Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

by J.S. Holland

Happy 4th of July!

In no particular order and off the top of my head, these are some of the things I'm working on for the future, goals for the next few years:

First and foremost, more books. Lots of them. Over the last year, the requests I've received for e-books has increased exponentially. I've not been a fan of e-books myself, but there's no denying that this is the way things are headed. And though I lament the death of paper, if people tell me they want e-books, I listen. I'm talking to several different publishers right now, assessing my options, trying to decide if I want to go through them or if there's any reason not to just start my own e-publishing imprint and cut out the middlemen. I continue to welcome your opinions on the subject of e-books and e-readers.

There are a lot of writing projects cluttering up my desk these days - a couple of crime-detective-noir novels I've been working on, plus projects devoted to specific local subjects like Springheel Jack, The Pope Lick Monster, and Kentucky artists. Theoretically Weird Cemeteries for Sterling is still a go, but it seems to be held up in Development Hell for reasons known only to my editors and publisher. My cemeteries book will see the light of day, however, in the next two years one way or another.

I'm still very excited about working for KyForward, a news website focusing on the Bluegrass area (Lexington and surrounding counties) with a consciously positive, upward-toned sense of civil discourse. Which, as you must know, is all too rare on the internet these days. If you'd like to support such a venture, potential advertisers, please contact them and inquire about ad rates! We're also kicking around the idea of doing video content, including an interview show hosted by yours truly.

And I still love Kentucky Monthly magazine! You can find my column, Commonwealth Curiosities in each issue. If you don't see it at your local newstand or bookstore, bug 'em till they stock it! (Having said that, though, it's a hugely popular magazine and getting more popular all the time; I don't think I've ever seen a reputable store that didn't carry it.)

I'm still a painter first and foremost, although hyping my primitive neo-expressionist outsider-folk-art flavored canvases has taken a back seat in the last couple years to everything else. I aim to rectify that in the weeks and months ahead, with a renewed drive to get these paintings in the hands of as many people as possible, by any means necessary. Do you want a JSH original in your home or office? Talk to me. It's so doable. I offer interest-free payment plans for every budget. (And my Happy & Froggie painting that was featured in the film When Happy Met Froggie is still available, although its price has gone up since the movie was released.)

Something else I've been slowly putting together over the years is material for an Unusual Kentucky museum - something that would be not only a legitimate educational and historical museum, but also take a truly "Weird Kentucky" spin on the whole thing, showing cultural artifacts of the Commonwealth that might be a little - okay, a lot - fringier than what you might see at the Frazier. There have been some nibbles of interest in the concept from parties in both Louisville and Lexington, but I'm holding out until I get a guaranteed deal that gives me control over the place if it's going to be using my name. There are some recent rumblings that give me hope this thing will actually happen, and sooner than later. Keep your fingers crossed with me; it's gonna be a lot of fun.

Those are the primary projects on my front burners, but there's plenty more still bubbling under. My interest in Kentucky's horse industry is going to manifest in some way sooner or later, we'll see. A couple more goals I have: I intend to operate a Steampunk-themed bar and a hillbilly/exotica miniature golf course (the crazy over-the-top kind with giant statues and weird gimmicks like you see down in Pigeon Forge) before I die. All in time. Wait and see. (And when that retro bar does come to life, my bartending blog Transmissions from Agent J will be pressed back into service.)

There's still more. A lot more. This'll do for now though. Stay tuned to JSH News for the latest updates on my dreams and schemes! And remember, I can always be reached, by anyone on the planet, at You can also text me on Twitter or just pick up the phone and call me at 502.649.3378. Find me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

That Was Then, This Is Now

by J.S. Holland

Tomorrow, July 4th, will be my last post on any of my blogs, for some time to come. I'm increasingly busy with a lot of exciting real-world projects that demand my full attention, and I just don't have as much time to devote to the internet.

