Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#MeToo

***ME TOO***

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandals, there’s a hashtag going around called #MeToo, where women share their stories of sexual harassment/assault whether it’s in the workplace, public life, school, the streets, or home. As I’ve stated many times before, I don’t often give people a glimpse into my past because of my schizophrenia and how talking about it actually makes the numb feeling worse. But after seeing so many of my friends come out with stories like this, I feel empowered to talk about it as well. Granted, I’m not a woman, but this isn’t an issue exclusive to one gender. So now, I will recall for you, my lovely audience, the first time I’ve experienced sexual harassment.

I was fourteen years old and going to high school in Chehalis, Washington (where the big boys play, apparently). Every once and a while, the school would have Spirit Day, where students dress up in a certain couture to show their school spirit (which I had none of, because I fucking hated school). That day’s apparel was pajamas, which I didn’t wear. And because of this, a girl snuck up behind me and said, “Hey, where’re your pajamas today?” before grabbing my ass and laughing with her friend. I never turned around to see who did it and therefore couldn’t report anybody. Instead, all I had was a heedful of trauma and no way to get rid of the stress. I couldn’t concentrate on schoolwork or creative activities. Whenever I’d watch my favorite TV shows, I’d just blank out and forget what happened. I began to think that I was becoming gradually stupid because of this mind fuckery. As someone who prided myself on A’s and B’s, taking away my intelligence was personal to me. I wanted revenge, but with no face to direct my fists to, it never was.

It was the first time I’d been harassed, but not the last. My freshman year was based on beating the shit out of students who spread lies about me dating an ugly woman (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but a lie is a lie and sexual harassment is sexual harassment). Since then, I’ve been mooned by marines, hit on by fat gay guys, and stalked by ex-girlfriends. I won’t go into the intense details of those encounters, but they sucked just as badly as my first time. Even now as I type this, my prophecy about bad memories coming back is coming true. Hopefully, my audience will learn something from this and my self-triggering won’t be in vain.

But then there’s another reason why I was hesitant to write this: because I’d feel like a hypocrite if I did. In addition to being the victim of sexual harassment, I’ve also been an unintentional perpetrator. I never wanted to be that guy, but sometimes I’d crack an obscene joke that would make the people around me uncomfortable. I used to have a Deviant Art friend who photographed fetish models. Some of those accidentally stinging comments were directed at her and her models. We haven’t spoken since then. It’s the reason why I’m shy around women in the first place: I don’t want to offend them and become that monster again. Even something as simple as saying, “You’re beautiful” can be hurtful. I don’t like hurting people. I like being good to them and making them feel respected. For all the people I’ve offended with my comments, I’m sorry. I could say I’m sorry a thousand times, but it wouldn’t be enough for me. I’ve been in those shoes before and I don’t want to put anybody else in them.

Let these stories be a lesson to everybody out there. If someone tells you to stop, you’d better stop. If they’re not capable of telling you to stop, don’t cross that Moral Event Horizon and become the next Brock Turner. I’ve never crossed the Moral Event Horizon, but I still feel terrible every time I think about the women I’ve hurt with my crass jokes. Be careful about what you say and do to the people around you. Don’t become the next Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump, two men who can never be forgiven for their sins. It’s not worth the heartache. It’s not worth the lack of concentration. It’s not worth feeling stupid over. Think before you speak, think before you act.


***LYRICS OF THE DAY***

“From morning to night, I stayed out of sight. Didn’t recognize I’d become no more than alive. I’d barely survive. In a word, overrun. Won’t hear a sound from my mouth. I’ve spent too long on the inside-out. My skin is cold to the human touch. This bleeding heart’s not beating much. I’ve murmured a vow of silence and now I don’t even hear when I think aloud. Extinguished by light, I turn on the night when it’s darkness with an empty smile.


-Pink Floyd singing “Wearing the Inside Out”-

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dumb Ass Shit

***DUMB ASS SHIT***

One of the things we share as human beings is a tendency to make mistakes, especially during our younger years when we’re just figuring out the world. To put it in harsher terms, we’ve all said and done…say it with me…dumb ass shit. Nobody is immune to this, because nobody is perfect. As long as you don’t cross the Moral Event Horizon (rape, murder, etc.), you’re entitled to make these little mistakes that you can learn from. If you’ve ever watched a Young Turks video where they’re discussing a teenaged subject, you’ll notice that the pundits can be forgiving of them because they too said and did…say it again…dumb ass shit when they were younger.

Yes, it’s true, ladies and gentlemen: I too have a history of saying and doing dumb ass shit, especially as it relates to the internet. I’ve looked back at some of the things I’ve posted on my Deviant Art, Blogger, and Face Book accounts and I wonder what the hell I was thinking. I could just delete these posts, but seeing as how there are so fucking many of them, it’ll take more time than I care to spend. Many of the things I’ve posted could be construed as bigoted in some way, though my intentions were only to be “edgy” or “funny”. I just read a nonfiction essay I wrote in 2009 called “Class of ‘13” where I accuse teenagers of being text-messaging queens that need strict discipline. Holy shit, did I really expect people to laugh at that? What about Hardcore Harry, a Harry Potter parody where the main character says he’s afraid of Draco Malfoy’s “homosexual urges”. Shaking my head, folks. Shaking my head.

