Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Influences


We all have our favorite books, authors, movies, actors, music and bands. But how much of that creative fuel actually changes the way we approach our art? I can safely say that even though Daniel Bryan is my favorite pro-wrestler of all time, he doesn’t make me want to adjust my writing style. In other words, even though I prefer watching Mr. Bryan over other wrestlers, he’s not necessarily an influence to me. An influence is someone you model your work after, not just someone who tingles your senses. Soulfly is one of my favorite heavy metal acts of all time, but they don’t change the way I write stories. So what does influence me? Who are the people and what are the mediums that make me want to become a better writer? I never gave much thought about this until now, and as of today, there are ten items on this list. Starting with…


I’ve always credited this computer game with giving me a fascination in barbarians. I’ve always loved using melee-ranged warriors whenever I played RPG’s and the barbarian personifies that in Diablo II in a way no other class does. Actually, that’s not entirely true since the paladin’s fire and cold auras can jack him up like Brock Lesnar, but who’s keeping track? Bottom line, if it wasn’t for Diablo II, Deus Shadowheart, Brutus Warpath, Corey Darkside, and Magnus Warcry would never be possible. I’ve always considered Deus to be my honey child despite the fact that he’s an overloaded Gary-Stu. He finally found a story to be a part of and that short story is appropriately called Deus Ex Machina, a high fantasy tale that preaches teaching people how to do stuff as opposed to doing those things for them. Deus Ex Machina is one of the cornerstones of my soon-to-be published anthology Poison Tongue Tales. But it’s not just barbarians that held my fascination. Hannah Jason from “Bee Jay the Glutinous” is a sorceress, Marcus Edge from “Stardust” is a druid, Edwin Stryker from “Crossing the Line” is a paladin, so many characters were influenced by the dark magic Diablo II is known for.


More and more these days, whenever I’m riding in the car and I see a dilapidated neighborhood through my window, I always tell my brother James that said neighborhood looks like a stage from Final Fight, a beat ‘em up arcade game where most of the stages take place in ghettoized buildings. Ever since rekindling my interest in this game earlier this year, lots of Dungeons & Dragons campaign, novel, and short story ideas have come from those broken down buildings. I’m still waiting for the day when I can sit down with James, Reina, and Shara and guide them through an adventure that takes place on a shit-infested subway train. Stage backgrounds from videogames have always fascinated me, but the biggest piece of creative fuel I drew from Final Fight was Mike Haggar, a pro-wrestler who pile-drives, suplexes, and clotheslines Mad Gear gangsters into powder. When I wrote the first draft of “Occupy Wrestling” back in 2013, I wanted the main character Mitch McLeod to be a throwback to Mike Haggar in terms of body size and outfit, right down to the shoulder strap and the plated boots from the second Final Fight game. With thick rimmed glasses, pale skin, and puffy spiked hair, Mitch McLeod keeps himself from being a complete clone of Mr. Haggar while honoring how badass the Mayor of Metro City really is.


This one’s a no-brainer in so many ways. Where do I begin? Well, if I didn’t have such a zealous love for pro-wrestling, “Occupy Wrestling” wouldn’t be possible. If it wasn’t for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic award, I wouldn’t have a basis for how to build Keegan Day from the ground up since he’s supposed to represent everything wrong with the wrestling business. But what about the dark fantasy aspects of WWE wrestlers? The Undertaker is without a doubt the biggest one with his necromancer gimmick. Bray Wyatt as a sadistic cult leader will always be an influence on the creepy monsters from “Occupy Wrestling”. Stardust and Goldust? Well, if I ever decide to write the sequel to Occupy Wrestling and call it “The Black Widow”, Rosie Rogers will be a parody of the Rhodes brothers’ bizarre gimmicks and she’ll be called Angel Dust. WWE will always be my favorite form of violent entertainment. Ignoramuses who call it “fake” can say the same thing about other forms of fiction like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones.


Stephen King once famously said that if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time nor the tools to write. In the summer of 2009, I finally got the wakeup call I needed when I read “The Cleaner” by Brett Battles, a fast-paced, exciting, well-thought-out novel that set the standards I now have for the books I read. My tastes have changed over the years, but “The Cleaner” will always be what I base my reading and writing on since that was the novel that set me on the right path. Jonathan Quinn really is a badass character and Brett Battles really is a badass author. Check out this book whenever you get the time.


I started listening to Pink Floyd on a regular basis when I moved to Chehalis, Washington in 1996. Back in those horrendous middle school days, I loved hearing Roger Waters say, “We don’t need no education!” I didn’t gain a full-fledged appreciation for The Wall’s message until I watched the movie version of it quite frequently in my sophomore year of high school. Seeing those faceless children plunge into a meat grinder made me fear conformity so much that I resisted everyone’s attempts to break me. If it wasn’t for Pink Floyd the Wall and its message of anti-conformity, lord knows where my creativity would have ended up. Maybe I wouldn’t have made it out of high school with my individuality intact. Maybe there would be no Garrison Kelly novels.


Okay, so this super-group hasn’t been around for a long time, but their song “Snakes of Jehovah” is a huge part of the reason why Occupy Wrestling is a success (in my mind at least). After Keegan goes to a minimum security jail for corruption charges, he has his robe and snake mask-wearing henchmen, The Snakes of Jehovah, do his bidding for him to make sure the police don’t interfere with his behind the scenes work. These faceless minions are blessed with magical powers, creepy limbs, and the ability to put up a barrier just by forming a circle and speaking in tongues. Thank you, Killer Be Killed, for putting out such a badass album! Without you guys, Keegan would have to shell out even more money from his billion dollar bank account to keep the police at bay.


With intelligent speaking abilities, a raunchy and dark sense of humor, and a disdain for politically correct policies, George Carlin gave me permission to be as wild and crazy as I want when it comes to my writing. Before watching my first George Carlin routine, I had to rely on comedians like Johnny Carson, Benny Hill, and Bill Cosby to be my creative fuel. Being as young and na├»ve as I was back then, those three comedians’ messages didn’t ring true for me the way that Carlin’s did. I feel so good about my comedic abilities that I currently have a novel idea sitting in my reserve stack called “Suck It, Double Dork!”, which is basically one long rehashing of Carlin’s joke about making rape funny by picturing Porky Pig sodomizing Elmer Fudd. They’re cartoon characters; nobody gives a shit what happens to them. Even at the age of 71, Carlin died too soon. Rest in peace.


