Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Once Upon a Pastry" by Ashley Uzzell

BOOK TITLE: Once Upon a Pastry
AUTHOR: Ashley Uzzell
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: Fiction

Fearing that her grandmother’s bakery will soon go out of business, Gertrude makes a pact with a witch named Mona to cast a spell on her that will make her the greatest baker in Linford City. The only thing Mona asks for in exchange is Gertrude’s first born child. As the bakery business draws in a comfortable amount of money, Mona gets testy about Gertrude living up to her end of the bargain. The more time the two women spend having cupcakes and donuts together, the more they realize that this deal is bigger than money or babies. They start to form an awkward attraction for each other. It’s a slow process in which past heartbreak and a war between humans and centaurs become obstacles, but one way or another, Gertrude and Mona will realize that they’re meant for each other.

Seeing as how this story revolves around a bakery and my 300 lb. body loves a good treat every now and then, I enjoyed the descriptions of the various baked goods Gertrude made. As customers, workers, and witches alike munched on cupcakes with orgasmic energy, I actually wanted to reach inside the story and take one of those frosting-covered death wishes. I could eat a hundred of them. Or a thousand. Or a million. I really should eat more vegetables and less sweets, but damn it, these colorful descriptions make me hungry! If Mona’s magic can do this much for a bakery, imagine what other restaurants can benefit from her spells. What if Mona’s magic turned a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese into a monstrous mountain of meat that oozed with grease, cheese, and tender beef that melts in your mouth (not in your hands). Mmm-mmm-mmm! My Homer Simpson glands are going nuts just thinking about it!

Another thing I loved about this book is the romantic build between Gertrude and Mona. It’s the way romance should be presented in every work of fiction: slow, steady, awkward at times, and an exciting crescendo. Seeing as how this is a piece of LGBT fiction, there’s always that chance that one or the other might not be a lesbian. If that was the case and one made a pass onto the other, it would be extremely awkward and that might have spelled the end of the deal. The slow build up to the romantic crescendo is believable in every way. People should tiptoe around each other more often since romance is a savory treat, not unlike the cupcakes Gertrude bakes on a daily basis. There are other romances in this story that worked the same way, one example being the marriage between a government soldier named Kevin and a bakery clerk named Jasper. When you read an Ashley Uzzell book, you realize that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to matters of the heart.

One thing I was worried about was whether or not this story would tie up its loose ends by the conclusion of the story. There were times when I completely forgot that a deal was made between Gertrude and Mona where a first born baby was to be exchanged. There were times when I forgot that the centaur-human war was a central theme to the story. And then there’s that moron Trip who keeps threatening to shut down Mona’s magic shop with his own brand of wizardry. I’m happy to say that most of these loose ends are tied up, but not all of them. I would have loved to see Trip get his comeuppance in some way, shape, or form, but it seems like he was just an inconvenient monkey wrench in this bigger plot. But hey, this flaw is so minor that it’s not really worth worrying about. Just enjoy the infinite cuteness of this romantic fairytale.

If you’re looking for light reading with characters you can cheer for every step of the way, you need to grab a copy of this book. Everybody loves a feel-good story and this one will make you feel warm and toasty on the inside, just like a freshly baked donut with cinnamon glaze and pink frosting. Oh my god, there I go again, making myself hungry over a book that I read! That just goes to show you how dedicated Mrs. Uzzell is to her craft. Not one detail goes unnoticed and you have a front row seat to this beautiful story. A passing grade for an A+ author!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Dark Blade


Childhood is a time for developing one’s creativity and imagination. We buy action figures and Legos so that we can act out our own adventures. We draw pictures with our own naïve vision of what the world should be. We build things out of ordinary objects to show that there’s a world beyond their intended use. For me personally, my favorite form of creativity was coming up with ideas for videogames. One of those videogame ideas was intended to be a rival to Squaresoft’s Chrono Trigger and it was called The Dark Blade.

Chrono Trigger as a Super Nintendo game was everything a child could ask for: beautiful storytelling, emotional characters, innovative settings, and exciting game play. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to play a game about a spiky haired teenager named Crono who travels through time in order to prevent a 1999 apocalypse using lightning magic and katana skills? Who in their prepubescent years wouldn’t have the world’s biggest crush on crossbow fighter Marle or prehistoric vixen Ayla? Who wouldn’t want to use Magus’s shadow magic or Frog’s water magic to overcome the toughest obstacles?

In my pre-teen years, I had a tall task ahead of me if I was going to formulate an RPG that would measure up to the greatness of Chrono Trigger. Therefore, I had The Dark Blade, a supremely underdeveloped story about a spiky haired teenager named David who along with his friends tries to keep the title artifact out of the hands of The Dark Sorcerer (notice the theme of darkness here?). David had the hair of Guile from Street Fighter II, a black karate outfit, ruby boots, vampire fangs (what?!), and the swords of Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon V. Oh, and he also has the lightning magic of Crono. And he starts the game by going to a carnival, just like Crono.

Being as ignorant as I was about copyright laws, I stole pieces of creative fuel from any source I could find. Princess Crystal Hershey got her last name from the chocolate bar and her outfit from Celes from Final Fantasy VI. Ninja Prince Boris Hershey got his character design from Shadow, also a Final Fantasy VI standout. Nixer (careful how you say that) is a direct rip-off of a Magic: the Gathering card that featured an old ragged man carrying a scythe. Nixer’s magical element was Aura, which is a direct theft of the Aura Bolt technique used by Sabin from Final Fantasy VI.

The Dark Blade’s soundtrack would be stolen directly from albums by The Police, The Moody Blues, Sting, and Metallica. Talk about a bunch of bands that don’t belong in the same concert! Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” album would serve as battle music, both for normal enemies, mini-bosses, and regular bosses. The Police’s hit “Spirits in the Material World” would serve as carnival music. The Moody Blues’s song “The Voice” would serve as romantic fuel (in a time where I was too young to give a shit about love). Sting’s “Mad About You” would also serve as romantic music even though David and Crystal never officially shack up (again, because I didn’t give two shits and a flying fuck about love back then).

With all of these stolen properties, how would they mesh against the actual story? Somewhere along the way, David would use a lightsaber/baseball bat reminiscent of Star Wars and WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. He would also ride a hover cycle reminiscent of Space Quest IV. So far, so good. But then we eventually have to get to the depressive dip of the game. Turns out The Dark Sorcerer got a hold of The Dark Blade after all. With its powers, he turned the entire world’s population (except for David, Crystal, Nixer, and Boris) into stone. Turning somebody into a stone statue is straight from the Final Fantasy franchise. Having the bad guy win for a while is the same scenario that happened in Final Fantasy VI when Kefka turned The World of Balance (blue water and green pastures) into the World of Ruin (red water and wastelands).

With the innocence of a child and the creative fuel of a madman, I was sure to have my videogame idea mailed off to Sqauresoft so that they could get cracking on making it. The one thing that kept me from doing so was my brother James’s constant talk about copyright laws and what could happen if I violated them. According to him, I could have my wages garnished and my property stolen by the government. I justified my right to the profits by saying, “I could lock the doors!” Then James said that the Fire Department would come busting through to help the government take my stuff. At one point I whined, “Stop telling me these crummy facts!”, to which he said, “They’re true!”

While I didn’t want my creativity to take a backseat to copyright laws, I had no other choice as I got older and discovered how ridiculous they can be. Viacom and Disney have sued the shit out of anyone and everyone who uploaded their content onto You Tube. Disney has sued a daycare center for using Mickey Mouse decals to decorate the joint. If you want to argue lawsuits, then people these days will sue over anything, and I do mean anything. Donald Trump sued Bill Maher because the comedian said our now president was a descendant of orangutans. James Woods sued a Twitter user for saying that he was a coke head online. The more money you have, the more weight you can throw around in a courtroom. Videogame corporations have a lot of money and by proxy can throw more weight around than WWE Hall of Famers Yokozuna and Rikishi combined.

If The Dark Blade ended up becoming a novel idea in modern day Garrisonism, I suppose I could do away with all of the theft and turn it into something original and fun. People rarely play Super Nintendo games anymore (except for nostalgia purposes on ROM Emulators), so The Dark Blade would have to be a novel. David shouldn’t be such a Gary-Stu for his age, which means no vampire fangs, ruby boots, or dragon swords. Crystal and Boris shouldn’t have the last name Hershey because there have been too many jokes about skid marks over the years thanks to guys like Dave Chappelle. Nixer should have a first name that doesn’t sound like a racial slur. The Dark Sorcerer should have a real name, probably one that doesn’t have “dark” in it.

