Holiday music for people who hate holiday music.

I’ll start right off the bat with a confession. For most of my life, I hated the holiday season. Couldn’t stand it. Being raised by two parents,one abusive, the other mentally unstable, with the nearest relatives 500 miles way, meant they were to be endured,not celebrated. Don’t get me wrong, I got toys, I had a roof over my head,it could have been worse. But fighting, arguing and screaming tended to put an icing on the holiday cakes that made them hard to swallow.

Flash forward  a decade or so, and I spend most of my holidays working retail. I could write chapter and verse about how much working registers during Xmas will utterly destroy your faith in humanity, but that’s not the point. I spent those months having my ears destroyed by the dulcet  tones of everyone from RuPaul to Garth Brooks crooning about happiness. Meanwhile I’m getting berated for not having Down Periscope on Blu-ray..

It took years of being married to a woman with real family and having kids for me to get any Xmas spirit whatsoever. But the problem of holiday music still remained. Years of driving up through Wisconsin some years have left me with utter hatred of “Blue Christmas” by Elvis and “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, because after 4 PM, that’s all they play.

So what to do? Thankfully, the Internet saved me. A decade or so ago, I joined a list for fans of the Bordertown anthologies and novels. Never read them? They’re truly where Urban Fantasy as we know it begins. But one lady put together a mix of “loud” and “quiet” holiday music for people, and I got it put to disc. (Thanks Cat, where ever you are) It’s become a tradition in our family, and I’ll share it with you. Bear in mind, some are NSFW, and I’m adding a couple of personal favorites at the end that definitely aren’t, and are only for when you’ve really had it with family and shopping. Enjoy. And if you don’t like any of this, go tell Gail Martin, she started it.

PS. I’ve provided Youtube links where I can.

Cat’s Xmas Mix:

A-Souling- Lothlorien https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fk9xqxiBhc

I Believe in Father Christmas-Emerson Lake & Palmer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjggWxGYLdo

Christmas in Hollis-Run DMC. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR07r0ZMFb8

St. Stephen’s Day Murders-Chieftains & Elvis Costello https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8fPvODASoI

A Christmas Carol-Tom Lehrer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtZR3lJobjw

Christmas Eve Sarajevo-Trans Siberian Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHioIlbnS_A

Christmas At Ground Zero-Weird Al Yankovic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t039p6xqutU

Christmas in Prison-John Prine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj-Vff5HPhc

Christmas Night of the Living Dead- MXPX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOgN-aAjh7w

December is for Cynics-The Matches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnLW840vP4

Father Christmas-The Kinks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2X0JzlO8SM

Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARq6uYSsUq0

Fairytale of New York-The Pogues(MY FAVORITE XMAS SONG EVER!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8

Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin-Christmas Jug Band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ajr61sUuCo

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas-Blink-182 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy9_JjLnmZI

Oi To The World-No Doubt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFLExwIQKto

A Gun For Christmas- The Vandals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB_5VbhIBzY

I Did It For The Toys-Dance Hall Crashers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eArdl08Unc

Just Like Christmas-Low https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nhbv74Hz54

Christmas is a pain in the Arse-The Accelerators https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCxACwG7O0Y

The Christians and The Pagans-Dar Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_KiHRHwaAs

The Night Santa Went Crazy- Weird Al Yankovic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u21Cnwok8Jo

Bonus Tracks:

The Season’s Upon Us-Dropkick Murphys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTx-sdR6Yzk

Zat You, Santa Claus?-Buster Poindexter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEP2IrByImw

Silent Night-Bad Religion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA2Jqve_BCk

And for those in a really bad Xmas mood…

Santa Claus Is A Fat Bitch-Insane Clown Posse.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd47CBbvhKg

Hope this helps!

Under the bed with Mr. Self Destruct: A #HoldOnToTheLight blog post.

Hi, come on in. You can’t really. You have to push back the mattress, to the space made by the raised shelves and drawers. Makes a space about three feet high, and it’s the size of a twin mattress. Excuse the mess, but I’ve been down here for about forty years.