When I reviewed Clerks and Clerks II, I should have given both of those movies five stars instead of four. A lot of the well-spoken dialogue from those movies is the basis for my characters’ dialogue and my writing was well-received because of it. I wish I would have known how to interpret creative fuel in a more mature way when I was a teenager and a twenty-something. Otherwise, my first movie script Pumping Filter wouldn’t be such a mess of racial and sexual slurs from Pulp Fiction. As I look up scenes from Clerks I and II on You Tube, I realize that it’s not enough just to copy a style of dialogue. It has to fit your story’s world and sound 100% natural too.


It’s a pencil-and-paper role-playing game where my love for dark fantasy themes is rekindled and reenergized once more. Many of my player characters and villains from these campaigns went on to become major players in many of my stories. Brutus Warcry, my level eight human barbarian, had his last name tweaked to Warpath and he became the main character for a short story called “Stone Cold” about a barbarian who wants revenge for his fallen wife. Bob Rua, a tiger monk and MMA practitioner, was the main character from “Tiger Bullet Kick”, where he guards a tomb full of treasure from a necromancer and a newly awakened mummy king. Charles Goodhorn, a paladin with a dark past, will be the main character in a novel idea called “Barbaric Justice”, where three intergalactic barbarians hold a trade route hostage in exchange for the means to return home. So many characters, so many stories, so much fun!


Maybe this detective show was responsible for my teenaged works being so offensive and crass due to its blatant TV-MA rating. Over a decade later and it becomes central to a novel idea called “Silent Warrior”. Spoiler alert, high school introvert Scott George has sex with his vengeful history teacher’s daughter and says to him, “Your daughter’s pussy tastes like sweet butter.” Okay, so maybe Silent Warrior isn’t as extreme or brutish as The Shield, but the writing style and dialogue have a lot of similarities, especially when, spoiler alert, Scott gets put on trial for having sex with a minor while being 18 years old.


(Gnaws on a carrot) Meh…that’s all folks! Wait a minute, wrong Looney Tunes character. My bad! Hehe!


“I’ve got the obligatory Hendrix perm and the inevitable pinhole burns all down the front of my favorite satin shirt. I’ve got nicotine stains on my fingers. I’ve got a silver spoon on a chain. I’ve got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains. I’ve got wild staring eyes. I’ve got a strong urge to fly. But I’ve got nowhere to fly to. Oooo, babe! When I pick up the phone, there’s still nobody home.”

-Pink Floyd singing “Nobody Home”-

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Anti-Millennial Bigotry


I’m not a confrontational person by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t talk about politics on a frequent basis and I dread getting in debates with people. However, as someone who was born in 1985, I feel like if I don’t write this blog entry, it’ll be a missed opportunity to put myself out there. This is a sensitive topic for me, so bear with me for a minute. I’m talking of course about ageism, particularly against people born in the 80’s and 90’s a.k.a. Millennials.

Being a Generation Y member should never be associated with laziness or selfishness. Those are stereotypes based on limited information. Some Millennials fit the stereotypes, some don’t, just like with any other group of people. It’s like saying all black people love fried chicken or all gay people think about sex 24/7. Again, those are stereotypes and they don’t apply to everyone. Yet ageism against young adults seems to slip through the cracks and is widely accepted by both liberals and conservatives of older generations. They see some of us texting on our phones and think the entire population is suddenly doomed.

No generation is without their own set of stereotypes. For example, I could easily label Generation X members as whiny drug addicts or Prozac chugging slackers, but I’m not going to say any of those things, because I’m not an asshole. I could also say Baby Boomers and Great Generation members are a bunch of boring storytellers who can’t shut up about walking 100 miles in the snow, but again, that would make me an asshole and that’s not who I am. So why would it be okay to say that every millennial on this planet is a self-important text-messaging queen? Every last one of them? Not just some? Not just a few? All of them?

As a millennial myself, I do admit to fitting in with at least SOME of the stereotypes against us, but not because my birth year was magically selected to be 1985. I’m open about the fact that I’m unemployed and live with my parents.

I’m not unemployed because I’m lazy and therefore don’t want a job. I’m unemployed because after sending my resume to a bunch of different work sites and doing countless interviews, the bosses still said no. It happens a lot, especially since millennials hit their pique during the Bush-era recession. Older people love to blame laziness, but that’s simply not true. Truth is, you can dress in your nicest clothes, you can work your hardest, you can give the most agreeable answers, and give 100% of yourself during an interview, but in the end, you, the Generation Y member, are not the one who makes the decisions in the workplace. Otherwise, unemployment wouldn’t be a major stereotype for my generation. If we could work, we would. We know full well that money isn’t everything, but it is something.

I don’t live with my parents because of financial worries. I live with them for two main reasons. One, I love being in their company. Two, we have a symbiotic relationship where we help each other. As Baby Boomers, my mom and step-dad can’t do as much physical labor as they could in their younger years. My mother has hip and knee problems that she can only find relief from on a temporary basis. My step-dad Dale has been battling a kidney stone since the last month. While I don’t enjoy heavy lifting or any other kind of strenuous labor, I do it because I love my parents and I don’t want them to get hurt. If you can’t take care of each other, who can you take care of? It’s natural to want to surround yourself with people who make you feel good and that’s something that spans all generations.

While I’ll always condemn people who unfairly criticize young adults for laziness and entitlement, there is one thing I will share common ground with them on: smart phones. I agree with the idea that being in real world company should trump text messaging or playing videogames on a smart phone. It’s a basic form of respect. Corey Taylor from Slipknot once smacked a phone out of someone’s hands during a performance because that audience member was texting instead of watching the show. I grinned from ear to ear at Mr. Taylor’s display.

I myself don’t need a smart phone for anything that my desktop computer can do better. I have a generic cell phone that I only use for emergencies, whether it’s bumming a ride or needing to know where a family member is. And before you criticize me for not having my own car and therefore being a lazy millennial, I should let you know that crashing on the highway and spreading one’s guts all over the tarmac isn’t a pleasant experience for any age group.

Millennials are just like any other group of people in this world. Some are good, some are evil. Some are smart, some are dumb. Some are happy, some are sad. There will always be standouts who defy stereotypes no matter what group of people you’re talking about. George Carlin, a member of the Great Generation, is definitely not a droning storyteller; he’s one of the funniest comedians of all time. The main cast of the new Ghostbusters movie are not a bunch of bikini-wearing sex machines; they’re normal women who do extraordinary things in their movie. Q-Tip, a born-again Muslim rapper, is not secretly plotting to blow up buildings with a suicide vest; he’s putting out kick-ass music and helping younger rappers get noticed.

While ageism should be recognized as being like any other form of bigotry, it somehow became normal along the way. Bill Maher, a liberal-libertarian pundit, once called ageism “The last acceptable prejudice” and then turned around and referred to Millennials as “Generation Ass” because he saw a picture on Twitter of a woman with a giant posterior. Ageism has become one of those things that spans many belief systems and cultures while no real progress is being made against it. There are even members of Generation Y who criticize their own age group.