Turning this childhood videogame idea into a credible novel is a long shot, but I now have the skills and resources to do so as a 31-year-old semi-professional author. Will it rival Chrono Trigger? Ask anybody who’s ever read Occupy Wrestling and they’ll tell you “Hell no!” Then again, nothing can rival Chrono Trigger. It was a special piece of childhood heaven that can’t be taken away no matter how many game consoles 2017 can pump out. You can keep your Halos and Call of Duties and I’ll reminisce in Chrono Trigger’s beauty forever. If anything, I’m clinging to my roots so that I don’t forget how to write The Dark Blade in its truest form. One day, maybe one day David and Crono can have fantasy warfare. We’ve got ears, say cheers! By the way, in case you didn’t know, that last line was stolen from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I’m a bigger thief than Locke Cole from Final Fantasy VI. Damn it, I did it again!


While I’m waiting patiently for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter to come out with their 2016 awards, I’m going to have a few creative projects to occupy my time. I only have seven chapters left to read from Ashley Uzzell’s LGBT fairytale (no, that’s not a pun, shut up!) called “Once Upon a Pastry”. I’ll spend the whole day blitzing right through them and offering her my funniest and most poignant critiques. I also have a Dark Fantasy Warrior that needs drawing and his name is Lord McCain, the elf sorcerer from “Emoticon Artist”. Once I’ve officially drawn one hundred colored Dark Fantasy Warriors, I’m going to put their faces in a meme like I did with the uncolored ones. Somewhere along the way, I’ll write the shit out of Demon Axe’s twelfth chapter (don’t rush me, Writer’s Circle, I’ll get to it eventually!). Once I’m done with these tasks, I can begin work on editing the shit out of Poison Tongue Tales and getting it ready for publication. I’ve already edited the first three stories, so that’s SOME progress (again, don’t rush me, Writer’s Circle!). Once I complete these projects, then and only then can I lament not having a WWE Network subscription so that I can see this year’s Royal Rumble and see Bobby Roode win the NXT Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura at the TakeOver special before that. Wish me luck!


DET. CLAUDETTE WYMS: Where were you last night?

SUSPECT: I was at home jerking off into a sock. You guys need the evidence?

-The Shield-

Circus of Conformity

Just like perfect little circus seals
You shower your master with squeals
Laugh at every joke like it’s actually funny
Surrendering your hardest of hard earned money
Never mind that he preaches victimization
On every newscast and every station
Never mind that he teaches hatred and anger
Never mind that he put you all in grave danger

Circus of conformity!
Suppressing the passionate, praising the ornery
Circus of conformity!
Accepting any idiot as the almighty authority

Just like perfect little sideshow monkeys
You dance to rhythm like it’s funky
You take the abuse, it’s what you choose
Everything you’ve got is yours to lose
Yet you cheer and shake your moneymaker
From the wet nurse to the undertaker
Are you nice and comfy inside your grave?
Too damn bad, because you can’t be saved

Circus of conformity!
Suppressing the passionate, praising the ornery
Circus of conformity!
Accepting any idiot as the almighty authority

Believe in everything that comes out of his mouth
Take it in the ass and keep shouting “Ouch!”
This is what you wanted; this is what you voted for
You’re living out your fantasy of being a puppet whore

Just like scary old psychotic clowns
You’re haunting the darkest parts of the town
A ball on your nose or a ball on your mouth
Makes no difference when you can’t make a sound
Your nuts and backbone have been taken away
Too much of a snowflake to enter the fray
Get down on your knees and begin to pray
It’s what you do best during political decay

Circus of conformity!
Suppressing the passionate, praising the ornery
Circus of conformity!
Accepting any idiot as the almighty authority
Circus of conformity!
I won’t do what you fucking order me
The Greatest Show on Earth is almost over

Rid us of your verbal diarrhea foul odor

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Titan Screwed" by James Dixon and Justin Henry

BOOK TITLE: Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs
AUTHORS: James Dixon and Justin Henry
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: Nonfiction
SUBGENRE: Wrestling Biography
GRADE: Mixed

From the mid to late 1990’s, World Wrestling Federation engaged in a television ratings war with World Championship Wrestling. While WCW had an overloaded roster with high-ranking superstars, WWF had to desperately change direction if they were going to stay in business. Backstage drama between WWF’s top wrestlers Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart led to the infamous Montreal Screwjob, which sewed the seeds for Mr. McMahon’s tyrannical character, which sewed the seeds for WWF’s Attitude Era, a TV-14-rated period in wrestling where edginess and shades of gray characters eclipsed the cartoonish storytelling of the 80’s and early 90’s. By hook or crook, the WWF won the Monday night ratings wars and became the juggernaut we know as WWE today.

The amount of detail and research that went into this biography is amazing. Not one piece of information in this book comes off as slanderous, just simple brutal honesty. I’ve always wondered what it meant when Shawn Michaels “lost his smile” and why it was considered disgusting at the time. It turns out he faked a knee injury so that he wouldn’t have to lose his WWF World Championship to his backstage rival Bret Hart in a credible wrestling match. I’ve also wondered what it was about the Melanie Pillman interview that made it win Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic of 1997 in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. Turns out nobody wants to see a crying widow falling apart on TV while Vince McMahon tries to wash his hands of drug-related controversy. Accurately told stories like these prove that the wrestling business never was and never will be rainbows and skittles. So much anger and toughness runs deep in the veins of everybody who goes out to the ring to put on a show.

The reason I mentioned not knowing much about lost smiles or Melanie Pillman’s interview days after her husband Brian’s death is because there was a period in my life where my mother wouldn’t allow me to watch wrestling (because of its “trashy” content). So when I read about certain things in Titan Screwed that I missed all of those years, I’m suddenly in the mood to watch them. Apparently, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13 in a submission match is a five-star classic with hard-hitting moves, a splattering of blood, and a match ending that made both wrestlers look strong. The planning that went into the Montreal Screwjob months later at Survivor Series made me empathetic towards Bret Hart’s seething anger and his physical outbursts, which had to be contained by an entire locker room full of wrestlers. The way these two particular parts of wrestling history were written made the whole story seem novel-like. So intricately detailed, so much dialogue, and so much emotion went into writing this book that I might as well have been reading a classic novel.

As much as I praise the picturesque details of some of the scenes in this book, there’s something about the writing style in general that slows the whole thing down for me. Maybe there’s too much detail. Maybe it’s the dry writing style of the minor parts of the biography. Maybe there’s too much verbiage and not enough action. Maybe it’s the fact that this is in its basic form a biography and not a tried and true memoir. Whatever the case may be, the slow reading pace put a huge strain on my eyes to the point where reading almost became a chore for me. Yes, this book is rich with information I’ve been longing to have since my mother forced me to stop watching wrestling as a teen. But just like with assigned college reading, the pace of the book can make or break the whole thing. In this case, the snail-like reading pace makes me want to downgrade this book to three stars instead of my usual four or five.

While some parts of this book read like a novel, others read like a Plain Jane biography. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that as long as you know what you’re getting into. James Dixon and Justin Henry are two wrestling columnists I trust when it comes to analyzing this particular form of entertainment. They’ve done amazing work with websites like What Culture and Wrestle Crap. If you enjoy their work outside of Titan Screwed, you’ll probably get a good read out of this book. If you’re as anal about a book’s reading pace as I am, you might struggle with this one, but I urge you to make it until the end of the book. You can do it. I believe in you. A mixed grade goes to this simple and clean piece of wrestling literature.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weirdo Alert

In Louise Bradbury’s mind, she could have been paid a million dollars per week and it still wouldn’t have been enough for what she had to go through. Making a decent cup of coffee was the easy part. Dealing with the “loony toons” who waddled through the shopping mall was where she believed she deserved a raise. Old men who couldn’t shut up about the 1920’s, teenagers who laughed like hyenas at every minor occurrence, middle aged men who kept trying to get the baristas’ phone numbers, that kind of shit.

Louise looked absolutely miserable behind the counter of her coffee bar with a hunched over body and a dull expression on her face. Customer service protocol always dictated that she had to have a positive expression, but she just couldn’t fake it anymore. Her attempts at smiles were more see-through than a wet T-shirt. Her engagements in small talk were so boring that she almost fell asleep on the job. And to think, this minimum wage money was supposed to mean something later down the line. What it meant, Louise didn’t know.

When a powerful sneeze sounded off in the background, that was when Miss Bradbury’s “weirdo alert” went off in her head like a police siren. She tucked her head down in her palm at the embarrassing entrance of a regular customer known as Denny Smith (she knew his name from his debit card information).

With a bucket of ice cream in one hand and a tablet in the other, Denny dragged his big ass over to one of the tables closest to Louise’s counter. With ice cream stains on his Snoopy shirt and blue sweat pants, the other customers couldn’t help but stare at him for the longest time. He sneezed so hard that it sounded like he blew his whole sinus cavity out, to which some customers got up and walked away in disgust.

