Monday, July 31, 2017

"Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening" by Marjorie Liu

BOOK TITLE: Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening
AUTHOR: Marjorie Liu
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: Graphic Novel
SUBGENRE: Dark Fantasy
GRADE: Mixed

In a world consumed by a bigoted war between humans and Arcanics, monsters are treated as second class citizens and are often beaten and enslaved so that witch cults can harvest their powers. Maika Halfwolf is one of those monsters. She gets herself intentionally captured so that she can begin her quest for knowledge as to who her parents are, why she is the way she is, and how she can tame the demon inside of her that devours everything it touches. With a talking cat and a fox girl by her side, she is in constant fear of the demon coming out and killing both of them. And yet, they remain loyal throughout all of the attacks and captures from various witch cults.

If for some reason that opening synopsis sounds a little off, don’t worry, you’re not alone in feeling befuddled. I too was confused by the happenings of this graphic novel. I kept trying to piece together which magician belonged to which alliance. I kept wondering about the terminology. I kept wondering why magicians were attacking members of their own cliques (at least I think they’re part of their own clique, I’m still not sure). For some reason I kept spacing out during the cat lectures in between chapters. The fact that I was able to put together at least SOME of the pieces was nothing short of a miracle. It made me question whether or not I had to read other source material in order to understand this fictional world, but this is the first volume of the Monstress series, so I guess not. Maybe if someone explains it to me in depth, then I can get a better grasp of what’s going on here.

On the bright side, the cats were cuter than a bug’s ear. Yes, they’re intended to be taken seriously by the characters in the story, but that won’t stop me from rubbing their bellies and feeding them Temptations. During one of the cat lectures, there’s a little kitty rolling around on his back playing with a slave collar’s chain. Torturous device aside, that’s still a cute image. I also liked the image of the cat teacher making chocolate-covered mice with the rest of her class. As a lover of animals, it was refreshing to see that these cats weren’t being abused in some way, dark fantasy canon aside. There could have easily been a time where a soldier kicked a cat or flung it against a tree, but that didn’t happen. Thank god good taste prevailed!

Of course, dark fantasy cannot work without delicious violence and this graphic novel has that in spades. Whether it’s Maika’s demon gnawing on living flesh or a cat with two swords slicing and dicing his way to victory, feel free to drink it all in. I especially like the part where Maika slams a prison cell door against a corpulent, torture-loving guard. The guard deserved it almost as much as Captain Byron Hadley from The Shawshank Redemption deserved to be dragged out in cuffs. Maybe those two should get married and go on a honeymoon to Guantanamo Bay. Lots of blood, lots of broken bones, lots of madness, lots of everything! It’s not really fair to call this gornography, whether you’re confused by the storyline or not, but you can get your fill of violence and dirty language easily from a text like this.

If it wasn’t for the muddling storyline and the many pieces that don’t seem to fit, I would have given this graphic novel a passing grade. There have been times I’ve considered doing that anyways because the demonic presence inside Maika Halfwolf reminds me of my own schizophrenia. I love a good story that I can relate to in some way, which sounds like a weird thing to say about a blood-stained dark fantasy book, but that’s the thing about fantasy: it’s just as reflective of our society as modern day drama. But alas, I had an easier time understanding The Matrix than I did this graphic novel. A mixed grade is what Monstress has earned.

Child Bride

You cover it up when you forcibly fuck
You go on a search for the nearest church
To get wed and to get inside of her bed
To put traumatic visions inside of her head

Where’s the pride for the child bride?
We all know what you’re trying to hide
You’ll never keep this all on the inside
Justice will be served by those who cried

Will having nine children be enough for you?
Having a million arguments about nothing new?
She never had a choice, you took her voice
You rave and rant as you take off your pants

Where’s the pride for the child bride?
We all know what you’re trying to hide
You’ll never keep this all on the inside
Justice will be served by those who cried
Where is the pride for the soul that died?
When will we fight for all that is right?
This is entrapment in the worst sense
This is enslavement with the worst sex

Your secret is out, so you scream and shout
There was never a question or even a doubt
The child bride has spoken her damn mind
All lights on you, they needed to be shined
Stutter and sputter, your shit melts like butter
You piss your pants and do a little dance
You plead guilty and get a hundred years
While the child bride keeps living in fear

Where’s the pride for the child bride?
We all know what you’re trying to hide
You’ll never keep this all on the inside
Justice will be served by those who cried
Where is the pride for the soul that died?
When will we fight for all that is right?
This is entrapment in the worst sense

This is enslavement with the worst sex

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Where's My Free Stuff?

Colleen Holt had been on autopilot since she opened the Red Apple Convenience Store for the day. Her eyes were dark with sleepiness, her posture was hunched over, and she barely remembered the name of the man in the camouflage jacket who purchased a newspaper with a debit card. Yes, the card said Richard T. Betts, but what made him so different from any other putty faced customer that came in here? Colleen even let the man read the newspaper at the counter. She was so sleepy that she didn’t think to ask him why he would want to stay here. As long as Richard whatever-the-fuck didn’t bother anybody else, Miss Holt would be cool with it.

The one person who could snap Colleen out of her trance sauntered through the door and ran the bell. “Hey, Joey, how are you doing?” she asked in a perky voice. The gentleman she was referring to was Joey Elkins, a heavily bearded millennial with a ripped Pink Floyd T-shirt barely covering his chubby gut, blue fleece pajama pants that were too high for his ankles, and flip flops that showed off his yellow toenails. When asked how he was doing, Joey gave a slight wave and a half smile to his favorite clerk.

Whenever Colleen saw him walk through the door on a daily basis, his presence reminded her of the many members of her family who had a mental disability of some kind, most of which were confined to mental hospitals with nothing to do all day long. A singular tear dropped down Colleen’s dainty face whenever she thought of Joey in that way. That one drop of water represented a schizophrenic aunt, a bipolar sister, or a depressed father who attempted suicide twice in his life. Miss Holt didn’t want Joey to suffer the same fate, so she made it a point to be as nice to him as possible despite the fact that she hated working here.

“Just the Snickers bar and the can of Coke for today?” asked Colleen with a smile when Joey Elkins approached the counter with those two items. With a nod of the customer’s fuzzy head, the clerk rang him up and announced the prices as two dollars even. When Joey pulled an EBT card out of his lint-filled pocket, that was when Richard pulled his attention away from the newspaper and gave him a wicked glare. Colleen ran the card and it successfully went through. After giving Joey his receipt, she said in her cheeriest voice, “Have a good one, buddy!”

“Good to know my tax dollars are being well spent,” said Richard sarcastically.

“Excuse me?” asked Colleen with her arms folded defensively.

“Oh, nothing,” continued Richard. “It’s just that normally when you buy something from a convenience store, you do it with your own fucking money. There is no free lunch in this country. You’ve got to work your ass off and earn everything you get. You can’t live off of the hard labor of others like a goddamn leech!”

As soon as Joey trembled with anxiety, Colleen tried to step in with, “Excuse me, sir, but you can’t…”

Richard held an open palm to Colleen’s face and said, “Uh-uh! You’re not going to cut me off. This is a free country and I’m invoking my first amendment rights. There’s no safe space for you or this mooch. So step back for a few minutes and let me get this off my chest.”

Colleen felt the harshness radiating off of Richard like a nuclear rod and slowly backed away. She knew she should do something about this coldhearted oratory. It was not only her job as a convenience store clerk, but also a human being with at least a shred of decency in her body. The anxious energy in her gut told her to back off. Perhaps she was the next one to be locked in a padded cell. Maybe Joey would make it there first since he was already trembling like an earthquake going off in his body.

“As I was saying,” said Richard with a switchblade tongue as he pointed at Joey repeatedly. “If you think you’re going to live off of my hard work and take food off of my table, you’re sadly mistaken! Ditch the pajama pants and the crappy T-shirt and get some real clothes so that someone might actually hire you! You’ve got to make your own money and stop expecting society to baby you through life!”

As Joey’s convulsing worsened to where he whimpered, Colleen held up her finger and said, “To be fair…”

“Jesus Christ, lady, what now?!” snapped Richard.