Apparently, it took me a long time for me to mature throughout the years, because I’ve been saying dumb shit in 2014 as well. My blogger.com posts at the time were riddled with depressing anecdotes about songs that made me cry or romantic couples in fiction that made me wish I had love too. One of my now deleted books, Foe vs. Blade, has an introductory chapter where I list off all of the major bad shit that’s happened in my life from high school until the date of publication. It wasn’t until 2015 that I started posting about positive things in my life and, surprise, surprise, I became a happier person because of it. I knew Rhonda Byrne’s book would come in handy someday.

So, I don’t know if you the audience plan on digging through my internet postings, but if you see something buried beneath the happy and accepting stuff that could be construed as “dumb ass shit”, know that I am no longer proud of such things. Being “edgy” isn’t nearly as important as being intelligent and wise. Even the edgiest of edgy artists have to have a reason for their R-rated jokes. I’ve said and done my fair share of stupid shit in my life and I’ve learned from all of it. This is not a cheap attempt at obtaining forgiveness, but if I keep kicking myself over these things, then I’m forever stuck in the past. We can all grow from our mistakes and become decent people.

I figured writing this blog would be easier than going through my internet history and wiping it clean of…say it again…dumb ass shit. But even if I was able to give my internet history the Mr. Clean treatment, there’s that old adage of things being on the internet forever. So instead, I’m going to say this: I’m sorry for all the dumb ass shit. It’s not me, it’s not who I want to be, and it’s not important to my career. Let’s move forward. We’ve got ears, say cheers!


***POISON TONGUE TALES 2: THE RIGHT TO REMAIN PSYCHOTIC***

As long as we’re on the topic of dumb ass shit, here’s something I attempted months ago, but never got off the ground. It’s called “Hardcore Hogan” (not to be confused with “Hardcore Harry”) and it goes like this:

CHARACTERS:

  1. Garrison Kelly, Captured Earthling
  2. Hardcore Hogan, Garrison’s Alter Ego
  3. Kasabian, Alien Lord
  4. Random Squid-Faced Alien Warriors

PROMPT CONFORMITY: To be announced.

SYNOPSIS: Garrison wakes up one day and finds himself in an alien ship’s prison cell. He has no idea what he’s doing there, but when he tries to shake the bars and complain, he gets electrocuted by the guards. Just when he is about to give in, he finds the Hall of Fame ring of his favorite professional wrestler Hardcore Hogan in the corner of the cell. When Garrison puts the ring on, he transforms into the muscular wrestler and puts a beating on the aliens after ripping the bars off the cell door. Kasabian serves as his final enemy and the only person who could possibly explain why Garrison/Hogan is on this ship to begin with.


***COMEDIC QUOTE OF THE DAY***

“There are some large groups out there whose names are a little mixed up. The Department of Water and Power. Well, water and power don’t go together, ‘cause you’ll get fucking electrocuted. Then you have the Food and Drug Administration. Well, with most drugs, you don’t have any food, except for marijuana, but they shouldn’t be bothering people with marijuana to begin with. And then you have that really interesting organization, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Do I even have to discuss this one? Bad combination. Here’s what you do. You call the police the Department of Power and Firearms. Then you have the Food and Water Administration. Those are two things you need to survive: food and water. And then you have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs, which keeps all the good shit in one place.


-George Carlin-

Friday, October 13, 2017

He's Only Thirteen

Gloria Summers’ heavenly soprano voice resonated throughout the empty church as she practiced her hymns. Standing at the altar with a purple choir robe flowing from her petite figure, she sang her heart out as though the church was packed for her performance. She closed her beautiful brown eyes and imagined applause and tears of happiness from the makeshift crowd. But when she opened them again, she didn’t see a single soul sitting in the pews. She wiped a tear from her eye as she remembered how this city had fallen on hard economic times. People would do absolutely anything for money, even if it meant endangering their health and forfeiting their position at the pews.

And then her concentration was broken as easily as church glass when a pounding at the doors boomed throughout the House of God. Gloria nearly jumped out of her dark skin and clutched a hand to her heart at the raucous sound, which continued to grow louder with desperation. She lifted her choir robe and hurried down the church aisle to answer the door. “Who could be knocking at this hour?” she asked herself.

When she opened the doors, a heavy presence spilled over her lap, almost knocking her on her ass. She managed to circle her arms around what appeared to be a dark-skinned teenage boy in a white karate gi passed out and shivering from the rain outside. Gloria dragged the young man inside and slammed the door behind her to prevent the cold from rushing into her church.

“You poor thing,” said Gloria while rolling the little boy over. Cuts and bruises covered his face and his tongue dangled slightly out of his mouth with a speck of drool hanging down. “Come on, little guy, let’s get you all warm and toasty.” The lone choir girl cradled the child in her arms and carried him to the back of the church, where a soft and warm bed just happened to be.