Welcome to Under the Bed. When Gail asked me to write about mental health, it scared me. I’ve been shot at, knifed and raised kids. This terrified me worse. Because it meant peeling back layers, to show what’s underneath all the ranting, rambling teddy bear of a man.

Nothing.

That noise? Oh that’s Mr. Self Destruct. Used to call him Pazuzu, when I liked him. I really don’t these days, mainly because he’s every little bad thing I’ve ever said,felt or believed about myself. We have a continual debate about whether I’m really a person or not.

You are nothing.

People will use this forum to tell you about their lives. I had planned to write a long history of my life, one with few joys(my wife, my daughters, music, books) and lots of pain(abuse, alcoholism, suicide attempts), but I’ve already lived it, and I do my best every day to not go back to it, because all it takes is one fight with someone, one car wreck.

And I’m back under the Bed.

It used to be real, I slept there from six until fourteen. It was furnished with books and a pile of stuffed animals,handmade by my grandmother.. It hid me from the weekly parental fights, from my mom’s alcoholic rages, from other kids when I was a latchkey kid and they were threatening to break down the door and kick my ass.

You’re boring them, dumbass. You told them you weren’t going to talk about it.

He’s right, though. You’re not going to care about my life, if you’re reading this as part of the series. But that’s OK. Because what I’m here to talk about is selfishness. Because it might be the only thing that keeps you alive.

Selfishness is a touchy subject in mental health circles. If you lay in bed all day because of your depression, you’re seen as lazy. If you sleep 16 hours, you’re a horrible person. You didn’t write 500 words today? You’re never going to be a writer.

Quit using my material, or I’ll flash back to your first attempt to feel up a girl.

I’m finding it hard to write this, because I haven’t posted in a year. I could lie and say I’ve been doing great things, but I haven’t. I’ve been doing the hardest thing to do when battling depression:

Surviving.

People without depression think it’s feeling sad. Not in my case. When I’m depressed, it’s Nothing. There is nothing there. When I’m depressed, it’s like there’s no point to anything.

My favorite time of the day. When you’re wondering exactly how much you’d be missed.

Nice try, asshole, but these people are here for help and advice, and I think I’ve bored them long enough, so here goes:

1)Recently a friend killed himself. All I could hear was people talking about how selfish an act it was. Really pissed me off. Nobody showed any gratitude for every day that person was in their lives, every day that he fought the dragon and won. Because every day, the dragon is there. In my forty odd years, It’s been there every morning. People without these kinds of problems don’t get that. My best days,ones that I will cherish until the day I die? Mr. Self Destruct was there, peeing in the sink.

    1. use a lot from pro wrestling, and you can like it or don’t. But there’s a great promoter named Paul Heyman. I’m going to paraphrase here, but he said that every day, he’d lie, cheat and steal, promise what he had to, lie who he had to, just so he could survive and do business every day.

The takeaway here is that do what you have to do. Go back Under the Bed. Go howl at the moon all night, or argue politics until 4 AM. Becuase every day, you have to fight yourself, and every day you fight, is a day you win. And I’d really like you to do that, so I can too.

What, you think I’m doing this for you? I’m a giving guy, but I do have something to gain. I get another day of another person not losing the battle. I get maybe a person who one day stops someone I love from dying, or makes the world better. Because you do make it better by being here. Because if 2016 is about anything, it’s loss. We’ve lost a lot this year, and not sure if we know what all we’ve lost.

So please, lie cheat, steal,drink. Go overspend or write horrible emails to celebrities. As long as it gets you to dawn. Good night.

 PS. Yes, I do know I need professional help
PPS. This blog post was soundtracked by “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, “Mr. Self Destruct” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Goodbye Cruel World” by Pink Floyd.
About the campaign:
 
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go tohttp://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

Rocky Horror saved my life.

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the film “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I will be going tonight to see a cast perform (That Type) and shout obscene things at the screen. I have to, because Rocky Horror saved my life.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of Rocky Horror, my first question is ,how the hell did you find my site, and what rock have been under for the last forty years. If you’re not familiar, look it up. But how did it save my life? It didn’t do it like it did others, where it gave them a safe space to be who they were, or the freedom to embrace who they really were. It’s done that  for hundreds, if not thousands of gay,lesbian,bisexual and transgender people across the globe. But that’s not my story.