“To be fair…” said Colleen in a shaky voice before clearing her throat. “Welfare and social security are only a small part of the federal budget. We…we…” After being told to spit it out by Richard, she said, “We spent more on war than we do anything else.”

“War?! War?! You think we spend too much money on war?!” shouted Richard. “Check out the jacket, missy! I used to be in the army! We need war! There are terrorists out there who want to bomb the shit out of us and you want to just sit back and do nothing?! That’s extremely disrespectful to our military! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You want to talk about people getting free shit?! Where’s my free shit?! Huh?! Where’s my social security?! I served overseas and you don’t want to give me a damn thing?!”

Colleen just wanted to sink into the ground and cry for the rest of her life. She was done for. Joey was done for. This cold-blooded snake was going to send them both into a nervous breakdown. Not that he’d ever call 9-1-1 except to report an alleged abuse of the social security system. Just when her nervous system was about to shatter like peanut brittle, she overheard Joey pulling the tab on his Coke.

“What?! Uh-uh! No way!” bellowed Richard. “That’s my Coca-Cola! My tax dollars paid for that Coke, so you’re going to give me a drink! As a matter of fact, give me the whole fucking thing while you’re at it!”

Ask and ye shall receive. Joey took a sip of Coke and spit a brown sugary mist all over Richard’s now drenched face. Seeing that image brought tears to Colleen’s eyes, but they were tears of laughter. “That was awesome!” she said with a newfound sense of courage. “Give me five, buddy!” The two high-fived and their anxieties were replaced with comical joy. No more shaking. No more hurting (except for their ribcages). Just solidarity and sweetness between two friends.

Richard, on the other hand, was trembling for a different reason than anxiety. He seethed silently as he grabbed a paper towel and slowly wiped the liquid candy off of his face. He didn’t even care that his cheeks were still sticky with soda. He gritted his teeth and growled like a wolf before attempting to lunge at Joey. He would have had his hands wrapped around the kid’s neck if it wasn’t for Colleen diving across the counter and acting as a barricade between Richard and Joey.

“I’m going to beat your fucking ass, you fucking jerk!” roared Richard as he was being held back by Colleen, whose anxiety had been replaced with lava hot adrenaline. She didn’t care that the man was twice her size; there was no chance in hell he was going to let him hurt her favorite customer. “Let go of me, damn it! I’m going to kill him!”

“Stop it! Stop it!” screamed Colleen and Richard suddenly discontinued his struggle. “You are way out of line, Mister! You can have your free speech and whatever, but you are not entitled to beat the shit out of a mentally disabled man! You know what?! I’ve made up my mind! You’re blackballed from this store! I have your face on the security cameras! I have your credit card information! Your name is Richard T. Betts and you’re never coming back here again! If you do, I’ll have the police come and take you away! Now get the fuck out of my store!” Colleen never trembled so hard in her life. Her heart never beat so quickly. Her head never ached that badly.

Richard spit on the floor and said, “Good, I don’t want to come back to this dump anyways. In fact, I hope this place burns to the ground with both of you trapped inside!” Colleen’s evil stare refused to change in the midst of this bold threat. Nonetheless, Mr. Betts pointed at the teary-eyed Joey and said, “And you! If I ever see you on the streets again, I’m going to beat your fucking ass!” The ex-soldier stormed off and bumped his shoulder in the door on his way out.

Colleen’s expression softened when she saw Joey’s tears multiply and snot building up in his nostrils. “What a jerk! Are you okay, buddy?”

“N…No!” sobbed Joey Elkins, who then received a tight hug and a kiss on top of his shaved head from the equally teary Colleen Holt.

The two of them just stood there hugging it out and crying on each other’s shoulders. Colleen gently whispered, “It’ll be okay, Joey. It’ll all be okay. He’s never coming back again. I promise I won’t let him hurt you anymore.”

“Why do people have to be mean to each other? All I wanted was something to eat and drink!” quivered Joey.

“I know, buddy. I know. I would never look down on you for using a food stamp card. You’re too sweet to me,” said Colleen. She barely noticed a customer standing at the counter with a case of beer tapping his foot impatiently.

She snapped at him, “Hey! Give us a minute! You’ll get your goddamn beer soon enough! Jesus Christ!” She continued to hold Joey in her arms and whisper, “I’m sorry this happened to you. I really am.”

The impatient customer cursed and walked out the door. Colleen didn’t give two shits and a flying fuck. Comforting Joey and making sure he wasn’t alone in this world was more important than a case of beer…and even more important than Richard Betts’s precious tax dollars.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"This Is Me" by C.E. Wilson

AUTHOR: C.E. Wilson
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: Fiction
SUBGENRE: Sci-Fi Romance
GRADE: Mixed

With all of the technological advances in this world, the Asist robot is second to none when it comes to companionship and servitude. Private school substitute teacher Chloe received one named Rogan for her graduation present. The two are inseparable best friends and sometimes lovers, which angers many of Chloe’s friends to the point of bigotry against these robots. Chloe’s human boyfriend Niven is especially enraged and makes any attempt he can to drive a wedge between her and the “fake” Rogan. Sooner or later, Chloe will have to make a decision between her perfect robot and the “real” Niven.

The major themes in this book are humankind’s relationship with technology and ignorant bigotry against anything they don’t understand. These themes are so perfectly interwoven that the novel could spark a debate in today’s real world, especially with such a divided racial structure as we have now. Asists are considered second class citizens because of their technological makeup, but others, like Chloe, argue that they have feelings too. Over a hundred years ago, white slave owners saw black people as less than dirt while abolitionists argued that the slaves were just as real as any other human being. There are also themes of ageism when it comes to young people being so obsessed with technology that they’ll limit human contact on purpose. There are all sorts of civil rights issues being dealt with in this novel. Maybe Chloe should have double majored in music AND political science.

But never forget that this is a romance novel above all else. In the case of Chloe, one of her main love interests is Niven Adams, a rival substitute teacher who wants the same job she’s applying for. If Ms. Wilson wanted to create a hate-worthy villain, she did an A+ job of it with Niven. He’s bigoted against Asists, he’s arrogant, he’s obnoxious, his friends are even more annoying, but his only redeeming quality seems to be that he’s a good singer. Ted Nugent is probably a good singer too, but that doesn’t mean I want to hang around him 24/7, especially after Mr. Nugent told Barack Obama to “suck on [his] machinegun”. With all of these things working against Niven, it makes me wonder why Chloe would ever be attracted to him in the first place. I cringe every time she pushes Rogan away in favor of Niven. Rogan may be a robot, but at least he’s sweeter than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, which is more than I’ll ever say about Niven. This is comparable to the movie Clerks where Dante chooses the smoking hot cheater Caitlin over the loyal and low-maintenance Veronica.

The final thing I want to touch on is the argument structure between these characters. It seems to me that every time two characters want to go back and forth with each other, they’re hesitant to get to the point and they kill time with negative answers. Rogan is especially guilty of doing this when he argues with Chloe. He’s overly apologetic and always at war with himself, which I guess is appropriate for a robot whose sole purpose is to make Chloe happy, but after a while, it wears on the reader. While Rogan is the worst offender when it comes to filler dialogue, he’s hardly the only one who does this. Niven, Monica, and Fitz also tiptoe around their respective subjects.

The senseless arguments and Niven’s disgusting behavior both make me want to give this book a mixed grade. But C.E. Wilson shouldn’t feel too badly about it, because for every fault, there is a redeeming quality that will convince you to buy this book. The romance is hot, Chloe is likeable, the interactions between Fitz and his mini-Asist Bree are cute and cuddly, and of course, my favorite part of the book has to be the civics debate going on as it relates to racism and technophobia. Ms. Wilson has every right in the world to be proud of her work. If she spends more time crafting her dialogue and sorting out her characters’ priorities, then she can do great things in her next few novels. A mixed grade is nothing to sneeze at.

Upcoming Concerts


Instead of posting four separate blog entries detailing my upcoming concerts, I’m going to kill all four of those birds with one stone. Actually, I shouldn’t do that, because killing birds with stones is fucking cruel (even if they are woodpeckers who pound on my walls at six in the morning). As per usual, these concerts (or mini-vacations as I call them) may or may not affect my ability to compete in WSS and/or engage in other creative activities, depending on my mental energy for those free days. Then again, they’re spaced far enough apart, so it may be a non-issue. Anyways, let’s get started.