Gloria smiled sadly at the unconscious boy while stroking his damp black locks. “I’ll have some soup ready for you when you’re awake,” she said. It took her little more than three minutes to heat up a cup of noodle soup and present it to him with a plastic spoon nestled inside. Steam rose from the broth while triggering the child’s sense of smell. A few whiffs later and his swollen purple eyes slowly opened.

With a lisp that probably had to do with the karate gi he was wearing, he said, “Where am I? What the fuck is this?”

“I’ll let that dirty language slide for now, sugar,” said Gloria with a smile as warm as the soup. “You’re in the House of God, little man. It’s the safest place you can be right now. Whoever gave you those nasty bumps ain’t coming for you now. Here, have some soup. You’ll need your strength.”

The child snapped when Gloria handed him the soup, knocking the nutritious meal out of her hands and spilling broth and noodles all over the floor. The traumatized kid continued to thrash and wail about while the choir girl held him still. “Get away from me! I have to fight him!” shouted the kid. “Sensei Lector will kill me if I don’t fight him! Let me go, damn it!”

“Calm yourself, child!” belted Gloria while struggling to maintain a tight grip on the rambunctious kid. He nearly slipped out of her grasp when she mounted him and pinned his wrists down on the bed. The kid thrashed some more, but he clearly lost this battle. He could do nothing but shed tears hot enough to trigger the pain in his bruised eyes. “It’s no use,” he sobbed. “I’m dead! I’m never going to get out of that tournament!”

Gloria petted the child’s hair and gently said, “There, there, little guy. Like I said before, this is a safe place where you don’t have to worry about such things. No more fighting. No more bruises. No more blood. Just you, me, and the man upstairs. Now why don’t you tell me what’s going on between you and this Sensei Lector of yours.”

“You can’t do shit about it, lady,” snapped the child. “Saijin Lector is my master. He’s the one who trained me how to fight. I’ve been making a lot of money for the both of us beating the shit out of everyone in that ring. If he finds out I’ve dashed on him…he’s going to kill me!” Tears burned his black eyes once again.

Gloria lovingly rested her head on the child’s chest and said, “It’s alright, kid. You came here for a reason and that reason is to rest up. You know you can’t do this fighting business no more. You’re only a kid. Kids should be out playing and having fun, not beating people up in some dingy arena. Whoever this Saijin Lector is, there’s no chance I’m going to let him mess with you.”

“You don’t understand,” wept the child. “He’s a monster!”

“Of course he’s a monster, son,” said Gloria. “Anybody who puts a child through this much torture for a couple of bucks has got to be some kind of sicko.”

The child pushed Gloria off the bed and shouted, “He’s a real fucking monster!” A moment of tense silence hung between them and then Gloria shivered in fear while crab walking backwards. “I can’t stay here much longer! He’ll find me and beat me to death! You just don’t get it! He’s not just a monster! He has a whole gang backing him up! He can do whatever he wants to this city!”

“Not on my watch!” snapped Gloria as she stood back up and towered over the bruised child. “I don’t give up on those who come here for help and I’m damn sure not giving up on you! I don’t care what kind of monster you’re running from, because he ain’t getting nowhere near you! I’ve seen too much bad nonsense go on in this city! People getting shot dead in the streets, people losing their homes, people getting beaten by the police, it has to end somewhere! I say we bring it to an end one step at a time and that means getting you to higher ground!”

Another moment of tense silence hung in the air between them. The child snuggled further in his sheets after being the recipient of Gloria’s tough love, emphasis on love. He softly said, “My name is Danny. Danny Killian. What’s yours?”

“Gloria Summers. Nice to meet you, Danny. You’re a handsome young man despite all of the bruises.” She pulled the blanket over him further and gently said, “Get some rest, little guy. We’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow…”

The cracking sound of the church doors breaking down accompanied by deep demonic breathing caused Danny to cover his head with the blankets even tighter. “Stay here,” warned Gloria as she ventured out in the chapel to see what was up. Danny was right: there were monsters out there and one of them invaded her church with a whip in one hand and a tight fist in the other. “Holy-moly!” she whispered as she looked up at the seven-foot tall red fleshed demon, who came bearing fangs, horns, and sharp claws.

The demon brushed the wooden splinters from the door off of his brown trench coat and adjusted his fedora before saying, “Good evening, sweet cheeks! You wouldn’t happen to have a child about yay-high running around here, would you? He needs to come home with his daddy!”

“Some daddy you turned out to be!” shouted Gloria while she stood terra firma with her fists by her side. “You must be Saijin. Actually, I don’t give a hoot who you are! You’re in the House of God now and you’d better move your biscuit butt on out of here!”

“Or else what?!” bellowed Saijin, knocking Gloria down with the impact of his voice alone. “Is the man upstairs going to zap me to death? Oh, I’m so scared! I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but I’ve got a fucking whip and I’ve ripped a lot of flesh with this motherfucker! So if you don’t want to be the next one to be turned into human jerky, you’ll point me in the direction of that little brat!”

