My Pulp Pit Column at IMJ Returns! Pulp Pit #2: “I Am Not Doc Savage”

After many travails, my second column at Inveterate Media Junkies is now finally online:

I AM NOT DOC SAVAGE

“Though No Horns Adorn My Head” (A Poem)

Though no horns adorn my head
My spirit points to the moon’s sky.

Though my legs don’t end in hoofs
I walk a cocksure prance ‘cross sacred Earth.

My body is hairy.
I’m a proud-hung young buck.
Behind sharp eyes my soul stalks wild.

Horned God–
Horny As Hell God–
Reviled by  fundamental debasers of flesh sacredness–
You still live
in me.

I will drink red wine
I will eat bloody venison meat
And I will dance and sing and fuck and live
So that you may be sacred still.

So that I may be sacred still.

So that life will be sacred still.

“Threshold” (A Poem)

Planks solid underfoot

then

storm and waves and
wind bash and batter
splintering
that on which I stand.

I drift
looking at stars for guidance.

The dark god
has struck
is trying to keep me from
landfall
I have yearned toward.

My heart is strong.
I swim like a bastard.

Estuary.
River mouth roaring turbulence
and it seems I’m lost
just as I am saved.

I pray the god of this river
for sanctuary:

O great flowing god
god of life and motion
and change; 

O great god,
I ask your mercy
I am on my knees
your suppliant

and I see that in your flow
is wisdom gained
and strength born
if only I swim, and look,
and realize.

Grant me, o god,
sanctuary and
sanctity;
safe harbor;
calm shores to salve
my wounds…

and spirits to guide me.

And then were the waters
calmed;
then, the sky grew blue;
then, the bright sun
burned away darkness,
leaving shadow, plain to see,
but woven into the world of light,
unhidden
undangerous.

Landfall.
And I am alive.

And living.

“Our Body” (A Poem) [NSFW]

I hear your heartbeat in my heart
Pushing and pulling and warming my blood.
I feel your breath in my lungs
Filling, gasping me with life.
I taste your mouth in my mouth
Teeth nibbling, tongue slippery-ing me to joy.

Your body.
My body.
Our body.

I feel skin memory of your lips on me
Sucking me deep
Throat deep
Drinking my seed to your belly.

Your sea brine cream taste won’t leave my tongue.

I am cumulative countless nights deep in your center
Throbbing our heartbeat
Breath-gasping our hot shared air
Mouths mouthing, sliding wet wild
Screaming pounding clawing our voice
Runneling our sweat
Spewing sticky salt our sperm
My sperm. Concentrated me.
Into you.

I never want(ed) to lose our body. Our love.

“I Eat You Eat I” (A Poem) NSFW

It is a vision
some would say
lacks grace:

our two sweaty bodies
coiled together
mouths and crotches
slurping
sucking
lapping
warm
and wet
and rockhard
or soft.

It is not love-making of the face to face sort
but more carnal
if only for its social awkwardness.

The vision recurs…

I remember your soft flesh
wet and musky
moving under my probing, stroking
tongue–
the feel of your lips teeth tongue
throat
engulfing my shaft, swallowing, tasting me.
Our bodies tight and heaving.
Lost in passion,
topsy turvy with love,
no up nor down to this lustful embrace,
this meal
as I eat you as
you eat me as
I eat you
as you eat me
as–

Some would say
it lacks, if not taste,
definitely grace.
‘Tis not tactful, to love so.

But to me, remembering,
there was eternity in the act,
a circle formed without seam
complete
two halves making a perfect roundness
rolling like a wheel
toward forever.
Like the worm Ouroboros
swallowing its snaking tail,
to me, if only me,
we formed an eternity.

To live,
we eat.

Run For Deer Life (A Poem)

you run for        deer life
blood shoots through veins of flesh
horns       rattling branches       as
hooves          sink in dark autumn mulch

and         rifleshot cracks         the cold air
shatters your ribs          blood exploding     spraying
you stagger         pain       and run on          pain
world reels in your eyes

rifleshot cracks

your head jerks       odd angle
bony point on right antler        splinters
in near miss       pain   in   side         inside

but        then      eyes clear  as lovewarmthstrength
fills you      pain washes away     spindly legs become
muscled springs launching through forest faster than
before      ever before     and       in mind mixed
of personal moment and species past is sudden
recognition of        GODHOOD       in you but
also utter terrifying            aloneness
other deer in forest      but you the last of herd
of line from out you heaved       bloody sticky awkward

cold air      run     no pain      run      hunter far behind
you reach sweet drinking creek      slow      blood flow from
side of mouth     hot sweet       stagger       fold
to earth        painless grace     vision rolls       breathe
breathe      breathe                   not
two spirits die        in you
your herd         your line
are no more.