This coming Friday night, I’m headed to the Pantaegus (SP?) Theater in Tacoma with my brother James and my dad to see Brian Regan perform standup comedy. James and Dad have been huge fans of his since the late 80’s and early 90’s. I haven’t followed Brian Regan as closely as they have, but this night will be a chance for the three of us to see each other nonetheless. My visits with Dad are few and far between save for Father’s Day, his birthday, and Christmas. This will be good for all of us. I hope Brian Regan is on his A-game Friday night, because I could use a good laugh.

The following Tuesday (August 1st), I’m headed over to the White River Amphitheater in Auburn to see Green Day in concert, with their opening act being Catfish and the Bottlemen (whoever they are). I’ve seen Green Day twice in my life, once in 2005 at the Tacoma Dome and once in 2009 at the Key Arena in Seattle. Both times they’ve invited members of the audience to come onstage to help play songs. I play the piano myself, but I don’t think Billie Joe is going to call on me to keep up with him during “The Forgotten”. It should be an awesome show like always.

On August 9th, Metallica is coming to Seattle’s Century Link Field with Avenged Sevenfold and Gojira opening for them. I’ve never seen any of these three bands before, but I know Metallica is going to be something special due to their involvement with bringing thrash metal to life in the 80’s. My first Metallica CD was “Ride the Lightning” and I listened to that one a lot as a small child. I listened to “Load” and the black album quite a bit in my teenaged years. I purchased their other albums and played them on shuffle in preparation for the concert.

And finally, on August 19th, Incubus is coming to the White River Amphitheater with their opening act being Jimmy Eat World. I’ve seen Incubus two times before, once in 2004 at the Key Arena and once in 2012 at the Tacoma Dome when they opened for Linkin Park (rest in peace, Chester). Incubus recently came out with their eighth album, which is appropriately titled 8, and my favorite songs from that CD are “No Fun”, “Throw Out the Map” and “When I Became a Man” (as weird as that last one is).

The fifth item on this list of shows would have been Linkin Park playing at the Key Arena in Seattle with Snoop Dogg opening for them. But as we all found out this past Thursday, Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging at the age of 41 and left a huge hole in the hearts of his loved ones, band mates, and fans. The surviving members of Linkin Park decided to cancel the rest of their One More Light tour out of respect for Chester. I can’t stress enough how depressing this news is. Linkin Park has been a huge part of my teenaged and adult life and they’ll always have a special place in my music collection. Maybe these other bands I’m seeing will pay tribute to Chester in some way whether it’s covering a Linkin Park song or a simple shout-out. That would be a touching sentiment. 

Monday, July 24, 2017


You don’t have the balls to shoot me down!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
You don’t have the balls to watch me drown!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!

You talk forever like it’s a real exercise
Working your jaw muscles by telling lies
That shit’s got to be made out of iron
You think you’ve got balls the size of tires?
You’re shaking and shivering like it’s winter
Your only true pain is like a wooden splinter
You’re no different from the rest of the chickens
Running away when it’s time for ass-kickings

You don’t have the balls to shoot me down!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
You don’t have the balls to watch me drown!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
You don’t have the balls to run this town!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
Cacophony is your greatest sound!

You’ve got your AK-47 locked and loaded
Your hair trigger temper has all but exploded
You’ve got a belt of grenades around your waist
You rush into battle with a zealot’s kind of haste
You throw your life away over temporary anger
Throw yourself in front of unnecessary danger
You’ve got some shrinkage and it’s not laundry
You can’t axe your way out of your own quandary

You don’t have the balls to shoot me down!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
You don’t have the balls to watch me drown!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
You don’t have the balls to ground and pound!
Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
Check for your nuts in the lost and found!

You don’t wear the pants, but you wear the G-string
Cutting your ass off until you’re no longer breathing
You don’t wear the colors, because they run
Shutting you up will be a lot of fucking fun!

Balls! Balls! Balls! BALLS!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

You Tried to Kill Me

You call it a trigger, I call it something bigger
I call you liquored, you’re the one who’s sicker
You tried to take away what I hold highest
My heart, mind, soul, and beautiful silence
Kleptomancy is your magic of choice
Obnoxious bullhorn is your style of voice
I would have screamed to the skies for help
How can anyone hear when I’m chained in hell?

You tried to kill me!
You tried to end it all!
You tried to kill me!
You made me take the fall!

Your empty talk is like a buzzing wasp
Stinging me until my brain goes pop
Pop goes the weasel, down go the people
You make fun of everyone? That’s your spiel?
I don’t buy the idea that this shit’s not personal
You wished me humiliated, wished me terminal
I want to wrap my hands around your pencil neck
Watch shit and piss run down your fucking leg

You tried to kill me!
You tried to end my life!
You tried to kill me!
You might as well pull the knife!

I want to take your inner demons
Turn them against you to make us even
Every ass kicking you have ever taken
Every sad-ass smile you’re just now faking
Every time you were told to go to hell
Every time the crowd laughed when you fell
You’re in my shoes, you’re singing the blues
To say otherwise is nothing but fake news

I tried to kill you!
Put your memories to rest!
I tried to kill you!
Make you famous, not like the rest!
You tried to kill me!
You tried to make me small!
You tried to kill me!
How does it feel to curl in a ball?!

You tried to kill me!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Two-Sentence Horror Stories: The Second Coming

Bertha crashed through the front door with a live chainsaw in hand while her husband cowered in the corner shivering and shedding tears. The monstrous wife bellowed, “I just had to explain to our 11-year-old daughter that sex does not involve KERMIT THE FROG!”

With a lustful stare and erect nipples, Devon drew the hatchet blade across her victim’s throat, bathing in blood and dining on flesh. She later enjoyed a sensual evening of making out with her blade and masturbating with the handle.

Smokey rolled over in her cat bed and purred as she fell asleep. She snapped awake at the sound of her gigantic master bellowing in a Buffalo Bill voice, “I’m going to pet you with the Glove of Love!”

John ordered pizza from Domino’s and gave the attractive delivery girl a generous tip. After she drove away with a cute smile, John got on his computer and looked her up on Face Book while masturbating to her photos.

The patrons at the Kong Chin Chinese Buffet had their hearts racing (for reasons other than the food) at the sound of draconic screaming coming from the men’s bathroom. They felt ill to their stomachs when the burly voice shouted, “Get out of my ass!”

Little Lucy entered her grandfather’s house with a skip in her step and a sunshine smile on her cute face. She gasped in horror when she heard him upstairs screaming like a grizzly bear three times then shouting, “My penis hurts!”

The 300 lb. Barnabas took an alligator chomp out of his bacon cheddar hotdog and spilled some of it in his diet soda. Not caring about the wide-eyed fear coming from the other patrons in the restaurant, he chugged his diet soda with the bacon bits and cheese sauce floating to the top.

Jack sweated profusely and shivered vigorously as he got on stage to sing along with Lzzy Hale and her band Halestorm. His heart nearly exploded like a grenade when Lzzy held his hand the entire time and the audience cheered them both on.

A balding man in a trench coat entered Barnes & Noble and asked, “Can you point me in the direction of your children’s romance novels?” The clerk said, “They’re in the back next to our copies of Teen Playboy.”

Mike stepped on his son’s Lego pieces and danced around in pain while screaming like his offspring. He whimpered with wide eyes when he touched his sock and it felt drenched while smelling like copper.

The Joker had Aquaman strapped to a metal chair with a funnel jammed in his throat. Despite the superhero’s gagged cries for help, the Joker poured a bucket of whale guts into the funnel and watched Aquaman choke and vomit on them.

The Depends “Drop Your Pants for Underwareness” viral video campaign was a success throughout the entire world. The CEO seemed to agree since his waste basket was full of dirty tissues and empty lotion bottles.

The necromancer walked into an abortion clinic with a magical green aura surrounding his wiggling hands. When asked by the shaky clerk how he could be helped, he answered with a sadistic grin, “I’d like to adopt a child today!”

Little Olive’s eyes were cascading with wetness upon watching her father get slashed and beaten at the hands of the demonic butcher. The blade-wielding monster gently laid a finger on Olive’s cheek and said in a throaty, sensual voice, “You’re even cuter when you’re crying!”