“I’m right here, dumb-ass!” belted Danny, who appeared at the altar shaking in either anger or fear (Gloria couldn’t tell). The child prizefighter’s fists were balled tightly as he entered his karate stance, feet apart, hips distributed. The more Saijin stared at him with those fiery eyes, the harder Danny shook.

“So, you’ve finally grown a pair of balls, little Danny. It’s about damn time! Tell me, little dip-shit: is that a urine stain on your pants or are you just happy to see me?” mocked Saijin with a yellow-fanged grin on his face. Sure enough, Danny tucked his chin and saw that his karate pants were dripping with stale golden fluids. His eyes were also pouring with sorrow and fear while Saijin laughed at him some more. “Holy shit, kid! How did you ever become a champion again? This whole time, I’ve been training a little chicken shit instead of a goddamn warrior!”

The combination of Danny’s tears and urine and Saijin’s mocking laughter caused Gloria Summers’ blood to boil. Her insides reminded her of what the church’s version of hell looked like: fire, agony, venom, and death. Her teeth clenched so tightly that her jaw ached worse than Danny’s. Her heart thudded in her chest like a hip-hop beat echoing from somebody’s car stereo. “Enough!” she roared before nipping up and elbowing Saijin right in the groin.

The demon doubled over in pain, but not without giving Gloria a devilish smile in return. Danny attempted a running strike of his own, but was quickly cut off by the choir girl, who cradled the protesting kid in her arms and dashed out of the church like a bolt of lighting. She looked back and saw that Saijin was upright once more and his whip was on fire.

He blasted, “You’d better keep running, you little harlot! It won’t do you any fucking good, but you can try anyways!” Saijin lashed his flaming whip around at various pews and set them ablaze. He even managed to pop Gloria in the back and send her crumpling into a bloody heap. Danny groaned in fury and tried once again to engage his former boss only to have Gloria use the last of her energy to hold him back and vacate the burning church.

The two of them stumbled down the stairs together while the church’s flames and Saijin Lector’s laughter rose sky high. Despite Danny’s raging protests, Gloria continued to hold him back and push the two of them down the streets until they were able to turn a corner into an alleyway. Even with the glowing flames producing hell on earth behind them, Gloria Summers and Danny Killian had found temporary safety.

“How could you let him get away with that shit?!” Danny sobbed. “I could have taken him! I swear I could have!”

Gloria hugged Danny’s head tightly and whispered, “Your fighting days are over, son. You’ve got to know when to run away. There’s no shame in being scared. It’s a natural part of life. You can’t just keep on going like this. If you didn’t die at Saijin’s hands, you would have died in that ring.”

“But it’s not fair!” Danny whined. “I need the money! I need to beat people up! I need to be tough!”

“There are other ways of making money that don’t involve that macho garbage!” yelled Gloria as she shook Danny. She hugged him once again and whispered gently, “I’m not going to leave your side. The church can be rebuilt, but you can’t be replaced, Danny Killian. I’ll make this right for you, son. Just trust me. You’ve trusted Saijin long enough and look where it got you.”

“But…but it’s not fair!” whined Danny again.

“I know it isn’t, son. There’s nothing fair about any of this. But we can make it fair. You just have to have some hope. Do you trust me?” asked Gloria with a reassuring smile.


Danny wiped away his tears and smiled as much as his swollen cheeks would allow before saying, “Yeah…I trust you, Gloria.” The two of them hugged each other and watched the church burn to its final ashes. Saijin would get his someday, just not tonight and not at the hands of a frightened child fighter.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hulk Smash!

***HULK SMASH***

This past week was filled with what I like to call Incredible Hulk rage. No, I didn’t actually smash anything, but you wouldn’t know it from the intensity of my screams and the vulgarity of my curse words. But just like with any other fit of rage, I feel so tired afterwards that I don’t feel like getting any creative work done. White hot anger is a waste of energy, especially when directed at inanimate objects. And to think, my week started off with something that was easily fixable.

Since this past Wednesday, I’ve been house-sitting for my parents while they’re away in Pennsylvania visiting with extended family. They’re expected to be back late Thursday night, but their return can’t come soon enough. This past Thursday was when my Incredible Hulk rage flared up. I had just gotten back from an exhausting walk to my brother’s workplace to drop off his book. The computer was in sleep mode, so I shook the mouse, clicked it, hit the return button multiple times, and powered the computer on and off. No matter what the hell I did, my computer wouldn’t wake up. So you know what logical thing I did about it? I screamed, “Wake up!” multiple times in a voice that bordered on drill instructor and raging barbarian. I also used some colorful swear words that I don’t plan on repeating before I went into whiny mode, begging and pleading for my computer to wake up.

Believing something was seriously wrong with my computer, my last resort was to take it to Northwest Computers in Bremerton to have it fixed. By the time I was done raging like a lunatic, the store was closed. Friday would have worked, but my brother James was out all day at work and school, so he couldn’t give me a ride. Northwest Computers is closed on the weekend and major holidays (including Columbus Day), so the earliest I could have taken my computer in was Tuesday. It’s true, folks: I’m a stereotypical millennial who’s addicted to digital crack. I’m also an author with a short story collection to finish, so maybe I’m not a complete stereotype.

