Monday, October 27, 2014

Special Announcement: Horror Selfie Awareness!
If you haven't already done so, head on over to and submit your mug while there's still time. All the cool kids are doing it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Episode 15: Halloween Special - A Radio Gothic Experience

Halloween is not unlike death itself, I suppose. We know it's only a matter of time before it arrives, whether we want it to or not. It's more predictable than death, of course, arriving like clockwork every thirty-first of October. But it carries with it the same kind of fascination and dread with which we contemplate our own demise.

So to celebrate Halloween is to celebrate ... not death, exactly, but the idea of death. The possibilities that death presents us with. There is hope in death. Hope that there is more in store for us than worms and rot and failed legacies. There is also fear in death. Fear that we have erred so egregiously in life that what awaits us on the other side is horror upon horror upon horror.

To the potential of the Reaper's scythe, then, we raise our goblets high and offer this toast: may our shortcomings be judged lightly; may our wrongdoings be accounted for in fairness; and may our gestures of compassion and goodwill, however small, outweigh them both in the end.

In that spirit, we invite you to partake of The Bare Knuckle Podcast's Halloween Special. In addition to a carefully selected assortment of atmospheric music—the lion's share of it composed by your host, Pete Mesling—you will be treated to a reading of one of Charles Dickens's most terrifying tales, "A Madman's Manuscript." You will also hear your host read two of his own short stories, one of them an ode of sorts to Dickens, the other a piece of fan fiction, essentially, set in the world of Clive Barker's novella Cabal and the film version, Nightbreed.

A word or two about that last item before we cut you loose to enjoy the show. Mesling wrote "Face to Face" specifically in the hopes that it would find a home in the forthcoming Joseph Nassise- and Del Howison-edited Midian Unmade anthology from TOR. Unfortunately, it did not make the cut, but he maintains that it is one of his best pieces of short fiction. Though he eagerly awaits the release of Midian Unmade so he can enjoy what is sure to be a feast of short tales set in Clive Barker's universe of beautiful monsters, he also doesn't wish to see his own effort go completely unnoticed by the world, and so we have happily agreed to let him read it for the enthusiastic listeners of The Bare Knuckle. We sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Now you are free to wallow in our Halloween episode, preferably with the lights out and in a state of utter solitude—shadows and ghosts notwithstanding. A deliciously dreadful Halloween to you all!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Episode 14: David Lee Roth - A Radio Songsmith Experience

David Lee Roth is not only the coolest rock star the world has ever produced, he's also one of the most diverse and talented. Episode 14 of The Bare Knuckle is devoted to that simple truth. Join your host, Pete Mesling, on an all-too-brief journey through the Diamond One's catalog of solo material. This is the cream of the crop, and there are some rare and unusual surprises to be had. So kick back and behold the king whose throne has so often been pretended to but never usurped.

Now, though we shouldn't need to remind you that the scariest holiday of the year is just around the proverbial corner, we will. In fact, we just did. And if you think you're going to make it through unscathed this year, think again. As an avid follower of The Bare Knuckle Podcast, you are forcibly invited to keep your eyes and ears peeled like an onion for our forthcoming Halloween special. Whether your tastes run toward Charles Dickens or Clive Barker, you're in for a feast of terrifying stories and music.

As they say, watch this space ...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Episode 12: Pete Mesling Reads - A Radio Minstrel Experience

After a brief respite, we're back with a fresh episode. This is our twelfth one, folks, and it's chock full of poetry. Not only will you hear Pete Mesling read some of his own best work, but you'll also hear the poems of William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Thomas Hardy put to music by Mesling himself. (Not to mention a surprise at the end having to do with e e cummings and Michael Hedges.)

There's a wide range of subject matter and form to be enjoyed within, so don't hesitate to click your way through. If you're not familiar with the paradelle, for instance, you'll learn what that is—and hear one! Don't think you're a lover of poetry? Put your resolve to the test. There's always the intermittent music to fall back on, after all.

Come one, come all. This episode goes by fast, but it's from the heart and sure to move you, whether to tears or laughter (intentional in either case, rest assured).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Episode 11: Pete Mesling Reads - A Radio Gothic Experience

We hope you'll agree that it's about time for another round of terrifying fiction from Pete Mesling. In this, our eleventh episode, he reads "Zombie Killer" and "Silvertip." Both stories stand on their own and don't require a lot of preamble, but for those of you interested in such things, we have asked Mesling to provide a bit of insight into the conception of the leading tale ...

"There are certain stories that stick with us for various reasons. Stories that linger long after we've read the last sentence and turned the page. For me, Dean Koontz's Intensity is such a story. I've written at some length about that novel and have discussed my feelings about it in numerous private conversations, so I won't go over old ground again here. But let me say that one of its crowning achievements is the use of shifting points of view. It's not an unusual technique in a novel, of course, but it's put to to exceptional use by Koontz.