Dr. Swagger massaged his patient’s neck and sent him into a nirvana-like trance while prepping him for the adjustment to come. The chiropractor jerked his patient’s skull and got twenty cracks on the left side of his neck along with thirty-two cracks on the right, all of which sounded like fireworks going off.

Strapped naked to a table with kryptonite bindings, Superman bellowed, “I will never marry you, scumbag!” Two-Face, with the diamond encrusted brass ring in his hand, laughed and said, “This ring doesn’t go on your finger, you fool!”

After a lengthy prison sentence, Jared Fogle was back on television as the spokesman for Subway. With a golden smile on his face, he calmly said to the camera, “How would you like to try my Five Dollar Foot-Long in your oatmeal raisin cookie?”

The 400 lb. Karlos waddled into Subway and told the clerk, “I’d like a spinach salad with meatballs and tuna.” The sandwich maker barfed in the salad bowl and Karlos piped up, “Yeah, I’d like some of that too.”

A contestant on Jeopardy selected Rhyme Time for $200 and the clue was, “Disney dog’s date rape drugs.” All three contestants had horrified facial expressions as the triple buzzer sounded and Alex Trebek said, “The correct response: What are Goofy’s roofies?”

As the bank teller counted twenty dollar bills after cashing a check, she asked her customer, “Are you just getting off work?” In a blunt affect voice that bordered on anger and depression, he said, “I’m unemployed.”

Chuck browsed various items at a garage sale when he saw a cookbook entitled “100 Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes”. His eyes bulged out of their sockets when he saw that the author was Jeffrey Dahmer and the forward was written by Guy Fieri.

Fred sat in his would-be supervisor’s office with a benign smile and a cheery attitude during this job interview for the position of child caregiver. The interviewer read the applicant’s resume and said, “According to this, your favorite hobbies include reading, photography, and…ripping the wings off of flies and drowning them in hot bacon grease?!”

After paying for his groceries at the checkout line, Steve pulled a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli from one of the bags and munched it down uncooked in front of the other patrons. Despite the horrified stares he was getting, Steve pulled yet another can of ravioli out of a bag and wolfed that down too, getting a liberal amount of tomato sauce on his T-shirt.

Tears avalanched from Carla’s eyes when she laid on a leather couch and poured her heart out to her psychiatrist about being sexually abused as a child. Her eyes widened and tears multiplied when she saw that her psychiatrist had a rising bulge in his pants while he listened and took notes.

Ryan stood at the counter of Tater’s Gun Shop loading his newly bought AK-47. He peeked in both directions before asking the clerk, “You wouldn’t happen to have any ski masks for sale, would you?”

Julie struck a nude pose for Lyle while he painted a picture in her likeness. When the model saw the final product, she stifled a shriek knowing Lyle just painted her with bloody gashes, broken bones, and a bruised purple groin.

“You’re such a sweet bunny baby!” said Barry in his cutesy-wutesy voice. He rubbed the fuzzy rabbit pelt against his chubby face and squeaked, “You and I will be best friends forever!”

During the ice-breaking internet game The Person Below Me, Kurt typed, “TPBM has children of his or her own.” His blood boiled when Henry responded with, “One mounted on either side of the fireplace!”

On an episode of Wheel of Fortune, the category was “Thing” and the puzzle board read: “C_ _LD P _ _ _ _GRAP_Y”. The blood vessels in Pat Sajak’s brain were ready to explode in a mushroom cloud while he anticipated a contestant guessing something other than “CHILD PHOTOGRAPHY”.

Jenny closed her eyes and relaxed in the comfy leather chair as she was getting a professional foot massage. Her eyes snapped wide open when she felt a pair of dry lips and cracked teeth caressing her toes.

Diana was in the middle of a gynecology appointment when her doctor stopped prodding her for a moment. When asked what was wrong, the doctor held up a bottle of vodka and said, “Have two or three drinks before I finish the examination.”

It's a Natural Function

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Paula Bryan, a loving grandmother, a friend of the community, and a mentor to the most vulnerable members of our society. She passed away this past Saturday night due to natural causes at the age of ninety-one years young. She is survived by her children and grandchildren and remembered by all of the lives she has touched. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth, and…”


The sunshine-filled graveyard was tainted with the odor of a digested Philly cheese steak sandwich eaten by the heaviest member of this funeral procession, Chris Antonio. Despite the suppressed laughter and wicked stares of the black-clad funeral attendees, he threw his hands up defensively and said, “That’ll send some tremors through here.”

The red robed priest Garth Roy snapped his bible shut, took the glasses off of his bald head, and snarled at Chris, “Do you mind? We’re trying to have a funeral and here you are just blasting away! Control yourself!”

“Sorry,” said Chris as he ashamedly tucked his chin with the other attendees.

“As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted,” said Reverend Roy. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth, and…”

Another nuclear blast was exhumed from Chris’s butt cheeks and the family and friends of Mrs. Bryan coughed, hacked, wheezed, and held their noses at the stench. Chris’s cheeks were redder than the roses on the casket.

“What do you have to say for yourself, you little twit?!” fired Garth.

“Sorry again. You should probably get some new roses for the casket, they’re going to die within seconds,” joked Chris, which earned him some not-so-suppressed laughter from the younger members of the service.

“Enough!” shouted Garth while throwing down his bible. His authoritative shriek was enough to kill the laughter and command his due attention. “We’re trying to bury this poor woman and your fat ass is ruining the entire ceremony! If you’re that gassy, there are restrooms right over there!” he said while pointing to said destination with his arthritis-pained finger.

“Ruining?” said Chris with his hands on the wide hips of his black slacks and gray suit jacket. “Ruining, my ass! Actually, that’s probably not the right verbiage I want to use.” The laughter continued much to the teeth-gritting chagrin of Reverend Garth Roy. “But seriously, is that really all you want from us? To cry all day long? Let’s be honest, Reverend: you can spell funeral without F-U-N.”

“Fun?! You think this is fun?! A woman just died last Saturday and all you can think about is your disgusting colon?!” bellowed Garth with his arms flailing. “The video arcade is down the street from here! If you want to have fun and act like a damned child, go over there! We’re here to celebrate Paula Bryan’s life and we’re not going to have you screw everything up!”

“But see, that’s the thing, Reverend Roy: we are celebrating Mrs. Bryan’s life by having a good laugh at this,” said Chris. “You want to know how she became such a well-known mentor to people like me? By putting smiles on our faces, that’s how. She didn’t take life too seriously. She enjoyed a good fart joke every now and then. Speaking of which…” With that, Chris Antonio lifted his right leg and let out another thunderstorm of flatulence, which earned an equal amount of laughter and jeers. He mockingly waved his hand over his nose and said, “Phew! This place smells like we’re standing over a dead body, am I right? Hell, we might as well move this ceremony to the bus station bathroom. It’d smell better, that’s for sure.”

The laughter continued except with Reverend Garth Roy, who picked his bible back up off the ground and slowly crept towards Chris before whacking him over the head with it. The overweight gas machine rubbed the top of his skull and said, “Ow, what did you do that for?!”

“If Paula Bryan were alive today, she would strangle you with her husband’s belt, you sick bastard!” whispered Garth with raspy rage. “She’s looking down at all of us from heaven with disgust!” The laughter died more sorrowfully than Paula Bryan. Everybody’s tear-stained eyes were locked onto their church leader as he gave his hellfire oratory. “She won’t be looking down on you anymore, Chris, because one of these days, you’re going to burn in the ninth circle of hell for turning this procession into a circus! You’re a disgrace to the lord’s name and you’re a disappointment to the memory of Paula Bryan! Get out! Take your feces-stained underwear somewhere else! Go on! Move it!”

Chris’s pudgy face became even more saggy with his dour frown. He tucked his chin and turned around to try and walk away. He stopped after only a few feet and held his chest in pain. “I don’t feel so good.”

“Neither do any of us, Mr. Antonio! We’re at a funeral!” shouted Garth. “Be on your way! Take your farty-party over to the local middle school!” The attendees chuckled at the term “farty-party” before being silenced yet again with, “I’m serious!” With all soaked eyes on him, Garth commanded, “If anybody else thinks this whole thing is a joke, feel free to take a walk with Mr. Antonio! You can stand at his side, but try not to stand behind him!” The attendees chuckled to where Garth threw his bible on the ground yet again and screamed through gritted teeth.

