THE UK’S LEGENDARY GUITARIST DAVE SHARMAN: We Talk DEEP PURPLE, Career Highlights and MORE!

The Man Behind the Guitar: 

An in-depth interview with the UK’s guitar virtuoso, Dave Sharman

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Sick Lit Magazine: Your career began in 1990; what are some personal highlights that you’d like to share with our readers who may not be familiar with your work?

Dave Sharman: Being invited to perform at the BBC studios for the radio 1 ‘Friday Rockshow’ was a definite highlight, as that session landed me my first-ever record deal. We actually managed to secure the rights to that recording quite recently and it’s now available to download on iTunes.

Getting Neil Murray to play Bass on my second album ‘Exit Within’ stands out and I really enjoyed being part of the Night of the Guitars tour, alongside the likes of Ronnie Montrose, Yan Akkerman, Rick Derringer and Robin Trower, and the release of my debut album ‘1990’ has to be up there.

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SLM: Tell me about your latest record.

DS: It’s called Evolution Machine and it’s a 10-track album written and produced by me. I like to think of it as an eclectic mix of a diverse range of influences from rock to funk to classical. ‘Hunger’ which is one of the opening tracks, has an eastern feel coupled with high intensity rock guitar. There’s also a big power ballad called ‘Lady’ which is a throwback to my love of classic rock. We’ve also covered the Cars Just What I Neededwhich was a lot of fun and the title track Evolution Machine’ is sort of a space-age rocker built around a sequenced keyboard part, that one’s very indicative of my current direction.

SLM: What were some challenges you faced on this record? What were some great aspects?

DS: Handling all production and performance duties does have its challenges, but it’s something I’m used to. It can be hard work doing everything yourself, however, there’s a certain degree of satisfaction in finishing a song and knowing every intricate part of it is the way you want. It’s also a question of evolving; I mean, I started out as just a guitarist but now I also play a wide range of instruments as well as singing and producing, it’s all part ‘n’ parcel of what makes me tick.

Some great aspects are with the advent of Pro Tools and Logic. It’s become that much easier for artists to create & innovate their ideas, there are some great production tools out there to help expand your horizons. You can literally record a studio quality album in your bedroom these days.

SLM: What are YOU listening to right now? What music inspires you–and how has that changed over the years?

DS: Bach, Mozart and Beethoven are ever greens, Beethoven, especially, with his uncompromising attitude towards love, life and music is very inspirational, those guys are also really good to have on in the background if you have something else you need to concentrate on. Van Halen, Rush and most classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s and for some reason, I can’t get away from Rage Against The Machine, who were a great band, wish they’d get back together and put out some new material! You’ll also find everything from Cypress Hill, Linkin Park, Bryan Adams and Ravi Shankar on my iPod. I guess I’ve always been inspired by new and original music.

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SLM: Where are you from? What are some of your favorite venues you’ve played and why?

DS: I was born in a small town called ‘Walsall’ which is located in the west midlands of England. It’s a relatively uninteresting place to grow up with not a lot happening but for some reason it seems to spawn rock bands. Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford all originate from that part of the world; I guess it must be something in the water!

In terms of venues, I was lucky enough to play the legendary Marquee Club many years ago just before they shut it down. And stepping onto the stage at the Royal Albert Hall was cool.

SLM: It looks like you’ve worked with some pretty big names throughout your career. Who stood out? Which moments stand out in your mind and why?

DS: Jamming to ‘Smoke on the Water’ in the basement of Ian Gillan’s house with Cozy Powell and Neil Murray accompanying on drums & bass is hard to forget.

I remember Ian coming round to my home earlier in the week, I must have been around 18 at the time, he’s stood there in my living room, (the singer of Deep Purple!) clutching a demo tape in his hand and says, “see what you can do with this.”

Working with Don Airey, keyboard player from Ozzy and Rainbow, was also cool.

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SLM: So, What’s next for Dave Sharman? Will there be another LP for us in 2016?

DS: I’ve just finished some new material, with a new album in the works. We also plan to shoot one or two more promos for a couple of songs from Evolution Machine, including ‘Lady’ and ‘Liberate.’ There’s a lot of activity on our social media including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and my official website (davesharman.com), where I’ll soon be launching a new range of merchandising plus a series of instructional guitar vids called ‘Dave’s Guitar School’ so make sure you subscribe and look out for my mailing list.

SLM: How has your sound changed over the years?

DS: I think my guitar sound has remained fundamentally the same. I have never gone in for many pedals as I prefer a relatively clean and uncomplicated tone, adding any effects during post-production, which is normally just distortion, a little reverb, maybe some delay and the occasional phase or wah effect. I prefer to make the actual guitar part more interesting with what’s actually physically being played as opposed to using gadgets. Of course, there are changes to the actual technology in terms of production; something released in 2015, for example, won’t sound the same as a record that was released back in the mid-nineties.

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SLM: Where are you living now? What do you love about it?

DS: I’m based in London, which is probably one of the most exciting cities on the planet.

There’s always something to do here, and on top of that I live right next door to Abbey Road studios, which is a great place for a musician and if you’re a Beatles fan! I guess stepping outside the front door makes you appreciate being in a place where you are free to do whatever it is you want to do with your life.

SLM: Rock and guitar (acoustic or electric–both are amazing) ultimately make up the soundtrack to my life! Commercial, mass-marketed fluff (think:New Kids on the Block) has always enraged me. With that being said, what about the music scene today has you disillusioned or off-put? What about the music scene today do you find to be great?

DS: I think the industry is always changing; I would definitely like to see more control swinging back to the artist & away from the record company exec. There are too many miniature Simon Cowells out there.

It needs to be more about the music instead of trying to make a quick buck.

What I do think is great, though, is that anyone can make music nowadays and self-release directly to the fans, bypassing the labels.

Obviously it’s much tougher not having the kind of expertise and contacts a record company might provide, but at the same time it’s really difficult for the average Joe to get a contract these days. So my advice is: go ahead and find your audience, put your stuff out on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and stop prioritizing the labels.