My story begins with my former best friend Brian dragging me to see it one cold ass fall night in 1985. RIP to Lakehurst Mall and General Cinema, I miss you both.It was not the best experience. There were only two guys acting out in front of the stage, and they did not that great a job. Mainly because they were drunk as squids. But I did the Time Warp,and had my Rocky cherry broken. Afterwards,we were talking to the two guys.Both were standoffish,because we were both D & D playing nerds. The shorter one snorted at the mention of D & D, saying “You should meet my brother and sister. They’re always playing that shit”. That was my first introduction to my future brother-in-law, Larry Hund.

I could write volumes about Larry,but I’ll just narrow it down to the part where he became a Rocky legend. He was performing with our local cast (RIP Denton’s Revenge), and had gone grocery shopping beforehand. He was doing crowd participation, and was drunk again. When the time came to throw toilet paper(when Brad says “Great Scott!”) Larry reached for the toilet paper and threw. He didn’t throw that, instead he’d grabbed a Krakus canned ham and thrown it. Tore a six foot gash in the screen. Lakehurst didn’t let Rocky back for a year.

The Rocky part of the story takes a break now ,at least for high school. I ended up meeting my future wife,Lianna, and Brett,now my brother-in-law, at a pool party at the high school. Next came D & D, then proms. I got introduced to Larry Sr. and Jenny, the best in-laws in the world. I also got a Terri, and tried to return her immediately.(Just kidding, Terri!Still the best sister-in-law in the world!)They showed me what real family looked like,compared to the nightmare at home.Somewhere in there, I asked Lianna out, and she turned me down. I don’t blame her. I was a mix of “Waldo” from Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video and Leonard from “Big Bang”. I had no money, no car, and no game.

After high school, I was a mess. Community college, parental divorce,a severe dry spell in the ladies department,  and exposure to wider schools of thought had left me a nihilist with serious attitude. I was living with my dad in a two story house, and had gotten tot he point where a noose was always hanging off the stairs. Tried it once, ended up ripping out the lighting fixture. It was fun explaining that away.

It was about this time that Rocky walked back into my life. Brett and Brian had both gotten jobs at Lakehurst Cinema, and told me about the cast and show every Saturday and Friday.I went, and this time it was love.

Most people who wax nostalgic about Rocky are about playing in the cast. For me, it was always about crowd participation. The idea of shouting back at stupidity in movies was so much fun. Combining that with Rocky’s core ideas about pleasure, and “don’t dream it, be it”, sparked an angry “fuck the world” positivity in my skull.

Rocky was also opening my eyes to a bigger world of sexuality. Cast members were all across the spectrum, with the lead actor, Ace, being the first transvestite I’d ever really gotten to know. There were punks and freaks galore. People like Lon,Heath, and Katy, our regular cast. Joey, the gay Jewish racist skinhead.Angel, Ace’s wife, whose one remark”My god, Trevor, you have hips, use them”, may be the only reason I have any dancing ability at all.Chance, head of crowd participation ,and the biggest asshole in the world.

There’s so many memories related to that time. Covering sleeping sailors in toilet paper and popcorn. Our lighting guy having sex with his girl in the second row, which resulted in the best shadow show ever.Hiding Joey after he ran through a showing of “House Party”  yelling “White Power” at the top of his lungs on a bet.And so many late nights at Lakehurst Denny’s,arguing and bullshitting until the sun came up.

I could do an entire thing on Brett injuries during that era. Headbutting an exit sign. Breaking the wall under the screen duckwalking as Dr. Scott when he didn’t have a wheelchair. Falling off the hood of a car riding it through the parking lot.

Rocky forced me out of my shell in so many ways. I was a total man ho, having more sex during that year than during the next three. It also forced me to rethink all my prejudices, and opened my eyes to so much.