That may sound odd, since my internet presence has always been rather over-the-top. But the fact is, this is not the same Internet I originally signed on for. In recent years, it's morphed into something that I no longer am sure I want to be associated with. I was all for the digital revolution like everyone else, but that was before it destroyed newspapers, pay phones, the music industry, the book publishing industry, the antique mall/flea market business, the art of letter writing, the right to privacy, and any and all semblance of enforced Copyright laws. Most important of all, the internet has brought about a real end to basic civility. The term "flamewar" has even gone out of style now, because bickering, sniping, arguing and negativity has literally become the norm.

I've been mocked for my refusal to take part in social networking. Someone recently said to me that people who say "I am not on Facebook" are the new "I don't watch television" people, not realizing that I am one of those annoying anti-Facebook, anti-TV nuts. Well, now I'm going to really give 'em something to snark about, because now that Facebook and Google have essentially taken over the entire net and dumbed it down, I want off the carousel. Mostly.

I'll still be online plenty, of course, checking email and doing research. But as of tomorrow, my contribution to Victorian Squares will diminish severely but not entirely. My blogs Unusual Kentucky, Voraxical Theatre, Revelation Awaits An Appointed Time, Krampus the Cat, Whitewashed Windows and Vacant Stores, Creeps Records, and JSHNYC are going into cryogenic sleep.

The JSH Combo blog will probably return if and when that twice-aborted musical project reaches fruition. The Catclaw Theatre Diaries will also be updated when there's relevant news to report. Transylvania Gentlemen will eventually be retooled for the purposes of that organization, but by someone other than myself. I'm still looking forward to cranking out more fiber batts for the Etsy crowd soon, but the exploits will probably not be followed on my Appalachian Voodoo Fiber blog in the foreseeable.

Rebecca and friends over at the Telecrylic Foundation will continue operating my official JSH News blog (with my direct input, of course. I'm too much of a control freak), so that is now more than ever the place to go for the latest "News flash! JSH eats a turkey sandwich!" breaking news. I'm not sure what's up with the actual Telecrylic blog, but I suspect it's dead in the water since it's going to be superceded by another online archive of my paintings and comics.

I already saw all this writing on the wall back in the winter, when I got rid of all my dot-com websites, including,,,,,,,, and more that I'm probably forgetting. I thought I would miss them all dearly the moment they went offline. I don't.

So what is surviving the purge? After tomorrow, other than JSH News, the best place to keep up with what I'm up to will be:

* My Twitter feed (I don't use it as a social network and you don't have to be a member; in fact, 99.9% of my friends are not on it, they just read it directly on the web same as any other of my blogs)

* My photo blog will also continue for the time being. The mundane details of my day-to-day life will still be over-exposed amply for the handful of people on Earth who care, so between this and my Twitter feed, my stalkers shouldn't feel shut out in the cold.

* My writing blog will still continue to exist. More details about this tomorrow.

Tomorrow, on the fourth of July, we'll get into the good news - all the fun things that I'm working on that'll be better than blogging, and things that I want you, dear reader, to feel free to get involved in! As Jack Lord used to say, "Be here! Aloha!"

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Kellerweis Device

by J.S. Holland

It took a few years of me and other fans of Duvel-style bottle-conditioned ales to keep yapping and jawing and hammering our cause home, but finally it's starting to pay off. Check out how Sierra Nevada, a brewer I've never particularly had strong opinions about one way or another, now offers this here Kellerweis Hefeweizen with copious yeast right in the bottle, and with that Duvel quality through and through. (Previous supermarket-level hefeweizens I've tried have been OK, but lack that certain Ommegang charm.) It's less hoppy than Duvel, but retains that golden cloudy carbonated manna quality. I adore it. Nevada, to both your brewery and to your sierra, I say Bravo.

I got some of this the other night while pondering the life and times of intrepid landfaring heroes like Daniel Boone, and equally intrepid seafaring villains like Black Sam. I started out at Ernesto's but soon my usual Ern-buddies tipped back their last glass and went home to their wives and TV sets. Me, I stuck around a little longer and found myself soon surrounded by some tremendously hostile losers trying to play the bar's electronic trivia game. You learn a lot about your fellow man playing Trivial Pursuit, or some equivalent, with them.