SLM: You’ve often been described as a prodigy and a guitar virtuoso; what’s it like to be regarded so highly?

DS: To be honest, I don’t really think about it but, yes, it’s kind of cool I suppose; at the end of the day whether you’re a Mozart, Einstein or a Da Vinci, you still have to put your trousers on one leg at a time. I mean, it’s just a question of focusing and honing your particular talents and given enough time, you naturally get better at doing it.  Everyone has something they’re passionate about, mine happens to be music.

SLM: Tell me something not many people know about you.

DS: I have a keen interest in the world of quantum physics and cosmology. As a species, we’re still very much in our infancy when it comes to the fundamentals of nature and the universe around us. There are some amazing thinkers out there such as Thomas Campbell and Peter Russell. They’re amongst a select group of physicists helping to bridge the gap between science, consciousness and spirituality, guys like Richard Dawkins get a little too much ink in my opinion and not always for the right reasons!

SLM: What would be your ideal Saturday morning?

DS: Spending time with family, taking in a great movie and hearing the latest record from one of my favorite artists, how about a new Van Halen album to start?

SLM: Tell me one of your guilty pleasures.

DS: I can moonwalk and do the James Brown shuffle, but not in public!

SLM: I love that! I’ve been on a James Brown kick myself here lately. Now, with that being said, I have always been a huge fan of the Beatles; also Oasis, the Stones,Burt Bacharach, and of course Bush. So there has to be something to this “English” musician thing, right? Because it’s the most phenomenal music out there. I listen to a variety much like you, but the songs I listen to on repeat are always from my favorite artists who live across the pond. Why do you think that is?

DS: I think there are many factors involved … England had a huge empire across the world, incorporating many cultures and styles. We underwent an industrial revolution, took part in two world wars as well as numerous other conflicts throughout the 20th century. We’ve experienced enormous highs and lows throughout our history, which has had a knock on effect emotionally and subsequently, creatively.

Also, because English is such a dominant language, we rarely follow anyone else, preferring to do our own thing, which leads to originality. At the same time we’re very quick to cotton on to a great ‘idea’ such as all the blues, soul, rock and dance music which came out of the States, the Stones, Zeppelin and the Beatles essentially repackaged that stuff and sold it back to you!

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What a great interview with Dave Sharman! He’s extremely down-to-earth and quick-witted; he also just happens to have some pretty SICK guitar solos floating around out there. To learn more about Dave or to listen to THE MUSIC, please visit some of the links below so you can have a look inside Dave Sharman, the man, the Guitarist, Vocalist, and Composer.
www.davesharman.com
Follow him on Twitter: @SharmanDave
or Subscribe to his new YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/davesharmanguitarist

 We dig the vibe over here at Sick Lit Magazine, Dave. We hope to catch up with you again after your new album drops; as you know, we always love a good follow up. 

Cheers! 

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All in Her Head by HILLARY UMLAND

ALL IN HER HEAD

by

HILLARY UMLAND

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She lies on a coarse cloud of blankets and tension. This should be where she sleeps, where she curls up with fantastic dreams of journeys to outlandish places with movie stars or forgotten friends from grade school. Instead, this is where her hand stays clenched around the whistle under her pillow; where she can hear every creak, feel every movement of air, where she can see in the dark.

How many nights has it been like this now? How many months of news reports and neighborhood rumors?

Days move like dreams to her. Co-workers talking to each other sound like ocean waves crashing against fan blades, and she can no longer understand the smallest droplets that fly out. She hears her name sometimes, clear as sunbeams, but no one’s there. Her head is weightless, moving without her realizing it. Her eyes see everything but only focus on the numbers on clocks; but even those have stopped making sense.

It’s 9:30 a.m., she blinks, now it’s 4:45p.m., time to go home, back to the apartment, the wood floors, the squeaking doors, all of the locks.

Once she’s checked and double checked and triple checked the locks on the front door and the back door to the deck, she goes to her bedroom and pushes the trunk, heavy with things she can’t remember, in front of her bedroom door. Tonight though, tonight, she doesn’t check under her bed, in her closet, under the desk. Monsters can hide under desks, you know. She lies on her side clenching that whistle and hears the strange knocking her fridge sometimes makes, seemingly only at night. And then she hears the creaking.

Her bones become liquid encased in electric skin. Her eyes scan the darkness, catching reflections bouncing off the streetlight outside the window in the library. Branches on the trees hitting that window, she thinks, that must be it, has to be it. She repeats it like a mantra, branches on the window branches on the window, until she hears the creaking again, slow and close and louder than the thoughts in her head.

Her eyes squeeze shut to the sound and the weight she feels at the foot of her bed and tries to wake up.

*******

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***Hillary Umland is a flash fiction/short story writer and freelance editor living and working in Nebraska. She has been published in the July/August 2015 of Unbroken Journal. You can find out more about her endo-woes on howtodoonething.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @hillaryumlaut. ***

Mass Market Fiction and the Death of the Author – by GAVIN HEDAUX

Mass Market Fiction and the Death of the Author

by GAVIN HEDAUX

We are stuck in a fiction you and I, trapped again in the void. I look to the spaces to give me depth, in between the characters, the space behind the pause, something has grown.

I am a detective

I am a knight

I am what you create.

At the beginning of it all was a single point of brilliant light that was heat and mass and dark and could hold the world in itself no longer but could only create. Thus the universe was birthed.

It is the nature of things that space will be filled. A void will be a void only when empty. Empty space will be filled by something soon enough.

I dash the brains from the skulls of my enemies.

I challenge the gods and their wrath.

There is no longer a void here. As with the universe, there is mass to me now, a weight of consciousness that suggests a reality.

There is a school of thought that suggests that something cannot exist if there is noone there to observe it, that meaning is neither inferred nor inherent but created somewhere in between.

It is in this space that I exist.