Watching Hunters

A memory from an old journal of mine…

I am sitting uncomfortably, strapped with my back to a pine, thirty-odd feet off the ground. It’s dark and cold, not yet five a.m. A periodic wind pushes the branchless length of trunk this way and that and cuts through the layers of clothing I wear. The worst part is my feet feel like ice sculptures in my boots. I can’t feel my toes.

I’m on a deer hunt, this autumn of ’91, but just as an observer. It’s bow season and I am unarmed. The men I’ve come with are spaced in hopeful stillness across several miles of night-dark Georgia forest, participants in a ritual much older than recorded time. Hunters. Predators. There is camaraderie, even when everyone is alone, frozen, quiet. Camaraderie building to beers to be shared, observations spoken, well-meant insults inflicted. But now there’s just stillness and darkness and cold.

Uncomfortable as I am, I have a thrilling sense of connectedness, an awareness of how alive I am, and how alive the woods are around me.  This place, this rural, undeveloped parcel of land, still dreams the deep dreams of wilderness, and I, not back in my bed partitioned from the earth’s breath by walls with their own vented, heated breath, am a part of those dreams. Continue reading

She Rises Lunar (A Poem)

She rises lunar above the crumpled flannel horizon
Heavenly body shimmering with lambent light–
Beaded sweat–
And the tide of blood in me flows toward her.
Then my Rising Sign waxes
Called by her–
And her fullness wanes
Across the dark-wall sky
And by the moonlight beacon of the window
I am eclipsed
Wet
Once again
By her darkness.

Earth moves.

“She Stalks Starlit Wilds” (A Poem)

She stalks starlit wilds
Hot sweat slicking her skin.
Naked skin.
And under that, Blood.
Hot and Red and Lusting.
Life blood.

Her hair is a wild mane cascade
Catching the wild winds–
And scintillating stars spark and spin
In its curls.

She loves to Hunt
To Eat
To Fuck
To LIVE
Feeling her godness in her body moving
Muscle and bone and tendon
And Blood, tided to the Moon forever.

She stalks the Wild.
She hunts for Passion.
Blood. Moon.
Life.
She stalks starlit wilds.

And I dream that she is hunting
For me.

“Valediction” (A Poem)

I release her, though I love her still.
We are not lovers, though we were, and nicely.
We are not friends (epic true or otherwise), though we were, with delight.

To be free, she must build walls, it seems. Some people must.
To be free, she must ravage love, burn its bones.
Salt earth with its tears.
Make sure no part lives, nothing more will grow.

Ok.

Though I love her still, I release her.

Goodbye, Kate.

“Wild Soul – Nature, Civilization, and the Ecological Spirit” (Now Available, Just 99¢)

 

JUST 99¢!!!

My essay “WILD SOUL – Nature, Civilization, and the Ecological Spiritis now available from Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents.

In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)

Traditional tales across the world describe mankind’s joyful rise in a wild paradise like the Garden of Eden. But they also tell of our fall from such lives of bliss and natural grace.

Our technology, our cities, our toys, our wealth, all have done nothing to ground us as individuals or as societies. If they had, we would live in a near Utopia, rather than the reelingly chaotic and violent world-on-the-brink around us, for surely our affluence and level of comfort is greater than it has been for any people in the history of the earth.

Is Eden forever lost, or is there a way back?

Can we access that marvelous, mythic place in our souls, find a path to its joyful, natural wonders? Or have we slumbered so long in civilized ways that our vital selves are banished for the rest of time?

Can we reclaim the power of the primitive without denying ourselves the comforts and wonders of the modern world?

Exploring sources ranging from the Old Testament and Eastern mysticism, from poetry to popular fiction, from ancient fable to contemporary deep psychology, novelist Tim Byrd finds the prescription for our ills.

We need to live and love more fully, and do things that matter.

We need a renewal of a sense of sacredness towards the natural world, and intimacy with that world.

We need wild soul.

“Dead Folks” Now Available

Click To Buy!

My story “Dead Folks” is now available from Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents. In the near future, it will be going up at other online venues, in other ebook formats. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books with free programs downloadable from Amazon, like Kindle for PC. I read Kindle books on my iPhone and desktop computer.)