Much like Rocky, my time there ended in tragedy and death. I’d already slowed down going when I got the call. Larry, my not yet brother-in-law, had drowned at a lake in Wisconsin. I went to the funeral. It was first time seeing Lianna since she’d gotten married right out of high school. I hadn’t seen Larry since her wedding, when he’d led us all in the “Time Warp” at the reception. My last memory of Larry alive is of him dancing.

The funeral was surreal. Lon,Heath and Chance were there with some of the cast. Lon had gotten married that morning, so he wins for having a stranger day than me. I saw Lianna for the first time in a year that day, along with Jennifer, my future stepdaughter. The service is a blur,all I can really remember is feeling numb. My biggest memory of the day was getting Brett drunk and watching him dance on the roof of a car at Bowen Park. We all process grief in our own ways.

I left Rocky after that. Chance and Heath’s attitude problems had gone nuclear, and the cast was falling apart. There were brief runs to other casts and locations.I went to Terri I had fun watching Edwin and Gene at Mundelein, and ran into Lon and Katy at Mt. Prospect. But I was older, and had new worlds to conquer.

Flash forward to 2000. I’d returned back to the Waukegan area(Kenowhere), after stays in Minnesota and St. Louis. I’d followed a girl back, but found something else instead: real love.

Lianna was divorced by this time, a single mom with three daughters. To say that this was a boss level in dating  would be an understatement. Dating a single mother is not for the weak of heart, and you have to get your act together.There were fights,breakups, and then a proposal in front of a thousand people onstage at First Avenue.She said yes, and we’re still here eleven years later.

Rocky influenced me as a stepdad. My years of doing crowd participation have left me with what I call “Rocky’s tourettes” because I can’t see scenes from the movie without talking back. My stepdaughters refuse to put it on unless I leave the room.Though I do stop now if little kids are around.

Rocky changed my family life as well. Terri met her husband Andy at Rocky Horror, and I’m sure both of them owe it more than even I do. And they’re both awesome, though I’m glad they don’t have pictures of Andy in lingerie.

Rocky saved my life,because without it, I don’t know if I’d ever had met my wife. Without her and the Hunds, I’d have no idea of what family really is.I’d still be in some dive apartment in Kenosha, alone and not really living.Rocky allowed me to become the open minded person that  could admit that I was broken and try to fix myself enough to try to be a good husband and stepfather. It allowed me to  DJ at gay bars in Minneapolis and have friends across the entire spectrum of humanity,all while wearing a skirt in downtown Atlanta.And its mantra of “Don’t Dream It. Be It.” has kept me up during so many low times. So thank you, Rocky. I’ll be in the Zen room if you need me.

John Hartness: A Tag-Team Novella review

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of John Hartness as an author and person. It amazes me that his work hasn’t broken bigger,because the guy works his stories like a NoDa hooker. He’s a regular at cons and is always working. He pulls no punches, in both his writing and advice. Go look at johnhartness.com and tell me I’m wrong.

John’s latest creation is a series of novellas starring a fellow by the name of Quincy Harker. He’s the son of Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He’s long lived, heals quick,and Vlad calls him nephew.

The first novella,Raising Hell, starts off with the exorcism of a teenager pregnant with a demon, and barrels through the next 106 pages like that last Mad Max movie. The body count is high, but the action never lets up. Our hero has a foil in one Detective Rebecca Flynn, who tends to show up every time things go south for Quincy. Which happens a lot with tracking down the man behind the attempted demon birthing. Villains are stopped, plans are halted, and lots of people die.

This is modern urban fantasy/pulp at its finest. I’m a fan of the Andrew Vachss school of minimal expression in favor action, and this initial outing provides it in spades. Hartness writes with fluid action sequences, and sharp dialogue.If I have any complaint at all about the novella, is that it’s a little too similar in spots to Hartness’s other series, Bubba the Monster Hunter.

That notion was immediately destroyed upon reading the next novella, Straight to Hell. If the first book suffered from similarity to other Hartness works, this one steps the game up at least two notches. It’s nearly twice as long, and the extra length gives Hartness time to really show his stuff. What starts off as a simple babysitting assignment turns into a race to save the world. Hartness takes a simple concept, the Lion of Judah, and extrapolates it into a end of the world scenario and our heroes are trying to beat the clock before everything falls apart.