In the midst of this “farty-party”, Chris dropped down to both knees and breathed heavily while clutching his chest. “Oh god, oh dear god,” he said while attendees were gathered around trying to help him to his feet.

“You see what you’ve done, Chris?!” belted Garth. “The good lord is striking you down and it’s too late for atonement! How do those hellfire flames feel, Chris?! I said, how do they feel?!”

With the attendees’ arms locked around his elbows, Chris managed to make it to his feet, but not without spaghetti legs and a dazed psyche. “Oh no, not now. No, no, no! Please forgive me, Paula. I love you.” But instead of falling down on his face and meeting the devil, he let out another cloud of nauseating diesel fumes. The funeral goers laughed once again.

“Goddamn it!” shouted Garth as he jumped up and down stomping the grass.

“I think the good Reverend over there just used the lord’s name in vain,” said Chris with a hearty smile. “I don’t think he should be directing this funeral anymore. Do you guys feel the same way?”

While the friends and family of Mrs. Bryan cheered, Reverend Roy held his nose and mouth under his robe and coughed violently. In his wild attempt at sucking down fresh air, he knocked the casket over and Paula’s body rolled out onto the grass. The heavy laughter turned to gasping shock as everybody realized what Garth just did, albeit accidentally.

Holding his hands up defensively, Garth said, “I didn’t mean to. I’ll put her back inside, no problem.”

The onlookers, Chris included, watched in horror as Garth desperately tried to put pieces of Paula’s withered body back inside the casket. His face still scrunched up a the vile odor of Chris’s farts. Now the scent of an old lady’s corpse invaded his nostrils like a new form of nasal rape. He coughed and wheezed once more, but this time fell into the six foot hole in which Paula was supposed to be buried in.

Tears welled up in Garth’s eyes, even more so than when the funeral began and this was all about death and depression. Chris and the onlookers gazed down at him while the pudgy protégé said, “Asses to asses, dust to dust, may you rest in feces, I mean, pieces, I mean peace, damn it, peace!”

“I give up! I fucking give up!” yelled Garth as he punched and kicked the dirt beneath him.

Above the grave, Chris and the others laughed and hugged each other. This time, their smiles remained permanent. If there really was such thing as smiling down from heaven, Paula Bryan was doing it with her most beautiful expression. From beyond the grave, she brought happiness and love to those who needed it the most. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” That was her favorite Dr. Seuss quote and for good reason.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rest in Peace, Chester Bennington


This morning (July 20th, 2017), the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, committed suicide by hanging. When I first heard the news on Face Book, I thought I was going to bawl my eyes out right then and there. Linkin Park has been a huge part of my life since 2002 when I was experiencing schizophrenia in my senior year of high school. Their hard rock sound and thoughtful lyrics helped me through those tough times. I first heard their Hybrid Theory album when I was in gym class lifting weights. I saved up enough money and purchased that CD in 2003 and it become a huge part of getting me through Olympic College. My favorite songs on that album were Paper Cut, Place For My Head, and the bonus track My December. Ever since then, I’ve been buying Linkin Park albums until I had every last one of them.

I’ve seen Linkin Park in concert twice in my life, once in 2003 (or 2004) at the Tacoma Dome and once in 2012 at the same venue with Incubus opening for them. Both times, Chester was on his A-game with his aggressive vocals when it counted and softer crooning when we needed to be brought back to earth. In 2012, he paid tribute to the Beastie Boys when he screamed the vocals for “Sabotage” in the wake of MCA’s untimely death. The music nerd within me was going nuts during those performances. I was jumping up and down and moshing with the best of them, even during times of poor diets and bad exercise habits.

Their most recent album, One More Light, received a lot of criticism from diehard fans for being too much of a pop record instead of staying true to their roots. While it is true that experimenting with music can sometimes end badly, that’s not the case with this album, at least in my opinion. Yes, it’s different from what we’re used to hearing, but I love it nonetheless. My favorites on that album include Nobody Can Save Me, Heavy, and One More Light. I was looking forward to hearing those songs at my upcoming third time seeing Linkin Park live this October.

Speaking of the concert, the status of Linkin Park as a band is up in the air right now because of Chester’s death. Chances are, the concert date might be moved to a later time or it might be cancelled altogether. Maybe Mike Shinoda, who normally raps for Linkin Park, can take over Chester’s vocals. Maybe they’ll get a temporary stand-in until they can find someone permanent. Then again, there’s always the chance Linkin Park could break up over this. They haven’t released an official statement yet (it’s too early to do so), but I’m anxiously awaiting one in the weeks to come.

In the wake of Chester’s suicide, he left behind a wife and many children as well as his band mates. Having said that, I don’t believe it’s right to cast anger upon him for this or accuse him of being “selfish”. Never forget that the man had a lot of emotional trauma to deal with. He was raped repeatedly as a child by an older friend, he was a hardcore drug addict, he was bullied and beaten in high school, and his only escape from it all was Linkin Park. When you’re dealing with that much pain and agony, selfishness is the last reason in the world that should be applied. Psychological trauma is just as agonizing as any physical ailment, maybe even worse. Chester’s suicide left a huge hole in my heart as well as those of everyone around him. May he rest peacefully and may those who loved him recover from their heartache.

If I Had Been Vince

(A WWE-themed parody of “Déjà vu” by Roger Waters.)

If I had been Vince
I would have rearranged the veins in my arms to make them more
Resistant to steroids and less prone to injury

If I had been Vince
I would have hired many indie guys and would not have suffered
John Cena to bury even one of them

If I had been McMahon
With my Raw and Smackdown brands
If I had been given the nod
I believe I could have done a better job

If I had been JBL
Patrolling the locker room showers
With an entitled sense of power
And the Twitter feed of a coward
I would be afraid to find Edge alone
I’d have the coldest set of stones
At least until I burn in hell
If I had been JBL

The company’s in ruins
And that’s a damn fact
The cheering fans are gone
The creative well is flat
The matches of dreams with no reason to fight
Because the CEO has to always be right

And it feels like the same old shit
The ratings go down, you’re throwing a fit
Counting the cost of main events lost
Under the mid-card to get slapped by the boss

It’s only $9.99 for the ultimate “April Fools”

Monday, July 17, 2017

"The Blood Files: the Case of Arnus Mortem" by BJ Taylor and Marie Krepps

BOOK TITLE: The Blood Files: the Case of Arnus Mortem
AUTHORS: BJ Taylor and Marie Krepps
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: Fiction
SUBGENRE: Vampire Horror

Between the years 1929 and 1930, Arnus Mortem a.k.a. Jack the Ripper has been slaying and raping prostitutes on the streets of London with no signs of stopping. He piques the interest of vampire legend Dracula, who turns him into a vampire through a sexually charged ritual and sends him on a mission to build an army of vampires and conquer America. The murderous bloodbaths continue all over the streets of San Francisco, California, where even the cops are powerless to thwart Arnus and his new minions. Will America fall into corrupt and bloodstained hands? The trail of battered bodies seems to agree.

As a lover and writer of gory fiction, I applaud the level of gob-smacking violence the two authors have peppered in this novella. The way the blood, organs, and bones splatter and explode onto everything is delicious even to a non-vampire like myself. It’s almost as if the vampires are painting a masterpiece using the their favorite shades of red, pink, and purple. The sexual overtones are perfectly laced into these violent beat downs. While I won’t go into explicit detail as to how arousing the bloody sex is, make sure your kids are tucked into bed and that your own bedroom door is locked tightly. You might want to invest in a bank vault door if need be. If you love R-rated beauty, you’ll love this novella.

One minor complaint I have about this story is that there are a lot of corrupt characters in this story that are hard to root for. Arnus Mortem is a cold-blooded murderer turned vampire, Dracula is a genocidal misanthropist, Anne beats the crap out of her friend Susan with a baseball bat, and Renfield is a crooked cop who breaks more laws than he upholds. Even the last good guy in the book, Private Investigator Randall Jones, is a home wrecker for his secretary Penny as the two of them have a sexual affair together in his office. There are no clearly defined heroes in this book since everybody is either a murderer, a rapist, a genocidal lunatic, or a combination of all three. As much as we love to root for the villain, those are not likeable qualities for main characters. All they want to do is kill and have sex without any sign of a moral compass. But as I’ve said, that’s only a minor complaint and doesn’t take away from my ability to enjoy this brutal piece of horror fiction.