"Not being a novelist (yet), I got to wondering if a similar effect could be achieved in a short story. Many editors are less than impressed by any such attempt in the short form, but I finally found one who was open to the idea, and I sold him 'Zombie Killer.'

"For what it's worth, I love it when a fiction title can manage to convey more than one meaning. I do my best not to force it, but it's something I try to remain open to. I'm happy to report that in the case of both stories I've selected for episode eleven of The Bare Knuckle, the titles bear double meanings."

Thanks, Pete. We always enjoy a little behind-the-scenes scoop. As for you, Loyal Listener, enough of all this. Go ahead and dig in to the podcast itself. And pray, leave a light on.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "Zombie Killer" and "Silvertip" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Episode 10: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry - A Radio Single Speak Experience

This episode isn't about Michael Landon. It's about Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry, for cryin' out loud. But Landon comes up, and we'd like to expand on his inclusion here, as promised in the actual episode. Landon's earliest work of note is, of course, the cult classic, I Was a Teenage Werewolf. This is only of passing interest in the discussion you will hear in the podcast, as your host, Pete Mesling, is more concerned with certain similarities in approach between Landon and Gervais than he is in Landon's early film work. But horror is never far from Pete's mind, and so here's the story of one of his favorite Michael Landon appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. (For those of you who are too young to know about the enormous impact that Johnny Carson had on American television for three decades, do yourself the favor of checking out Mark Malkoff's brillant Carson Podcast.)

"Landon's appearances on Carson were always great television. Whether he was on during the era of Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven, it was always fun to see how different he was on The Tonight Show than he was on either of those programs. Sometimes irreverent, often hilarious, he proved that there was far more to him than meets the eye. But there was one particular night when Johnny decided to poke fun at Landon's less-than-estimable start in the business: the lead role in a low-budget werewolf picture. Landon become very serious and was quick to respond that he loves horror films and is very proud of his work in I Was a Teenage Werewolf. That's the paraphrased version, anyway, culled from the decaying chambers of my aging brain. I'm sticking to it. There's probably a clip of the exchange out there in YouTube Land somewhere. Go forth and discover."

Good advice, Pete. In fact, there's some additional discovering to be done if you haven't listened to the latest installment of The Bare Knuckle Podcast yet. So what are you waiting for? Tune in to learn where The Bare Knuckle stands on Ricky Gervais's new series, Derek, as well as Stephen Fry's documentary, Wagner and Me. You just never know where this ship of fools is going to drop anchor. Hey, might be a good reason to subscribe! You wouldn't want to miss a single scintillating moment, after all.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Episode 9: Pete Mesling Reads - A Radio Gothic Experience

If you count the minutes between Radio Gothic episodes of The Bare Knuckle Podcast, number nine is here to save your day. Pete Mesling takes up the roll of narrator once again to read you two of his published short stories, and this week's picks are not for the weak-stomached.

The action kicks off with "Slipknot," Mesling's controversial story of racism and rape set in the Old West. Not only is this your chance to hear the author read his shocking tale in its entirety, but you'll get the scoop on why it was censored upon initial publication, and why it's now been restored to its full glory. "Slipknot" can also be found in the anthology The Zombist: Undead Western Tales, from the Library of the Living Dead Press.

For the trivia-minded among you, "Slipknot" sat for a long while with nary an undead component. The zombie element isn't something that Mesling would have forced, but when the idea struck, it seemed like the right direction to take the story in. When he saw that bringing in the supernatural resulted in a far more interesting tale, there was no turning back.

The second story you'll hear in episode nine is called "A Pound of Flesh," and it takes you in a very different, though just as harrowing, direction. This story originally saw the light of day in the Cathy Buburuz-edited Champagne Shivers 5, from Sam's Dot Publishing.

As is often the case when it comes to Mesling's creative process, "A Pound of Flesh" came to fruition when two ideas collided. One was that of a stranger who arrives at a man's apartment and proves difficult to get rid of. This didn't amount to a full-fledged premise until Mesling began asking himself, What if said man has a briefcase that the reader will think contains something mysterious, when in fact it is empty and its owner has come to collect rather than deliver?

The hard part has been done, folks. Your job is easy. Simply kick back and let yourself slide into a world of anxiety and dread. Like hammer blows to the base of the skull, this week's episode will leave you feeling refreshed and revivified when the brutality finally ends.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "Slipknot" and "A Pound of Flesh" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Episode 8: Robert McCammon, David Lee Roth - A Radio Single Speak Experience

The pod has been cast once again, dear friends of The Bare Knuckle. As always, there's a little something for everyone in the latest and greatest episode, but fans of novelist Robert McCammon and Van Halen front man David Lee Roth should pay especially close attention. That's right, your host, Pete Mesling, gives you his insights into both of these creative artists in one jam-packed show.

