Sunday, October 31, 2010


I've got another Chicanonautica over at La Bloga. This time it's all about the Halloween/Día los Muertos cultural cross-fertilization. Here are some extras:

Come with us now to a land where unspeakable monsters roam, and terror is the order of the day. You have sixty seconds to prepare yourself . . .” Then they would cut to a commercial.

That's how Chiller on KTTV Channel 11 in L.A. would begin. What diabolical genius came up with that? Once it was followed by a horror movie based on a Carlos Fuentes novel.

The issue of chupacabra, the Anglicization versus the the proper Spanish chupacabras came up. Google prefers the no “s” version, so that's why I'm going with it.

I do a lot of my recomboculturalizationizing -- so here, I'm giving a nod to tradition, first with José Guadalupe Posada:

Then there's the matter of La Catrina, the skeletal lady in the feathered hat, created by Posada. Later Diego Rivera gave her the skeletal Quetzalcoatl boa:

Lately she stands in for La Lloroña, the preColumbian goddesses, and the new manifestation, Santa Muerte:

And what's Día de los Muertos without ofrendas?

But here's a new tradition of the megaofrenda:

Who knows where it will lead?

I'll leave you with an example of what happens when Mexican tradition gets covered in layers of American-style exploitation:

Thursday, October 28, 2010


My all-time, most popular Mondo Ernesto posting is “Random Peeks at Mexican Comic Books.” People keep viewing it. From all over the world. Just about every day. You just can't seem to get enough of those weird, wacky, sexy comics from Mexico.

So, here's a follow up, focusing on horror in honor of Halloween/Jalogüín/Día de los Muertos/Dead Daze. Brace yourselves, this is . . . different . . . If any of you have delicate sensibilities, weak hearts (or stomachs) – why are you still reading this? Click out of here! Turn off your computer! Run!

First we have El Mensajero del Diablo (“The Devil's Messenger”) No. 48, in which the message is “Drink the Blood of Your Lovers.” How romantic! Think Stephanie Meyer was inspired by this one?

Santo dukes it out with some demonic zombie types from the inside back cover of Sensacional de Luchas No. 411. It's maybe just the filming of a movie, but you can never tell . . .

Kaliman does not appear on the cover of Kaliman, El Hombre Increible No. 874, but there's a sex-crazed hunchback out of a grade Z movie menacing a babe in a red dress. Talk about trick or treat!

Kaliman does appear on this back cover of Super Terror No. 18, showing that he has long been concerned about the implications of China's growing influence on the global economy.

Super Terror No. 18 was all about the supernatural consequences of adultery – as if the plain, old “natural” consequences weren't enough.

This Super Terror ad not only has another near-naked beauty, but she's being attacked by some really big scorpions while a zombie watches, and the bat in the logo is there twice!

A man transformed into a pig is ridden by his butcher knife-wielding wife in this ad for Sensational de Sueños No. 3. This harks back to the murals of smiling pigs slaughtering humans that you used to see on the walls in restaurants in Mexico back in more innocent times.

Inside Sensational de Sueños No. 3, Doña Julia, “the most powerful witch on the planet,” who changes the man who acts like a pig into a pig.

El Libro Siniestro No. 9 demonstrates how watching someone eating brains can induce vomiting. Just in case you didn't know.

So I don't get accused of being totally socially irresponsible, here's a glimpse of the real horror of drug abuse from that classic “Paradisos Artificiales” in La Novela Policiaca No. 1695.

And this warning from El Libro Policiaco No. 824 should prove that I'm not trying to destroy civilization as we know it. Don't abuse drugs. There are other, safer, and more fun ways to mess up your mind.

And meanwhile, I'm going have to dig more Mexican comics out of storage -- and get my hands on more, because the world needs to know about this!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Late October – soon we'll be hearing them everywhere: Christmas songs! It's way too early, but how are they supposed to get the economy restarted it they don't perform all the rituals to get the sacred consumer orgy started? If that fails, there's always human sacrifice . . .