Either this past Friday or Saturday, I’ve been using my spare laptop to get my internet business done. And then for some reason, my laptop decided not to open Google Chrome or Internet Explorer when I double clicked the respective icons. I tried running anti-virus software and it took forever to update, so I was just resigned to the fact that the laptop was a glorified paperweight. Speaking of useless technology, it was also this past Friday or Saturday that I dropped my television remote and couldn’t turn the damn thing back on even after changing batteries. The laptop situation was easy to remedy since my mom and step-dad have a spare computer downstairs. As for the TV remote, I could just use my Wave Broadband control to turn it on and off. But the rage…so much rage…so much hate…so many curse words that I once again won’t repeat at the risk of sounding like an insensitive prick.

This past Sunday night, I ran a gamut of possible problems with my computer through my head from an overworked fan to a broken monitor. My monitor is ten years old, so it was probably closer to that than anything else. I had a spare monitor in my room, but when I hooked it up to my computer, it wouldn’t work. Just like the laptop, my spare monitor was a glorified paperweight. And then I plugged the original monitor back in and screwed the prongs in tighter this time. It worked! It’s a miracle! Praise the Lord and all of that voodoo mumbo jumbo. All of the rage, all of the tiredness, all of the heartache, it was all for nothing. It was a waste of energy that solved no problems, but only made them worse.

I’ve tried harder to control my rage in the past, but it still bubbles up every now and then, so I can’t really say I’ve learned anything from those experiences. I guess I’ll try harder next time. And the time after that. And the time after that. Or maybe I can just accept that rage is a byproduct of schizophrenia and/or depression. No breathing exercises or yoga classes are putting out this wildfire anytime soon. We’ve got ears, say cheers!


***POISON TONGUE TALES 2: THE RIGHT TO REMAIN PSYCHOTIC***

Because of my mom and step-dad’s computer downstairs, I was able to enter this week’s WSS contest with my latest short story “Peacemaker”. Hopefully, it’ll be a big hit with audiences everywhere. As of now, there are only ten more stories I have to write before Poison Tongue Tales 2 is complete and I can focus on writing a novel again. The next short story will be called “He’s Only Thirteen” and it goes like this:

CHARACTERS:

  1. Danny Killian, Child Brawler
  2. Saijin Lector, Demon Gangster
  3. Gloria Summers, Church Choir Girl

PROMPT CONFORMITY: To be announced.

SYNOPSIS: Gloria practices her singing alone in the church when there’s a loud banging at her doors. When she answers, Danny, who’s covered in bruises and cuts, collapses into her arms and allows her to bring him to safety. When asked about his wounds, Danny reveals that he’s a child prize fighter and he’s trying to get out of the business. The only thing stopping him is his overbearing taskmaster Saijin Lector, who has spent years training him to become a moneymaking machine with his fighting skills. Feeling ripped off, Saijin bolts into the church looking for his “prospect”. Gloria and Danny must now try to sneak out of the church and get to higher ground. Fighting isn’t an option since Saijin is a seven-foot tall beast with a chain whip as his favorite weapon. Even with all of Danny’s championship accolades, he’s too frightened to take on his former boss.


***FANG AND CLAW: UNDEAD UNIT 1***

Wrestlecrap is a distant memory and now it’s time for a new book. My original plan was to read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, but I bailed out of it early. The confusing writing style, boring plot, and weird terminology influenced my decision to stop reading. In its place will be “Fang and Claw: Undead Unit 1” by Markie Madden, an independently published author who’s good friends with Marie Krepps. I’m on page 36 right now and so far, so good. The main character Lacey Anderson reminds me of Olivia Benson from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with how she tackles rape cases.


***COMEDY ROUTINE OF THE DAY***

TSA AGENT: Did you pack your bags yourself?

GEORGE CARLIN: No. Carrot Top packed my bags. He, Martha Stewart, and Florence Henderson all came over to the house one night, cooked me a lovely Lobster Newburg, gave me a full body massage with sacred oils from India, performed a four way around the world, and then they packed my bags. Next question!

TSA AGENT: Have your bags been in your possession the entire time?

GEORGE CARLIN: No. Usually the night before I travel, just as the moon is rising, I place my bags out on the street corner and leave them there unattended for several hours…just for good luck. Next question!

TSA AGENT: Has any unknown person asked you to carry anything onboard?


GEORGE CARLIN. Hmm…Well, what exactly is an unknown person? Surely, everybody is known to somebody. In fact, just this morning, Kareem and Yousef Ali Ben-Gaba seemed to know each other quite well. They kept joking about which one of my bags was the heaviest.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wreck-It Ralph

MOVIE TITLE: Wreck-It Ralph
DIRECTOR: Rich Moore
YEAR: 2012
GENRE: Children’s 3D Animation
RATING: PG for comic mischief
GRADE: Pass

In a digital universe inhabited by arcade game characters, Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy of his respective videogame Fix-It Felix. As such, he feels unappreciated by his good guy cohorts and seeks to do gain a hero medal from another game. He finds one in a first person shooter called Hero’s Duty, but takes it with him to a candy-themed racing game called Sugar Rush. There he meets a glitch character named Vanellope who feels just as isolated as he does. The two annoy the hell out of each other, but agree to help each other achieve their goals, Ralph’s being to retrieve the medal and Vanellope’s being to win the race. Standing in their way are the tyrannical King Candy and a virus bug from Hero’s Duty that swarms and multiplies.