I don’t know how young people ageism became acceptable, but I can assure you that it has nothing to do with all of this sweet technology and “free shit” we have. No generation wants to pass the torch to the next. I even had a hard time passing the torch to Generation Z because of all the Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez songs that were being published. Reina, my Generation Z niece, doesn’t fit those stereotypes because she’d rather listen to bands like Breaking Benjamin and 3 Doors Down. That’s right, folks. I used to be just another ignorant ageist myself. And then I posted a 2009 essay where I joked about ruling over teenagers with an iron fist if I ever became an English teacher. That didn’t go over too well with the Deviant Art community, because surprise, surprise, ageism is just as bad as any other form of prejudice. As we all know, prejudice isn’t just insulting, but it can hurt us on an even deeper level whether it’s with employment, police treatment, or social status.

I’m going to ask something that’s been asked many times before, but nobody gave a definitive answer to. Can’t we all just get along?


Q: What do you call it when a McDonald’s employee goes berserk?
A: Minimum rage.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Reflection of Perfection

Ian Flagg’s mouth watered at the plate of Indian curry sitting before him and another plate of the spicy treat across from him. Yet, the old man’s sniper sight focus burned a hole through the newspaper he was reading. Besides, he wouldn’t want to get any of that messy food on his clean white dress shirt and silver tie. Accountants of his social status can’t afford to look like that. A waitress came by and refilled his coffee mug, yet Ian never took his eyes away from whatever news story was assaulting his mind.

As soon as the waitress strolled away, a young man with a black ponytail, a green polo shirt, and tan khaki shorts entered the restaurant hunched over with exhaustion and stress. Then and only then did Ian take his eyes off his newspaper. The young man sat across from Ian and hung his head in exhaustion, the scent of the curry doing no favors for his energy level.

“You’re late, son. Is that acting schedule of yours keeping you down? For god’s sake, get some sleep, Payton,” said Ian.

“Sorry, Dad,” said Payton in a slow and medicated voice. “I’m assuming there’s a review of my new movie in that newspaper of yours. I stayed up until midnight reading those goddamn reviews online. What the fuck is wrong with people?”

Ian folded up his newspaper and said, “You can’t fault your critics for feeling the way they do, son. It’s a free country. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinions, even if they are overwhelmingly negative and come from a website about spoiled vegetables.” The father folded his hands across the table and said, “Son, you need to get out of this movie business. It’s not good for you. You can’t take criticism and it’s only going to get worse from here.”

Payton lifted his unshaven face and said, “So what’s the alternative to having my dream job? Doing what you do and crunch numbers all day long? No thanks, I’d rather roll around on a pile of actual rotten tomatoes.”

“Being an accountant sounds boring on the surface, I agree. Hell, most of the comedy movies out there make fun of this idea. But it’s a stable income and you don’t have to worry about where your next meal is coming from. You’re welcome for the curry, by the way,” said Ian.

Payton languidly stirred his fork around in his food and said, “Listen, pops. I spent way too much time and money just to get my acting career of the fucking ground. I’m not going to give up on it just because of some negative assholes online. Shit, man, there’s negativity everywhere I go, so I have to get immune to it sometime. Maybe not right now, but eventually.”

“But that’s the thing, Payton. You don’t get used to harsh criticism. You don’t improve your craft. You don’t get better in life. You feel like this world owes you something and you don’t cash in on that opportunity.” Ian leaned his face closer as if to intensify the seriousness of this conversation. “Payton, you need help. You need to start making some real money so that you don’t have to live like a goddamn bum.”

“So that’s it, huh?” said the actor as he shrugged his shoulders. “One failure and I should just give up on my dreams?”

“We’re not just talking about one failure, son. We’re talking about being universally panned by every critic in the country. I don’t care how good of an actor you are, because nobody can recover from something like that. You wouldn’t have to worry about this kind of thing if you got a math degree and took up accounting like me.”

After a while of glaring in disbelief at his father, Payton stood up, slammed his palms on the table (nearly knocking his curry on the floor), and screamed, “Fuck you, old man! Fuck you! You talk about stable incomes and the world not owing me anything, yet you sit here thinking that I owe you my dreams and my hard work! You’re a conformist! You’re a soul-dead son of a bitch and you want the whole world to be just as boring and sad as you! I don’t care how much money you’re making, because all the money in the world can’t buy you a charismatic personality!”

Ian stood up and slammed his own palms on the table before shouting back, “I’m trying to look after you, you goddamn fool! I don’t want you to end up homeless and begging for handouts! If you keep spiraling out of control like this, you’re going to hit rock bottom and you’re never coming back!”

Some of the restaurant patrons stared at the father-son duo with shock on their faces while others turned heel and walked away altogether. The waitress who filled Ian’s coffee earlier approached him and said, “Excuse me, sir, but the two of you need to calm down or else I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Ian held his palm in the waitress’s face and said, “I’m trying to get through to my idiot son, so if you could stay out of this conversation, that’d be wonderful!”

“Idiot?! You think I’m an idiot because I actually believe in myself?! You think I’m an idiot just because I refuse to give up?! I’d rather be an idiot than a boring piece of shit like you!” shouted Payton.

“This so-called boring piece of shit is alive and well thanks to his steady income, which is more than I can say about a fuck-up like you walking around in those slob clothes! You have a decision to make, young man! Either accept your responsibilities as a grown adult or live like a child and die of starvation! Life may be boring and sad, but it’s not going to change anytime soon just because you like to rebel against the system! The system is in place for a reason, son, because it works!” yelled Ian.

“Hey!” snapped the waitress, who finally found her footing in this conversation after shaking nervously throughout the screaming matches. “I’ve had it up to here with you two scaring away the customers! You can either calm down and eat your lunches or I can get my supervisor and have the two of you blackballed from here! Do you understand me?!”

The father and son slowly sat back down and glared at each other with fiery vision. “You know what?” said Payton as he dug in his shorts for his wallet. “I’m going to go ahead and pay for my meal and leave on my own terms. I don’t have a whole lot of money in my bank account, but not to worry, because that’ll all be fixed once I start crunching numbers in a plain old office. Here, take my goddamn card.”

The waitress eyeballed Payton’s debit card for a while before a small smile formed on her face. “You’re Payton Flagg? The actor?”

“Guilty as charged, though I don’t know if ‘the actor’ fits me anymore,” said Payton in a bummed out voice.

The waitress’s smile grew wider as she said, “You know what? I don’t care what any of those morons on Rotten Tomatoes think. I thought that movie was hilarious. I love dirty humor!”