Louise was one of the people looking on in wide-eyed terror as Denny shoveled huge scoops of vanilla ice cream in his mouth with no regard for the sweet treat dripping down his double chin. The big man even coughed up huge wads of snot and then swallowed them again, prompting even more horrified customers to power-walk away. Denny managed to thin the herd even more when he let out the world’s largest fart, which sounded a lot like a shotgun blast.

In between bites of ice cream, Denny said to the leaving customers, “It’s a natural function! I’m an American! I can fart if I want to! What are you going to do, arrest me for farting?!”

Digging deep for a silver lining in all of this, Louise thought to herself that Denny could have been doing her a favor by not making her deal with these other obnoxious customers. But if that was her only positive, then she still had the right to shiver in disgust and gag on snot herself.

Normally, the customer was always right (at least that’s what it said in Louise’s training video). But when her “weirdo alert” was going off in her head, it sounded too much like a schizophrenic nightmare. She clutched her head and gave off a subtle “Ugh!” before racing around the counter to confront Denny.

“Excuse me, Mr. Smith,” said Louise with her hands behind her back in feigned politeness. Instead of undivided attention, Denny gave her another nuclear bomb fart, to which she plugged her nose and shivered like she was having a seizure.

Only then would Denny look up from his ice cream and his tablet and say, “What? What’s your problem? It’s a free country; I’m allowed to fart whenever I want. It’s in the constitution.”

This sense of American entitlement sent Louise into a screaming rage complete with waving hands and a shrill voice. “There’s nothing in the constitution that says you can scare off my customers with your weird ass behavior! If you have to fart so badly, go to the bathroom across the hall! If you have to sneeze so hard that your tiny brain falls out, go to the goddamn bathroom, you fucking weirdo!”

Louise covered her own mouth in shock after dropping that F-bomb, as did several customers who were just passing by. The barista held her hands up in defense and whispered an apology before the customers shook their heads and strolled away.

With her new whispery calm demeanor, Louise patted Denny on the shoulder and said, “Look, all I’m saying is that you should try to act just a little bit normal and be a decent member of society like the rest of us. That way, people won’t want to run away in horror whenever they want to come here for a cup of coffee. You might even get a girlfriend one day, I don’t know!”

“First of all, dumb-ass” said Denny while pointing his sausage finger at the barista. “I can’t help it if I have to fart or sneeze. I’ve had allergies to pretty much everything since I was five years old. You think walking all the way over to that bathroom is going to solve anything? Hell no! Besides, do you think I give two shits and a flying fuck what anyone thinks of me? I’m supposed to conform to everyone else’s system so that I can have a slightly better chance of getting laid? Look at me! This is not the body of a man who goes around stealing women! This is the body of someone who’s addicted to ice cream like it’s crack cocaine, which sugar pretty much is!”

Folding her arms, Louise said, “Look, I understand if you want to be your own person, but come on, is farting and sneezing really a part of who you are? Is that the person you want to be? Do you really enjoy driving people away and being obnoxious?”

“I don’t know, missy, do you like standing behind the counter like you’ve got a stick up your butt?” Louise’s expression softened into solemnity at Denny’s accurate statement. He licked the ice cream off of his fingers and said, “You think I just sit around here every day like a dumb-ass and not notice everything around me? I see your looks of horror. I see you guys walking away like I’m the boogeyman. I guess a simple case of allergies will do that to people. I had no idea that medical conditions were so freakish. You think I enjoy having a runny nose and a snotty throat? Go back behind your counter and do your fucking job. I’ll stay here and do mine.”

“I’m sorry, did you just say something about a job?” said Louise while placing her authoritative palms on Denny’s table. “You mean to tell me that you get paid to shovel ice cream down your throat and make disgusting bodily noises everywhere you go? Shit, if I would have known that was even a career, I would have given up making coffee a long time ago!”

Denny yelled, “You fucking bitch!” while shooting up to his feet and accidentally knocking his tablet over. “Shit, now look at what you made me do! I bet that damn thing’s cracked!”

Louise knelt down to pick it up and waved Denny off while saying, “Don’t worry, it’s not cracked. I’m sure the cover on this thing…” The barista had a wide-eyed expression as she flipped through the photos on the tablet, but for reasons other than Denny’s farts and sneezes. “These paintings are beautiful,” she said. And they were, too. Paintings of armored medieval warriors, lightning elemental dragons, shadow magic-using wizards, and fiery ninjas. This kind of skill could have easily landed Denny a job at a comic book publishing house or even an art museum.

While Louise stared at the paintings with a bright smile she hadn’t formed in years, Denny said, “That’s the job I was talking about. I paint for a living. Well, I’m not really a professional. I’m not much of a marketer. It doesn’t matter how much effort I put into these paintings, because only one or two people want to actually buy them.”

Louise placed a hand on her chest like these paintings took her breath away, but then gave a sullen expression to Denny before saying, “Look, I don’t want to give you a lecture about…”

“I know! I know, damn it!” said Denny. “I know my weird ass behavior is keeping people from buying my paintings. But you know what? Nobody gives a shit about artists anymore. Everyone wants me to be an engineer or some other kind of science nut. As long as people are going to turn their noses down at me, I might as well act as crazy as I want.”

“Denny, I’m so sorry,” said Louise in a sheepish voice with her head tucked.

“Yeah, you’re sorry now that you’ve seen these paintings! You could have been sorry long before you saw them, but no, you had to be like every one of these ignoramuses here at the mall and gag in disgust like a bunch of bitches! Maybe I’ll get over my allergies someday! Maybe I’ll also get over my sugar addiction! But until then, you can feel free to forget about me, because I don’t want to be famous in a city that doesn’t give a shit about art!”

Denny yanked the tablet from Louise’s hands and threw his bucket of ice cream in the trash before marching away. Everything the pudgy man said was right and Louise didn’t want to admit it to herself (regardless of having no choice). The barista sat down at one of the tables and held her face in her hands while sobbing quietly. She chastised this poor man over bodily functions when really he was the most beautiful person in this entire mall. Louise had no artistic talents of her own and those paintings made her jealous. She tried so many times to be as good as Denny, but everyone laughed at her and told her to get a “real job”.

Then she thought to herself, “Fuck this real job!” Louise took off her apron and threw it behind the counter before running after Denny screaming, “Hey, wait up! Wait!” She didn’t know what she would expect once she caught up to the “weirdo”. Would Denny teach her how to be an individual? Would he teach her how to be an artist as good as himself? Would he turn her away like Louise tried to do a few moments ago? No matter what the outcome, Louise Bradbury had to find out before it was too late.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

MOVIE TITLE: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
DIRECTORS: John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman
YEAR: 1977
GENRE: Children’s Animation
GRADE: Extra Credit

In the Hundred Acre Woods, a stuffed bear named Winnie the Pooh goes on cute adventures with his many animal friends and his human master Christopher Robin. Whether Pooh-Bear wants some honey to eat or is trying to find shelter from a windstorm or a flood, he always brings his childlike charm and naïve thinking to every event in the story. His equally cute and cuddly friends are the depressed donkey Eeyore, the energetic and bouncy Tigger, the green-thumbed Rabbit, the delightfully wise Owl, the tiny stuttering Piglet, the hardworking constructor Gopher, and the flower-loving Kanga and Roo. Children of all ages can bask in their innocence at these cuddly mini-stories and grow up to be loving adults.

I cannot emphasize enough how insanely cute this movie is except for by giving it an extra credit grade. Whenever I watch Pooh-Bear eat honey, play with his friends, or just be his silly self, it makes me want to cuddle with stuffed or real animals of my own. Tigger’s hyperactivity, mitten-like paws, and joyful singing also make me want to cuddle with animal cuties. There isn’t one character in this movie who doesn’t warm my insides like a freshly baked apple pie (with honey drizzled on it, of course). Even the bees that swarm on Pooh for trying to steal their honey have their cute moments, particularly with their character designs and high-pitched voices. And who could forget all the laugh-inducing times when Gopher fell into his hole in the ground…over and over again. This kind of cuteness overload will set the tone for children later in life when they have kids of their own or adopt pets. Love is a universal language that can be taught with movies like Winnie the Pooh.

Another thing I’ll always enjoy about this movie is Sterling Holloway’s vocal performance as Pooh-Bear. He was always known for having a nasally rasp voice with a hint of baritone. Mr. Holloway has used this same voice to play characters like Amos Mouse in “Ben and Me” and Hiss from “Robin Hood”, two Disney classics. Hearing this sweet and innocent voice makes me glad that Holloway’s successor, Jim Cummings, decided to keep the tradition going when playing Winnie the Pooh in future movies. It even warms my heart to know that Mr. Cummings uses his Pooh voice to comfort sick children in hospitals. Is this another example of how the movie can teach love and friendship at such a young age? Why, I’d like to think so! Of course, Sterling Holloway isn’t with us anymore, but his contributions to the Disney universe will never be forgotten.