Still, there're other kinds of songs I'd rather hear as the desert starts to cool down, the sage turns purple, and the bats feed on the cactus flowers in the moonlight. And after all, it's damnear Halloween.

Or should that be Jalogüín? Let's put an Aztláni spin on it for in honor of los Días de los Muertos. . .

They've announced that science has solved the mystery of El Chupacabra, or at least the strange canine corpses that have been showing up in Texas lately. Funny, those mangy “wild dogs” don't look much like the original small flying creature first reported in Puerto Rico about twenty years ago. It's a safe bet that our newfangled, new media-amplified global folklore has a few more transformations in store for El Chup. Meanwhile, he has lively song:

And we can't forget El Cucuy (and not the morning disc jockey). Parents, remember to tell your children that when the sun goes down, he's out there, and if they go out wandering in the dark, he'll get them. We can't let a generation of children grow up without him! Or else he'll just have to sing this song:

We also need to remind kids that La Llorona is also out there crying into the night sky in the tradition of the Aztec disease spirits, and deified ghosts of women who died in childbirth. She's never looked or sounded so good as she does here:

This music video does great by itself, but it's part of a slightly longer film by René Castillo that gloriously celebrates the Mexican ways of love and death. Nightmare Before Christmas, move over. Here comes another classic.

So, until next time, remember, we're all skeletons under the skin!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It's Chicanonautica time again at La Bloga folks! This time I discuss Gumersindo Esquer, the “Mexican Jules Verne” via Tom Miller's Revenge of the Saguaro, compare Aztlán to Mars, and lust after the subterranean world of Esquer's novel Campos del Fuego.

In related news, Mexican science fiction has returned the the theme of underground civilization in the recent resurrection of Santo:

And the caves to the Mayan underworld, Xibalbá may have been found:

Which gives me a chance to explain the spelling of the title character's name in “Doctora Xilbalba's Datura Enema.” It's not a misspelling of Xibalbá, just the sort of alternative spelling I tend to enjoy. It's also the way the Doctora spells it – you writers out there know how characters are. I suspect that she's really Lemurian or something older . . .

And I'm not referencing either the song “Xilbalba” by the Witch Doctors, or the Mexican Black Metal band, Xibalba, or any of the other Xilbalbas or Xibalbas out there!

Back in the real world, yes, there actually is a fantastic, alien world under Chihuahua, Mexico:

I wonder what Jules Verne and Gumersindio Esquer would have though of it?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Children's television was different when I was a kid back in the days of LSD and napalm. It was rough, primitive -- no one knew what it was supposed to be, except to grab young brains and download the lust for sugar, and plastic in bright colors and funky shapes. It was the sort of sleep of reason that Goya said produces monsters, and in this case, created Shrimpenstein, the weirdest kid's show to violate the air waves.

It seemed harmless at first, another after school program with a costumed host on a cheap set with a crew of puppets that provided filler between the cartoons and commercials. Doctor Von Schtick, Shrimpenstein (or Shrimpy), and some friendly creatures frolicked in a laboratory. Nothing for child psychologists and parents' groups to worry about.

Only this was the Sixties. The world was in turmoil: war in Vietnam, riots on the streets and campuses, drugs, rock and roll, even sex, were all swirling around in the air with the signal from KHJ-TV channel 9 in Los Angeles. No matter how the adults tried to protect us from it all, we kids were aware. And our official role models didn't seem to know how to explain things.

Something happened when the electronic media voodoo brought Shrimpenstein to life, and it wasn't the age-appropriate tale of jelly beans dropped into a Frankenstein machine that the theme song claimed (I guess telling of the Doctor stitching together the stolen body parts of dead children would have been too much). Like a ghede, Shrimpy had the ability to tell truths that needed to be told, but weren't socially acceptable.

Shrimpy, I have plenty of books around here that you can read.”