Not one human being in this novel is safe from vampire driven slaughter. Saw, Hostel, and even Blood Drive can’t compare to the brutality you’ll see in this novel. This novella is not for the weak at heart. Only the toughest and most badass readers will get a kick out of this sexy gore fest. I happen to love every page of this book. Marie Krepps and BJ Taylor are an outstanding team when it comes to vampire fiction and I hope they put out more books like these in the future. Come to think of it, there was a “to be continued” disclaimer at the end of the book, so it looks like my bloody desires will come true yet again! These two authors deserve a passing grade for this hardcore effort. Drink it in, folks (the story, not the blood, hehe!).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gender Blind

Every punch and kick Rachel Gustafson threw at her practice pads was dedicated to her haters. The right hook was dedicated to Battle Born President Raymond Katz, who put this intergender match together to solve his “Rachel Gustafson problem”. The flying knee was for every fan who didn’t believe she could do battle with a man, let alone win the fucking match. The elbow strike was for the protesters outside the arena who never wanted this match to happen. The spinning back fist was for Sting Masters, who thought this match was going to be a cakewalk. Lost in her rage, Rachel threw enough rapid fire punches and kicks to accidentally knock over her trainer, to which she apologized and helped him back up.

The knock on her door followed by a voice shouting, “It’s fight time!” prompted Rachel to crack her neck in both directions and march out of the locker room with fists tightened and muscles tensing. The PA system had already queued up her walk out theme of “One of These Days” by Pink Floyd. Groovy bass guitar solo aside, the grunting voice of “One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces!” perfectly described how Rachel felt about everyone in this arena.

Once she walked down the aisle, she could hear the boos reverberating off of her muscles of stone. The occasional shouts of, “You suck!” made those audience members ideal candidates for a hard right hook to the face. But they were the ones sweating like pigs, not her. Even from the middle of the aisle, she stared bullets into Sting Master’s smug British face. He was already in the octagon waiting for her with his arms folded and his red Mohawk looking as silly as ever. “Cakewalk my ass!” she said to herself upon reaching the entrance to the cage.

Rachel stripped off her hooded sweatshirt and athletic pants to reveal her sports bra and baggy shorts with various business logos on it. At least she didn’t have “Condom Depot” printed on her ass like a lot of fighters these days had. After getting her face greased up with ointment and being searched by the referee for weapons, Rachel stomped up the steel stairs and bolted inside the cage, running circles around the structure and giving the middle finger to her booing audience. She would have given one to Sting, but a flying knee would have been more appropriate for someone of his arrogance.

Once both warriors stood in their appropriate corners behind the black line, the seven foot tall referee stood behind the ring announcer as he got this main event going. Speaking with passion and fire into the microphone, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are live from the sold out Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington for Battle Born 57: Eye for an Eye! This event is sanctioned by the Washington State Athletic Commission. When the action begins, our referee in charge of the fight is Bill Dash. If you’re ready for some violence tonight, make some noise!”

The audience did make noise, but none of their cheers and boos were enough to take Rachel’s sniper sight focus off of Sting. The announcer continued his oratory with, “Three rounds in the Battle Born Promotions first ever intergender lightweight division match! Introducing first, fighting out of the red corner! This man is a striker who holds a professional record of twenty-six wins and six losses. He stands five feet seven inches tall and weighed in at 155 lbs. Fighting out of Manchester, England…STING…MASTERS!” More boos from an audience who clearly wanted this match to end in a double knockout.

“Introducing his opponent, fighting out of the blue corner! She is also a striker, but holds a professional record of nineteen wins and four losses. Standing at five feet eleven inches tall, weighing in at 153 lbs.. Fighting out of Denver, Colorado, ladies and gentlemen, she is the former Battle Born Promotions Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World…RACHEL…”GUTSY”…GUSTAFSON!”

Referee Bill Dash took center stage and brought both fighters toward his position. With the announcer holding the microphone in Bill’s face, he gave his instructions, “Okay, you two, I want a good clean fight. We’ve been over the rules in the locker room. Protect yourselves at all time. Obey my commands at all time. When I tell you to stop, you stop. If you want to touch gloves, go ahead and do it and then go back to your corners.” Not a damn fist was raised, only deadly steel-eyed stares. “Good luck to both of you and may the best fighter win,” said Bill before both fighters marched back to their corners.

The ring announcer and other unnecessary personnel vacated the cage and all that remained were two intergender warriors who wanted to smash each other’s faces in. Rachel saw red and only red. She remembered the interviews Sting gave in which he said he was going to, “Make her [his] bitch” and “Put her in her place.” All the laughing. All the booing. All the fake outrage going on outside with enhanced security. All the times Raymond Katz wanted to get rid of her for whatever reason. Those lava-like emotions bubbled towards the surface and she almost jumped the gun before the referee started the match.

“First round, are you ready, Rachel? Are you ready, Sting? Let’s get it on!” shouted Bill Dash and both warriors met in the middle of the octagon. No feeling out process, just throwing caution to the wind. Both fighters threw heavy punches and created wooshing sounds as those hits never landed. Rachel threw a kick at Sting’s hamstring and caused him to slightly wince, but otherwise suck it up. Another kick to the hamstring and a deep purple bruise formed on Sting’s pasty white leg.

Sting threw kicks of his own to Rachel’s midsection and she could feel the tiny bit of oxygen leaving her stacked body. The jeers from the audience intensified, but they weren’t the ones in this match and Rachel easily blocked them out. She threw more kicks to Sting’s legs and slowed him down considerably.

And then the wily Brit went for broke when he stormed towards Rachel with a series of hard rights and lefts. He missed the first two strikes, but the third, a stiff jab, caught her on the chin and sent a dot matrix of lights scattering across her field of vision. Another punch caught her on the bridge of her nose and her eyes watered like a raging river of hot tears. And then Sting used his good leg to throw a high kick and caught Rachel behind the ear.

The feminine fury wobbled and staggered about as she was being dissected by this brutal bully. He threw an elbow to her forehead and knocked her down while opening a gusher of a cut. The boos and outrage intensified even more, but all Rachel could hear were birdies tweeting in her head. Sting was little more than blur to her, obnoxious red Mohawk aside. She threw her feet upwards to try to keep him from mounting her and getting more vicious offence in.

Sting got overzealous and went for the mount anyways, but was met with an up-kick to the bridge of his nose, knocking him flat on his ass and busting him wide open with a waterfall of blood. Both fighters, bloodied and beaten, stood on their knees and punched the shit out of each other. Rachel’s vision was darkening with every knock she took on the face while Sting’s gusher poured like a busted fire hydrant.

Bill Dash was awfully close to stopping this fight when out of the corner of Rachel’s vision, a fan leaped over the cage and was immediately tackled to the floor by the seven foot ref. But then more fans jumped the fence and swarmed in on Bill Dash. The booing audience who hated this idea of an intergender match came rushing it all at once, even knocking one of the sides of the cage down.

Sting got up from his dazed kneeling position and was actually protecting Rachel with fists and feet towards the zealous fans. Bill Dash and other security members tossed around fans like sacks of potatoes. Meanwhile, a pair of husky arms grabbed the fading Rachel under her pits and dragged her out of the arena. She didn’t resist due to her weak body even though she wanted to. All she could hear was cussing, screaming, and riotous violence surrounding her. One fan even stepped on her ankle on the way to the cage and she didn’t even flinch. She huffed in exhaustion and closed her swollen eyes (or at least tried to) on her way to wherever the hell she was going.

By the time Rachel Gustafson opened her black and blue eyes and wiped away the crusted blood from her black ponytail hair, she actually thought she had woken up in a different time period. Was she an old lady by this time? Was this place a nursing home? No, it was a medical facility located far away from the Tacoma Dome. She recognized the plain white walls, the dull florescent lights, and the ultra-comfortable bed snuggling up to her spinal cord. Opening her eyes hurt like a motherfucker, but she did so anyways and caught a certain chubster in a cheap suit with horseshoe hair and a cheesy moustache standing over her bed.