Just like with all good things, this movie must eventually come to an end at the 74 minute mark. How does one wrap up a series of short stories known for bringing happy emotions to an entire generation? By having Christopher Robin grow up, of course. While only a year has passed since the events of the movie, little Christopher eventually has to go to school and get good grades. Not all children end up having fond memories of school, whether it’s because of difficult assignments, harsh teachers, or bully students. The movie put us all at ease with the conversation Christopher had with Pooh-Bear. They talked about growing old together and always being friends no matter what life throws at them. One way or another, Christopher Robin will never forget where he came from and will always come back to the Hundred Acre Woods…even when he’s a hundred years old and moving around on a walker. How old will Pooh be? Ninety-nine. “Silly old bear!”

Let this be a lesson to all of the adults reading this review: never forget the love you experienced as a child and always take those positive memories into the future with you. Even if you grew up with harsher circumstances, know that someone out there loves and cares for you. Someone out there will be your Pooh-Bear. If you have to go to the Humane Society for a basket of Pooh-Bears known as kittens, what are you waiting for? You’re never too old to acknowledge cuteness when you see it. Age-consciousness is for suckers.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Brown Ranger


When I was a kid growing up in the early 90’s, I watched a lot of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. There was something about martial arts-loving high school students in colorful spandex suits and motorcycle helmets that made me believe in delicious violence. My favorite Power Ranger was always Tommy Oliver a.k.a. the Green/White Ranger. I don’t know what it was about him that I liked so much, but he was my favorite as well as my brother’s favorite. Maybe I kept having sympathy for him when Rita Repulsa kept trying to take his powers away. Maybe I wanted him to shack up with Kimberly a.k.a. the Pink Ranger. No matter what appealed to me about the show in general, I never forget my creative roots. Hip-hop music helped shape my poetry and Power Rangers helped shape my love for violent stories.

I’ve tried on two different occasions to bring the Power Rangers back into my life through the power of writing. I had to tread carefully both times because I could potentially be sued if I published these stories as my own (despite acknowledging that the Power Rangers are someone else’s property). The first attempt was a black comedy short story called “Kill the Power Rangers”, where a little fan girl named Wendi Kael was doing badly in school and would only do her homework at her stepfather’s threat of “killing the Power Rangers”. When Wendi tried to call his bluff, she found corpses all over the house dressed up in Power Rangers outfits, most notably the Blue Ranger with a garden hoe up his ass (get it? Because the actor is gay? Hee-hee-ho-ho…ugh). While the synopsis of this story made a lot of people laugh, I eventually had to abandon it due to too many plot holes and a painfully obvious Deus Ex Machina ending.

And then we have the second attempt at a Power Rangers homage with a novel idea called “The Brown Ranger”. Mind you, this never actually became a novel and the synopsis is no longer in my archives, so I’m flying blind here. The premise was that Rita Repulsa’s new monsters were too powerful for the original rainbow-colored rangers, so Zordon has to recruit a Bad Santa-esque loser named Shawn Hamlet to be his Brown Ranger. Shawn, who is an avid beer drinker and pot smoker, believes that Zordon is high on drugs himself if he thinks Shawn would make a good Power Ranger, let alone one whose uniform is the same color as shit. It takes a while for Shawn to accept his responsibility as earth’s guardian, but he eventually makes the most of his brown uniform by yelling, “Eat shit, motherfuckers!” as he charges into battle. I guess this too could be considered black comedy considering the main character’s penchant for swearing and drugs, both behaviors completely opposite of what normal Power Rangers preach.

So the question now is, what should I do with these two ideas? One was scrapped, the other never happened. If I had a chance to do them over again, I would. If I knew of a legal loophole that allowed me to use the Power Rangers name, I would exploit it. You could say that I could just publish these stories as fan fiction, but that’s not enough for me. I want them to be official works of mine and not just stories that are at the mercy of the legal system. I suppose I could use parody names, but where’s the authenticity in that? Author problems, ladies and gentlemen. Author problems.

But wait a minute…does the Brown Ranger actually have to be a Power Ranger? Can he instead be a D&D-style ranger who wears all brown and uses shit-themed insults on his opponents? Imagine littering in the forest and having to deal with Shawn Hamlet sticking a knife in your throat. If Carl Hiaasen wrote fantasy novels, this is how it would play out for sure. Maybe it’ll have more creative methods of violence than a knife threat, but you get the idea.

And now that I think about it, parodies aren’t so bad when applied correctly. If I wanted to keep the theme of Hiaasen-esque environmental terrorism, I could call them The Flower Rangers. They could dress up in hippie-themed spandex and save the world from oil tycoons who want to build pipelines in the most inappropriate places. Maybe the Flower Rangers (or the Brown Ranger in particular) could have been perfect foils to the jerk-offs who tried to build a pipeline through Native American burial grounds in North Dakota. So many ideas. So many goddamn ideas. I can actually feel my brain wake up after such a long time in exhaustive mode. Hehe!

But why should I have all of the fun? The question of the day, to you the audience, is how would you book The Brown Ranger? Yes, I know I just used a wrestling term (book), but you know what I mean…hopefully. How would The Brown Ranger play a pivotal role in whatever novel you were writing? Is he an environmental terrorist? Is he an army ranger? Is he a role model for small children? Is he sewer dwelling warrior? If you’ve got an idea you’d like to throw in the mix, feel free to let us hear it. We’ve got ears, say cheers!


The new contest started yesterday and the theme this week will be “Round Table”. Any medieval literature fans out there will know where a lot of authors at the WSS will take this prompt. For me personally? I’m doing something a little more autobiographical. In the style of the Awkward Behavior posts in my Garrison’s Library blog, this story will be called “Weirdo Alert” and it goes like this:


1.      Denny Smith, Bodily Functions Gimmick
2.      Louise Bradbury, Barista

PROMPT CONFORMITY: The tables at the coffee bar are round.

SYNOPSIS: Louise is working at a coffee bar at the mall when Denny sits down at one of her tables with a gigantic bucket of ice cream. As Denny eats the ice cream and slops it on himself, he also draws attention by blowing his nose loudly, gagging on his snot, and farting horrible stenches. Louise has to do something before all of her customers walk out on her.

OOC: I sure have a lot of American Darkness 2 characters with “Brad” in their last names. Actually, the only other two characters like that are Beth Bradshaw (D&D cleric from Emoticon Artist) and Eric Bradley (schizophrenic millennial from Cold and Scared).


In the wake of Marie Krepps creating a new book cover for and advertising the hell out of Occupy Wrestling (to which I give my never-ending thanks), my next Dark Fantasy Warrior will be one of Keegan’s monsters. He’s a scythe-wielding, psychopathic skeleton named Riley Warpthroat. Marie used to jokingly call him “Really Deepthroat”, but make no mistake about it, this monster is one of Mitch McLeod’s toughest opponents, especially during a time in the story where the World Champ is being worn down from all of these battles.


(I think I just found the perfect intro for a song in Necrograph called “Why Are You Laughing at Me?”)

SMALL BOY: That Lacey Sturm is so pretty! When I grow up, I’m going to marry her!

CROWD: Hahahahahahaha!

SMALL BOY: W…why are you laughing at me?

CROWD: Hahahahahahahaha!

SMALL BOY: (sniff)…(sniff)…Why?

ACTUAL SONG CHORUS: Tell me why! Why are you laughing at me?! / Tell me who! Who should I try to be?! / Tell me what! What the fuck is your deal?! / Tell me how! How should I fucking feel?!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ben and Me

DIRECTOR: Hamilton Luske
YEAR: 1953
GENRE: Children’s Animation

In 1745 colonial America, Amos Mouse leaves home to try and find work, but gets stuck in frozen weather with nothing to eat and very little money to spend. He takes shelter in a printing shop owned by soon-to-be American Revolutionary Benjamin Franklin, who has only twenty-four hours to pay his rent at the threat of being evicted. Amos earns Ben’s trust by helping him invent bifocal glasses, the Franklin Stove, and the Pennsylvania Gazette. Their friendship becomes strained when Ben’s electrical experiments endanger Amos’s wellbeing, which is especially damning considering war between the colonies and England is on the horizon. Can they mend fences long enough to bring peace to what will eventually become the United States of America?

While Disney movies tend to stretch the truth when it comes to history, it’s still fascinating to see Ben Franklin’s various achievements throughout the cartoon. The scene where he and Amos are printing copies of the Pennsylvania Gazette is interesting just to see how printing presses worked in those days with individual letter blocks, a tube of ink, and a giant stamp. In Pennsylvania weather, it’s also refreshing to see just how effective the Franklin Stove is at bringing heat to the shop (after they run the smoke up the chimney, of course). I’ve never worn glasses before, but in 1745 when technology was in its infancy, it’s good to know that Ben has his bifocal glasses for getting work done and going outside. These inventions were enough to pay Ben’s bills and strengthen the bond between himself and Amos. I like seeing those kinds of stories.