The message of this movie is one we’ve heard time and time again, but it never gets old because we have to keep reminding ourselves of it. That message is to be yourself and be proud of who you are. Don’t let the world bring you down and don’t let anybody else define who you should be. If you want to be well-liked, do something admirable and leave the trophies and petty jewelry behind. A medal is a tiny coin, but a legacy is something that lasts forever. This whole movie is a journey for Wreck-It Ralph to find acceptance by doing what he does best: destroy things. He tried too hard to be the good guy and he ended up being a worse bad guy. As far as Vanellope goes, she too has a journey to go through that involves individuality. She’s spunky, sweet, and delightfully annoying, yet she’s the most determined racer in Sugar Rush. Ralph and Vanellope are characters we can get behind as well as the others who support them like Fix-It Felix and the captain from the first person shooter Tamora Jean Calhoun. That’s what makes the message of the movie so special: relatable characters.

Another thing I must applaud this movie for his the creativity it took to make this movie. This could be considered fan fiction in some ways because it features M. Bison and Zangief from Street Fighter II and Bowser from the Mario games just to name a few. Granted, those are cameo appearances, but the movie still makes good use of them as part of a bad guy support group. The Sugar Rush videogame is candy-themed, so everything from the Laffy Taffies to the chocolate quicksand to the Mentos and Diet Coke lair is well-done, well-placed, and important to our story. Creativity also involves the various outcomes and high and low points of the movie, not just physical features. The big low point at the end will make you weep, the sweet ending will make you giddy inside, and the build up to both of those things will remind you of a brother-sister dynamic at home. When it comes to creativity, the makers of Wreck-It Ralph left no stone unturned and made sure the audience went home happy.

Speaking of making everything click, the storyline actually makes sense considering all of the variables in this movie. Whenever a game glitches or has a character crossover, the arcade machine is “out of order” and pulling the plug on it will erase the entire game. There’s a train station connecting all the games together via the power strip and its various cords, which is important for keeping everybody in order and with their own games. Crossing over is actually a huge no-no in this world, which is no more evident than when Wreck-It Ralph accidentally leads a virus bug into Sugar Rush and all of his friends have to come rescue him before it multiplies. When you have a movie with this many loose ends, it needs its own set if strict rules so that it doesn’t become too unbelievable. I commend anybody who can maintain order with this much chaos going on.


If you’re looking for an enjoyable movie for the whole family, young or old, be sure to watch Wreck-It Ralph. Older audience members will have retro-grade nostalgia for these arcade games. Younger audiences will enjoy the quirky characters and their silly jokes. Film critics will love how everything clicks together and nothing is left unattended to. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that this movie won a boat-load of awards and was the 14th highest grossing film of 2012. A passing grade will go to this piece of 3D animated joy. How does that sound?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Peacemaker

Gerard Killings paced back and forth with his hands tucked in his trench coat pockets. He gazed around at the animal trophies mounted on the wall while shaking his head in disgust. Deer heads, tiger rugs, bear dolls, and fox pelts made this politician’s home feel like an animal graveyard. Protecting Senator Schneider from assassination filled Gerard’s eyes with dollar signs, but his heart with emptiness. He felt no different from a street whore selling her body for cocaine. The mercenary plopped down on the zebra striped couch and ruffled his clean shaven head and face.

He snapped out of his disgusted trance and leapt into business mode when he heard the sound of wood creaking in the next room. Gerard pulled two sais from his trench coat pockets and crept towards the kitchen. When he arrived, he saw that the scene hadn’t been disturbed except by an elderly dog lying on the floor snoozing away. The irony wasn’t lost on Gerard as he shook his head some more while holding the bridge of his nose.

The time to earn his paycheck arrived when Gerard felt a heavy presence crash down from overhead. He dropped his sais and gasped for air as he felt a furry arm wrapped around his neck with a knife pointed into his jugular. A feminine voice whispered, “Don’t even think about it. I’ll slash you from asshole to appetite if you move one inch.”

Gerard didn’t listen. He snatched his assailant’s wrist and chomped down on her arm with the strength of a bear trap. The furry female yelped and back flipped off of her opponent, leaving a smattering of blood across the floor. Gerard used this valuable time to crawl quickly across the floor to retrieve his sais. Before he could lay one finger on them, he felt a knife graze his scalp as it flew into the kitchen cupboard.

The mercenary blinked tightly in pain while pressing a hand to his wound. He opened his eyes just widely enough to see that his assailant was dressed in black ninja gear except for part of her face and arms, which were covered in animal fur (and blood from the bite wound). She angrily whispered, “You’re one dead motherfucker!” before pulling out a katana and lunging towards a seated and prone Gerard. The mercenary moved his head just in time to avoid being decapitated. The fuzzy ninja slashed and lunged some more only to have Gerard tuck and roll out of the way every time.