Here’s the story’s description:

What do you do when your town is suddenly inundated with pesky corpses from various historical eras?

The problem turns personal for young Johnny when he and his sister find Franklin Delano Roosevelt floating dead in the lake. Then the stakes become more dire when he discovers the plague of dead folks might just be the least of his troubles.

Tim Byrd’s clever short story spins the sort of yarn that Mark Twain and Stephen King might produce if spacetime allowed them to collaborate. Join the creepy fun, but watch where you step.

If you read it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon. It’s new and fresh and needs all the lovin’ it can get…

Introducing My New Monthly Column on Pulp Adventure: The Pulp Pit

A Typical Pulp Hero...

As I mentioned in the Song of the Week post yesterday, I have a new monthly column over at Inveterate Media Junkies. The first installment is now live and you can read it here:

I Am Doc Savage

The column is called “The Pulp Pit,” and as you might deduce, its subject is pulp. I’ll be covering whatever pulpy topics tickle my muse (or maybe cuddle my muse, since she’s not that fond of tickling), pointing out cool pulp stuff for people to enjoy, and reviewing books, comics, movies, games, TV shows, and whatever else as appropriate.

For those with possible review materials they think might be on-topic for a pulp column, please drop me a line at thepulppit at gmail.com (just connect the two parts up with an @). I’m interested in any sort of pulpish media, old or new. I don’t want people just sending me things that stack up and I never get to, as that costs you money and both of us time. So tell me what it is, and if I think it’s something I might actually make time to read/watch/play/etc., I’ll tell you how to send it to me.

Regular readers of this blog  might have noticed a recent password-protected entry titled I Am Doc Savage (Pulp Pit # 1). Two weeks after a column appears on IMJ, I’ll remove the password and make the post public, so it’s available to readers here.

I Am Doc Savage (Pulp Pit # 1)

[This is a Pulp Pit column, originally published at Inveterate Media Junkies. These columns are exclusively available at their site for two weeks, then I make them available here on my blog.]

I am Doc Savage.

If you know me, you know that to the world at large, I am a strange, mysterious figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes. A man of superhuman strength and protean genius. My life is dedicated to the destruction of evil-doers. I am the greatest adventure hero of all time.

Now hear me out. Sure, I lack the bronze. My eyes are blue, and I tend toward what you might call an Irish tan, which is to say, freckles at best, charbroiled melanoma at worst. So, I’m not literally the original superman, standing tall with a tropic tan and eyes of swirled gold.

Nor do I live in the Empire State Building, have a team of action-packed scientist aides, or play a mean violin.

Plus, I don’t live in the early twentieth century.

So where do I get off saying that  I’m Doc Savage? Continue reading

SKULLDUGGERY (A Free, Serialized Novel by Tim Byrd)

Drogarth.

The name alone conjures dark images of spilling blood, of blackest magiks, of lawlessness and chaos. Throughout the kingdom children hear stories of this evil city and are told they must never go there — and they wish with all their hearts that one day they will. For children are the custodians of wishes, of dreams; they know in their hearts, in their souls, that only in the darkest of pits can the brightest adventures be found…

Years and years ago, when I had a bit more spring in my step and fewer callouses on my heart, I got out of a misguided stint in the U.S. Army and plopped down at a cheap portable typewriter to begin living the life I always intended to live, that of a dashing and prolific novelist.

I was living on savings, shacking up in Kassel, West Germany (there was still an East Germany then) with a wonderful girlfriend named Rike (whom I’d met the very day I’d arrived at my Army post), who was deep in her own university studies while I took the time to write.

It was a happy year. It was the most productive year of my life, too.

First, I wrote a short fantasy adventure novel called The Road to Adventure. It was sort of stock fantasy — knights and elves and hot pagan priestesses — mixed with sheer swashbuckling and quite a bit of eldritch horror. Took me just over a month to write, and I got it in the mail and started the next project.

The Road to Adventure damn near got published too. A senior editor at one of the big science fiction/fantasy publishers took a liking to it and went to bat for it with the editorial board. See, getting a book published isn’t just a matter of getting a “yes,” it’s a matter of getting a series of “yeses,” and if you get a “no” in that series, you’re screwed. According to the editor, I had the majority of folks wanting the book, but got two key noes; I was screwed. But hey, pretty good for the first shot.