I know about this movie because I watched it all the time as a small child with my mother. Because I was that little, I found certain aspects of the movie funny that may have been overlooked by others. The first comedic moment happened when Ben Franklin sneezed on Amos and broke his reading glasses. The way he sounded always tickled my brain. The same thing is true when Ben ran into a street post and knocked his three-cornered hat over: the sound of his scream had me rolling on the floor. Amos had a strange moment of comedy as well. When he’s helping Ben print copies of the Gazette, he ends up with a giant Y on his shirt after being stamped onto the letter blocks. The music they played near the end of that scene with the dramatic violins helped get the giggles out of me too. You know you’ve had a happy childhood when you can laugh at silly things like that and never question them until you’re all grown up.

Then there was a moment of the movie that scared me as a kid. It was the scene where Ben was flying his kite in stormy weather and Amos gets electrocuted by lightning. The screams of “Ben!” coming from the little mousy pie were disturbing to me, especially since Amos was voiced by the same guy who did Winnie the Pooh twenty-four years later. Imagine if that had been innocent little Pooh fixated to the kite with a metal tip near the top. It would break the sweetie bear’s little heart. Amos, on the other hand, was madder than hell and rightfully so. As an adult, I question Ben’s judgment as to why he needed Amos on the kite in the first place. Zapping the mouse in the tail with a printing press is one thing, but this is a lightning storm we’re talking about. He could have killed the little guy, though he didn’t because this is a G-rated movie. What if Amos/Pooh didn’t have the G-rating to protect him? Then what?

While this movie didn’t bring me good grades in high school history classes, it was a great deal of entertainment for me as a little guy growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Small children aren’t expected to take history seriously, not until they’re old enough to go to school. They don’t care if a mouse helped Ben Franklin through times of war. They’re just happy to see the little guy and hear his Winnie the Pooh voice. Thank you, Ben and Me, for being my little piece of childhood heaven. I still appreciate it as an adult, especially since I’m not particularly age-conscious. The fact that I even looked this movie up on You Tube shows that I don’t care about age expectations. How does a passing grade sound?

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Swear Words

Many told Bernard Hamm that he would never amount to anything. They told him he would die in his twenties due to his obesity. They told him he was too lazy to get anything done. And yet, here he was sitting at a booth at the Paulson City Public Library signing copies of his debut fantasy novel “Memento Mori”. The crowd was modest in size, but Bernard didn’t mind. The fact that he got his novel out there said something to all of his haters: that he was here to stay despite being over three hundred pounds.

Mr. Hamm looked the part of a professional author in his beige polo shirt, black slacks, and thick-rimmed glasses. He also felt like one when his massive autographing hand was getting tired. He gripped his wrist and rolled his hand around as if that would give him any circulation. He had to put his exhausted paw to use once again when he wagged a finger at a teenaged girl trying to take pictures of him, to which she apologized and walked off.

One person Bernard kept his eye on was a caramel-skinned man with puffy black hair and a white tank top. The familiar figure kept looking at his dying cell phone and cursing loudly, to which the librarians had to shush him. Bernard shook his head and continued singing autographs until the last of the small crowd had dispersed for the day. The tubby author clutched his wrist and rolled his hand around some more. He even opened and closed his fingers while the puffy-haired gentleman asked the clerk loudly for internet access.

Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Bernard kept his eyes down and fiddled with his hands some more, a sure sign that anxiety was building within him. Maybe it was time to get the hell out of this library for the day. But first, Bernard cracked both of his wrists and popped his fingers, as if this would alleviate some of his nervousness. He also took deep breaths due to his heart racing inside his massive body. Just get up and walk casually out the door.

“Barney-Boy? Is that you, buddy?” said the loudmouth from across the library. The shit-eating grin on his face put a saggy frown on Bernard’s. “Remember me, big man?” said the man as he approached the author’s booth. “It’s your boy, Diego Martinez! We used to go to school together! Holy shit, man! You ain’t changed one bit, buddy!”

“Some things never do,” said Bernard with his chin shamefully tucked against his chest.

“Holy shit, I gotta get a picture of this. This is gonna go live, man! You’re gonna be famous!” said Diego as he pulled out his cell phone. “I still got some juice left. How did that happen? Let’s snap a few of these bad boys!”

“Put the phone away, Diego. I don’t allow pictures at my book signings,” said Bernard with a lack of conviction, still keeping the shameful look on his pudgy face.

“Hey, it’s a free country, man. I’ll take a picture of whatever I want. Besides, you want people to buy whatever the fuck you wrote, right? Well, you gotta put yourself out there, big man,” said Diego before snapping the first few pictures and yelling “OH!”

“Put the goddamn phone away and stop taking pictures of me! Don’t you have any respect for privacy?” said Bernard as his tone grew more aggressive with his sausage fingers clenched.

“Man, you ain’t gonna get no sales sitting behind a booth all day. Trust me, buddy, you need those sales for some kind of gym membership or something,” said Diego while snapping more pictures.

Bernard’s chubby cheeks were burning bright pink. His short fingernails dug into his palms. Sweat poured from his face like a rainstorm with plenty of thunderclouds. “I’m going to count to five. If you don’t put that goddamn phone away, I’m going to bend you over this booth and shove it up your ass!”

“Man, why the fuck do you care about stupid shit like that? That bullying business was a long time ago. Ain’t nobody gonna care if you’re a big guy. Your doctor might, but I don’t think anyone else will. Seriously, man, I’m doing you a favor. You need some motivation or something,” said Diego while once again snapping photos with the frequency of a machinegun.

“That’s it!” shouted Bernard as he bulldozed the booth and charged at Diego, who was too busy playing the role of paparazzi to notice the three hundred pound juggernaut was ready to strike. Diego snapped out of his Face Book-addicted trance long enough to feel boa constrictor fingers around his throat.

Everyone around the library went from anxious ignorance to fleeing panic, screaming as they ran away rather than doing something to help Diego. The librarian behind the desk fumbled with the phone cradle as she punched three familiar numbers. Her speech was reduced to stuttering gibberish as she fearfully related the incident over the phone.

As the purple-faced Diego was on his knees trying to pry Bernard’s fingers loose, the heavy hitter bellowed, “I told you not to take any fucking pictures, you stupid son of a bitch! I don’t like being fat! I don’t like being bullied online! I don’t like…!”

The fading Diego used the last of his strength to uppercut Bernard in the balls, forcing him to release the chokehold and stumble on the ground holding his family jewels. The wannabe photographer rolled on his side and coughed up a conservative amount of blood before taking labored breaths in and out that felt like swallowing knives.

As soon as he got an adequate amount of oxygen in his lungs, Diego pointed his finger at the downed Bernard and said, “You know what? I tried to help you! I tried to put the good word out there! I tried to help you get some motivation to get your fat ass off the couch! Now I’m gonna sue your ass!” He pointed at the shivering librarian and said, “You’re gonna be my witness!”

The librarian crouched down on the floor in the fetal positions and stuttered, “I…I can’t do that, Mr. Martinez. I…I just…I can’t!”

Diego leapt to his feet and sucked down a whirlwind of precious oxygen. “You saw what that fat fucker did to me! You’d better cooperate! I’ll sue this whole damn library if I have to! What’re you guys good for anyways?!” He slowly stalked the cowering librarian like a tiger on a wounded animal. “You think either you or this fat bastard over here are gonna get famous with books?! Nobody cares about books no more! I came in here to get some free internet and you’re gonna give it to me, bitch!”

Bernard held onto a nearby bookshelf to try and pull himself to his feet, but he kept his legs crossed due to the searing pain in his balls. He fell over on his side and watched Diego hold a hand up like he was going to slap the librarian for not doing her job. Mr. Martinez shouted, “Come on, little lady! Be a woman! Do what I tell you!”

Bernard got on his hands and knees in another attempt to pull himself up, but he fell over once again, the pain in his groin too much. Diego’s shouting turned into a cacophony of gibberish, which meant the corpulent author was fading into darkness. He heard the sound of skin slapping skin and that was enough to wake him up in a burning rage.

He slowly stood up while trying to ignore the pain in his nuts. Diego was a blur from where he was standing, but he was enough of a clear shape for Bernard to unleash his pent up anger. So many times he’d been called out for being fat. So many times he was called a loser. So many girls refused to go on dates with him. Those that did ended up doing it on a dare. And now this piece of shit known as Diego Martinez was going to bring those nightmares back to life like a necromantic apocalypse.

Bernard grabbed a hardcover book off of the shelf and tried to focus his eyes on Diego, who was screaming more gibberish and slapping the librarian in short bursts. The good thing about being this massive was that it gave Bernard a liberal amount of strength. He raised the book over his head while the pain in his nuts got hotter. Even with a testicle injury, Bernard threw the hardcover book and dropped to his knees in pain.