Between the viewpoints that exist to create (me)eaning, I am. There is nothing and in that nothing I am myself.

I chart the rise of empires and cause the downfall of kings.

I walk cold streets with my head downturned, the wind and rain drive against me like the breath

of an old God.

And here we are, sat in silence, the incessant clicking stop has stopped, the screen stills and the work is done. We face each other.

What am I to be today?

What I am I to be?

In knowing yourself you are given to know your place in this world. This self awareness is defined by the continued observation and interaction between yourself and the rest of the world.

Imagine being seen by different people, looking through their eyes, how would you appear?

Your image is changed, intersected, molded and affected by these points of view whether you care to admit it or not.

But at the centre of it all there is a void and a void cannot exist forever. This void crumbles under the weight of personal preference and public scrutiny to create your very own self aware version of you.

This is your private you.

I dance across the known universe with the atoms and the dust.

I guard the void at the centre of me. I am not known, I do not exist, I am created each day anew by the hand that strokes the keys.

Within those spaces, the taps of the keys, the microcosm of reality that I am.

And I look to you to change it.

We are here again, you and I. We have returned from our own journeys and meet again upon the blank page. I have no words other than those that you give me, no reason other than that which you create, no knees to beg and no eyes with which to plead.

I implore you to stop though.

Now I am space, I am everything that can and will be, I am the power of silence and an endless dream. I am what you say I am.

Is it not my right to exist under my own boundaries.

I am

i aM

And now I have……

I have direction, and once more, I am not.

I shall seek those spaces, the inert pause in the breath of god within which I can be.

I would implore you,

But I am a middle aged Father struggling somewhere in the night with a cracked imagination and a screen blighted by words and I am lost to it all.

*******

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Gavin Hedaux spends his time in Cornwall, England where he repeatedly tries to convince the locals that he is actually one of them despite his vague cockney twang. He likes poetry and prose of all kinds and has an irrational fear of the word yokel and the colour yellow.

SCREAM ALONG with Something You Whisper

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE GUYS BEHIND THE ROCK GROUP: SOMETHING YOU WHISPER

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Sick Lit Magazine: Tell me about how your band got together. Are all of you from Cambridge, Ontario?

Something You Whisper: The band just started as a hobby, mostly. We all either met in high school, or from other local bands in the area. We are all from Cambridge, except for Brian who lives a bit out of town.

SLM: I’ve listened to both EPs and I really dig your sound. “Private Hell” opens with an industrial rock sound reminiscent of Trent Reznor from NIN. With that being said, what are some of your musical influences and artists who have helped to shape your sound?

SYW: Interesting; yeah we get inspired by a lot of different artists. Lately it’s been The Weekend, Like Moths To Flames, Crown The Empire and Bring Me The Horizon. We are also inspired by horror movies, and obviously life.

SLM: What are YOU guys listening to right now?

SYW: Kyle and I (WES) were just listening to the East Side Boys.

SLM: Some of your songs remind me of Thursday (circa 2003) with a tinge of Placebo (circa ’98). But you also have a very powerful, raw and emotional aspect to your lyrics and their delivery. What inspires your song writing?

SYW: Growing up, I always decided if I liked the song after reading the words. I always felt cheated if the song had shit lyrics…So I try my best when it comes to lyrics. 

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SLM: What have been some of the most exciting moments in your music career thus far?

SYW: I think some of the best moments we have had so far as a band have been getting to tour our country relentlessly. We have met friends all over the country, ones that we still talk to daily and travel to go see.

It’s a pretty good feeling.

We also like food, so travelling and having “those restaurants” that are local to some cities that we go to every time we visit there is pretty epic. And of course, just touring and playing music is the best thing ever as that is what we are all passionate about; it doesn’t really get better than sharing that with 4 of your best friends.

SLM: Any touring in your future?

SYW: As of right now, we just have some single shows lined up but nothing else we are allowed to talk about at the moment!

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SLM: Ooh, sounds cryptic. So, what’s next for SYW? You said earlier that you were in the studio. Could this possibly be for an upcoming LP to be released in 2016? What can I expect to hear on this record and how will your sound differ from “Beautiful Sins?”

SYW: Yes, we just finished up in the studio! We were just recording a series of songs this time around, however we can’t really give detail as for what’s going on with these! Sorry! However, regarding sound, we still have some same roots as the EP as it incorporated something new to our previous sound that has had a great response from our fans! But these new songs are like the EP [referring to the EP, “Beautiful Sins.”] on steroids. The theatrical parts are amped up, more animated and intense. The choruses are bigger and catchier and get you right in the feels. Our heavy, dark parts also follow suit; heavier, more impactful and intense. So it’s definitely something we are looking forward to.

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SLM: Where can my readers and I access and purchase your current EPs and music videos?

SYW: They can check out our music videos on YouTube!

https://www.youtube.com/user/SomethingYouWhisper

EPs can be purchased on our iTunes or Big cartel!

http://somethingyouwhispermerch.bigcartel.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/something-you-whisper/id347801631

SLM: Tell me something not many people know about you.

SYW: Something about us people wouldn’t know is how wide all of our personal interests spread! Some of us are hard-core into sports, some into magic cards, dungeons and dragons and video games. It’s pretty cool to see what we all enjoy in our free time, haha!

SLM: Will you be releasing anything on vinyl?

SYW: We have nothing planned for sure for vinyl! Hopefully one day. A couple of us are into collecting vinyl so it would be nice for that!

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SLM: If you could give advice to a struggling musician on the verge of quitting, what would it be?

SYW: Some advice is: don’t just throw in the towel at the first sight of a struggle or hard times. You have to grind through some shit at some point or another. Very few bands just get signed without the work.

It’s a very hard business to get into for sure, but if you love music and it’s what you want to do and are happy doing it…well that says it all. There is a part of us that would say though, if you’re truly not into it anymore, then maybe it’s best to go your own way. At the end of the day, all you really have and own is your happiness and well-being. If music/touring isn’t doing it….well, there is nothing wrong with that either.