Of course, that resolution took a while, during which I wrote my second book. This took a lot longer than a month. Whereas I’d written Road with a detailed outline, I started this one with a setting, a couple of character ideas, and the notion that I was gonna write a “hardboiled fantasy,” mixing standard sword and sorcery tropes with gritty crime fiction. And I had the title:

Skullduggery. A Tale of Thieves. Continue reading

Blood of Eden: “a very complex and sophisticated tale”

Recently, I posted about a screenplay that Steve Antczak and I wrote called Blood of Eden, which got fairly close to becoming a Die Hard movie.

In that post, I mentioned that the producer’s “coverage” (a detailed summary/review of the script for in-house use) had been leaked, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Thankfully, “belzecue” posted a comment to that entry, pointing to a copy of that coverage posted to a screenwriting news site.

Because the coverage is, naturally, full of spoilers, I don’t want to just dump it here or just post the URL, lest it ruin the reading of the actual full script for someone. It has a tricky twist or three I don’t want you to have spoiled.

So, I’m going to post a heavily redacted version first, editing out most of the plot details, but leaving in the writer’s general opinion of the story.

Then, after the jump, I’ll post the entire coverage, in the hopes that people won’t read it until they’ve read the actual script (you can find the link to it in the original entry). To make the read easier, I’m adding some paragraph breaks where there weren’t any, as the original uses huge blocks of text that won’t read well online.

EDITED, NON-SPOILERY VERSION

Title of Submission: Blood of Eden
Author: Tim Byrd & Steve Antczak
Date Covered: 9/2/99
Genre: Action Adventure

STORY
This screenplay’s story is a very complex and sophisticated tale, presenting its drama and tension in an undersea setting. While there are more and more space- and sea-oriented films these days, this screenplay stands out on the merits of its excellent writing and the incredibly detailed, yet believable, environment in which it takes place. I have some plausibility questions, but they are minor and can be easily addressed….

CHARACTER
While the characters’ main personalities and motivations are clear, I’d like to see them developed a bit more…In this story, it’s very refreshing to see all the bad guys (the ninja) referenced by name, rather than by Ninja #1, Ninja #2…it’s a nice thing to have the bad guys be real people names…

DIALOGUE
Dialogue in this screenplay is a mixed bag. Overall, it’s fine, and it’s especially refreshing to hear the Japanese bad guys using realistic dialogue. Unfortunately, this quickly unravels into typical American macho expletives. The contrast of Japanese thought and phrasing versus the language we are used to hearing is one of the points which made this screenplay unique. Also, some of the American dialogue is either weak (“then the bad guys struck”) or too obvious as exposition (Travis and Desmond comparing backgrounds). In an otherwise very fine screenplay, dialogue is an area that could use improvement.

THEME
“Blood of Eden” is more action-packed than theme-packed, but does touch on several interesting topics, including nationalism versus Pacific Rim countries, maternal and paternal instincts, heroism and honor.

WRITER’S STYLE
The writers do a stellar job of writing action, weaving a tense, sophisticated and compelling tale. Their descriptions of environment and physical action, in particular, are exemplary. All of the hand-to-hand scenes are vividly depicted. The descriptions of the Edensphere do a great job of making the complex “seeable.” Lots of the action and other descriptions are almost literary in their quality, such as the spattering of bullets, the rushing of walls of water, etc. The writers’ challenge is to bring the quality of their characterizations and dialogue up to par with the rest of the screenplay, but I’m sure they can do it.

STRUCTURE
The structure here provides a strong foundation for the story. All scenes are vital and either propel the action or impart necessary information…

SETTING ORIGINALITY
The writers have done a great job of imagining and describing an entire undersea environment and the rules for survival there. Edensphere’s location in the Pacific, however, is unclear. It’s not too far from San Francisco…but it’s clearly far enough north to be in frigid waters. From the “Northern Pacific” slug lines, I kept imaging someplace off the Alaska coast.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
This screenplay has great potential as a very entertaining and marketable commercial venture. It gets off to a good start, jumps into action very quickly and keeps the action going til the very end…

And now, the un-redacted version… Continue reading

Blood of Eden

Many moons ago, I was friends with Shane Black (who makes an appearance on the acknowledgments page of my book). He’s the guy who wrote Lethal Weapon and spent a few years wrestling Joe Eszterhas for highest amount ever paid for a screenplay (Shane’s personal best was $4,000,000 for The Long Kiss Goodnight, which was then run through the mediocritizer by director Renny Harlin).

Shane also wrote and directed the INCREDIBLE Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which is oceans full of fun, and has great performances by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan.