He heard a loud thud before his vision became somewhat dark. The last thing he remembered hearing was the sound of a body dropping on the floor. Even with blurry eyes opening halfway, that hairdo of Diego Martinez was unmistakable. Even little spots of red danced across Bernard’s eyes.

The hardcover book found its mark: right in the back of Diego’s head. Why lift weights when the strength was already there? Why change who he was when his inner strength was more impressive than his physical strength? Bernard would have loved to tell Diego that, but both men were too unconscious to have a real conversation.

The next couple of days were a blur for Bernard Hamm. He spent some of that time in the hospital and was too sedated to remember it all. He stayed at home recuperating and dreaded getting out of bed one morning because his computer was right there. With computers came internet service. With internet service came trolls. With trolls came pictures snapped by Diego’s phone.

Bernard’s stomach was in more knots than a hangman’s rope, which he was certain he needed once this day was over. How many days had it been since the incident in the library? Two? Three? Seven? Surely that amount of time was long enough for a few fat pictures to circulate.

The author slumped out of bed, but slowly, not only to help him recover, but also to delay having to see the inevitable. He sat down at his desk with ease and powered on his computer. As the machine was booting up, so was the cold feeling in his veins and the ill feeling in his stomach. He broke out in an icy sweat and took note of his rapidly beating heart. And then the computer was fully functional.

Bernard took labored breaths before opening Google Chrome and checking his Amazon page. Sure enough, the trolls had come out from under their bridges. One-star reviews, fat jokes until the end of time, and Photoshopped pictures of Bernard as Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. Tears welled up in the author’s eyes as he grabbed a nearby tissue and blew his wide nose.

What he saw next brought even more waterfalls to his sore eyes: five-star reviews to counteract the one-star hits, book sales doubling, and comments about Bernard Hamm’s heroism in the library when he knocked out Diego Martinez long enough for the cops to take the obnoxious punk to jail.

Bernard’s chest was soaked with tears and snot. He couldn’t blow his nose fast enough to keep all of the emotion from flowing out of him. For every Diego Martinez in this world, there was an angel from the heavens. For every anti-fat bigot, there was a beautiful soul. For every poorly-spelled message on an internet board, there was a copy of “Memento Mori” sitting on a bookshelf waiting to be read. For the first time in Bernard Hamm’s life, he was free.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mom's Knee Surgery


A lot of my friends and family members are asking about this, so I’m going to use this journal entry as an opportunity to answer those lingering questions. This past Tuesday morning, my mom had surgery on her left knee. This operation had been a long time coming since she was always having trouble walking around, especially when it came to climbing stairs. There was even a time during our Hawaiian vacation back in October where she had to be pushed around in a wheelchair to get to our flights on time.

Dale and I visited Mom in the hospital yesterday and she was in good spirits. She said that the surgery wasn’t anywhere near as bad as she thought it was going to be and that she would recover quickly and uneventfully. The whole operation took an hour and half and she was up and walking by herself a short time later. She had to use a walking device that we borrowed from our next door neighbors Bill and Chris and it turned out to be a huge help in her getting around. I can’t thank my neighbors enough for their undying support.

Earlier today, Mom came home with Dale doing the driving. Mom isn’t allowed to drive for at least six weeks while her knee heals. She’s also going to need to take Vicodin in case her pain flares up. I personally would have suggested medical marijuana since it’s legal in Washington state, but I’m pretty sure it’s a banned substance when it comes to receiving social security benefits. Oh well. Mom is a fighter when it comes to hardships. She survived the remodeling of two houses in 2016, one in North Carolina and one on our own home. She also survived a rat infestation which has her traumatized for life. At 69 years old, she still has a lot to give in this life. If she needs hair fuzzles and shoulder rubs along the way, I’m more than happy to give them to her.

Tomorrow morning, she begins physical therapy to rehab her knee. I’ve had physical therapy before when I had to tighten my left labrum back in place, so if she needs encouragement or experience, she can turn to me. Yes, the exercises can be excruciating sometimes (especially for a 69-year-old woman), but all of the hard work will be worth it in the end. We have a Mexican cruise planned in March, so she’ll have plenty of time to get her knee ready for some fun in the sun. I’d love to see Mom swimming around with manta rays and turtles like we did when we were in Hawaii in 2010.

Just like with any physical setback, the road to recovery is going to take some time and hard work. My mom has been through a lot in her lifetime, so doing physical therapy exercises isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to hardships. She can get through this. I know she can. She’ll have all of us to cheer her on. And then when she comes home for the day, she can fall asleep in her rocking chair with a kitty on her lap and Bones on TV. I always rib her for being a stereotypical old lady who falls asleep in her chair, but it’s all in good fun. To be honest, she’s earned her right to snooze and snore for as long as she wants to. She’s a wonderful mother and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

If you want to wish my mom a speedy recovery, then you can do so in this blog entry. Thanks in advance! We’ve got ears, say cheers!


The new contest started yesterday and the theme will be “Brand New”. When I posted this synopsis on Good Reads, I already had someone say they could relate to the main character (Bernard). Let’s hope he can keep relating when I actually write the story. It’s called “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Swear Words” and it goes like this:


  1. Bernard Hamm, Corpulent Author
  2. Diego Martinez, Obnoxious Photographer

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Bernard’s debut novel could be considered brand new.

SYNOPSIS: Bernard’s debut novel was just published and he’s promoting it at a local bookstore by signing free copies. His only request is that nobody takes pictures of him due to his self-consciousness about his weight and general appearance. Diego completely dishonors Bernard’s request by pulling out his smart phone and taking unwanted selfies with him. Diego justifies his forceful photography by saying the author owes it to his fans and that this is a free country. Bernard becomes increasingly angry with the intrusive picture taking and attempts to strangle Diego with his own bare hands. Diego goes so far as to threaten a lawsuit against his attacker, but Bernard doesn’t care.

FUN FACT: This story is inspired by an incident that happened to Amy Schumer a few years ago when an obsessive fan took unwanted pictures of her in South Carolina. Now Miss Schumer won’t allow pictures of any kind because of what happened.


Up next on the chopping block is Casey Carter, the creepy undertaker from “Having a Cold One”. Come to think of it, there aren’t really any heroes in that story. It’s just two villains fighting over a dead body, but for different and often disturbing reasons. I already did a drawing of the other character in that story, Jay David, so Casey Carter was naturally next.


CUSTOMER: Cute cat. What’s his name?

RANDAL: Annoying Customer.

CUSTOMER: Fucking dickhead!


"Child of the Night Guild" by Andy Peloquin

BOOK TITLE: Child of the Night Guild
AUTHOR: Andy Peloquin
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: Fiction
SUBGENRE: Dystopian Fantasy

When Viola’s father can’t pay off his loan from the Night Guild, he has no choice but to sell her into servitude. Under the tutelage of the insanely cruel Master Velvet, Viola is put through a battery of painful and exhausting tests under the threat of being murdered, starved, and/or tortured for failure. She, along with eleven other child students, are given new names and are told to forget everything about their past, which they do. In this dark fantasy hybrid of Pink Floyd the Wall and Full Metal Jacket, Viola, now named Seven, has only one goal if she wants to see the light of day ever again: survive. There is no turning back for her or anybody else in the Night Guild. They live and die by their abilities to become convincing thieves, an occupation which will repay their families’ debts.

If you’re looking for a tale of darkness and cruelty that rivals any child kidnapping story you hear about in the news, Child of the Night Guild will tear you to shreds. The harsh treatment of Viola/Seven is so consistent and so heartbreaking that you as the reader are convinced that this story will end on a sour note. While I won’t divulge what happens, you can bet your bottom dollar that this would be a scenario no ordinary person would survive. The students of the Night Guild are insulted, humiliated, starved, slashed, and slapped around as a way of stripping them of their individuality (and quite possibly their sanity). You know deep in your heart that there’s no way out, so there really is no praying for the best, because you’ll expect the worst. If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, then you know there’s a meat grinder waiting for these children at the end of the cookie factory maze.

On a somewhat lighter note, every time I read an Andy Peloquin novel, he comes off as an expert on whatever it is his story entails. In this case, the children are training to be cunning thieves, which requires a great deal of dexterity, cleverness, and thousands of hours of practice. When someone balances across a thin beam, pickpockets an unsuspecting sod, or searches for treasure in the most unlikely of places, you are convinced that these methods are the right way to get the job done. That’s not to say that Andy is an expert thief or a violent sociopath, but it tells you a lot about how much research he put into this novel. Everybody loves an intelligently-written novel and this one is no exception. Andy Peloquin is a scholar in every sense of the word.