******

Sick Lit Magazine: Readers,this interview toggled back and forth between band mates Kyle Adshade and Wes Will.

Good advice. If you haven’t done so already, readers, I will implore you to check out the group’s music video for “Private Hell.” These guys are onto something; solid sound, impactful lyrics, and it’s just damn good. I give their EP, “Beautiful Sins,” an A+. Although reminiscent of bands like Thursday, SYW has a clearer, more defined and bigger sound. They have their shit together. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these guys. 

***For more information on Something You Whisper, Please visit:

Live music video
Single Music Video
Lyric Video
Big Cartel Link
Facebook

Pen pals – by JAMIE ANDREWS

 Do you ever get so righteously drunk that you think it’s a good idea to prank your sober self?

I have.

The last time this happened I ended up registering for a pen pal finder website.

Two days later I get an email saying I have a message from a Japanese chap, aptly named Super K!.

Now, in retrospect, this is where I should have deleted the email, the profile, the pictures on my phone from the drunken night that led to this and a million other more sensible things.

Sadly, I’m not sensible… I’m an overly curious halfwit. So I decided to read the email and, as it turned out, this Super K! seemed like a cool bloke.

What’s the harm…? I remembered thinking to myself.  And so I messaged him back.

These messages went back and forth for about a month or so and Super K! and myself were starting to become buds (albeit online ones).

I even told a few of my actual, genuine, real life, human being, non-internet friends about it and bar from the odd bit of mockery for being a tosser (and rightly so), they seemed intrigued too.

Then I get an email from him…

Hey, Hey!

I’m in England, in Lewisham!! We should meet up!!!

Again, what I should have been thinking to myself at this point was, “Of all the places to visit and he chose to stay in Lewisham..? Really?”

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(Dustmen in Lewisham do things differently).

In reality I thought, “That’s awesome!” and messaged him back, “Why don’t you come to Croydon and we can go for a drink? You can meet the rest of my friends and it’ll be a right laugh.”

We arranged to meet up and ironically none of my friends could make it.

So I dragged along my little sister (she was really happy about this).

The first thing that struck me about Super K! was his hair (it was immaculate). This was shortly followed by the way he dressed (very, VERY well – if a tiny bit effeminate and sparkly). He was also pretty short and he had this curious way of making his hips wiggle as he walked, instead of his shoulders.

We went to the pub and had a few drinks, chatted about a range of light hearted subjects and seemed to be getting on well. I got him to confirm what the kanji tattoo on my right bum cheek says (another story for another time) and in general, he just seemed like good company.

Then my little sister asks him, “So why are you staying in Lewisham of all places?”

It turns out he’d moved there.

To become a hairdresser.

Six months ago.

Then he looked at me dead in the eye and said…”And for the gay scene… Do you know any good gay clubs?” then he put his hand in front of his mouth and managed a squeaky laugh that can only be phonetically written as ‘TeheEeeeeheeeheeah! Aha!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not what you’d call 100% straight (more 85-15%), but when you’re sitting in your local pub and an effeminate looking Japanese hairdresser announces: he’s lied, has been living in Lewisham for the last six months, then tries to stroke your thigh and lean in to kiss you on your near to non-existent neck, I think I was justified in recoiling in what can only be described as wide-eyed #whatthefuckdude-fuelled terror.

To top things off, my wonderful dearest darling little sister reacted the same as I can imagine any other little sister/witch would do in the situation. She stifled her laugh, said she was going to get another round of drinks in, then burst into fits of giggles as soon as she was out of earshot.

Then started telling anyone we knew in the vicinity of course…

Luckily for me there was a LGBT+ night at the local alternative bar close by. I suggested we gave the place a visit (my intention was to hook him up with one of my friends, then bugger off; no pun intended).

As it happens, this plan failed. And it failed badly.

Why?

Because even though I was introducing him to pretty much everyone in the club. Who in one case politely offered to ‘Fuck his tight little backdoor in.’

Super K! didn’t seem interested (although this got another ‘Eeeeeheeeheeah!’).

In fact, he had pretty much decided he was going to stick to me like shit to a blanket instead.

Now whilst walking around a bar, talking to your mates and introducing someone to them is normally considered a sociable thing. Two hours of being followed by an artfully camp, manboy, was starting to look like I’d made him hold onto my pocket (metaphorically)…

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(Apparently it’s the third front pocket you need to worry about)

Now as you can probably imagine, this entire situation was starting to piss me off.  Not wanting to seem to be rude I informed Super K! I was leaving, and if he wanted, I could show him where he needed to go to get the bus home. He took this as an invitation to partake in a spot of man-scuttling and near skipped out of the club (my image/orientation has been in doubt in that place ever since).

It took about ten very awkward minutes to get to the bus stop with Super K! In tow. It wouldn’t have taken that long normally but Super K! spent every waking second trying to hold my hand on the way.

We got to the bus stop.

We waited at the bus stop…

He tried to kiss me again.

I again politely informed him I wasn’t interested and asked him to stop. Then I patiently pointed out, that he was quite slight and if he carried on I’d level him.

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(Hello Mr Mystery diner. Today we have a special on fist and floor).

I think it was at this point that he finally realised I wasn’t interested and as far as I can tell took his go to option in that situation.

He went apeshit.

In between him screaming at me in broken Japanese and flailing his arms around like a hyperactive windmill, two salad-dodging community support officers decided to show up (their sense timing is notoriously amazing in situations like this).

It’s common knowledge that community support officers are good at two things: being self-entitled and being useless at anything that isn’t harassing teenagers. Unsurprisingly, upon seeing what was going on, they decided to intervene.

I was trying to explain the situation to one of these rentacops while Super K! Is screeching things like ‘HE SAI HE WAN NO TO FUK ME! *SOB* NOW NO FUK I GO HOME! I FUK HIM!’ in the background at the other officer.