But I digress.

Seriously, we'll all be better off if you let Tim write the movie.

Seriously, we'll all be better off if you let Tim write the movie.

Shortly after Lethal Weapon 2 was released, I had what I figured was a great idea for a third movie in the series. I wrote a treatment, and Shane took a look. Continue reading

Memory Lane

Back in 2004, I started the first iteration of this blog on LiveJournal, but it didn’t last long because I felt like I was talking to myself and was disheartened.

This version has gone much better, and more readers visit all the time, but that earlier stuff has been languishing over there, orphaned and sad.

Recently, LiveJournal has been having serious problems, and WordPress established a simple tool for LJ bloggers to import all their entries to blogs over here. I just used it, then went through and deleted all the posts I felt were uninteresting even in a historical context, posts with dead links, that sort of thing.

So, if you’re interested in knowing where my head was back in February and March 2004, now you can find out.

Pretty exciting, huh?

Savage Tales

red_sonja_by_nebezial

Back in the day, I worked in the roleplaying game industry.

I’m not talking rpg video games, like World of Warcraft or Oblivion (more’s the pity, because the money would have been way better). No, I’m talking good old fashioned face-to-face, throwin’ dice, drinkin’ root beer and eatin’ Doritos roleplaying games. I got into them when I was a young teen, starting with the original Dungeons & Dragons and moving on to many others like Champions, Traveller, and Daredevils. In my twenties, here and there I’d manage to get some short-lived game together, a little James Bond or Ghostbusters here, a little Paranoia or Justice Inc there.

Then I happened across White Wolf’s Werewolf: The Apocalypse one day (in which players assume the roles of lycanthropic ecoterrorists fighting demonic corporate forces to save the wilderness and the Earth itself). Werewolves have always been my favorite monster, I’m a devoted environmentalist, and the game is steeped in animistic spirituality which is my soul’s cup of tea…conceptually, it was a perfect storm for me. That led to scattered White Wolf gaming, which in time led to me actually working at the company. Which led to a bit of other rpg work, most notably for Feng Shui and its stillborn spinoff Pulp! (none of that work saw print, unfortunately, as Daedelus Games collapsed, though I did put some of it online…by the way, any Feng Shui players out there still have copies of my stuff? I lost it all in a hard drive crash).

These games get a bad rap from some people, and D & D is often cultural code for loser. But the fact of the matter is that many people who sneer at roleplayers spend their time watching crap like Desperate Housewives or American Idol, deadening their brains while the gamers hang out together and engage in an activity that has its roots in campfire storytelling and improv theater, an activity that’s inherently social and that exercises the mind.

But I digress. A few years ago, I managed to run a game for a group of friends who managed, more often than not, for a while, to actually get together regularly to play. The game was Shane Hensley’s great Savage Worlds. Ultimately, unfortunately, it’s really tough to keep a game going over time because people are, in groups, pretty unreliable, and entropy sets in till things just unravel.

One of the things I did, as things were unraveling, was to try to establish “pick up games” outside the continuing narrative of the main game, that we could play if someone in the group didn’t show up. That way, we’d still be playing something, the group would hold steady in its routine, and we could restart the main game “next” time…

For the pickup games, I decided to run short sword & sorcery adventures, focusing mainly on mood and action (as opposed to an involved narrative and character development), and in the spirit of Savage Worlds  I called them “Savage Tales.” And I wrote a short handbook describing the setting and telling the players how to design their characters for it.

Before the game evaporated for good, I think we actually played one such pickup game. Or maybe we just had an evening where we hung out and did the character creation. I can’t remember for sure. But I always liked the little handbook I put together, and the commentary within on the difference between epic fantasy (like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and sword & sorcery (like Robert E. Howard’s Conan or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser):

If everyone can’t make it, we go to Europia. There, things are gonna be less epic saga, more survival skirmish. Conan could become a king in Europia, but Tolkien’d have his pipe crushed under some furred boot and be set to work the rest of his short life digging stones from cold earth.

There are no hobbity folk in Europia because they were eaten by snake-men aeons ago. The elves are mysterious and dark, and if you see one, it usually changes your life forever. The dwarves may exist or not, but grandpa says they eat human flesh. And the closest thing to an orc you’ve ever seen is that big ugly fucker down the bar you saw sodomizing an unconscious guardsman the other night…

Here’s the booklet. You might get a kick out of it. If you’re a gamer, you might even find something useful in it. But here it is.

SAVAGE TALES