“You’ve got a lot of balls coming here, Raymond. What the hell do you want?” asked Rachel in a weak, but angry tone.

“Miss Gustafson, I am so sorry for the way things turned out,” begged Raymond with his hands folded together. “This was supposed to be a special night for all of us. A revolution was unfolding before our very eyes. I didn’t think it would come to a full on riot.”

“Where’s Sting?” asked Rachel.

“We have no idea where he is. He could have gotten lost in the riot for all we know.”

“…So in other words, I’ll never get my win back from the man who stole it from me…because you wanted a fucking revolution?!”

“Rachel, I’m sorry, I really am.”

Having no more of Raymond Katz’s bullshit answers, the battered, bruised, and sore Rachel burst out of bed and held the CEO against the wall by his throat with both hands. “Don’t give me that crap! You knew from the very beginning this was going to happen! You wanted to get rid of your so-called Rachel Gustafson problem! So what do you do? You have a fucking riot in the middle of my fight! A fight, which by the way, I should have won by TKO!”

After listening to her boss wheeze and hack for hair, she finally let go of his chubby neck and let him plop to the floor on his giant ass. As he desperately caught his breath, Rachel kneeled down next to him and asked, “So what is the problem, Raymond? Is it because I asked for a raise? Is it because I asked to be promoted properly instead of getting pushed aside like a commodity?” She leaned her battle tested face towards his and said in a deep whisper, “Or is it because I tried to use the company’s health benefits to have an abortion when I needed one the most? If I had that baby, I would have died and you knew that!”

Once he had a sufficient amount of oxygen in his raspy lungs, Raymond threw his hands up defensively and said, “Trust me, Rachel, any problem I had with you has flown out the window. You’re important to me. I honestly didn’t believe this match was going to end in a riot. I’m sorry. I really am. I’ll give you whatever you want.”

Rachel stood up and asked, “Anything?”

“Anything you want. You fought like a trooper tonight, against a man, no less. You deserve something special for that.”

“If I can really have anything I want…then I want to be released from Battle Born Promotions.”

“What?! You’re kidding me!”

Rachel punched a hole in the wall above Raymond’s head and caused him to flinch and yelp. “I’m serious, you fat fuck! No amount of money can ever make me forgive you. You put my life in danger that night and I should do the same to you. But I’m not going to…unless you don’t grant me my release.”

With nothing more to say to her now former boss, Rachel stormed out her semi-private room and collapsed on the floor. She needed nurses and doctors to help her stand up. Out of her still painful vision, she saw a man in a wheelchair covered in bandages except for his eyes, which were swollen and purple just like hers. The man gave a thumbs up and said in his signature British accent, “I’ll see you again someday. We’re not finished by a long fucking shot!”

“You’re damn right we’re not, Sting!” shouted Rachel as she was being dragged away by medical personnel.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Author Cooperation


The key to having a successful community of any kind is cooperation among its members. Competition is what tears us apart, but teamwork and friendship is what brings us together. That’s part of the reason why I chose to be an independently published author: the sense of community. We critique each other, we honestly review each other’s books, we promote each other, and we’re there for each other when it desperately counts. When you’re a part of this community, there is no stepping over each other because there’s room for everybody at the top of the mountain. It takes a village to write a novel, sometimes even a capitol city. Nobody becomes a legend on their own.

My own journey to where I am today was marred with resistance to criticism. In 2001, I went to an anime/sci-fi/fantasy convention called INCON and had a piece of writing critiqued by five different professional authors, all of which had decades of experience and wisdom. Because of their somewhat harsh demeanors, I walked away after the first two authors got their words in. Maybe I was intimidated by the fact that I had so much work ahead of me to make my writing immaculate. Maybe I believed “potential” was an empty word when the first two authors told me I had it. Maybe it was my massive teenage ego that shoved everybody out of my circle who didn’t worship at the Temple of Garrison.

Whatever the case was, this over-inflated ego carried over throughout high school and college. I wrote a violent and sexually explicit poem about a classmate who said my writing sucked and he was hardly the only target of these rants and raves. Online folk, geology teachers, real life strangers, they all felt my fiery poetic wrath in one way or another. The more I reflect on this, the more I think that the reason I don’t have many Deviant Art followers is because of my past behavior and tendency to lash out.

It wasn’t until 2012 that I realized I needed help. I gathered up some money and went over to Writer’s Digest’s website to use their Second Draft critique services. For a moderate sum of money, you can have a famous author critique your work, but it’s only for a one time deal and there’s no guarantee you’ll get published. Given my verbally violent past, I was terrified to go through with this.

But sure enough, the piece of writing I wanted critiqued was a memoir about my experiences with getting bullied in my freshman year of high school. My intention was to circulate this essay to various literary magazines with the hopes of getting picked up. My editor was an author named Carolyn Walker, a nonfiction author, champion for the mentally disabled, and cordial human being. Her biggest critique for my essay was that it sounded too angry and that I hadn’t been descriptive enough to earn my ending. I ended up scrapping my own essay because that’s a part of my life I want to leave buried forever and I regretted writing about it.

As scary as taking that next step was, I would happily use Second Draft again, this time with a short fantasy story called Beauty and the Barbarian. In this story, Sonya Jade’s boyfriend is turned into a hideous monster by a witch and she wants to sneak into her castle to get the antidote. My hired beta reader, named Kathy Giorgio (if I remember correctly), said that the story felt incomplete and that it should be an entire novel or longer short story. I took her advice and expanded it to ten pages of single spaced text. It made it onto a short story collection I published in 2013 called Dragon Machinegun. Unfortunately, due to my dissatisfaction with how those stories were written, I took Dragon Machinegun off the market and it’s no longer available.

The third and final time I went to Second Draft was when I wrote a story called Dick Tater, which is about a homecoming prince with a bloodthirsty monster for a penis. This time, my beta reader was a military fiction author named Stephen Mertz, who said my story was marketable, weird, and kinky. He also said that it needed dialogue to show instead of tell (my story had absolutely none). As a token of my appreciation for his services, I bought a novel he wrote under the penname Jim Case called Cody’s Army and gave it a glowing review after reading it.

I didn’t completely come out of my shell until I joined the Good Reads group Weekly Short Story Contests and Company. With all of the friendly people who helped me through the rough drafts, whether it’s Edward Davies, Ryan Stone, Leslie Onus, Melissa Andres, and many others, my writing improved greatly and my fear of being critiqued was non-existent. When I got in touch with Marie Krepps in 2015, she became my permanent beta reader and I trust her with everything. She’s honest, she’s smart, and she’s funny as hell. She’s also a damn good writer who has earned every ounce of praise I’ve given her in my reviews for her books.

It was a good thing that I had calmed down over the years and learned not to take everything personally, because in June 2014, I may have just submitted the most offensive short story to the WSS during that time. It was a PG-13 bondage erotica called Tainted Love where Marilyn Elkins is kidnapped by a handsome stranger and duct taped to a hotel bed. She enjoys the kisses and sexual attention she’s getting to the point where she helps her kidnapper fight off her abusive husband. I wrote this story strictly for entertainment, but it ended up offending many people at the WSS and gave them the false idea that I was a sexist. As a token of apology, I took down the story from all of my social media sites and dropped out of the contest for that week. I spent the next week hurting like hell, but I took pride in the fact that I handled it like a champ instead of a raging lunatic.

That just happens to be my story. Everybody’s path to success is different, but nobody does it alone. Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from the best the writing world has to offer. Don’t push these people away. They’re just as much a part of your inner circle as your friends and family. They want you to be successful. They want you to be happy. They want you to be the best damn writer you can possibly be. The more you listen to their critiques, the less it hurts. You may have to read their comments more than once to ease the sting, but if you take what you’ve learned to heart, you’ll do just fine in this world. In the words of Red Green, “I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.”