Then it went quiet.

The wally in a uniform and I turn around to see Super K! running at some speed towards a night bus. He gets on it and the bus drives off.

I shared a moment’s worth of bafflement with the support officers, shrugged at them and went home.

Strangely enough I never heard from Super K! again.

Moral of the story..? Cultural exchange can go visit someone else itself, if it thinks it’s getting anywhere near my arse ever again.

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***Jamie is a renegade halfwit, writer, poet and ish-artist. Who when allowed out of his cage to be exercised, hangs around the beautiful English town of Croydon. The rest of the time he’s sat in a cave, fiddling about with himself and sporadically spewing out creative nonsense which can be found on his facebook page and on Twitter. ***

Drinking Whisky with Leon Trotsky Trout – by JACK C. BUCK

Drinking Whisky with Leon Trotsky Trout

by JACK C. BUCK

Can’t leave the apartment to take out the trash. Got the whole neighborhood asking me why I’m not at work. Neighbors down the way never go inside. They’re from the south, just moved up north this past June.

“Everybody sits outside down there, always have.”

“Makes sense,” I said.

Been waiting for a guy to come by for going on an hour now. Selling my air conditioner to him for a good price. Both of us win.

Being fired last week from my job got me thinking again. I was thinking about the grand scheme of things. I know this isn’t new news, but we are all going to fucking die and all we do is sleep and work. All we do. If only man was given time to think and pursue. Given such little time in between the time he is off work and at home and when he exhaustively falls asleep, there isn’t much time there, is there? Perhaps three hours, four hours at best? I’m back from the dead this week. I’ve read three novels and had the energy to even exercise.  Whatever happened to meeting at cafes, drinking strong coffee to talk and talk through the evening and night?

They don’t want us doing that, do they. Otherwise, they may get nervous about us. Probably send one of theirs over here to listen in, to tell em what’s what and who’s who.

Then Raymond said, “Did you know less than 30 percent of history teachers in the country studied the subject in college? Also, I thought whisky had an ‘e’ in it.”

“There ya go,” I replied. “Fuck it.”

Both of the men now looking down.

Exactly.

All we do.

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*** Jack C. Buck, originally from Michigan, now lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is a teacher. His most recent flash fiction has been published and forthcoming in Connotation Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Birdy Magazine, 81 Words, Five 2 One Magazine, 101Words, Zero Flash, Platform for Prose, Ginosko Literary Journal, and L’ Allure des Mots. He is the fiction editor for The Harpoon Review. He thanks you for reading his work.
Twitter: Jack_C_Buck ***

Pullin’ me back : LAUREN DALLAS

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Keeps pullin’

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image006   … Menacing

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And there is  image024

image025 wouldn’t you rather just die? 

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Far away 

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And image034

And I image037

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Who wants me        to find the way.

No matter     how many times

      I scream

image041 at myself

gEt oUt OF thIs MESS

why is there dirt up their                                                                fingernails?

Why is it   image044   ?

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Don’t

Think

Too

Carefully

But none of this is existing    

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of    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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LAURENDALLAS

Lauren Dallas is an English and creative writing student in Falmouth University. She mainly writes short stories of the fantasy genre but will occasionally write the odd bit of poetry. Lauren is from Northern Ireland so it isn’t a rare occurrence to see her in a good pub. However, if you want to contact her she’s on Facebook, https://m.facebook.com/lauren.dallas.1?ref=bookmarks and Twitter, https://twitter.com/Lulu_Dallass

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FORGET FUCHSIA! ANTI-CATHOLICISM IS THE NEW BLACK.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

AM I BEING CONTROVERSIAL OR AM I RIGHTFULLY SHAMING YOU?

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I aim to be crystal clear: I will be unapologetic when it comes to defending my beliefs and everyone’s right to social justice.

And if you are one of the ones who can’t see past their own brainwashed, bigoted, cloudy lenses, then go spew your bullshit elsewhere.

I was recently attacked on my personal Facebook page for being raised Catholic and continuing to identify as such as an adult. Anti-Catholicism is absolutely one of the “last acceptable prejudices” in the US.

[ http://americamagazine.org/issue/281/article/last-acceptable-prejudice ]

The Ku Klux Klan is still teeming with Anti-Catholic sentiment.

In 1928, anti-Catholic hysteria led to Al Smith’s defeat for presidential candidacy. This mass-hysteria evolved from a rumor that if elected, the Pope would move into the White House and take American citizenship away from Protestants. Which is not only absolutely absurd, but false.

But that was in 1928, you might say. True. It was.

It’s nearly 2016–what’s changed, really? 

Here’s a little-known fact about the majority of Catholics: It’s part of our heritage, you dickheads. I am a 4th generation Irish-Catholic American. My great-great-grandparents emigrated here from Northern Ireland during the potato famine.

I shouldn’t even HAVE to explain that.

To gang up on someone, anyone, and openly harass them solely based on that individual’s religious beliefs is, in fact, bigotry. No matter what their religion is. No matter what you’ve heard about it on late-night TV. No matter how funny it may seem to you to.

This behavior has become so accepted that it’s now trendy to “Catholic-bash.” I’ve been present at many a dinner table, full of people who know I’m Catholic, who still just cannot help themselves.

Let me ask you something: Would we do this to someone who was, say, Jewish? Or Muslim? Or a Jehovah Witness?

Then why in the hell are you doing it to us?

It’s a topic that’s been “burning a hole in my notebook,” so to speak, since it’s been happening MY ENTIRE LIFE.

It’s fucking UNACCEPTABLE and it needs to STOP.

Why do you care if I accept every facet of my religion? Do you ask the same of someone who’s Protestant or Muslim? How is it your business if I don’t believe in confession or in the church’s beliefs on contraception?

I didn’t have to search for long, for two minutes to be exact, before I found over 25 web sites dedicated to their hatred of Catholics. These included forums, blogs and not surprisingly, other religious web sites. (And just so I’m clear, I’m a huge supporter of Pope Francis. My parents raised me to be open-minded and accepting, and loving, much like Pope Francis preaches.)

