TL;DR

That is the online acronym that suits this site best: TL;DR – too long; didn’t read.

With this in mind, that is the title of the upcoming compendium of the best of Odd Things Considered that Nine Banded Books is publishing.  Chip Smith is pulling the best entries from the sites that became OTC and will be releasing what I suspect will be a massive doorstop of a book sometime in June.

It’s early days but I’ll share more as everything comes together.  I hope to have some new content in the book so that loyal readers here will have something new to read if they decide to shell out their hard-earned dollars and buy my book.

If this book didn’t have my name on it, I would buy it for the cover.  The cover would be my price of admission.  Seriously.  This is the best cover in the history of books, don’t deny it.  The cats, books and I come courtesy of Josh Latta, and Kevin Slaughter designed the layout.  It’s humbling to know that people I respect so much and whose work has delighted me worked/are working on this book.

Imagine five more cats in this drawing and this is pretty much a photo-realistic portrayal of life at Chez Oddthings.

So, just sharing some good news.  More book discussions around the bend, plus a couple of film/book combos I want to tackle, involving Bob Flanagan and Ron Athey.  Good times!

The Strange Case of Tristan Bruebach and Manfred Seel

I first learned about Tristan Bruebach on Reddit’s Unresolved Mysteries about two years ago.  The case of the thirteen year old boy brutally murdered in a water tunnel that ran under a roadway was so outrageous and upsetting that it surprised me that it had not filtered out to English-speaking true crime buffs.  Tristan’s murder had elements that initially reminded me of The Family murders in Australia, but I’d never seen all the elements of Tristan Bruebach’s murder anywhere else.  It was a crime that to me was very much sui generis, and later analysis from German investigators echoed my opinion.  Nowhere on Earth have we seen another murder like Tristan’s.

I don’t have a lot of time for Reddit these days but I go back from time to time and I somehow managed to visit Unresolved Mysteries on the same day last year when someone posted that the police had a suspect in the murder of Tristan Bruebach.  Eager to learn the motives behind the murder, I read up on the suspect – Manfred Seel – and was initially very skeptical.  The investigation into Manfred Seel itself seemed odd to me.  Seel is accused of murdering two female coworkers in the 1970s, two female prostitutes in the 1990s, another female prostitute in the 2000s, and school boy Tristan in 1998.  It was hard to see how this one man could be linked to murders of two women he worked with, then have 20 years of inactivity followed by two murders of prostitutes, with a gap of several years until he killed Tristan.  The time frame is problematic, and the killings involved vastly different victim pools.

As mentioned already, Tristan’s murder was very unusual.  More on that later but it can be said that it’s not unexpected that a killer who preys on female coworkers is a different killer than a man who selects prostitutes as victims, and both killers would be different than a person who kills pre-pubescent boys.  As I began reading about Manfred Seel I found myself surprised because the more I read, the more I could understand how it is that the German police reached the conclusions they did.  I am unsure if I wholly buy that Seel murdered Tristan, but the authorities make a compelling case and I hope eventually more information comes to light.

Originally I thought I was going to be writing about how stupid I found the accusations pinning Seel as Tristan’s killer but after spending a couple of months scouring the Internet, whether or not I think Seel is responsible for Tristan’s murder is irrelevant.  Even if Seel is not Tristan’s killer, the fact is that now both names are linked together – it’s hard to discuss Tristan without discussing Seel.  It’s even harder for me to discuss Seel without discussing Tristan.  Tristan’s case is bizarre and what happened to him, and later his family, is tragic.  His case was marred with misinformation about his life, salacious rumors that were, irritatingly, repeated by the German press without a lick of proof, and even brought up in the Reddit thread about Tristan.  Seel’s story is similarly strange, with unexpected behaviors, foul deeds and even fouler implications.

Obtaining all this information was difficult because so much of it is in the German language.  In the end, I was pretty impressed at how much Google Translate has improved over the years, but it’s daunting for English-speakers who are just casually interested in the case to tackle all those news articles and to sort the good from the bad, to find articles that have fresh news and aren’t just a retelling of older information, updated with a bit of new information tacked on at the end.  Since I spent so long sorting and reading, I decided to write about Tristan Bruebach and Manfred Seel, source cite as much as I could, and share the links I found to news stories that were helpful and brought understanding to both stories.  Maybe this can serve as a small clearinghouse of information about the case for English-speaking readers.  In this article I’ve included citation numbers correlating to the source that I got specific information from, and when you scroll down to these sources, I’ve included the English Google Translation for each article originally in German.