Mr. Killings, still on his back, kicked the ninja in the head and dazed her long enough for him to wrap both ankles around her neck and flip her over. She crash landed into the kitchen cupboard, but accidentally landed on the sleeping dog. The dog yelped and crawled pathetically across the floor. Both fighters were distracted by the condition of the elderly animal, so much so that the ninja crawled across the floor and petted the little guy. “I’m so sorry,” she gently whispered. “You poor little sweetheart.” The ninja’s petting caused the dog to roll on her back and kick in the air.

“Wait a damn minute here,” said Gerard before he nipped up and ripped the ninja’s mask off to reveal she was a humanoid fox. The ninja gasped and crab-walked backwards, knowing her identity was plain to see. “Why am I not surprised? Misty Blades, anti-hunting activist. You’ve been all over the news talking about using peace and love to advance your cause, yet here you are trying to stick a blade in my fucking neck.”

Misty waved a dismissive paw and scoffed, “Like your politician friend is any better. Have you seen all the animal corpses around his house? And what about you? You’re guarding this place, so you’re every bit as guilty. Now you have to involve a poor little doggy into this.” She petted and kissed the dog some more, much to the little pooch’s smiling delight.

“Do you need help there, Gerard, or can you do it yourself like you were paid to do?” asked Senator Randy Schneider, who stood in the bedroom doorway dressed in a blue bathrobe holding a peacemaker handgun. He had a calm demeanor about him despite finding Misty Blades in his kitchen. “What are you waiting for, Gerard? Must I hold your hand?”

“You’re actually going to listen to this guy?” asked Misty. “I saw you making those faces at the animal trophies. You’re just as disgusted as I am. You could finish this right now if you wanted to.”

Randy sighed, “And how exactly does he plan on doing that, Miss Blades, if that is your real name? I’m the one with the gun and you two are just sitting there with your knives up your asses. That’s the thing about hunting, my friend: you need the best weapons. You think I claimed all of those deer heads with a fucking katana? Hell no. I was smart enough not to bring a knife to a gun fight.”

“Guns are for cowards!” belted Misty. “Killing animals is just as cowardly. Why in the hell would anybody want to support your new bill, Senator? You fucking right-wingers are all the same. You’ll protect an unborn fetus, but you’ll gladly shoot a defenseless creature. Don’t think for a minute that your gun is going to save you now. All the firepower in the world means jack shit without the fighting skills to back them up.”

Randy squeezed off a shot and only managed to tear a piece of fur off of Misty’s cheek before the ninja leapt across the room and held a blade to the politician’s throat. Senator Schneider shook so hard that he could be confused for a Parkinson’s patient. No amount of pathos could wipe the look of white hot, drooling rage from Misty’s vixen face. “Gerard! Help me!” Randy shouted.

“Shut up, you whimpering piece of shit! Stop whining and start listening! When that bill hits the senate floor, that shit is dead on arrival! If it isn’t, then you will be! What do you say/ Senator? Is your life really worth having more animals die in your name?” grimaced Misty.

Little did the ninja know that Randy dropped the peacemaker on the floor and slid it across to Gerard with his foot while shaking in fear. Sure enough, the bodyguard picked it up and cocked it before pointing it at both Misty and Randy.

“Don’t even think about it!” shouted Misty. “You put that thing down or I’ll spill his throat all over the fucking floor! Then maybe I’ll take him down to the taxidermist to get stuffed!”

“Just take the shot, Gerard; she’s going to kill us both anyways!”

“Shut the fuck up! Both of you!” Gerard roared. “I am getting sick and tired of this political bullshit! All I wanted was a paycheck tonight and you two have turned this into a fucking nightmare! Maybe I’ll kill both of you! Or maybe I’ll just kill you, Randy, and leave the fox lady to do her bidding elsewhere! You think I enjoy looking at all of these animal trophies?! They make me sick! In fact, I should probably throw up in that orange face of yours right now! It can’t look any worse than it is now!”

Misty grinned at Gerard’s threat while Randy whimpered a small prayer. This was it. That bill was going to die a nasty horrible death, which could also be said about the pants-pissing Randy Schneider. Gerard seethed with drooling anger like a rabid wolf ready to devour a hunter’s leg. The animal analogy was perfect for the rage bubbling up inside of him. Mother nature was ready to strike with a whirlwind vengeance.

“But then again…as much as I agree with Misty Blades more than anybody else…she doesn’t write my paychecks!” said Gerard before he squeezed off another shot and put a bullet in the fox ninja’s head. Her brains splattered all over the kitchen floor as she fell to her death. The elderly dog crawled over to her and licked her bloody wound like a bowl of puppy chow.

“Dogs are such filthy creatures,” said Randy with a chuckle. “Then again, so was that crazy bitch. You put on a hell of a show, Gerard. You had me going for a minute there. You’ll get that paycheck just like I promised you. Maybe if the bill passes, I’ll throw you an extra bonus so that your cancer-stricken son can go to Disneyland. You only live once, right? Well, I got to get to bed now. You did good tonight, my friend. Oh, and did I mention you’re one hell of an actor?”