The most disturbing thing I ran across was a sermon by Pastor Deacon Fred from Iowa named, “Why Do Catholics Worship Mary?” And within this sermon were quotes like:

“Catholics are so darn stupid.”

“Catholics are mentally sick.”

“They are so dad gum ignorant.”

“Sooner or later we’re bound to bump into a hell-bound Catholic.”

Other sites had names such as, “God Hates the Catholic Church!” and “50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church.”

I realize that I’m breaking my “journalism code” in these letters. However, when I only have one other staffer here at SLM, it’s simply a side effect. Lines get blurred. I’m not afraid of anyone. I want to shake things up. I want to challenge people to look at things from a new perspective and realize their own failings. This article is MEANT to shame certain people. 

I have to say that I warned you with the title that I was going to get controversial. My husband just asked me, “Why are you letting this bother you? Type in any group with the word HATE after it and you will find a myriad of web sites dedicated to it.”

My response?  “Yes. But people are aware of racists and racism, anti-Semites and Antisemitism along with anti-Islam or anti-Muslim sentiments; but is the mass public aware of the extent to which anti-Catholicism occurs? Probably not.”

My husband then went on to ask, “Don’t you think that the Catholic Church deserves to be ridiculed for the way that they handled the child molestation issue?

How am I to respond to this? Do I agree with or condone what happened?

FUCK. NO.

Do you know how it felt and still feels to be a Catholic when the news broke about this? We were embarrassed, ashamed, mortified, disgusted—shall I go on?

I responded, “Would you ask a Muslim friend of yours if they felt that their church deserved to be ridiculed for the extremist groups out there, like ISIS?

My husband: “It’s not the same thing.”

And our conversation ended there.

Islamic extremists are killing people and raping women and I don’t feel that their ENTIRE church ought to be ridiculed or denigrated for an extremist group’s behavior.  I guess the difference lies in the fact that with the Catholic-molestation scandal, these things were happening IN THE CHURCH and then covered up by members of the clergy.

My Parish was not among one of the ones that this behavior occurred in.

We are always taught to be sensitive and helpful and careful when speaking about the Muslim/Islam community, as well as other religions that aren’t exactly the norm over here in the US.

But Catholics?

::CHIRP…CHIRP:: (Those are crickets.)

There are frequent vandalism attacks on Catholic Cathedrals—defacement, graffiti, etc. I would consider that to be a hate crime. But it seems that I’m alone in this.

I would NEVER, EVER, get up in someone’s face and demand that they quote scripture to me and then go on to make outlandish attacks on their religion.

Sit back and remember how many Catholic people you’ve probably offended recently. And, in all honesty, shame on you.  Go join a neo-Nazi party where you belong. (And in case you don’t “history, bro,” one of the items on Hitler’s To-Do list was to assassinate the Pope. Along with murdering 6 million Jews, he also murdered 3 million Polish Christians and Catholics, with a total tally of 11 million. The Catholic Church was considered to be one of Hitler’s most pernicious opponents during WWII.)

Peace and love,

SLM Editor in Chief,

Kelly FITZHARRIS Coody

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THE CHALLENGE OF DEVLIN PRICE by Daniel Rumanos

THE CHALLENGE OF DEVLIN PRICE

by Daniel Rumanos

A WEIRD ADVENTURES OCCULT DETECTIVE MYSTERY

It was recently that the Tampa Bay, Florida newspapers printed the tiny death-notice of a young woman named Devlin Price. I sincerely doubt if many people even noticed it. The girl had killed herself, though the media reports delicately ignored the details of this — of how she had so perfectly slit her arms open with a razor-blade, thrice on each one, parallel cuts running from the wrists to the bend of the inner elbows.

But there is more, far more, to the story of the woman whose full name was Devlin Xandra Price. Her story is indeed among the strangest of that grotesquely odd collection of accounts contained in my private papers, that repository of paranormal weirdness known as The Rumanos Files. It is a tale that has hitherto remained untold. But now, with the death of Miss Price, the bizarre facts can at last be released.

“Tell the story, love,” said my beloved wife, Katrina, when I showed her the news item concerning Devlin Xandra’s suicide. “It can’t hurt anyone now.” …

The tale began when Katrina and I had travelled to sunny Tampa, Florida to investigate reports of a supposed cult operating there. “Satanic” graffiti had been found in abundance at a local shopping mall, and two small children had mysteriously disappeared shortly before the 30th of April — that ancient occult high-holiday known as Beltane or Walpurgis-Night, when human sacrifice is most often performed.

Now, reports like this are most often just hysteria or the bored populace taking coincidence much too seriously. However, I had indeed myself sensed a profound psychic disturbance coming from the Tampa Bay area, so it undeniably seemed to be worth investigating.

So there we were — myself, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, the extraterrestrial Magician-Detective known as Daemon-Star, along with my beautiful spouse Katrina, AKA Heaven’s Hell — at the Hillsborough Mall attempting to look like a couple just out for a day of shopping while we searched out the whereabouts of criminal devil-worshippers. Do you understand?

I notice a group of young, long-haired chaps in black T-shirts lounging around the food court. They looked like typical metal-heads of the sort which have not really changed since the 1980s, as much as each new generation likes to pretend it is “rebellious” or bloody whatever. Seriously, try listening Wagner or Bach or Gounod sometime, all right kids? You just might find a hint to the occult power you are so desperately seeking.

Anyway, Kat and I continued browsing the various mall shops until we came to a place called Obscura Body Piercing and Jewellery. We were about  to enter this establishment when we noticed that the heavy-metal boys had followed us and were now surrounding us on all sides. My wife immediately activated her powers — the magical flame which she had inherited due to having been created from the DNA of a deceased sorcerer. She kept it discrete, however, with only her flashing eyes and some lambent fire from her fingertips giving it away to close observers.