So why do you keep them on a high shelf where I can't reach them?”

And we all knew about the books – and magazines – on the high shelf, or the hidden drawer.

I also wonder what the Hormel company thought of Wilfred the Wiener Wolf throwing clawfuls of their product across the set?

And then there was the Tijuana Bats – an East L.A. version of Alvin and the Chipmunks with a vato loco attitude.

I fondly remember the Doctor saying, “There you are, glued to your television sets when you could be out doing something constructive – like blowing up a building!” This was about a year before the Weather Underground, and decades before Al Qaeda.

Even the cartoons were different:

Not the slick corporate coolness of today's Marvel, back then comic books and superheroes were considered harmful for proper development of law-abiding citizens. Which was part of the fun.

When Shrimpenstein talked, the fact that the world was going crazy made sense. What a perverse relief – and a perverse release – it was!

But it wasn't to last. This sort of joyous anarchy never does. I remember overhearing parents and teachers dissing Shrimpy. One day, fake newspapers with headlines about someone being fired were plastered all over the laboratory. The Doctor went crazy, and at end of show he knocked over the walls of the set. As the credits rolled over him, he screamed, “They're the ones who are responsible! Blame them!” It was like all those movies about mad scientists – my real role models.

For a brief moment, reality and fantasy were one . . .

The next episode had Shrimpy finding a note from the doctor, explaining that he was on an expedition in Africa. Then a giant knife-switch was thrown. After a bright, smoky explosion, Shrimpenstein looked less demonic. His voice was also higher, and he talked like he was made of jelly beans.

I stopped watching. The show didn't last much longer.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The Calacanaut is back, leering at you from inside his hot-rod space helmet, and that can only mean one thing – there's another Chicanonautica post on La Bloga! This time I tell of my decades-long quest for science fiction in Spanish, and provide a links-o-rama to places where you can get your ciencia ficción fix in glorioso español.

In my research, I always find more material than I can use, or sometimes the stuff is interesting, but not dead-on to the subject at hand, so let's get on with this Chicanonautica side show:

Inter Nova is an online science fiction magazine that publishes fiction, articles and essays from all over the planet – in English! So go there and go global!

Revista Digital Fantastica, is very much like the others I wrote about in “Quest for Ciencia Ficción,” except that it's in Portuguese.

SciFiWorld: El Portal de Cine Fantastico, covers the fantastic multi-media.

Something else for you English-language types: covers all things sci-fi and Latino from movies and television to my own Smoking Mirror Blues.

Speaking of movies, the Mexican production Sleep Dealer hits the border issues right on the post-cyberpunk cutting edge:

And from the Southern Hemisphere, Chile Fantastico is creating wonders like Calor 2052, and not letting things like earthquakes get them down:

Finally, to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, a reminder of the ci-fi/fantastico tradition in Mexican cinema:

So, stay tuned, Chicanonauts! There's more to come . . .

Friday, October 15, 2010


Like the cliché goes, "when it rains, it pours." But this case is more like the hailstorm that cracked my windshield and left dents all over my car. So, I'm sputtering out some fast&furious news items, even though I had already planned on letting people know tomorrow about some big diabolical business that I have set to go at midnight . . .

David Lee Summers' Web Journal is featuring my wife Emily, and me telling about our collaboration on "Plan 9 in Outer Space" that you can read in the anthology Space Horrors. Here's a little something to put you in the mood . . .

But, that's not all! We just heard that 2020 Visions, the anthology edited by Rick Novy, that will feature my story, "Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs," and Em's "If the Sun's at Five O'clock, It Must be Yellow Daisies," is available for pre-order! Be the first one in your subculture to get your mind blown!

And while you're in an ordering mood, Emily's ebook (under her Devenport name) The Night Shifters, is available to be purchased and downloaded into your favorite infernal device for your reading pleasure.

As for that thing I'm unleashing at midnight . . . well, you're just going to have to wait . . .