A look of shocked disbelief formed on Ian’s face while one of surprise formed on Payton’s. The actor said, “Do you really mean that?”

“No, I’m screwing with you. Of course I mean it, you silly goose!” said the waitress with a giggle. “I’m training to become an actress myself. You wouldn’t mind letting me in on some of your connections would you?” The waitress playfully elbowed Payton in the arm.

“I don’t know. My connections aren’t exactly…”

“Come on, Payton, what’s the worst that could happen? You got your foot in the door, didn’t you? That’s more than I can say for myself right now. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be working here. What do you say? Will you hook me up?” said the waitress with a Hollywood smile.

Payton smiled himself and said, “You know what? I think that’s a good idea. I’ll come back here when you get off work and I’ll introduce you to some of my guys.”

“Yes!” squealed the waitress before hugging and thanking Payton repeatedly. It was an awkward hug, but Payton wrapped his arms anyways. He also gave his father a smart-assed wink before the tie-wearing sad sap rested his forehead in his hands. Even though Ian knew his son wasn’t the reflection of perfection, it hurt even more to know he was bested by the little hipster. Blind conformity seemed like a foolish route after all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Watching Paint Dry


I’ve done a lot of journals over the past few weeks talking about real life commitments. These commitments have kept me from meeting creative deadlines, but I don’t sweat it, because these house chores need to be done in a timely fashion. I’ll admit that all of these concerts I’ve been going to have been extracurricular when it comes to managing my energy, but there’s a reason I categorize them under life events on Face Book: because I may never get another chance to see these kick-ass bands in my home state. I’m pretty sure this is what that DeVry University commercial is talking about when they say, “Life is rich, full, and beautifully exhausting.”

The beautiful exhaustion will continue over the next few days, maybe even weeks. Ever since coming home from the Pain in the Grass festival on Sunday, I’ve been helping my family paint the walls of Reina and James’s bedrooms as well as helping them replace their flooring with new and fresh material. The next bedroom to be painted and remodeled will be mine. This whole process involves moving everything out of that particular room before the work is started. In my room alone, I have a computer desk, a Sleep Number bed, a book shelf, two chests of drawers, god knows what else.

Not only is this kind of intensive labor going to be taxing on my body and mind, but since my room is next, it means I’ll have to unplug my computer and move that somewhere else. I already have a bad internet connection now that the range extender in James’ room has been temporarily unplugged. Having an unplugged computer means minimal creative output and missed deadlines for beta reading and book reviewing. With that being said, I owe Andy Peloquin and Marie Krepps the biggest apologies for not being able to keep my commitments to them. Yes, I know that real life gets in the way of the most brilliant projects, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.

The entire month of August has been one chaotic cluster-fuck of physical labor and mental exhaustion. It’s taken a toll on the entire family. Forgive me if I sound whiny, because that’s not the message I’m trying to send. I love my family and I want us to live in a good-looking and clean house. All I’m saying is that if you don’t see me online for a while or if you’re getting impatient about a commitment I’ve made to you, this is why. I always pride myself on being there for the people in my life that matter the most. While my online friends fit that bill, my real life family fits it as well. This needs to be done and we’re not going to stop working until it is.

On that note, I’d like to thank all of you for being supportive and understanding during this tiring moment in our lives. Normalcy will be restored to this house soon enough. Until then, it’s time to shatter those millennial stereotypes of laziness and turn this house into a Port Orchard paradise!


“We’re going to deal with this the way any reasonable adult would: by ignoring it.”

-Ric Flair on an episode of “Camp WWE”-

Valley of Meat

All of you demons look the same to me
When you’re ground into chunks of meat
Bloody morsels underneath my two feet
I think this calls for a heavy metal beat
Sausage strands for bass guitar strings
Deathly growls as you go through the machine
Banging the drums with your lovely bones
Ligament guitar strings to bring us all home

Welcome to the Valley of Meat
Welcome to your violent defeat
Prepare to become a monstrous treat
Prepare to be served rare, let’s fucking eat!

This is not a garden of vegetables and fruits
This is a modicum of my bloody roots
This is not candy; I don’t sugarcoat shit
I don’t get hyperactive; I get fucking pissed
Feed all my enemies through the machine
Shred them into nothing, watch them bleed
All of them now void of individuality
Pulled down to hell with vicious gravity

Welcome to the Valley of Meat
Welcome to your violent defeat
Prepare to become a monstrous treat
Prepare to be served rare, let’s fucking eat!

All you killers have been erased from history
All you bastards have become a cold mystery
All you thieves are gone from my mind
All your loved ones have been left behind
But how could they love such evil people
Who don’t see their own friends as equals?
Only the hungriest of wolves will love you
You shall all provide them with enough food

Welcome to the Valley of Meat
Welcome to your violent defeat
Prepare to become a monstrous treat
Prepare to be served rare, let’s fucking eat!
I’m hungry as hell, let the dinner bell ring
I’m starving for metal, let the front man sing
Clogged arteries are just a mere flesh wound

You’re ground up meat; you’re already doomed!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Author Interview: Jesikah Sundin

  1. What was the inspiration for you wanting to be an author?

Other authors, without question. I’ve always been fascinated by the art of storytelling. Even as a child, I would dissect books into their various parts: world building, characters, plot, and theme. Libraries were my favorite place outside of nature. Rows and rows and shelves upon shelves of adventures and information just waiting to be discovered and known. Happiness.

  1. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a likeable book?

An immersive world, many complex plot layers, with believable characters is incredibly important to me as a reader. Flawed characters who elicit a gamut of emotional reactions are the absolute best. I also enjoy lyrical writing styles and vivid descriptions. I’m a sucker for good scenery exposition. I want to feel the magic of a waning sunset and rising moon, the wind touching each leaf, the spray of salt water colliding with earth. With this combination, everything around me dims as the words float off the page and become a living, breathing story.

  1. Does music play a role in your creative process?

Absolutely! In fact, on Spotify I have a near-eleven-hour playlist with songs that feed my writing for this series, aptly titled The Biodome Chronicles. The music ranges from industrial electronica, alternative metal, grunge, dubstep, orchestral pieces from movies and video games, to pop and rock favorites from various bands.

  1. What sources of creative fuel do you draw inspiration from?

Books, maps, poetry, as well as fantasy, scifi, and travel visuals on Pinterest. I love art. LOVE it. Sometime I peruse DeviantArt to absorb the beauty, whimsy, and ethereal imagery of people and words, real or imagined. 