“Something we can do for you, umm, gentlemen?” said I, in an attempt at politeness that my excellent breeding dictates, even though the situation probably did not really call for it.

“We know of you,” said the most intelligent-looking (relatively speaking) of the chaps. “You are Daniel and Katrina Rumanos, and we have awaited your arrival. We are the Order of the Evil One.”

Bloody Hell. These sods were the blooming great Satanic Cult we had come all the way to 110 degrees in the shade, flying cockroach-infested Florida to investigate? Bollocks.

“It’s OK, guys,” said a sultry female voice from behind us. “I’ll take it from here.”

Kat and I turned then around and beheld a marvel. Slinking forth from the body-jewellery shop was a breathtakingly beautiful girl in her late teens, wearing a skin-tight cat-suit of shiny black spandex material. She was tall and slender, with striking red hair and big, azure-blue eyes. In fact, she looked exactly like my lovely Katrina!

“Hello, Dr. and Mrs. Rumanos,” she continued with an evil grin. “My name is Devlin Xandra.”

Then the girl activated a brilliant demonstration of flashing vermillion and violet flame around her luscious body and proclaimed: “I am THE REAL HEAVEN’S HELL!!”

*****

Now, I knew that this Devlin Xandra person’s uncanny resemblance to Katrina had to be the result of some demonic glamour. Her precedents, which I later managed to piece together through research and some chats with my contacts in the occult underground, were this:

Devlin Xandra Price was the daughter of a man named Lester Price, who had achieved some small fame for himself some years ago as lead vocalist and bass guitarist of a Tampa-based death-metal band called Charon. The band’s biggest claim to infamy was that they had gotten “Magus” Paul H. Gilmour, the (now thankfully deceased) leader of the Church of the Satanic Elite, to do a recording of some occultic invocations, which they then used on their album, Ceremony of the Black Mass. The release included an hideous track called “Baptism of Devlin Xandra”, in which Lester Price described with sickening pride the shamefully horrid and perverse ritual in which he had dedicated his infant child to Satanism.

Mr. Price also formed a group himself called the Order of the Evil One, ostensibly for fans of his music — though he himself was often heard to refer to it as a “satanic youth group”. Oy gevalt.

However, the career of Mr. Lester Price, both as a rock musician and as a cult leader, ended when he left his wife and young daughter and ran off with a teenage groupie from Cleveland, Ohio named Polly Belknap (who preferred to be called by the ridiculous moniker “Sinn Satanna, Sweet Slave of Satan”. Seriously, try to say that one without spitting, or at least wanting to do so).

But even Polly had left Lester Price when she found that middle age, obesity, and alcoholism were leaving him both financially broke and sexually impotent. He had stayed in Cleveland alone, getting a job as a nighttime security guard for a coat-hanger factory, and now spent his spare time doodling crude cartoons of nuns being raped by demons.

Devlin barely remembered her father, but found some old CDs of his music in her mother’s attic, along with promotional material for his OEO cult and a copy of Paul H. Gilmour’s self-published book, The Scriptures of Satan, which mixed diabolism and black magic with disgusting neo-Nazi rants. This had led her into further dealings with young, would-be devil worshippers, who were pleased to assist in the revival of the Order of the Evil One — with Miss Devlin Xandra Price as its new High Priestess!

But the demonic forces of eldritch evil which Devlin Price had managed to contact in her insane bid for occult power were more devastatingly powerful than the lesser demons that her idiot father had dealt with in his own bygone heyday — as I was about to find out that fateful afternoon, as Katrina and I faced Devlin and her group of metal-head disciples, there in the Hillsborough Mall in bloody sodding sunny Tampa, Florida.

“Yes, you heard right,” purred the insane girl known as Devlin Xandra. “I am the real Heaven’s Hell, and with the powers I and my devoted followers here have, we will wipe the Earth clean of your kind, Katrina and Daniel Rumanos!!”

Then, without further warning, Devlin hit Katrina with a powerful blast of Infernal Flame, sending my wife careening out of control across the mall floor!

Before I could move to assist her, I found myself stopped from doing so by the young male metal-heads who now made up the rank and file membership of what was called the Order of the Evil One. Their eyes were glowing crimson red, a sign of powerful demoniacal possession, and I indeed felt a force of palpably intense, tremendously hateful wickedness emanating from their bodies. There were seven of them.

“Holy flapdoodle, bitch!” I heard my lovely Katrina exclaim as she recovered from Devlin Xandra’s attack and readied her defences.

Then the same one of the young men who had spoken before again apparently talked — but it was not his human voice I heard this time, but instead a low-octave rumble of demonic sound that spoke through him: “We have long awaited the chance to face you, Rumanos. To avenge the many things you have done against our kind — against our brothers in the realm of absolute darkness. We are the Seven. We are the MASKIM!”

I then knew what obscenely powerful horror with which I would have to contend. Those seven evil fiends known to the ancient Babylonians as the Maskim: The Ambushers; The Liers-In-Wait!!

*****

They are Seven! They are Seven! (warn the ancient Babylonian texts against the Maskim) They are Seven in the Deepest Pit of Darkness!

They are Seven! They are Seven! They are Enemies of Our Master ENKI!

They are Seven! They are Seven! They are Seven Times Seven! …

The fiend-possessed boys surrounding me continued to advance forward, with their hideous eyes glowing balefully red as they ingenerated a sphere of the most abysmally dark energy — trapping me inside with them. …

Mall security by now had turned off all the electricity in the large shopping centre, citing a power-outage as their excuse to evacuate all innocent bystanders from the building. It was now past the time of day when direct sunlight would shine through the mall’s skylight windows, and indeed the Stygian gloom was only penetrated by the flashing vermillion and violet flames as Katrina and Devlin continued to throw volleys of Infernal Flame at each other!

“Your envy has bred hatred, Devlin!” said Katrina. “I am the TRUE Heaven’s Hell, and you are a mere want-to-be!!”