Monday, October 11, 2010


Turmoil churns all over our world. Maybe what we need are some new myths to inspire us, and provide some insight as we struggle with an weak economy, political polarization, war, crime, and madness that travels like viruses through new means of communications. A good source for such myths is Claude Laumière's Objects of Worship – a story collection that for me brought back the same feelings that I had when reading the collections of Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison.

Claude is a regular mythomaniac. He takes not only mythologies of the past, but the pop cultures of recent decades, and weaves them into something new, wonderful, dazzling. Gods and monsters frolic with superheroes and zombies in poetic, surrealistic worlds. And it's not the sort of slapdash, cut-and-paste mashup stuff we see too much of in this age of YouTube – these stories and myths are full of life and energy. They don't just sit dead on the slab.

For example, I am not a fan of the big zombie fad. Yeah, I thought the original Night of the Living Dead movie was an interesting addition to the horror genre back in the Sixties, but then all those sequels and ripoffs leave me cold: walking corpses chasing people and eating them, allowing a nerdy contempt for humanity to run wild with gooey but guilt-free violence – seen it all before . . . ho-hum. Yet, there are two stories in Objects of Worship that had me delighting in the antics of the walking dead.

Granted, Claude's aren't your usual off-the-rack zombies. They live in a world where humans are bred for food. I didn't realize that “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” was about zombies as first. By the time I figured it out, it was too late. They had won me over, and I was delighted to read more about them in “A Visit to the Optometrist.” These zombies are worthy of Charles Addams and Luis Buñuel, and could be made into the most perverted sitcom ever. Meanwhile, I hope to see more stories about them.

Superheroes are also given a fresh treatment without the crass commercialism and adolescent “coolness” they have acquired in the last decade, turning it inside out and creating mythomanical wonders in “Hochelaga and Sons,” “Spiderkid,” and “Destroyer of Worlds.” Producers of comic books and graphics should take note: This is how it should be done. And with the illustrations of Rupet Bottenberg, we're half-way there.

There are also horror and apocalyptic tales, my favorites being “Roman Predator's Chimeric Odyssey,” with a world of werewolves, and “This is the Ice Age,” which is a vision worthy of J.G. Ballard.

So buy Objects of Worship in either softcover or ebook form, tell all your friends, I want to see more Claude Lalumière collections!

Meanwhile, I'll just have to keep checking in at his Lost Myths website.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Look out, world! I've got another story out! This one co-written with my lovely wife, Emily!

It's called “Plan 9 in Outer Space,” not be be confused with Plan 9 FROM Outer Space. It's a tribute to Ed Wood, “unappreciated Renaissance Man of the Twentieth Century,” as the tale's hero puts it.

Don't you love the way it looks like an old pulp magazine? Space Horrors: Full-Throttle Space Tales #4, was edited by David Lee Summers. It's an anthology of bone-chillers set in the cosmic void in the grand tradition of movies like Alien, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Angry Red Planet, Demon Planet, and in my case, inspired by Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you are looking for a cozy, germ-free, spaceship environment that allows you to escape from the horrors of contemporary life – this ain't it!

Plan 9 in Outer Space” asks the question: Can a man who wants to be another Ed Wood find happiness on a spaceship full of zombies? The answer is hilarious and disturbing.

So order your copy now, for this and a whole book of stories that will give you space-bound nightmares! And there's no escape – because space in all around us. Bwhahahahahaha . . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I scare people when I talk about the future. I don't mean to. It's just that I like to let my imagination go wild, and my daring feats of the imagination tend to go out of bounds.

Also, most people really don't think about the future much. They have some vague ideas gleaned from their media absorption: the shinny utopia, the oppressive dystopia, the post-apocalyptic nightmare. All rather cliché. All vague and disconnected from everyday life.

That's probably why so much of “science fiction” is unimaginative, light-weight “escapist” fare. And the “escapists” are usually scared to death of truly escaping their humdrum lives.