  1. How did you break into the writing business?

Well, I had left a career a month earlier and yearned for a new adventure. Storytelling and writing is a huge part of who I am. So much so, a few friends and my father all suggested I write a novel. Within the year, a collection of serendipitous moments led me into relationship with other authors who kindly held my newbie hand through drafting, revision, and the various stages of publishing. They were so patient, answering my many questions and sharing their hard-earned wisdom. I owe so much to each of them.

  1. Do you prefer paperback or digital books and why?

I prefer paperbacks. Nothing beats the feel of a book in your hand or flipping pages. I love the swish sound, too! *le sigh* However, I also read books on my phone and Kindle device. Sometimes I’m too impatient for the next book in series to arrive or don’t have space to pack the preferred paperback.

  1. In your opinion, how important are libraries to our society?

Libraries are the cornerstone of a healthy society and the building blocks for freedom. All people should have free access to books and resources of information. I’m a huge supporter, whether neighborhood little lending libraries or government institutions.

  1. What are the qualities of having a sympathetic main character?

This is a fantastic question. For me, a sympathetic character is flawed, either by choice or by circumstance. They should feel real, possessing both likeable and unlikeable qualities. Their struggles become my struggles. Their heartache my heartache. I want to grit my teeth when they make poor choices, hold my breath as they strive to overcome, and cheer when they finally do. And, if they don’t, empathize with their despair and disappointment. But in order for me to feel any form of sympathy? They can’t be perfect people who do perfect things every perfect moment of every perfect page.   

  1. What did you do for a living prior to becoming an author?

Oh, wow. A stew pot of occupations. Let’s see … most positions have been in business administration. I was a licensed bridal consultant / wedding coordinator at one point. Also a Kindermusik educator for ages newborn through five years. I worked in a boutique dress shop in my late teens, selling handmade designer antique-styled clothing fashioned from the Regency era, the 1920’s, and 1930’s. Loved the linens and pinafores and French peasant inspired colors and designs. But, those fun jobs were fleeting compared to years and years of administration odd-end jobs. The job I held right before authordom was Director of Operations for a Kindermusik studio.

  1. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors who might be reading this interview?

Write. Pour words onto a page. Don’t worry if it’s well written or the worst stuff ever penned in the history of the world. As a writer, your job is to tell a story. That’s it. Tell a story. An editor will polish the writing to make your story shine. Beta readers will help you fill in plot and character cracks and crevices so the reading experience is even smoother. But your job is to purge the story, no matter how messy the process. Neatly chisel each word into existence or vomit the letters onto the page. But get them out. Once you do, editors, beta readers, and fellow writers will be there to help you the rest of the way. It takes a village to write a novel! :)

 LEGACY (The Biodome Chronicles #1)
by Jesikah Sundin

ISBN-13: 978-0-9913453-7-3
ISBN-10: 0-9913453-7-1


Worlds collide when a hacker form the near-future helps siblings from an experimental medieval colony decode the mystery behind their father's death in a psychological game of survival. 

Siblings born and raised inside an earth-based experimental Mars biodome have only known a rustic medieval life rich in traditions and chivalry. Groomed by The Code, they have built a sustainable community devoid of Outsider interference––until the unthinkable happens.
Cultures clash when the high technology of the Anime Tech Movement collides with the Middle Ages in a quest for truth, unfolding a story rich in mystery, betrayal and love. 

A sensible young nobleman, Leaf Watson, and his sister, Willow Oak, live a rustic medieval life rich in traditions and chivalry. Sealed inside an experimental biodome since infancy, they have been groomed by The Code to build a sustainable community devoid of Outsider interference.
They are unwitting pioneers on a path toward confined interplanetary homesteading.
Life within their walled garden is predictable and peaceful until the unthinkable happens. With his dying breath, Leaf and Willow’s noble father bequeaths a family secret, placing an invisible crown of power on Leaf’s head. Grief-stricken and afraid for their lives, the siblings defy their upbringing by connecting with Fillion Nichols, a punk hacker who, unbeknownst to them, is linked to their lives in shocking ways. Their encounter launches Fillion into a battle with his turbulent past as he urgently decodes the many secrets that bind them together, a necessity for each to survive.
Youth cultures clash when the high technology of the Anime Tech Movement collides with the Middle Ages in a quest for truth, unfolding a story rich in mystery, betrayal and love.

LEGACY proclaimed winner of:
2014 Chanticleer Book Reviews Great Beginnings Cygnus winner for Sci-Fi/Fantasy
2014 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for Science Fiction.
2014 Cygnus Award for Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
2014 Dante Rossetti Award for Sci-Fi / Cyberpunk
2014 Dante Rossetti Grand Prize Award for Young Adult Fiction

"A captivating YA hybrid of sci-fi and medieval fantasy, mystery, and romance, Legacy opens The Biodome Chronicles series with divergent worlds on a carefully planned collision course." -- Chanticleer Book Reviews

"Jesikah Sundin is pioneering a whole new genre: near-future medieval fantasy with a cyberpunk twist..." -- Selah J. Tay-Song, award-winning author of Dreams of QaiMaj series

"...This book was beautifully written. It was detailed, immersive, and had a subtlety that I cannot help but be impressed by." -- Kookie Krysp Reviews 

Jesikah Sundin is a sci-fi/fantasy writer mom of three nerdlets and devoted wife to a gamer geek. In addition to her family, she shares her home in Monroe, Washington with a red-footed tortoise and a collection of seatbelt purses. She is addicted to coffee, laughing, and Dr. Martens shoes ... Oh! And the forest is her happy place.

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The Biodome Chronicles:

ELEMENT (The Biodome Chronicles #2)

ISBN-13: 978-0-9913453-6-6
ISBN-10: 0-9913453-6-3


TRANSITIONS: Novella Collection (The Biodome Chronicles #2.5)

ISBN-13: 978-0-9913453-4-2
ISBN-10: 0-9913453-4-7


Friday, August 19, 2016

Interview with Andy Peloquin: Round Two

  1. Do you play videogames? If so, how do they influence your writing?
I'm huge and I'm a gamer, so I guess I'm a huge gamer. I love "run and gun" games, ones without much strategy or planning. Read the way the Hunter interacts with his enemies, and you can see my play style.

I wouldn't say video games have affected or influenced my writing. If anything, books have the greatest influence on what I write. I find that my writing style changes slightly according to the book I'm reading or listening to. Humorous books make the Hunter more sarcastic, while epic books make the sentences more long-winded and detailed.

  1. What are your favorite TV shows to watch and how do they influence your writing?
I love ALL the comic book TV shows (The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil), but I also enjoy shows like Suits, Killjoys, The Big Bang Theory, and many more.

I will say that TV shows do affect my writing. As I watch TV, I come to better understand how to dole out information and plots in small quantities in order to keep the reader coming back chapter after chapter, book after book. The serial nature of TV shows helps me to write series better.