Another likeable trait about Mr. Peloquin’s novels is his writing style. You’re not just watching a movie unfold before your eyes; you’re feeling every burning pain that Viola goes through. Whether it’s hunger pains, burning muscles, slashed fingers, or the general anxiety of being put through serious torture, it adds to this scenario of there being no way out for these children. These agonizing descriptions slowly transform Viola into Seven and Seven into the shadowy thief known as Ilanna. Any shred of innocence she once had will be lost because of the pain she feels throughout the story. We as readers get to feel everything. If you want to cry or listen to Linkin Park songs afterwards, I won’t blame you one bit.

For all intents and purposes, this should be the perfect novel for anybody who loves a good dystopian nightmare. For me personally, I love darkness, but I feel like this is too much darkness for me to handle. Maybe I’ve gotten soft and sensitive over the years, but when I read this novel, it reminds me too much of the Jaycee Dugard story on the news. She was kidnapped at the age of eleven and was raped and molested repeatedly by her captor until she was rescued at age of twenty-nine. It might seem like I’m comparing apples to oranges, but that’s just what I think of whenever I see so much darkness in one place. Nevertheless, this book receives a passing grade because it’s that damn good.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Staple Gun Gangster

The tremendous bangs against Marco Said’s door jarred him awake, making him believe for a moment his house was being raided by the police. He sat in bed wearing nothing but Nike shorts and cursing when he saw what time it was on his digital clock. Three in the morning. Who in the hell would want to wake up Marco at three in the morning? He slipped on a pair of socks and running shoes (not even bothering with his shirt) and grabbed his trusty staple gun from the nightstand.

As he advanced toward the front door, the pounds became louder and Marco’s annoyance turned to full-blown rage. “Wait a fucking minute!” he yelled. Still awakening from his peaceful slumber, the gangster rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stumbled on his way to answer the door. He didn’t even bother turning the porch or living room lights on.

When Marco saw the slimy, slobbering green mess of a man before him, the black gangster didn’t look the least bit intimidated. In fact, Mr. Said had a scowl on his face that would shake marine drill instructors to their cores. With his staple gun raised in the air, he snapped, “You better have a damn good reason for coming over here at three in the fucking morning! Who the hell are you and what the fuck do you want, bitch?!”

The muck-covered visitor smiled and exposed his rotten brown teeth. He laughed in a monstrous growl of a voice and said, “I’m the Boogeyman! And I need a favor. I hear you can get me some serious cash in a big hurry.”

“At three in the morning? What the hell does your ass need at three in the morning? I ought to staple your ass right now for waking me up this fucking early!” threatened Marco, shooting a few staples in the air for a demonstration.

The Boogeyman put a hand to his chest and feigned terror when he said, “A staple gun? Ooooo!” The monster even wiggled his fingers in sarcasm. “I thought you original baby gangsters liked to use some serious hardware. I was expecting an AK-47 or something like that. But instead you’ve got a staple gun. A gun…for stapling!” He laughed like a bloodthirsty hyena while leaning backwards and slapping his thigh.

Not wanting to be screwed with any further than he has, Marco shook his head and fired a staple into The Boogeyman’s leg, causing the monster to splash goop all over the gangster’s shorts and clutch his wound with almost mock agony. “You see that shit?” said Marco. “Any bitch nigga can shoot off a machinegun or sell cocaine on the streets. Me? I handle my business up front. Now, either you tell me what you want money for or I’ll shoot your ass again!”

The Boogeyman breathed heavily and chuckled once again before standing up straight to meet Marco’s gaze with a sinister grin. “Alright, buddy. You win. You see, it’s been a while since I’ve had any…how shall I put this…action.”

“Well, no shit, dawg! Your ass looks like something from a Michael Jackson video! Why don’t you dance down the street doing your Thriller thing and I’ll get my ass back in bed!” said Marco as he prepared to close the door.

The only thing that stopped him was The Boogeyman holding his hands out and saying, “No, wait! You’re right. I’m not much to look at. But…if I had some of that cold hard cash, these little girls wouldn’t have a choice! Get my drift? Some people like to dine on sweeter things than that. Me? My favorite kind of food…is fetish-ccini!”

As the monster laughed at his own pun, Marco fired another staple, this time at the creature’s groin, causing him to double over in a modicum of pain. Marco barked, “My noodle is your momma’s favorite kind of pasta, motherfucker! Now get your ass out of here! Ain’t nobody messing with no kids on my watch!”

“Since when did you become the paragon of morality?” said the Boogeyman with the widest of grins, still hunched over. “You’re a loan shark, one who kills people who don’t pay their debts on time. You’re right, buddy: you are a real thug. Those staples hurt like hell, whereas a bullet would end someone’s life right away. You’re not a murderer. You’re a torturer. You’re like me except without the slimy body.”

“Alright, boy, I see your point. Let me get some cheddar real quick. Stay right here,” said Marco, who reached into his secret panel and pulled out a ten dollar bill. He waved it in front of the Boogeyman’s face and said, “With the kind of bitches you’re looking for, this is all you’re going to need.” The gangster then stapled the ten dollar bill to the creature’s forehead, eliciting a much louder howl of pain than before. “We’re done for the day. Now get your ass off my front porch or I’ll turn you into a Swiss cheese, bitch!”

Marco slammed the door shut and locked both deadbolts. He shook his head in disbelief and said, “What the hell was all that about?” as he stumbled back to his bedroom, not wanting to wait another moment to get some shuteye. He kicked off his sneakers and pulled off his socks before jumping back into bed. The sounds of the Boogeyman screaming in agony were drowned out by the thickness of the front door. If anything, they were like a lullaby to Marco Said’s ears. He drifted off into the dream world without further incident.

By the time the staple gun gangster woke up, he saw that it was noon on his digital clock. She shoved it off the nightstand and cursed under his breath. Marco sat on the edge of his bed rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and contemplating the events of last night. Who in the hell was that guy? Why was he covered in goop? Why did it even matter that he looked like a creature out of a sci-fi movie? He threw on his same shoes and socks as well as a basketball jersey that was laying on the floor in a pile of unfinished laundry. He also grabbed his staple gun and reloaded it before heading toward the front door to start his day.

He dropped the weapon and stared at the gigantic hole in his door with wide eyes and furrowed brows. The door was covered with acidic slime and the floor had green footprints leading elsewhere. His secret money panel had been broken into as well. “What the fuck?!” he yelled before picking his staple gun back up again and following the footprints ever so slowly.

The closer he got to the closed bathroom door, the louder the sounds of muffled child screams echoed throughout the hallway. Marco’s blood boiled and his trigger finger got itchy. His menacing business stare turned into teeth-clenching, white-knuckle rage. The muffled screams were deafening and the sounds of goop slurping about were even more obnoxious. He was somewhat afraid to touch the door handle since it too was covered in that disgusting green filth.

With his hand tucked in his jersey, Marco slowly opened the door to see the Boogeyman laughing it up while the muffled children’s screams were behind the closed shower curtain. The creature shouted, “It’s complete! My revenge is complete!”

Not caring if that made sense or not, the gangster stapled the Boogeyman’s forehead, chest, and groin repeatedly, splashing green blood against the vanity and shower curtain. The monster curled up next to the toilet in a pathetic ball of pain while Marco shouted, “I told you what was going to happen if you kept messing around with me, motherfucker! I ain’t playing no games with you! I’ve got staples for days, bitch! I’ll do this shit for as long as I want! Those Guantanamo motherfuckers are pussies compared to me! Your ass is in for a long ass night!”

After the initial wave of torture wore off, the Boogeyman laughed in rebellion as if he didn’t care about Marco’s wrath one bit. When asked what was so funny, the creature said, “Don’t you get it, buddy? I didn’t need those children for a good time. Nah, I needed them for a little bit of revenge.” When asked what he was talking about, the Boogeyman said, “Did you ever wonder why those kids turned to prostitution? To pay their bills of course. Their parents couldn’t do it because they were killed by a certain staple gun gangster, who by the way didn’t like late payments and collected with interest.”

Marco looked down at the monster with solemnity before shouting, “Bullshit! This is all just a game! Your ass is having a laugh!”

“Trust me, Mr. Said: there’s nothing funny about growing up in the hood with no parents and no other way to pay bills than having sex with strange men. If you need proof, just ask them yourself,” said the Boogeyman before slowly standing up and drawing back the shower curtain.

Marco’s eyes widened with horror for the first time in a long while. He was shakier than a woman’s sex toy at the sight of black teenaged girls covered in slime, just like the Boogeyman. They drooled, droned, and gurgled as they screamed for vengeance and hungered for blood. The Boogeyman placed a not-so-loving hand on Marco’s shoulder and said, “My name is Kip Kyle, but you’ll remember me as the father one of these children. Surely, the name Kip Kyle means something to you, right? Maybe the name of a former customer?”

The gangster’s heavy nervous breathing turned to cowardly whimpers as he curled up against the bathroom sink holding his staple gun with a quaking arm. Kip Kyle raised his goopy arm and brought it down with his finger pointed right at his murderer, signaling for the little slime balls to chomp, chew, and devour their way through Marco’s body.