I've come to recognize the look of terror when I describe some new idea that I've Frankenstein'd together out of the wonderful weirdness that I'm always scanning for. And their reactions:

But I want it to be like Star Trek!”

What will I do if I'm not oppressed into submission by a Big Brother society?”

That's not what it says in the Book of Revelations!”

It's always dangerous to come up with a new vision of the future, even when you're presenting them to science fiction fans.

Maybe especially, with science fiction fans. You have to watch out when you think you know the future. The future has this tendency not to be whatever you're expecting.

So, when Jetse de Vries asked if I could write an optimistic near-future story for his Shine anthology, I wasn't sure what to do.

I consider myself an optimist. As a child of the Atomic Age I've been through apocalyptic times over and over. The doomsayers are always wrong.The future is never easy, but keeps getting weirder and more wonderful.

Still, I wasn't sure what to do. So I pulled Victor Theremin out of my subconsciousness and threw him at the problem. I came up with a story in which he talks an older science fiction writer out of committing suicide. I wasn't sure if it hit the mark. Jetse didn't buy it for Shine, but did buy it for the DayBreak Magazine.

When I read Shine on a road trip on which I saw both utopian and dystopian developments in the Southwest, I realized that – gasp! – I'm now the writer from an older generation. These new writers are young, they work in information technology. The have fresh, new, optimistic visions of the future because they've lived in the future all their lives. They aren't afraid of tackling the problem of how do we get there from here, because they have no choice.

It is also the first truly global science fiction anthology. Jetse used the Internet in an ingenious way to cast his net for stories planetwide. The introductory material is just as interesting as the stories.

My favorites were:

Twittering the Stars,” by Mari Ness, is written as tweets and can be read forward or backwards – a hard science tale that outdoes most of the old New Wave experiments.

At Budokan,” by Alistair Reynolds, was badass and damn close to my personal Holy Grail of science fiction that makes people want to get up and dance.

Sarging Rasmussen: A Report (by Organic),” by Gord Sellar, thrusts you into a new world with new languages beyond cyberpunk.

I was impressed. But then this book isn't for old Atomic Age babies like me, it's for the new generation of readers, who probably will be bowled over.

And as I struggle for survival in the year 2010, I will look forward to a wild and wacky future, and I'm getting the urge to re-read Shine.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


My first Chicanonautica posting for La Bloga is online!
Some of you may have seen it in a brief premature manifestation -- but that was just me, as usual, stumbling into a new frontier like the slapstick comedian that I am at heart. “One small step for a Chicano – ” BANG! CRASH! TINKLE! “I meant to do that . . .”
Seems that technical difficulties have become a way of life. The least we can do is get a few laughs from it. Cantinflas would be proud.
And looking it over, I seem to be redefining the term Chicano to mean not just the tribal/regional Mexican/American Southwest/Aztlán identity, but also “cultural renegade” – or “renegade culture.” No matter where you go these days, you run into some kind of Chicano. This may cause trouble, but like I said, I wasn't aware of it – maybe it was Tezcatlipoca hacking my brain again . . .
And, to make this more of a celebration rather than a mere act of self-promotion, I'm including some extras, to enhance your Chicanonautica experience:
I resisted the urge to put in a link to a trailer from a Mexican luchador movie – though me being me, I'll drift off into other subjects. We can't let those pesky borders get in our way. Besides, this is Mondo Ernesto, where I can do whateverthehell I want:
Then there's Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, who do the same sorts of things I do in science fiction in their performance art:
Last, but not least, Juan Manuel Gallegos of Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana is making science fiction into reality. Yeah, the video is almost eighteen minutes long, but well worth it. Besides, I know there's some of you out there who would love to have your own custom-made jetpacks:
. . . and the embed code for this video doesn't work! Is there no end to these technical difficulties? Anyway, go to the site, click on it, watch it, and realize that Buck Rogers is alive and well and living in Mexico.
So forward, Chicanonauts, into the Cosmic Barrio!