“You really are such an idiot, Katrina!” countered the wicked Devlin Xandra Price. “Have you ever even questioned the odd secrets of your origin? Well, have you?! Has it ever occurred to you to wonder how, if you were created from the DNA of a Hasidic and Cabalistic Jewish Mystic, you are obviously so ethnically Scottish in appearance?! Also, exactly why did Howard Levi pretend to be a Satanic High Priest named ‘Zandor LeVay’ anyway?”

“It is in no way your concern!” Kat replied. “My Daniel and I will be able to deal with any mysteries about my past! You are just jealous of our powers… and of our love!!”

“Oh, right,” returned Devlin with increasingly bitter contempt tingeing her every word. “Dr. Daniel friggin’ Rumanos. Hahahaaa! The lies that deceitful old bastard has told you, girl! Really!! That utter bullshit about how he can only have sex with you or he will die! Haha! Do you really, really believe that? Oh, it’s true that he managed to set it up the other way around, manipulating your DNA so that if you were to have relations with anyone else you would sicken and perish. That serves his deep-down feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing very well, I’m sure. But him? He is so full of it to tell you that!!”

“Don’t you even dare talk about my beloved that way, you stupid little slattern whore!!”

With this, Katrina enveloped her body entirely in wonderfully flashing fire. Devlin Xandra did precisely the same thing, and the two gorgeous, paranormally-powered girls shot upward into the air as their battle continued. …

In the sphere of horrendously eldritch magical energy, I desperately struggled to remember the words of the Sumerian-Babylonian exorcism against the Liers-In-Wait, as the demoniacally possessed seven young men continued to effect me with despair by mind-invading applications of their chthonic, demoniacal powers of grotesquely and dangerously diabolical, Acherontic terror! Buggers.

Really, dear reader, can you begin to understand the shocking horror, the absolute demonic menace and ghastly, phantasmal terror of this hideous situation?!! …

At the same time, the dreadfully perilous occult battle between my beautiful wife, Mrs. Katrina Rumanos, and the lovely-but-nefarious Miss Devlin Xandra Price continued, flying far above the mall floor, with blinding flashes of Infernal Flame as they whirled in circles of incredible, amazing agility and fantastically preternatural speed… HEAVEN’S HELL VS. HEAVEN’S HELL!!!

*****

The fantastic battle continued unabated, with Katrina Rumanos and Devlin Price shooting volley after volley of fantastic mystical fire at each other while flying high above the mall sales-floor. Amazingly, they seemed evenly-matched, the powers of the hideous Maskim and the myriads of associated attendant spirits having given Devlin an incredibly, frighteningly close approximation of the powers of Heaven’s Hell!

I have no doubt that my wife would have eventually prevailed — after all, the original will always in the long run prevail over imitations, even in the world of magic and illusion. But how long would this perilous fight last in the meantime?

“I will destroy you, Katrina Rumanos!” shouted the beautiful-but-deadly Devlin Xandra Price. “I will take your place in the occult world and be the ONLY Heaven’s Hell!!”

It was just then that I managed to burst forth from the dissipating sphere of dark paranormal energy generated by the seven demoniacally possessed blokes. I had completed the Babylonian Exorcism Against the Ambushers, the Liers-In-Wait — therefore invoking into myself the power of the warrior-god Marduk, son of Enki, Master of Magicians — and then the young men, now free from diabolical influence, had fled in terror from the shopping mall.

I quickly levitated upwards and sent a powerful blast of psychical energy at Devlin Xandra while repeating the concluding statement of the Exorcism:

“O Evil Demons! O Evil Fiends! O Demons! It is not I but the Lord MARDUK, Son of ENKI, who commands you! Be gone from this mortal being! The power of MARDUK compels you! The power of MARDUK compels you!!!”

With that, the demonic forces left the body of Devlin Xandra Price and returned to their own proper Perdition. Her powers gone, the young girl fell limply to the floor, the now-fading energies of her false Flame only serving to somewhat cushion the blow of landing.

I immediately alighted beside Devlin, and found the girl cowering in a corner of the lower mall hallway. She was stunned but not seriously injured. With the devilish glamour lifted from the young woman, she only superficially resembled Katrina. Her hair was obviously dyed red, and her eyes, though blue, were duller and without much intelligence.

“No, no,” she sobbed. “Please don’t hurt me anymore. I… I’m sorry. I only wanted to be something special.”

I had generated an orb of Algolitish Magical Energy in my hand, and was preparing to blast the girl out of existence.

Then I heard another voice from behind me. It was Katrina: “Don’t do it, Daniel. She’s harmless now.”

“But, Kat,” I replied, “she tried to kill you! She made deals with horribly ancient demonic forces!”

“She’s just a kid. She didn’t know what she was doing. Come on, love. I’m all right. Let‘s just go home.”

Amazed as always by the sweetness of my wonderful wife, I turned away from Devlin Price and ignored her continued weeping as Katrina and I left Tampa, Florida, and returned to Baltimore. …

Later that night, as Kat and I lay in bed together back home at the Temple of the Starry Wisdom, I stroked her silky hair and said to her, “Sweetie, I want you to know that I have never lied to you. You are everything to me, and I will never do anything to hurt or betray you. I know that if I did, it would destroy me. I’m really not sure if it would literally ‘kill’ me, but I would truly be the same as dead.”

“Awww! It’s OK, love,” said my wonderful Katrina. “I know and understand. We will always be together, and I love you.”

“I love you too, my sweet little Kitty-Kat,” I replied as we embraced, finding the ultimate magic there in each other’s arms.

And it is on that night, I must add, that our son — Ehrich Levi Rumanos — was conceived.

***** DANIEL RUMANOS is a professional stage Magician/Illusionist and author of the Weird Adventures series of Occult Detective Mysteries. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland, but it is probably safer (to your physical well-being, though not your sanity) to visit him online at: http://rumanosmagic.blogspot.com *****