Under the cut I will discuss Tristan, Seel, Seel’s other victims and interesting information German profilers and investigators used to track down victims who were killed over 40 years ago.  Please know that much of the information under the cut is disturbing.  Extreme sexual deviancy, child murder, dismemberment, rape, potential cannibalism and possible necrophilia show up in telling Tristan’s and Seel’s stories.  If any of this bothers you, don’t read any further.

Communication Breakdown

Life in the not-too-distant-future has hiccuped. A Facebook message attempting to follow up on an e-mail message I never replied to showed that many e-mails sent to anita@oddthingsconsidered.com got hung up in transit and were languishing on my hosting site’s e-mail server. Electronic purgatory.

I am notoriously slow in replying to messages, and am awfully neurotic about talking to people in general, but I do reply, in the fullness of time. The fullness of time should not take months, however, unless you want to talk to me on the phone and I promise none of you want to talk to me on the phone. I don’t even talk to Mr. OTC on the phone. But e-mails I can generally steel myself up to deal with in a few weeks, max. I had around a hundred e-mails that I replied to over the last 12 hours or so. Though I had noticed most of my e-mails had dried up on OTC, I didn’t think much about it because I do spend a significant amount of time not really plugged into reality. I can’t imagine too many people wouldn’t notice all the e-mail streams to their website had completely dried up but there you go. I know I play up my neurosis, avoidance and absent-mindedness as a form of schtick, but in schtick there is truth sometimes.

There is a chance that some of the messages were lost permanently. If you sent me a message over the last few months and I did not reply today or yesterday, please resend it. Resend it to anitadalton@gmail.com for now. Even though I think everything has been taken care of, I am still not entirely convinced.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

ETA: Just received another 60-some-odd additional messages. It’s very early Monday morning, or some call it the middle of the night, so I’ll respond to those in a few hours. I think this has something to do with switching from IROB to OTC but I will admit this is a level of suck I had not expected. I am so sorry to everyone who sent me messages and got no reply.

Valencia by James Nulick

Book: Valencia*

Author: James Nulick

Type of Book: Non-fiction, memoir (sort of)

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It’s written in a style one does not commonly see in memoirs, a style that demands that you read the book twice in order to really understand the whole of it. The truly odd part is that I don’t think you will mind reading it twice in a row.

Availability: Published by Nine Banded Books in 2014, you can get a copy here:

Or you can get a copy directly from the publisher.

Comments: It’s hard to write an American memoir in the year of our Lord, 2016. Modernity has caused most of us to live unremarkable lives. No more surviving small pox or famine. Not a lot of terrain to discover that doesn’t already have several Taco Bell locations within a fifty-mile radius. No invaders from foreign lands, no wars on American soil. No duels, few remaining sexy hippie cults waiting to indoctrinate the young and innocent, and even those who have fled to large cities in order to carve out an interesting career in the arts while living with lots of interesting people in a bohemian slum are more likely to micro-blog about binge watching some fucking show about women having lots of implausible sex in a prison than their latest attempt at creating a mural or a novel or an interesting sculpture. The bulk of lives these day are completely unremarkable but sometimes reading about unremarkable lives can be interesting, if the life in question rings true to the reader, offering muffled catharsis for the quiet depression that is so much a part of modern ennui.

Don’t get me wrong – suburbia has a lot to recommend it but it doesn’t lend itself well to the creation of great memoirs unless we have something really and truly nasty lurking behind the scenes, and those things happen to us rather than being experiences we seek out. Good modern memoirists need at least one crazy or alcoholic parent, one unsettling example of sexual abuse, a slowly developing drug addiction, and maybe, if such a writer is lucky, one of his family members will commit a terrible crime or get killed in the course of a terrible crime and then he’ll be rolling in the life experiences that make up the modern memoir.

But even if one has these qualifiers, so do many others. If one is going to write a memoir about a prosaic life, even one with requisite misery, one needs to be a very good writer because otherwise the readers will be tempted to say, “Shitty parents, stranger touched me, drugs during college, terrible job, why am I reading this when I can clearly write my own memoir because everyone in the benighted Generation X more or less lived the same fucking life.”

Nulick takes his cues from all three categories: he’s lived a life that seems all too common to most Americans; he has catastrophic life experiences that make for interesting reading and a certain prurient rubbernecking; and he is a very good writer, profoundly good at times. We recognize Nulick’s life as our own in some respects, we are appalled at some of the things that happen to Nulick, and we are drawn in and held in by his unique and near-poetic style.