  1. What advice can you give to an independent author who wants to market his or her book but doesn’t know how?
Ask for help! The majority of what I've learned about marketing has just come from kind people offering advice, feedback, and resources. Facebook, Twitter, forums, YouTube, and random blogs can provide you with a wealth of information that will help you to spread word about your books. The more you learn, the more you can figure out what works and what doesn't.

  1. Does world travel influence your writing? If so, what places have you been to?
I was born and raised in Japan, and have traveled Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. I know traveling does influence my work greatly. For example, in the first The Last Bucelarii book, Blade of the Destroyer, the Hunter loves spending time among Snowblossom trees--the Einari version of Japanese cherry blossom (sakura) trees. The arid deserts of Mexico and the southern U.S. helped me to better write the deserts through which the Hunter travels in Book 3, as well as the canyon and mountainous land of Book 2. The more cities I visit, the more I understand how each place is different--a difference I try to infuse into each location the Hunter visits.

  1. Do you plan on writing a nonfiction memoir someday?
I do not. While memoirs are a great way to tell an important story about your life, I feel like the stories in my head would be much more interesting than the stories about my past. That being said, I will be writing a dark fiction novel about a cult--sort of a demonized, exaggerated version of the cult I was raised in.

  1. How important is pacing when you’re writing a book?
I've found that a good book has both epic fight scenes and slow moments of reflection, heart-pounding races to escape death and slogging through the mud of feelings and emotions. Variations in pace are vital to making a book feel real and interesting.

  1. Have you ever written comedy before?
I have not, but I did try to infuse as much humor into my Atlantis novel--In the Days: A Tale of a Forgotten Continent--as possible. I doubt I will ever be as funny as Terry Pratchett or Glen Cook, but I'm pretty sure I could match their level of snark. If only I could think of a character/story that fit it…

  1. Do you play pencil-and-paper RPG’s like Dungeons & Dragons? If so, how do they influence your writing?
I LOVED playing D&D when I was younger, though I didn't get a chance to play much. I know the thrill I got from playing the game made me want to write fantasy over sci-fi or mystery fiction.

  1. Which is more important to a fight scene in a book: choreography or storytelling?
Both are equally important. While a good fight does need to be choreographed well, it's the storytelling that goes along with the movements and action that makes a fight scene more than just two unimportant characters hacking at each other with weapons.

  1. How important is sensitivity to you when you’re reviewing another author’s book?
Unfortunately, I'm not a very sensitive person. I have no problem saying what I think could be improved. I don't bash the book or tear it down, and I won't say "I dislike X element". I'll try to say "I feel X element was lacking" or "X element didn't hold my interest". I'm a bit blunt and harsh, but I've tried to temper my reviews to encourage other authors. If my reviews can help them to improve instead of tearing them down, that's the goal. I know negative, constructive reviews have made my writing much better, so I hope I can do the same for others.

Book Cover:

Tagline/Elevator Pitch:

A faceless, nameless assassin. A forgotten past.  The Hunter of Voramis--a killer devoid of morals, or something else altogether? (The Last Bucelarii--dark fantasy with a look at the underside of human nature)

Book Blurb:

The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen
The Hunter of Voramis is no more.
Alone with the bloodthirsty voices in his head, fleeing the pain of loss, he has one objective: travel north to find Her, the mystery woman who plagues his dreams and haunts his memories.

When he stumbles upon a bandit attack, something within urges him to help. His actions set him at odds with the warrior priests commanded to hunt down the Bucelarii.

Left for dead, the Hunter must travel to Malandria to recover his stolen birthright. There, he is inexorably drawn into direct conflict with the Order of Midas, the faceless, nameless group of magicians that holds the city in a grip of terror. All while struggling to silence the ever-louder voice in his mind that drives him to kill.

From feared assassin to wretched outcast, the Hunter's journey leads him to truths about his forgotten past and the Abiarazi he has pledged to hunt. His discoveries will shed light on who he really is…what he really is.

Fans of Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, and Brent Weeks will love the Hunter…

Book Info:

Title: The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen
Author: Andy Peloquin
Official Launch Date: August 19th, 2016
Publication Date: July 21, 2016
Paperback Price: 15.99
Digital Price: 3.99
Pages: 340
ISBN: 1535388668

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle: Not yet available

Book Launch Event:


Andy Peloquin: Lover of All Things Dark and Mysterious

Andy Peloquin--a third culture kid to the core--has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn't looked back since.

Andy's first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website ( is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings--along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

He can also be found on his social media pages, such as:

10 Things You Need to Know About Me:

1.      Hot wings, ALWAYS!
2.      I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
3.      I'm a head taller than the average person (I'm 6' 6")
4.      Marvel > DC
5.      I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
6.      Selena Gomez, Skrillex, Simon & Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Five Finger Death Punch are all in my writing playlist.
7.      Aliens are real, but it's self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
8.      Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
9.      I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
10.  I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Favorite Books: The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, Sherlock Holmes by A.C. Doyle, Warlord of Mars by E.R. Burroughs

Favorite Songs: Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch, Prayer by Disturbed, I'm an Albatraoz by AronChupa, Look Down from Les Miserables, Shatter Me by Lindsay Sterling and Lizzi Hale

Favorite Movies: 300, Red Cliff, Shoot Em Up, Love Actually, Princess Bride

Favorite Comics: Anything with Deadpool, Wolverine or Doop in it

Favorite Foods: Hot Wings, Meat-Lover's Salad, A good sandwich (made by me), Yaki Soba, Sushi

Favorite TV Shows: The Flash, Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawaii Five-0, Brooklyn 99, Firefly (too soon!), The Last Ship, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones


"Creative, gritty, and beautifully dark...fantasy addicts will love it!" -- Peter Story, author of Things Grak Hates --
"The fantasy world has a compelling new antihero…the Hunter will terrify and captivate you." - Eve A Floriste, author of Fresh Cut

"From the first words on the page this fantasy holds the reader spellbound even after the book is finished…his character is very well-defined even if his past is a mystery. Root for an assassin? Oh, yes, one must!" -- Carol Conley, for InDTale Magazine

"Oh the carnage! Fantastic bloodthirsty carnage! The fight scenes in this book were fast-paced, detailed and thrilling. I love a good sword fight and there is plenty of that here." -- Ami L. Hart

"One could get lost in this novel for its twisting plots, seemingly endless imagination, dark yet irresistible characters, or the mind-numbing paradox of its simultaneously dark and romantic world. One could follow the long and winding road of the dusky, fierce protagonist and fight tooth and nail not to sympathize with him. One could dance in the dizzying, intricate circles of Peloquin's neo-mythology, or even basque in the black sunlight of a well-crafted gothic novel that both entertains and enlightens." -- Jesse G. Christiansen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Disturbed X Breaking Benjamin Concert


I’ve been to a lot of concerts this year. It all started with Nightwish back in March and it continued with Rob Zombie X Korn in July and Slipknot X Marilyn Manson in early August. This coming Sunday, I’m going back to the frontlines with Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin as the main acts. They’re going to be part of a much larger festival called Pain in the Grass, a concert which starts at 1:00 in the afternoon and is supported by Alter Bridge, Saint Asonia, Anthrax, Pop Evil, Stitched Up Heart, and Windowpane. Holy shit, that’s a lot of heavy metal!