The gangster would have screamed, but blood was in his throat after a girl gnawed on his neck. Soon enough, the staple gun gangster was nothing more than a pile of picked bones, bloody rivers, and slurped organs. The teenaged girls’ hungers for vengeance and human meat were both satisfied to the point of fat bellies and bright brown smiles. One of them even let out a loud burp to the others’ laughing delights.

Another one of the girls asked, “Can we go home, Daddy?” in a gargling voice.

“Yes,” said Kip. “We can all go home now. The last one to the sewers is a rotten egg!”

Thunder Sword

With my thunder sword!
I will slay the horde!
I will win this war!
Shake shit to its core!

I am the bringer of light
I am the one who will fight
I am the paladin knight
I will do what is right
No more dark politics
No more dirty tricks
No more throwing bricks
At the weak and the sick

With my thunder sword!
I will slay the horde!
I will win this war!
Shake shit to its core!

I will occupy
The wasteland and sky
Justice will be mine
Right now is our time
I ride on my warhorse
Cut straight to the source
Leaving another corpse
A thousand more of course

With blade in hand
I’ll cleanse this land
I’ll be the last to stand
I’ll be the firebrand
I’ll bring you down
As my war cry sounds
It’s the final slash
Your body turns to ash

With my thunder sword!
I will slay the horde!
I will win this war!
Shake shit to its core!
I will thirst for more!
In this world of scorn!
I have become reborn!

In this blood rainstorm!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Liars and Thieves

You spread lies like you spread your legs
Giving it all away free to anyone who begs
Libel is your bible and fraud is your god
Yet you wonder why you’re a lightning rod
Well placed punches never shut you up
You drink in sympathy like a coffee cup
Everyone is eating out of your filthy hands
Lies and rumors are the laws of the land

Liars and thieves! People to believe!
Thieves and liars! Slander for hire!
Gather around the cult of personality!
He chokes on bullshit ever so laughably!

Reputations ruined and lives shattered
Spirits broken and psychologies battered
Brains feel number than a shot of Novocain
Hearts feel crushed underneath the pain
Weaponizing words is an act of war
You’re an iron dictator to the deepest core
Weaponizing fists is an act of revenge
Nobody stops until everyone is dead

Liars and thieves! People to believe!
Thieves and liars! Slander for hire!
Gather around the cult of personality!
He chokes on bullshit ever so laughably!

A cold jail cell is the last circle of hell
The result of the fighting after the bell
The high school became a boxing ring
The final punch has dethroned the king
Justice or revenge? What’s the difference?
One takes longer and the other is instant
The road to hell is paved with bitter blood
There is no exit ramp to lead you to love

Liars and thieves! People to believe!
Thieves and liars! Slander for hire!
Gather around the cult of personality!
He chokes on bullshit ever so laughably!
The truth alone never freed anybody!
When no one even bothers to study!
Everybody wants to plant the seeds!
Of ignorance for the liars and thieves!


Coming up next on Celebrity Bullshit: this Hollywood stud fucked an entire village of mentally challenged trolls! More news at eleven. Here’s Stacy with the weather.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rescuing Animals


As a creative writer, artist, and photographer, I see artistic merit in a lot of things. Rescuing animals and giving them loving homes isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s one of those things I see creative input in. In this case, your canvas is a homeless animal with a rough past who needs someone to love. Love is your paintbrush and everything else is color. The name that you give the animal, the way you play with it, the times you snuggle together, these are all ways in which you add to your beautiful picture. We like seeing animals rolling on their backs, playing happily, and purring like motors, thus we have a picture we love.

That’s why I decided to start donating money to the ASPCA once again. The work they do for homeless and abused animals is phenomenal. Same thing goes for places like The Humane Society and Animal Rescue Friends. With their critter canvases, they’re expressing love and friendship to the world around them. Give a big round of applause for these awesome people.

Back in December, Mom and I kept accessing the Kitsap Humane Society’s website to check on the adoption status of a Pitbull-Terrier mix named Dad. We visited the shelter earlier and saw that he needed a home. He had been living at the shelter for months after being surrendered by a homeless woman who couldn’t afford to take care of him anymore. Every day the volunteers at the KHS took Dad for walks, rides, and cups of Puppicciono (whipped cream from Starbucks for the puppies to lick).

They did everything they could to keep him happy, but he needed a home for the holidays. Mom and I would have loved to take him, but his profile said that he didn’t get along with small children or other animals. He had to be the only one. With such strict standards, Dad was naturally hard to adopt. And then a few days after Christmas, Dad was adopted by an ex-soldier who probably needed a dog to ease the symptoms of his PTSD. The soldier even posted pictures of Dad playing around in his new yard and generally being a big ol’ happy pup.

Even if you can’t afford to adopt an animal, there are still ways in which you can make these beautiful creatures happy until the day they do find a home. Donating money is the most common way, but you can also donate things like blankets, stuffed animals, leashes, and doggy beds. You think a big ol’ puppy-duppy would love rolling around in a fuzzy blanket while cuddling with a brown teddy bear? You bet he would!

In addition to donating money every month to the ASPCA, I also plan on donating my stuffed animal collection to the Kitsap Humane Society. Don’t get me wrong, I love cute toys, but cuddling with a stuffed Michigan Frog doesn’t compare to snuggling with the real thing, by that I mean my elderly brown kitty Smokey. Before the stuffed toys get donated, though, they have to be vacuumed off because of all the dust they’ve accumulated. We can’t have puppy-duppies chewing on dust.

Remember that gum commercial that says, “Give extra, get extra”? It applies to a lot of aspects in life, including giving extra love to an animal in need. When you give a dog or a cat a loving home (even if it’s not your own), the joy you receive is worth so much more than any paycheck. For all of you fellow “Secret” readers out there, you’ll attract positive things to your direction and life will be happy for as long as you keep that love in your heart. Whether or not you want to use the universe analogy, it is true that being a positive and loving person will yield those same results to you.

I’d like to close this off with a thank you to all of the organizations and pet owners out there who make animals’ lives a living heaven. By giving them love, you are artists in your own way by painting their canvases with happy colors. I know I sound like Bob Ross when I say that, but it’s no less true. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to give some pettings to my Smokey-Pokey, who’s resting comfortably on my pillow. Adios, amigos! Thanks for reading!


With the story past the halfway mark, Daniel and his friends find themselves sitting in a holding cell wondering what the hell went wrong. Inciting terrorism? Shouldn’t the cops try to track down Roger Zee, the real terrorist asshole? But surely you guys didn’t forget about what happened to Shawn Henry that fateful night in the police station. Roger’s locus of control goes much deeper than one family man detective. He’s got the entire system by the balls and he’s going to flex that muscle with Daniel and his friends.


Speaking of Demon Axe, the next character on the DFW chopping block is King Arthur Triscloud, ruler of the elven race. Human takeover or not, all he wants is a peaceful society, but he can’t have that as long as Roger Zee is running roughshod over both the elven and human worlds. For the actual picture, I was thinking something along the lines of a modified Gandalf with a crown.


It’s been a while since I’ve done a movie review, so how about we do two of them, both Disney classics? In this case, we’ve got “Ben and Me” and “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, both of which feature the unmistakable voice of Sterling Holloway as Amos Mouse and Pooh Bear respectively. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to give them passing or extra credit grades. They were after all a huge part of my childhood. Huge!


Wednesday is always the day that starts off the new contests. In this case, we’ve got one with a “Thriller” prompt. Whoever came up with that one was probably listening to Michael Jackson’s music at the time. That’s perfect, because I’ve got the ideal story for that prompt. It’s called “Staple Gun Gangster” and it goes like this:


  1. Marco Said, Staple Gun Gangster
  2. Kip Kyle, The Boogeyman

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Marco makes a joke about how The Boogeyman looks like he came from Michael Jackson’s music video for “Thriller”, which makes Kip’s penchant for children even creepier.

SYNOPSIS: Marco earned a scary reputation on the streets by using a staple gun as his weapon of torture for those who are late on their loan shark payments. A serial killer masquerading as a swamp monster named Kip Kyle a.k.a. the Boogeyman approaches Marco because he wants money for underage prostitutes. Marco decides that this “swamp creature” is too sick even for his tastes and shoots a few staples into him. When the staples arouse Kip instead of hurt him, Marco anxiously questions whether the Boogeyman moniker is just a gimmick or if he really is a horror movie monster.

FUN FACT: Marco Said is loosely based on former ECW wrestler New Jack, a psychotic gangster who used a staple gun to win hardcore wrestling matches.


“Tell me now, who taught you how to hate? ‘Cause it isn’t in your blood. Not a part of what you’re made. So let this be understood: somebody taught you how to hate. When you live this way, you become dead to everyone.”

-Disturbed singing “Who Taught You How to Hate?”-