I mentioned this before in an entry closing out 2015, but it bears repeating. The way that Nulick writes reminds me of conversations one has with an old friend. You know this person well, but you haven’t spoken in a while. Your friend mentions an incident or a person in the course of telling a story, thinking that you know all about that incident or person. You don’t know, but you don’t interrupt because your friend is on a roll and you feel certain that in a moment you can either interject and ask a question or your friend will throw you enough clues in the conversation that you can piece it together. Sometimes you realize the information isn’t important enough to interrupt, because the point of the story isn’t about that person or place – it was just mentioned as an aside in the course of a larger topic.

This is how Nulick writes. Sometimes he mentions a name before we know who that person is. The first time this happened I wondered if I had overlooked the person as I read and I almost backtracked in order to find the original mention that I was sure I had missed. It can be a bit odd if you begin reading this book unaware that Nulick writes this way, treating you like an old friend listening to a long conversation about his life, but once you are knowledgeable about this method of story-telling, it feels completely normal, almost comfortable. You feel like you are being drawn into Nulick’s story in a manner that implies that he considers you a trusted friend, and that’s an unusual feeling when reading a memoir. I’ve often felt some commonality with memoirists as I read their works but this takes that feeling of knowing an author in a direction I can’t recall ever having read before. You may want to read this book through once and then read it again a week or so later. That second read cements that feeling of being a friend because you now feel like an insider to Nulick’s story.

That sense of commonality takes you only so far, though. I find it interesting how many books about Gen-X men have come across my radar lately and how I respond to them. In Ann Sterzinger’s NVSQVAM, the protagonist Lester is utterly lost and a complete asshole, but as I mention in my discussion, he’s our asshole, my generation’s asshole. It’s hard to hate your brother even when he’s a prick. It’s irrational to hate a child you may have created but Baby Boomers despair of me and mine, and for some reason we all seem to be poking Millennials with a stick as if we didn’t fucking make the world they were born into, like we didn’t raise them or mold them into the people they are now. Yet Nulick, in as much as this memoir accurately reflects his real life, at times inspired in me the same nose-pinching desire I felt toward Sterzinger’s Lester. I just wanted to smack him as he artistically destroyed his life, almost as if he was modeling his destruction on those who came before him and set the example for the lost, dissolute, addicted writer.

Checking in!

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I am at work on a discussion that is proving exhausting, but is strangely therapeutic given recent events in my life. I hope to have the discussion finished by the beginning of next week. At the risk of spoiling my upcoming review, Every Cradle Is a Grave: Rethinking the Ethics of Birth and Suicide by Sarah Perry is a book you need to get and read.  This book is a paradigm changer, and an important book for those of us who live in Western countries where it is difficult to discuss death intelligently, let alone suicide, let alone why suicide can ultimately be an act of great self-awareness.

I also received the latest Biblio-Curiosa edition, the excellent weird book/author ‘zine by Chris Mikul.  This issue focuses on children’s books and I can’t wait to read it.  Interestingly, I am also currently reading Mikul’s book on weird folk, The Eccentropedia: The Most Unusual People Who Have Ever Lived. The Eccentropedia caused me to start researching Eloise Bosquet, Baroness Wagner, a somewhat foul woman who brought a ton of drama and murder to the Galapagos Island chain, which then led to watching The Galapagos Affair on Netflix.

Adding to delays is that my book shift this year is taking longer than usual. At the beginning of each new calendar year, I make small changes to the ways my books are shelved, mainly because toward the end of the year Mr Oddbooks and I accumulate hundreds of new books, through gifts and Christmas shopping. These shifts entail emptying all shelves in order to clean them and then cleaning each book. I don’t know how many books we have because often books can get shelved before I document them, but I think we’re clocking in around 4,000 minimum. Given how easily distracted I have been, it’s taking me far longer to complete this task than anticipated.

I’ve also noticed that Pseudo Occult Media posted a few new entries in 2013. It looked like the site had been abandoned since 2010 so I hadn’t checked on it in a while, so these new entries were a pleasant surprise. I’ve referenced the site here before because even if one dismisses the notion that the Monarch Project has infested every tier of entertainment worldwide, the research that goes into the entries is something to behold. If you like people going on at length, which seems likely if you are reading here, Pseudo Occult Media will be right up your alley.  If nothing else, the author of the site shows how little originality there is in visual media. Once you read this site you’ll become annoyed at how often you see checkerboards, butterflies, Alice in Wonderland themes, faces half-occluded by hair or in mirrors, and broken mirrors in music videos, model spreads, movies and television.

Hopefully I will see you all early next week. Feel free to use the comments here to let me know what you’re reading/watching/listening to/avoiding.