As long as we’re on the topic of sensitive gender issues, this week I’m going to tackle a topic that’s hotly debated in pro-wrestling and MMA alike. I hope I can handle this topic with class, unlike Tainted Love from 2014. The prompt is “Dazed” and my story is called “Gender Blind”. It goes like this:


1.      Sting Masters, Mixed-Martial Artist (Lightweight)
2.      Rachel Gustafson, Mixed-Martial Artist (Lightweight)
3.      Bill Dash, Referee (Heavyweight)
4.      Raymond Katz, CEO of Battle Born Promotions

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Being dazed is a normal part of an MMA contest since one of the ways to win is by KO.

SYNOPSIS: Battle Born Promotions is making history by sanctioning its first ever inter-gender mixed-martial arts fight in the lightweight division (155 lbs.). This upcoming main event match between Sting and Rachel has sparked a lot of debate and controversy among media outlets and MMA fans. Some people think it pairs men and women as equals while others are sickened by seeing a man beating up a woman. When the pay-per-view actually takes place, there are excited audience members in the building and protesters outside. Raymond Katz has a lot of explaining to do and a lot of security detail to hire.


Okay, so he’s technically part of a modern day drama and not a dark fantasy story, but I’m going to draw Sting Masters anyways. I’ve drawn MMA badasses in the past whether it’s Edward Glass from Molly-Dolly or Christina McKenzie from Gates of Hell. Sting Masters is a lightweight fighter from England and I want my drawing of him to reflect those things (not stereotypically, of course). Wish me luck!


“Hi, I’m an attractive woman on the internet. You are somebody who comments on my videos or articles, though what you say isn’t always pleasant. But honestly, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Though yes, you are awful. Even more alarming is those of you who think you’re being complimentary. While I’m flattered that you’re trying to express a fondness for what I do, you’re doing it wrong. If you like one of my videos, screaming, “TITS!” is wrong. Providing the phonetic representation of the sound of a man masturbating is incredibly wrong. Unless you’ve just typed in credit card information, telling a woman you’ve never met that you just masturbated to her comedy video, it’ll never be the right thing to do, honestly. I don’t know, maybe you’re confused because there are videos on the internet where the women explicitly tell you to masturbate. Yeah, I’m not making those. If you like what I do, say that. And if you like masturbating to things, go do that, just don’t tell me about it. Thank you for your time. I’ve been a woman of the internet. I didn’t ask to see your genitals, so don’t ask to see mine. And please stop telling me how you masturbate!”

-The women of

Monday, July 10, 2017

Prison Riot

Having a badge doesn’t make you a good guy
Having the cell keys doesn’t mean this is goodbye
Having a nightstick doesn’t make you a tough guy
Having latex gloves doesn’t make this a blood drive
For far too long, you’ve had a monopoly on power
Beat our asses raw in the middle of a cold shower
Locked us in solitary for not a damn good reason
Hunted us like animals in the midst of open season

Let’s start a prison riot!
No longer will we be quiet!
Swarm on you sons of bitches!
You will pay for all the stitches!

Let’s send a message to the world they can’t deny
The whole prison system is a bold faced fucking lie
You’re not killing crime by stripping us of time
You’re stuffing your pockets while screaming, “Mine!”
The lust for money is the root of all that’s evil
In a land that brags about us being born equal
How dare you strip us of our right to be people?
When our lives are over, there won’t be a sequel

Let’s start a prison riot!
No longer will we be quiet!
Swarm on you sons of bitches!
You will pay for all the stitches!

Orange jumpsuits burned in a bonfire
Prison guards bound and gagged with wires
No more of this for-profit bullshit for hire
It’s what happens when the underdogs conspire

Let’s start a prison riot!
No longer will we be quiet!
Swarm on you sons of bitches!
You will pay for all the stitches!
Let’s take back our freedom!
Come for the throne and kingdom!
We are humans, not animals!
We’re the good guys, not Hannibal!


Red Alert: there’s a disturbance in the machine, fuckers!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

"Spunky and the Dolphin Palace" by Ashley Uzzell and Kyra Uzzell

BOOK TITLE: Spunky and the Dolphin Palace
AUTHORS: Ashley Uzzell and Kyra Uzzell
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: Fiction
SUBGENRE: Children’s Animal Fantasy

In the second installment of the Spunky the Cat series, our furry hero finds himself in another strange land far away from home. Everything is made from candy from the syrup oceans to the gumdrop roads to even the various creatures that live there like the licorice snake and the soda bubblegum bear. As delicious as this world appears to be, Spunky is homesick for his human wizard master. He ventures down the syrupy river on his way to the Dolphin Palace, where he hopes the elderly princess can help him find his way home.

The biggest reason for my passing grade is the infinite cuteness overload that flies off the pages, whether it’s within the text or the drawings by Ashley’s daughter Kyra. From the very first page, Spunky (who’s already a cute little stud muffin purr baby) is thrust into a world made entirely of candy and inhabited by equally sweet creatures. In the words of the abominable snowman from the Looney Tunes canon, I want to hug them and squeeze them and call them George! As someone who currently owns seven cats and two dogs, I get my cuteness overloads wherever I can and this book has provided me with those warm fuzzy feelings and more.

I loved the cuteness factor so much that I wanted to see the story completed beyond the “To Be Continued” disclaimer at the end. There’s an evil killer whale named Viktor that needs to be brought to justice and mermaids that need to help in that G-rated struggle. Everybody wants to see Spunky work his fluffy magic against the forces of darkness. In short, my only critique is that the story ended too soon. On the bright side, though, it was adorable while it lasted and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment. Hugs and kisses for Spunky-Monkey and his new friends!

Whether you have children of your own or you’re an adult who loves fuzzy emotions, this second installment is for you, my friend. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of the first installment as well. Get under the covers of your softest blanket and read to your heart’s content. You may find that your purr engine is just as lawnmower-like as our kitty hero’s. Excellent work, Ashley and Kyra! Lots of love for both of you!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"Reaching For the Light" by TL Katt and Marie Krepps

BOOK TITLE: Reaching For the Light
AUTHORS: Marie Krepps and TL Katt
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: Fictional Short Stories
SUBGENRE: Mental Illness Fiction
GRADE: Extra Credit

In a joint effort to promote acceptance and love for the mentally ill, two back-to-back short stories are collected in this one volume. Marie Krepps’ story is called “High Heels and Ice Cream” and focuses on Brianna, an anxious, depressed, bisexual college student who struggles with her attraction to her beautiful roommate Carla. TL Katt’s story is called “Bloom” and takes a dark plunge into the world of domestic violence through the eyes of traumatized wife Jen. In the end, you will cheer for Brianna and Jen to reach for the light and live wonderful lives outside of their past traumas. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, don’t wait to get help. Every second counts when it comes to healing fresh wounds.

High Heels and Ice Cream is clearly the more lighthearted of the two stories, but it still tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. As someone who is shy around beautiful women, I can relate to Brianna on a deep level. Hell, there are many things I have in common with her whether it’s mental illness of my own or aspirations to be a successful author. College was a lonely experience for me, so watching Brianna curl up inside herself as she fights her urges is heartbreaking to watch. I want her to find love and happiness with Carla, but there’s always that small chance Carla isn’t gay and might actually be homophobic. While I won’t spoil what happens at the end of this story, you will believe in love once again and you will reach for the light one of these days.

And then we have the dark and dour Bloom, a domestic abuse story that nearly drove me to tears. All Jen wants is a happy marriage with her husband Cam, but the way he beats and insults her is way too realistic of what goes on in these situations. Every traumatic nightmare Jen has, the reader will have as well. TL Katt’s descriptive language is so on-point that you have no choice but to squeeze your eyeballs dry at this one. Even more frustrating is when Cam’s family blames Jen for everything rather than see him for the psychopath that he really is. If they won’t help her through the PTSD, somebody else has to. Jen needs her friends and family in the worst way. Will she reach for the light and look forward to a better day? Read and judge for yourself.

I encourage all of my readers to pick up a copy of Reaching For the Light and spread its message to everybody they meet. Proceeds from the book sales will go to mental illness charities. Being mentally ill isn’t something society should be afraid of. It’s not about “craziness” or “bats in the belfry”. These people need love and respect just like any other member of our community. Treat them well and end the stigmas surrounding mental illness. As someone with schizophrenia and autism, I’m a proud supporter of this book’s goals. An extra credit grade is in order for this beautifully-written collaboration by two amazing authors.