My therapist Rachel and her husband Michael have tickets to this show, so they’re going to be the ones who drive me to and from Auburn. Maybe this badass heavy metal show could be a form of psychological therapy for me and Rachel is writing the prescription. I’ve always said that music is my drug of choice. It’s the soundtrack to my screwed up mind and a generator of creative fuel for as long as I continue to write deliciously violent stories, which means forever.

Just like any other concert or vacation, I’m going to need some downtime afterwards to recharge my batteries. Introverts love downtime. They get cranky whenever they don’t get it. But seeing as how this concert is on a Sunday, there’s going to be more work to be done as far as moving furniture and ripping up carpets goes. This time, we’re spending the weekend on Reina’s room. Not to worry, because Reina’s room is a microcosm compared to downstairs. I may not be Brock Lesnar, but I’ll take her furniture to Suplex City anyways. Hehe!

What does this mean for my creative life? It may be interrupted due to tiredness, but that’s nothing new for me and I always recover in time to make a difference. I still have Andy Peloquin’s “Lament of the Fallen” novel to read and review. I still have Marie Krepps’ “Never Again” story to beta-read and give smart-assed critiques to. As far as the WSS goes…well….


I know you all were expecting a short story called “Hardcore Hogan”, an action packed piece of science-fiction where a Hulk Hogan parody beats the shit out of aliens and earns his freedom from being probed and prodded. However, the week of that contest was exhausting on so many levels, whether it was public life, sleep apnea problems, or doing piss-soaked chores. Aside from that, there were too many plot holes in my story for it to be taken seriously. I repeat: WAY too many plot holes. I pride myself on getting my first drafts right the first time, because that way I won’t have a shit load of work to do when the time comes to edit them. Never fear, loyal readers, because even though “Hardcore Hogan” may never get off the ground, “Fairytale” did and it’s a much superior story despite its lack of delicious violence. Well, there’s verbal violence, but that’s not the same thing.


“Now that multiple women have claimed Bill Cosby raped them, black teenagers are telling Cosby, ‘Pull YOUR pants up.’”

-Bill Maher-

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Steve Mercer and Joey Mitchell spent the last thirty minutes staring at each other with angry frowns and fiery eyes, like they wanted to kill each other. Steve stood at one end of the holding cell still dressed in his wedding tuxedo and his wife sat at the bench across from him still in her cake-stained wedding dress. Steve had a silent and passive aura about him while Joey had passion and hot lava flowing through her veins.

At any moment, she could have screamed like a demon and strangled her would-be husband to where his head burst like a pimple. But instead, she chose to let her words be her fists of fury. “I can’t fucking believe you right now, Steve. All of that money spent and all of that frustrating planning went to waste. I really thought you were the one for me. And then you said, ‘I do not’ at the very last minute. Our families brawling afterwards was the icing on the cake. And yet, you have nothing to say for yourself right now.”

While rubbing his aching temples, Steve said, “Look, babe, I don’t want to talk about this right now.”

“That’s been your answer for every one of our arguments, Steve!” shouted Joey as she shot up from her seat. “It’s like you don’t give a shit about anything anymore! I might as well have been marrying a zombie at that wedding!”

“Please stop yelling, you’re making my head hurt,” said an exhausted and defeated Steve as he continued to give himself a head massage.

“No, I’m not going to stop yelling! I’m pissed off! You talk about your head hurting?! Well, I’m hurting too, asshole! I feel like any second now I’m going to burst into tears and you’re just going to stand there and do nothing about it! You’re a coward! You’re a goddamn coward, Steve!” shouted Joey as she pounded her fists to her sides.

“You want to see some passion, you crazy bitch?!” shouted Steve, prompting his now fearful wife to sit back down on the bench. “You want some fire?! You want some energy?! You’ve got it, babe!”

After a few angry breaths, he continued his oratory with, “You want to know why I said no at that altar? Fine, I’ll tell you why! Before we decided to get married, we’ve had nothing but love for each other. We kissed, we hugged, we made sweet monkey love on your couch, and we said, ‘I love you’ every damn day! And then after we got engaged, that’s when your so-called stress kicked in and we had nothing but fights to show for it. Every damn day was an argument about something whether it was leaving food on the table, not doing a certain chore correctly, or not having enough money for a cup of coffee. You know, the little things in life!”

“Wow, you’ve never really had a girlfriend before have you, Steve!” Joey fired back. “If you did, you would know that arguments happen all the time in relationships! That’s how problems get solved! Relationships require a little something called work! Even though we fought a lot during the wedding planning, I still loved you for everything you are!”

“Really? Because you had a funny way of showing it, that’s for sure!” shouted Steve while throwing his arms around in anger. “I always thought that romance was supposed to play out like a fairytale! I actually believed in happily ever after and making love until the end of time! And then you came along and destroyed that for me! Instead of solving your problems peacefully, you decided yelling at me every five minutes was the answer! Well, I may be the only one in this world who believes in fairytales, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong!”

Joey stood back up with her arms folded and said, “I really hate to burst your little fantasy bubble, Steve, but fairytale romances don’t exist! You spend way too much time with those novels and Disney movies of yours and you actually think that’s how love works! I don’t fight with you because I hate you, Steve! I fight with you because I love you! I’m fighting to keep our relationship together!” Her eyes welled up with tears and she wiped a few of them a way with her manicured finger. “I still have feelings for you, Steve. Please, don’t leave me!”

“So is that really why people get together in the first place?” asked Steve in a low, but firm voice. “They just get together and fight each other? Well, if you want to fight all the time, join the UFC. Hell, you’ll get paid big sums of money to do what you love to do. And you don’t even have to give your heart away, that’s the best part! Me? It’s too late for someone like me. I actually believe in solving problems peacefully. I believe that frequent arguments lead to breakups and divorces. I believe that drama is uncomfortable to watch and even worse to be a part of. Maybe I do believe in fairytales too much. That doesn’t mean I’m crazy.”