Hibernation

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I think by now all readers here know I am subject to periods of cyclical depression and torpor wherein this site goes silent. I’ve been struggling this year with various issues that have made it hard to concentrate but one of those issues is clearing up (passing a website I ran on to another person) and the fog is lifting. Perhaps it is a sign that my depressions aren’t as terrible as those others face because, lately, when they happen, I don’t really feel hopeless because I remember that wonderful feeling that comes when the depression fades. It feels like Spring. It feels like a small rebirth, a shedding of old, psychic skin. I just have to hold on until my brain chemistry relents.

As a result of my current Spring-time zeal, I have some discussions of interesting books in queue, among them books by Chris Mikul, Dennis Cooper, Peter Sotos, Bradley R. Smith, David Paulides, Alissa Nutting, Hollister Koop, Gabrielle Wittkop, Andy Nowicki, Karen Russell and Michel Faber. (edited because I borked Alissa Nutting first go around, and then edited again because I messed up Bradley R. Smith’s name because the suck is strong with me this entry…)

I’m currently dealing with a minor obsession with mutualism and have been struggling through Kropotkin, which I don’t really recommend to anyone who doesn’t have intractable insomnia. I’ve also found myself spending way too much time reading Brandon Darby’s Twitter feed and his articles over on Breitbart’s site and wondering exactly how much the human sphincter can stretch. I’m not linking to them because I also cannot recommend reading them to anyone except those who really like the taste of vomit in the backs of their mouths. So Google with caution.

What have you guys been reading, investigating, or doing. Share it all, no detail too small. See you Tuesday-ish.

Song of my week, and god bless Laura Jane Grace!

2013: The Year I Mostly Lost

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I can’t even think about doing all the end of year stuff that everyone who writes about books engages in come around mid-December. Because of Houdini’s Revenge and that site I launched looking into that way-weird woman who scams everyone online, I barely even read this year. Like I am embarrassed by the paltry number of books I managed to finish. It’s pretty shameful.

I intend to remedy this because I miss being able to read. All the research into the weird woman is wearing me down. I really miss this site. I will work on my other sites, to be sure, but IROB has always been my first love and I hate that I have neglected her so.

But I have no idea when business as usual will resume. I am typing this entry at 4:00 in the morning in the dark as my mother sleeps in her hospital bed. Some people could work in this situation, but I can’t. I’m popping acid reducer pills and thinking about re-reading the Harry Potter books because my brain is too tired for much else.

But life settles down. It always does. So I will be back when I can be back. Just keep me in your readers or bookmark me or whatever. I will be back, hopefully soon.

2013: The Year Wherein I Realized My Limitations and Ignored That Realization

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

So, I launched two websites this year: Houdini’s Revenge and Truth About Ruth. I enjoy writing for both of them and both of them require a ton of research on the front end and wonderful organizational skills on the back end. I can research like a champ but the sheer volume of comments and e-mails has been… sobering? a stark reminder of why it is a very good thing I never had children? It’s hard to say, but after spending 4 days doing nothing but responding to e-mails from TAR, I have to wonder if even a really organized person with excellent time management skills would have been able to cope.

At any rate, IROB is still my favorite of my three sites because it was my first real site and I feel really crappy that I have neglected it so much lately.

I have great stuff in the pipeline. In the next few weeks I hope to have up discussions of books by Kevin Akstin, Mikita Brottman, John McNee, Jon Konrath and others. I am working on an essay for another venture, a discussion wherein I apply the aesthetics of disgust to various bizarro novels. The Jim Goad ANSWER Me! discussion is also back on the table now that my “unpleasantness” is over. Not sure when that will happen but I am betting we’ll see it sometime in early 2014.  It’s going to be a monster in terms of sheer word count so I promise that it will be worth the wait, if only in terms of volume.

I also have what I hope to be a very interesting look at books about disappearances in the national parks system. David Paulides, a Bigfoot researcher and former law enforcement officer, wrote two really fascinating books (actually, there is a third I have not yet read) about strange disappearances in various parks and the institutional stonewall and incompetence he encountered when he tried to get information about many of these disappearances. This discussion will be for Houdini’s Revenge but a lot of readers here may enjoy it.

And of course I will be cranking out content for Truth About Ruth. I had no idea it would become this massive of a research effort when I launched the site, and as of right now I don’t know if I will ever see the end of this woman’s scams and machinations. It fascinates me and is very interesting to me, but it also stabs my life in the face. Surely, as an adult with a ton of time on my hands, I will find a way to balance all the things I enjoy doing online.