And ignorance isn't bliss: these people were bitter, self-absorbed, filled with anger, filled with hatred, highly toxic and unpleasant to be around. In between trivia questions, they spent most of their time griping about their exes and insulting the celebrities on the TV screens. I heard them rage with acidic bile against all manner of stars (and for reasons totally unfathomable to me) but when the whole bar erupted into a transparently racially-charged hate-fest against my pal Tiger Woods, I downed my drink, tossed a bill on the bar and didn't stick around for my change. Call me an asshole, but everywhere I go now it seems, more and more people these days are psychic vampires, and when they walk in, I walk out. I used to think it was only about 2½ percent of the population, but I do believe the statistic is now much higher. And the more I feel their invisible tendrils of negativity sniffing out toward me, the more I prefer the company of dogs. (And cats.)

By chance I grabbed a six-pack of this Kellerweis, which my eyes had never beheld before, at a licka stow on my own back to the plantation, and went back to writing another Great American Novel (currently working on a crime-detective-noir novel called The Bartender, all about a solitary loner beer-puller who has a high sense of moral and ethical principles but finds himself tempted by an opportunity for larceny due in part to the perks of his profession.)

According to their website, "Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity. Our hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sunny day. To serve, pour two-thirds into a glass, swirl and pour the rest." I generally prefer to drink my froth from the bottle (stays cold longer) but yes, pouring a bottle-conditioned beer out into a glass is a must. Some like to painstakingly pour such brews down to the last quarter inch and then discard that last bit, choosing to avoid the yeast sediment. Me, I drink it all, the yeast, everything. I think Dan'l Boone and Black Sam would expect no less, and even now, I hear them calling my name.

(And if you think I'm just blowin' smoke with all my negativity about the negativists, tune in this here blog tonight sometime after midnight, cause ol' Jeffy has a big announcement to make.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ubiquitous Dr. Graves

by J.S. Holland

Hi there ho there, fellow travelers. You've dropped into the old Crap-Keeper's Vault of Unintended Horror at an opportune time; another specimen from the Inner Inner Inner Sanctum of my comic book collection has just been dug up for you to dig.

For you Ditkological devotees, I bring you The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #22, October 1970, brought to you by those wonderful hacks at Charlatan - er, I mean Charlton - comics.

Dr. Graves, like Benway, Caligari, and Acula before him, may be a self-styled Doctor who got his degree conferred on him by unconvential means (perhaps from Johnson-Smith) but he's my kinda Doc. Unlike some horror hosts who are content to bookend a story with brief comments at its outset and finish, Graves just can't stay out of his own stories.

Almost every page has multiple panels in which Graves appears right in the midst of the story - sometimes hiding subtly like a "Where's Waldo?", sometimes lurking in the background or even the foreground, and sometimes just plain tromping around on the set in the middle of the action, making a total goddamn mess of everything. "CUT! Graves, get OFF THE SET!"

It's like someone pointed out to him that Hitchcock made a secret appearance in every one of his films, and Dr. Graves felt the need to keep up with the Joneses. And the really mentally ill thing (mental illness? Ditko? Naw!) about it all is the frequent insertion of panels that have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THE STORY and are usually just depictions of floating heads. (Ohhhh, okay, now the disembodied head panel in Hunk #5 starts to make sense - could it really be a Ditkonian homage?)

But is the comic any good? Frankly, I can't tell; it's too damn distracting trying to follow the plot when you've got this mustachioed bargain-basement Vincent Price hamming it up and mugging every other panel. The most normal and conventional horror story in this issue is the one that Ditko didn't do (and of course it has the fewest appearances of the floating head of Doctor Graves.) The others are, well, kinda wacky and convoluted, and in typical Ditkoic style one of them is heavy on rants about medical ethics and suggests that ghosts can be put to sleep by spraying them with knockout gas. The man had a certain reality principle.

However, if we take a look at the comic's debut issue, which some enterprising upstart has posted online in its entirety, we see that Dr. Graves was not only a Rod Serling-esque narrator, he also was originally an actual character in some of the stories, brought in as an expert in the paranormal to solve some of the mysteries. By the time we got to #22 it would seem that Graves' direct involvement in the plots was no more, and he was relegated to haunting his own comic like a ghost himself.