The extra length also allows Hartness to develop the characters, and not just Flynn and Quincy. The dialogue is even better, and background characters such as Dracula’s current Renfield and a mysterious MIB type are fully fleshed out. Hartness is firing on all cylinders, and amidst the action, found time to place scenes that actually moved me.

Both these books are fun,fun reads. But with the quick pace of publishing these(two in six months), it’s interesting to see how both the writing and the characters develop.If I had to to put it in musical terms, Raising Hell would be a track from Metallica’s Kill’em All, and Straight would be from Ride the Lightning. If that means the next is from Master of Puppets, bring it on. Just nothing from St. Anger, Ok?

It’s safe to assume that I like both of these a lot..Hartness’s work has always been entertaining, and sometimes thought provoking. These two continue the trend, and leave me wanting more. Go get them,and tell them Trevor sent you.

Raising Hell:  three and a half Stone Cold Stunners

Straight to Hell:  Four Paul Heyman Promos

 

“Hisses and Wings” review

Team-ups between authors can be an interesting proposition. Sometimes they’re  awesome(King and Straub’s The Talisman), and sometimes they’re dreadful(The sequel, Black House). So it was with curiosity and nerves I approached Hisses and Wings, the first ever novella pairing noted writer Alex Bledsoe and a newer writer, T.Frohock.

In all fairness, I will admit  some serious prejudice when it comes to Mr. Bledsoe. I found his first Eddie Lacrosse book, The Sword Edged Blonde, some years ago in a library. I was amazed, then jealous that no one else had thought to combine a Mickey Spillane style detective with heroic fantasy,then had the nerve to carry it off so well. I lost track of him for a few years, then a magazine pointed me to his Tufa novels, which were the best urban fantasy I’d read since DeLint’s Newford books.

The Tufa are featured in this tale, Fae who live in the Appalachia region of eastern Tennessee. Much like the real life people there, they live in mostly quiet isolation,cut off from much of the world.The story begins with a young Tufa  named Janet,who finds out about a lost song. The Tufa invest much of their magic in song, and this one might get the Tufa back to the world of the Fae.

Janet follows the trail of the song to a group of people known as the Nefilim. According to most Christian accounts, the Nefilim were the offspring of angels and humans. In Frohock’s world, they are the result of mating between both angels and demons. They’re gathered together for the solstice when Janet walks into their camp. They, like the Tufa, put their magic in song. So when Janet asks for the lost song, it comes down to a musical duel, not a violent one.  For what happens, and how it all ends, you’ll just have to read the story.

I enjoyed this novella. It was an interesting introduction for me to Frohock’s work, and I really liked her take on a Hispanic community of Nefilim. I’d like to see more of these characters and world. And I’m always ready for more Tufa. I’m not sure how well a Pagan/ Abrahamic mythology combination would work long term(I’m looking at you, Skyrim), but in the short run, it’s a well written meeting. So go buy it already, and thank me later.

Grade:A

To buy:http://tinyurl.com/k5moc6d

Alex Bledsoe:http://alexbledsoe.com/

T.Frohock:http://www.tfrohock.com/

Autographs

I had a free Saturday evening for once, since the wife and child had prior engagements. I could have cranked out a bestselling novel, but I went to my dealer instead. In other words, the bookstore.

I don’t have a local Independent. The nearest Indy is in Charlotte, and not my usual hangout. Nope, I’m a mall kid at heart, so I traipsed on over to our local,Concord Mills, the biggest mall in North Carolina.

Our local big box book dealer is Booksamillion, or BAM as the six million emails they send me a week say. I don’t loathe BAM(I will write it this way because it’s easier) the way I do B&N, and at least this one tries to support local authors.And at least BAM might hire back some day. Though BAM does have its annoying program, “Summer Says”, where a WASP-y woman tells you what she likes. I have no idea who this lady is, but rumor has it she’s married to the CEO of the company.

I went to BAM because their latest missive had promised 20% off to Millionaire’s club members. I am a member, mainly because it helps ease the cost of my current addiction,metal music magazines. I love metal music and journalism, so the things are like crack to me. And the best ones are imports, so it gets pricey.