“I wasn’t acting at all, Senator. I still think you’re a piece of shit for what you’re doing,” said Gerard as he handed the peacemaker to his boss.

“Correction: I’m a piece of shit who’s going to send your child to Space Mountain before he drifts away to heaven. There’s a difference, you know,” grinned Randy as he accepted the peacemaker and whistled his way back to bed.

“What do you want to do with Misty’s corpse?” asked Gerard.

“I’m sure I can find a nice place for her next to the lion’s head. Goodnight!” said Randy from the bedroom before he flicked off the light and yawned.

Gerard plopped back down on the zebra-striped couch and stared at his blood-covered hands. His whole body felt as though he had just taken a swim in a river of innocent blood. He did it all in the name of his cancerous son’s happiness, but what if he ever found out how he achieved that happiness? Could Gerard keep this secret forever? So many guilty thoughts ran through his mind at a million miles an hour.


A single tear dropped from his eyes and he could do nothing about it but bury his face in his murderous hands. He had no choice, just like anybody voting for Randy Schneider or his opponents. The system owned him. If they wanted him to dress in a turkey suit and dance like a monkey, he would do it if it meant a hefty payday. Maybe he wouldn’t feel nearly as guilty if he sucked dicks for a living. How sad. How relentlessly sad.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Wrestlecrap" by RD Reynolds and Randy Baer

BOOK TITLE: Wrestlecrap: the Very Worst of Pro Wrestling
AUTHORS: RD Reynolds and Randy Baer
YEAR: 2003
GENRE: Nonfiction
SUBGENRE: Wrestling Biography
GRADE: Pass

The history of professional wrestling has seen its fair share of colorful characters and soap opera storylines. Wrestlecrap documents the silliest of those gimmicks from the cartoonish WWF days in the 1980’s all the way to 2003 when the book was published. Whether it’s a voodoo priest named Papa Shango who put curses on his opponents, a magician who was one monocle away from looking like Mr. Peanut, or a baseball player named MVP (Most Violent Player) to name just a few, the idea was for various wrestling promoters to throw something out there and to see what stuck. In many cases, they’re simply throwing wrestle-crap.

The first quality I’d like to praise this book for is the historical significance and research that went into writing it. The authors traced the first real gimmick back to the 1950’s, when Gorgeous George, an effeminate and arrogant athlete, would spray his opponents with perfume so that they didn’t stink up the joint. In the 1980’s, Vince McMahon, CEO of WWF, would take this inspiration and create the colorful characters that era was known for, whether it was the muscle-bound superhero Hulk Hogan or the corrupt millionaire Ted DiBiase. The late 90’s saw a period of more realistic shades of gray characters with TV-14 rated bloodbaths and sex angles. But just like the end of this biography says: the less things change, the more they stay the same. New company, same old wrestle-crap. While some gimmicks stood the test of time, most of them were too unbelievable to be taken seriously. Even in the year 2017, nothing has changed.

As long as we’re having a laugh at these bizarre characters (not the wrestlers portraying them, mind you), feel free to enjoy the lighthearted and comedic writing style employed in this book. The style comes off as extremely sarcastic and razor-tongued, but there are also some good zingers in there to leave you chuckling as well. I mentioned the Mr. Peanut analogy in the opening paragraph. There’s also a line about how Mantaur, a guy dressed in a bull suit, looks like his costume was made by a deranged taxidermist at Disney World. My favorite zinger in this whole book would have to be the author’s answer to, “What could be better than [the plot of the Ready to Rumble movie]?” A trip to the dentist. Getting beaten with a lead pipe. A Pauley Shore movie marathon. I got a few chuckles just transcribing those lines. If wrestling gimmicks and storylines are going to be silly, then expect nothing less than a hearty laugh.

While it’s nice to have a few laughs at the expense of the characters, never forget that RD Reynolds and Randy Baer are wrestling fans to the core, which means they know when it’s time to get serious. Remember, they’re poking fun at the characters, not the people playing them. They have all the respect in the world for anybody who dares get in a wrestling ring to ply their craft. It’s a tough job that taxes the human body like nothing else. That’s why when I read about Renegade’s suicide, it legitimately broke my heart. Say what you want about the guy’s wrestling ability, but he didn’t deserve to have a gimmick completely ruin his life and send him spiraling into the path he took. The way that segment was written was done tastefully and respectfully, which is more than anybody could say about the promoters who saddled the wrestlers with these awful gimmicks.


One thing I will criticize the book for is its occasional grammatical errors. I say occasional because they don’t happen often enough for me to downplay the fun I had reading this book. But noticeable they are, such as when there are dashes in between words that are already whole. It’s as if the book formatting placed the hyphenated words at the end of a sentence in the middle of the paragraph. It looks awkward and doesn’t paint a good picture of anybody who takes up writing as a profession. However, I still give this book a passing grade for knowing when to be funny, knowing when to be serious, and caring enough about the sport to delve into its history. Wrestlecrap is nothing to sneeze at (the book, not the actual crap).