircut?”
I stared at her.
“Uh…yes,” I said. She clapped her hands, they fluttered lightly.
“Oh thanks!” She said.
* * *
She puffed on a cigarette as we walked to the salon where she was an apprentice, a half block away. She got me into a salon chair and then asked me my name.
“Tea,” I said.
“Wait, what?” she asked, grabbing her spray bottle. “Taylor,” she said her name was. But because of her name and her short height, she had acquired the nickname of “Tiny T.” How odd is that? One of the Djinn trickery, I had learned at the paranormal conference, is that they appear to you as something familiar. So if you lived in Victorian England, for example, a Djinn will appear to you as a Victorian person. If you are a farmer, a Djinn might appear as a strange farmhand or maybe a horse. Some of them look like sexy belly-dancers, some look like hideous gargoyles. They play off your mind, your needs, familiarity.
If you spent your youth living on the east side of Milwaukee, maybe a Djinn would be an elf-like (“I used to have a pixie cut” Tiny T admitted on her own hairstyles as I sat in her chair) rocker with a nose ring and a ripped up Led Zep shirt.
Tiny T gave me a great haircut. Her instructor complimented her on the style and on her gumption to go out on Brady Street to wrangle a hair model. Tiny T had taken her assignment seriously and was passionate about being a good hair stylist. I shook her hand and walked down the street quite happy with the random turn of events and my new, free haircut. Was Tiny T a mystical Djinn? No, I would say not. The heat, the talk on the Djinn made me think a delirious thought. But it all felt a little magical, anyway.
Well, the big June thing was the official publication date of my second non-fiction book, Monster Hunters. Obviously, that bumped my word count up quite a book. The book is approximately 90,048 words (although that is the unedited final draft).
Other than that, a couple short articles for M and my “Monster of the Month” column. Promoting the book and the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference took up a lot of time this month. Monster Hunters, by the way, is available in paperback and e-book form here: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/monster-hunters-products-9781613749814.php
17. Monster Hunters: On the Trail With Ghost Hunters, Bigfooters, Ufologists, and Other Paranormal Investigators, publication date: June 1, Chicago Review Press.
18. “On Tap: WMSE Spins Its Own Record,” M magazine, June 2015
19. “Bowling Documentary Scores a 300,” M magazine, June 2015
20. “Monster of the Month: the Beast of Bray Road,” Forces of Geek, June 9, 2015
Total 2015 word count: 107,215
(In Chronological Order) 1. The Pepper Spray Incident
Date: Oct. 9, 2011 Book and relevant chapter: Heroes in the Night, Chapter 13: “People Fighting and Superheroes and Pepper Spray and…I Don’t Know”
Oh boy. In 2011 I was starting to do a wrap on Heroes in the Night. I felt the book was lacking a good action sequence, and I sure did get that when I paid a visit to Real Life Superhero Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement. I joined Phoenix out on patrol for two nights. On the second night, we saw a fight break out in a parking lot underneath a freeway ramp. Phoenix broke it up by pepper spraying the combatants (Russians, it turned out) and all hell broke loose. In the terrifying 15 minutes or so that followed, Phoenix got hit over the head repeatedly with a high heel shoe, I was punched in the face by a pepper spray soaked Russian, an attempt was made to run us over with a SUV, and at one point I was certain the angry party was searching for a gun to shoot at us. The police showed up and placed Phoenix Jones under arrest and by the next day major news networks around the world had picked up on the story. As the squad car drove off with Phoenix Jones, I realized that my hands were shaking uncontrollably from the adrenaline overdose.
2. Bobby Mackey’s Music World Date: Sept. 22-23, 2013 Book and relevant chapter: Monster Hunters, Chapter 14: “The Case of the Haunted Honky-Tonk”
This episode has a lot of back story to it. First there is the lore of the place itself (Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky), which is long yarn to begin with. Like any good ghost story, I found the legend has been exaggerated and embellished over time, but some of the gruesome past is also based in fact. The next thing to consider is that the group I followed, the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee, had already done an eventful investigation at the location. I don’t want to spoil too much of the chapter, but one group member had an eerie encounter I witnessed where she had some sort of paralysis or possession and apparently experienced some temporary blindness. Added to the other frightening experiences the group had and the creepy atmosphere in general, it made for a strange and scary night.
My second strange night while working on Monster Hunters happened while I was camping out with Jim Sherman of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) at a farm in central Michigan named “Isabella.” The couple who owned the farm had a number of weird experiences and had contacted BFRO. Jim had been out there to investigate and recorded some strange vocalizations. I wasn’t sure what to think. The last night of the trip I was scared out of my wits by a bloodcurdling screech outside of my tent. I slowly unzipped the tent door, certain I would be face-to-face with an aggressive Bigfoot. Later analysis of the screech (caught on Jim’s audio recorder) determined it was an angry coyote, but I didn’t know that at the time. To make the night even weirder, Jim and I observed an odd light bouncing around the night sky. What was it? I don’t know, but it was quite unlike anything I had seen before.
4. Crashing the Phantom Patriot’s ATV
Date: May 22, 2015 Book and relevant chapter: Yet to be titled future book
Wow, where to begin on this one. Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot is a Real Life Superhero, conspiracy theorist, former stuntman, felon, comic book artist, political protestor, and guerrilla filmmaker. I’ve been in contact with him for almost 5 years and have slowly been working on a book about his life and the people, sub-cultures, and conspiracy theories his life has intersected with. I knew I needed to get down to his home environment (Pahrump, Nevada) to get some material, so I recently went down to visit him. While I was there, he asked if I would act in a short superheroes vs. conspiracy film he was writing and directing. Sure, I said. One of the scenes called for me driving his ATV down a desert embankment, and although my first take went smoothly, on the second take I hit a rut and crashed the ATV. I thought for sure I had broken my leg and maybe fractured several other body parts, but after slowly moving around, I found I was still in one piece. That was pretty frightening, but hey, I lived to see another day, right?