On a completely unrelated note, my birthday last month was pretty much just another day – I’ve never been much of one to celebrate my birthdays in a big way.  Dinner and book shopping is the maximum of what I am willing to do just because the clock ticked off another year. However, Mr. Oddbooks got me this:

IMG_1628

It’s Captain Koons from Pulp Fiction, explaining the legend of the watch to my late cat, Adolph.  He commissioned it from Ruth Marcus, a woman who specializes in painting your pets with various celebrities.  Truly, this is the best gift anyone ever gave me.  He got it professionally framed and I plan to hang it tomorrow.  Adolph’s been dead for over three years and I still haven’t really gotten used to the idea he is gone.  He was a remarkable animal.  And he would have wanted to see a watch that spent five years up one man’s ass, two years up another’s.  And we all know how I feel about Christopher Walken.

I also wanted to thank everyone who recently used my Amazon Affiliate link when they made purchases on Amazon. I really appreciate it!

See you all later this week.  Let me know how you’ve all been doing!

What, now?

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I’ve been slacking off over here lately but this time I have a good excuse!  I swear!

I got sucked into a Munchausen by Internet/malingering/faker scandal and decided to launch a website looking into the situation because it is just that interesting. Since the early 2000s, a woman called Christina Iver-B* has been using various online ruses to prey on people for both attention and money.  I encountered her in an online watchdog group that kept an eye on misogynist, fundamentalist, evangelical religious movements, some of which I can comfortably call cults.  A plucky young woman called Ruth started discussing her flight from her ATI/Gothardite family and the many problems she faced as she tried to work her way back into conventional society, while begging for money because her life just never got on track.

Except she wasn’t a refugee from a violent, cruel, repressive religious family.  She’s a mother of four in her late 30s who has so many online identities that I have been researching for three weeks now and am certain there are many I don’t know yet.

This was completely up my alley and while it sucked up a lot of my time, it’s also invigorated my desire to write so now that I’ve got my crap together I hope to have more content up here.  Check back tomorrow for a discussion of a Bradley Sands book, as well as several other bizarro before I start transitioning into less genre-oriented odd books.

If you are interested in online scams, here’s my site looking into the mess Chris Izer-B* has caused.   If you are unfamiliar with this situation, you will need to read from the beginning.  Otherwise, see you tomorrow!

 

Course correction

This post originally appeared on Houdini's Revenge

When I launched this site, I wanted it to be a place wherein the conspiracy theory and paranormal books I discussed on my odd books site could exist in their own little realm. When I discussed a book on a conspiracy theory, I kept my discussion to the book and it was difficult for some commenters because they would want to discuss the whole of the theory rather than the book. It seemed unfair to limit discussion, so I decided to split my sites up.

I never intended to engage in continual investigation into and potential debunking of current conspiracies. But I got comments from people who asked me to look into specific sites pushing Boston Bombing conspiracy theories, I looked into them and before I knew it, I was veering far off course. I really prefer looking into books and specific theories to investigating every little detail about every conspiracy theory that comes up. I prefer specificity and the finite, it seems.

overwhelmed
This picture of me was drawn in real-time. My pony tail was a mess.

This has become a problem because as I have investigated three specific elements of the Boston bombing – the carjacking, the Watertown shootout, and the capture of Dzhokhar in the boat – I have three entries that add up to over 75,000 words of text, and I am not even finished. And I don’t know if I will ever be finished because I’m still not finished reading all the sources online discussing these three topics. Trying to write coherently on a continually moving topic is tiresome and if I wanted to write this much on the topic, I would just write a book already.

When Anders Behring Breivik went on his rampage, I spent two months reading his interminable manifesto and wrote about 50,000 words on it, but when you can focus on one document and discuss it rather than the entirety of the rampage, for me it makes for a far more entertaining article for the reader and a far more interesting experience for me. As of right now, all the research I am doing into whether or not the panel in a specific boat could be written on with anything but a Sharpie is… well, it’s not that interesting to me and since I don’t know what writing instrument Dzhokhar used, or even of the writing really exists, all that research may be for naught.

So I am course correcting. I want to get back to this site being about books and documents and the occasional foray into discussing very interesting conspiracy sites. And I will still be debunking when necessary. I will just be debunking in a very specific manner.

whargarbl
A perfect encapsulation of 60% of the comments I receive on this site.

One problem I have, however, is that my initial impulse to permit people to talk about every element of a conspiracy may not be feasible, or at least it may not be feasible with the readership I have now. We’ll see, but if I continue to get angry lunatic whargarbl in the place of reasoned comments that understand that a book discussion is not the same as an overarching theory on everything that ever happened in the history of time, I may have to adjust that, as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

So stay tuned: I will be discussing two fascinating books about people missing in National Parks written by a Bigfoot researcher and former police officer named David Paulides and some less fascinating but very sappy paranormal books from Llewellyn. And oh yeah, I am tackling Michael Pearl, child beater in the name of God. You’re definitely gonna want to stick around for that.