If the pairing seems disparate on the surface, we assure you that there is at least a slight connection. The McCammon novel that we're focused on is The Five, the main characters of which are members of a touring rock group called (you guessed it) The Five. As for David Lee Roth, it's all about his video podcast, The Roth Show.

There are a few musical surprises to be found here as well. Mesling treats us to a song called "Darkest Night," which he wrote the music for, based on lyrics by Robert McCammon himself. You'll also hear his inventive acoustic arrangement of Van Halen's "Little Dreamer" and a special tribute in the form of an acoustic-guitar instrumental, which will be your reward for listening through to the end.

So put your feet up and settle in for another round with The Bare Knuckle, folks. Life can wait.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Episode 7: Pete Mesling Reads - A Radio Gothic Experience

Whether or not you're familiar with the fiction of Pete Mesling, you're in for a treat, because this is your chance to hear him read his short story, "Crossing Lake Serene on a Dare." Originally published in Black Ink Horror #6, "Lake Serene" is the story of a young boy tasked with stealing into the house of area eccentric, Farley Clarris, and returning with proof that he's actually been inside. Well, this being the product of Mesling's deranged imagination, things don't go according to plan, and nothing ends well.

As an added bonus, your gracious host also reads an unpublished tale that will have you clutching at the nearest blankie for reassurances that will not come. "The Ingrate" tells the story of one Sid Barlow, small-time hood who's gotten in over his head. Lucky for him, the seemingly useless footlocker that he begrudgingly accepted from his uncle before he died in a car fire is about to come in handy. But maybe not quite as handy as he at first believes. This one lives in the long, dense shadow of the original Twilight Zone television series.

So, enjoy The Bare Knuckle's first Radio Gothic episode, and learn why Rue Morgue has called Mesling's work "claustrophobic and terrifying." We think you'll find it worth your time.

UPDATE: You can now read Mesling's "Crossing Lake Serene on a Dare" and "The Ingrate" for free at his None So Deaf blog!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Episode 6: Haydn, Bach, Mozart, et al. - A Radio Cadenza Experience

Greetings! Your curiosity is about to be well met. Pete Mesling gives you something of a Cook's tour of classical music in this week's episode. And if Daniel Barenboim is correct that music quickens time, this week's installment of The Bare Knuckle positively has wings. The thread tying all of the selections together is virtuosity, so whether you're an avid listener of classical music or more of a neophyte, there's bound to be something that captures your attention here.

To give you some idea of what's in store for you, consider that you will hear works for the clarinet, harpsichord, piano, violin, cello, and voice. Composers covered are Haydn, Paganini, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, and Leroy Anderson. And if you want to talk personnel, how do the names Glenn Gould, Itzhak Perlman, Janos Starker, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, Maria Stader, and Daniel Barenboim grab you?

Such a show, and all you have to pay is attention. Now that's what I call a deal. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Episode 5: Nicholas Tana (Hell's Kitty) - A Radio Confab Experience

Episode 5 brings a change in scenery to The Bare Knuckle Podcast. Namely, it's our first interview, or Radio Confab, episode. Special guest Nicholas Tana takes to the mic with your host Pete Mesling to discuss his role(s) as writer, director, star, and songwriter for the comedy-horror web series, Hell's Kitty.

You'll hear music from the series, including the theme song, "My Pussy's Possessed," and as an added attraction, you'll also hear a brand-new track that has yet to be used. There are other surprises of a musical nature (including the No Religion Remix of Coroner's "Grin," which is used to intro the festivities) and many laughs to be had as your host and his guest engage in their endearing badinage.

Don't be the last of your friends to be talking about this episode. Be among the first. Download it now from the link in the player above, or from iTunes, where you can subscribe to the entire podcast and never again worry about missing out on a single life-changing minute of The Bare Knuckle.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Episode 3: Johnny Cash, Nellie McKay, Alan Price, et al. - A Radio Songsmith Experience

Greetings, and welcome back! We've put together a slightly extended set for you with this week's episode (also available from iTunes, by the way). Your host, Pete Mesling, couldn't bring himself to make any cuts to the decided-on program, and as usual, his good judgment is your win. The Bare Knuckle podcast breaks with the Radio Acoustic theme of the first two episodes to bring you a Radio Songsmith experience, and it's all about the art of the cover song.

So settle in to your favorite rocker and crochet yourself a shawl while Uncle Pete steers you through an obstacle course of top-flight covers. You'll hear the work of The Who, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Doris Day, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Kurt Weill, The Lovin' Spoonful, Martha and the Vandellas, and Van Halen transformed by such gifted artists as Michael Hedges, Alan Price, Mary Lou Lord, Georgie Fame, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tom Jones, Nellie McKay, David Lee Roth, Leo Kottke, and Van Halen (yes, they make both lists). And once again Pete has pulled a couple of his own recordings out of the vaults for your listening pleasure and critical attention.

Friends, you can be forgiven for missing the first two episodes—maybe—but mark my words, you don't want to let this one pass you by.