Joey sat back down on the bench and let out a frustrated sigh. After a few long seconds of ducking her head and wiping her tears away, she said, “Here’s the deal, Steve. You don’t realize it right now, but I still love you even after you basically incited a riot between our families and got us in jail in the first place. But I’m not sure you love me back anymore. So I’m giving you an ultimatum: love me or leave me. If you love me, I will make you the happiest husband you could ever be. If you leave me, you won’t find your fairytale romance anywhere else because relationships don’t work like that. Either way, the ball’s in your court, buddy.”

Steve folded his arms and sighed before saying, “I need the rest of the night to think about this.”

“What is there to think about, Steve? It’s a simple question with two answers! How could it be that difficult?!” said Joey while flailing her arms in anger.

“Hey! Do you want me to make the right decision or not?!” shouted Steve, opening a rift of uncomfortable silence between boyfriend and girlfriend. “If you want an answer, wait until morning. Right now, my head feels like it’s been jammed in a vice and I’ve got bruises all over my body from your stupid family’s punches. We’ve done enough arguing for the evening. I just want to rest right now and clear my head. Is that so wrong? Or do you want to argue some more because fairytales don’t exist?”

Joey hung her head in silent sorrow while Steve laid down on the floor of the holding cell, where he would spend the rest of the evening snoozing away and sounding like a machinegun as he snored. Joey slept peacefully on her bench like she was at a comfortable hotel. A part of her wanted fairytales to exist. She wanted to have a seaside honeymoon with her husband and make love until the end of time while eating chocolate-covered strawberries. Her husband’s innocent ways put a small smile on her face. She hoped he would make the right decision by the time the morning sun shone through their cell.

When morning finally came, it wasn’t the brilliant orange skies that woke her up, but the sounds of war-like thunder followed by foggy visuals through her window. Even though Joey and Steve slept like rocks, they woke up so sore and stiff that sleeping on a bed of barbed wire would have been more comfortable. The argumentative couple cracked her joints and stretched their limbs before staring at each other blankly. Had Steve made his decision? Was he ready to accept the responsibilities of marriage or was he too much of a sucker for fairytales?

“Good morning, lovebirds,” said the police officer standing at the holding cell door. “Mr. Mercer, you’re free to go. Your family posted bail.” The cop opened the cell door and motioned for Steve to come over.

Steve dragged his stiff and aching body toward the door, holding his ribs like they had just taken a massive beating. Once freedom was within reach, he stopped for a minute and turned around to give Joey the most sorrowful look he could. Tears started forming in the bride’s eyes once more. She needed an answer so badly that anxiety was building up in her stomach and ice water was passing through her veins.

Steve looked down at his wedding band for the longest time before sliding it off of his finger and tossing it into Joey’s hands. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this anymore. Not with you, not with anyone else. Romance sucks.” He turned heel and walked out the door without so much as a wave or a blown kiss.

Once the cell door closed behind him, Joey’s stomach felt like she had been punched with a loaded glove. Her heart felt like it was being ripped into confetti. Her eyes felt like they’d been gouged out as hot tears poured from her face. She let out an animalistic, “NO!!” and pounded the bench with her fists. She spent the next few minutes allowing her tears to dampen the concrete floor beneath her. Was there something to be said for fairytale endings? Did she and Steve really fight as much as he said they did? Is anybody else worth putting her trust into? So many questions, but no answers, only tears and red puffy eyes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lucha Mexico

MOVIE TITLE: Lucha Mexico
DIRECTORS: Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: Pro-Wrestling Documentary
RATING: Unrated, though it contains bloody violence and language

Mexico has always been plagued with poverty, crime, and corrupt politics. The one escape from the country’s negative features has always been Lucha Libre, a high-flying, mask-wearing style of professional wrestling. This documentary takes you behind the scenes of Mexican wrestling from the torturous training to the violently entertaining matches to the dire personal lives of the luchadors. Lucha Libre has a rich history and a colorful culture, but it’s also a business that requires a great deal of toughness in order to survive. Some luchadors become popular and draw in a lot of money. Most of them don’t and they suffer in obscurity. The raw honesty of this filmmaking style is one of this movie’s most prominent features.

The audience can easily get a rich education from watching Lucha Mexico. They can learn how a luchador’s mask can protect private lives and give personality and flavor to the wrestlers wearing them. They can learn the huge differences between Mexican wrestling, which is all about the high flying action, and American wrestling, which is monologue-heavy and slower-paced. They can learn about the risks and rewards of embarking on a professional wrestling career whether it’s getting an injury or becoming wildly popular. By the end of this movie, the viewers will gain a great deal of respect and appreciation for what these athletes have to go through on a day to day basis. The movie will create new wrestling fans and it will rekindle the fire within those already converted. It’s not just “man drama” as UFC commentator Joe Rogan once stupidly called it. It’s a passionate form of entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment, if you want to see delicious and action-packed violence, Lucha Mexico is happy to oblige. Sure, the wrestling matches are in short snippets, but there’s just enough content where the audience can enjoy back flips, slams, top rope dives, and most brutal of all, bloodletting. Yes, from time to time, they actually do hardcore style, which if you’re not a wrestling fan means the luchadors are allowed to use weapons and they will make each other bleed nearly to death for the crowd’s entertainment. No matter what kind of match is taking place, you will either wince in pain or you’ll be on the edge of your seat in anticipation for the big finish. That’s what wrestling is all about: creative storytelling and violent choreography. Again, Joe Rogan, it’s not “man drama”, you fool.

As long as I’m dragging Mr. Rogan’s name through the mud, there’s another thing this movie is good for: debating. The kind of debating I’m talking about is between Mexican and American styles of wrestling. Since Mexican wrestling is more action-oriented, you don’t get a lot of the bigoted promos that American wrestling has been known for over the past two decades. Meanwhile, some American wrestling fans would argue that all villain heat is the same and promos build up more tension between the two battling wrestlers. Both sides of the fence have good points to make and I’m not going to list all of them in this review, because I want my readers to make up their own minds. They can do that when they watch Lucha Mexico since they’re not overly preachy or pushy. It’s just raw, honest filmmaking, that’s all.

In this movie there’s something for everybody, which includes complete laymen. Lucha Mexico will either be a rich educational journey, more pride in being a wrestling fan, or both at the same time. Nobody is walking away from this movie unaffected. If you’re still feeling neutral after all is said and done, you probably sleep in an underground coffin at night. Or you’re Joe Rogan, one of the two. Or maybe you’re both, I don’t know. I give this movie a passing grade for giving my inner wrestling geek a reason to do more back flips and cartwheels than the luchadors themselves. Excellent work!