I’d also gone in to see if they’d price match their 50% off price on Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking. I was going to wait for Yule,but that’s too good a price to last. Well it  had gone up since Friday morning,so it wasn’t that price online anymore(Disappointment #1. Annoyed, I grabbed my mags and headed to the counter, only to find you had to do some magic involving a tote bag and twenty-five dollars to get the extra discount(Disappointment #2).I left feeling angry, and skipped my usual people watching.

What got my attention and spawned this post, is that all of Palmer’s books were signed. The store also offered  signed books by Poehler and Rothfuss, both new releases. It made me wonder, what’s the point of getting signed books anymore?

I’m not against getting books signed. Hell, I have an entire shelf of them. But all  of them are signed to me, because I made the effort to go see these people in person. I had a brief moment with people whose works have given me joy,made me think, and in two cases, changed my life.I can tell you when and where every one of those were signed. So those have meaning.

What I don’t get is getting generic signed items. It’s never been a plus to anything I’ve ever bought, ever. Maybe some of you think”Ooh, the author touched it,shiny.”. But I think the sheer number of signed books cheapens the concept. It’s kind of like the difference between a date that ended, and cheap sex in a nightclub bathroom. One is a memory, the other is forgettable and disposable. I’d rather not have my books become cheap and sleazy. That’s my job, thank you.And honestly, how sure can you be they actually signed it. I checked Palmer’s,they were all different. But Poehler’s all looked identical.Go look up what a “Rapido” device is, folks.

I should mention that there is a big difference between the stuff BAM is doing and what’s called “signed stock”. Those are when an author has stopped in a store, maybe done an event, and signed copies of his/her books. I do think those are different, somehow. I’m sure someone will mock me for my illogic, but as the man once said, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

I do think there’s a market to be made in offering to get books personally signed and shipped. I just wish people would center on connections, and not superficial tokens.There’s enough superficiality in the world, let’s not  let it into books as well.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Dying time is Here”.

I tend to find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. My favorite books are never bestsellers or critic’s darlings. I love wrestling biographies, counter culture studies, conspiracy theorists, and genre novels. All of which largely gets ignored by critics or sneered at.

One of my all time favorite books is As Bad As I Wanna Be, the first biography of Dennis Rodman. Yes, hate on him for the cartoon of greatness he’s become, largely due to drug and alcohol issues. But in his prime, especially with the Bulls, he was a thing of beauty.

In his book, he talks about sitting in his truck in the parking lot of the Joe Louis Arena, where he was playing with the Detroit Pistons. He was estranged from his daughter,his  team was falling apart, and life was,to his mind, not worth living. And there was a gun in his lap. To his mind, he died that night. He, in his words,”killed” himself that night. The old Dennis Rodman had to go, he was ready to die. And after that night, Dennis was never the same. He started coloring his hair, wearing earrings and tatting up.He was free,and that freedom cost him friends,family and sponsorships. It also raised his playing to new heights. Go look at his stats, before and after that moment. It’s a night and day difference. All the troubles for him in the NBA were never about how well he played. You don’t get four rings and the HOF by playing badly.

I’m thinking I’m at the same point in my life. I don’t like the current person I am. I’m stressed,fat, cranky and tired every moment of the day. I can’t produce words for shit.I read way too much. I surf the net way too much. I have a YMCA membership and website both gathering dust. My job has gone from bad to worse, with even more stress for less money.

I’m not sitting with a gun, folks. Doing that would hurt the people I care about way too much.I just need to cut off the old me, and become something new. I haven’t had the funeral yet, but I’m trying to tie myself to the longboat. My new prayer is this:

You’re a good guy. Write,eat healthy, exercise, get a new job. 

Punk, Heyman, Marcinko, Morse,Ziglar

You are loved. Write,eat healthy exercise, get a new job

Punk,Heyman,Marcinko,Morse,Ziglar

Now, if you know about Tarot at all, you should know that every time I get read, the Tower shows up. Every. Single. Time. So , by invoking the forces of Change, I invite Chaos as well. I don’t know what’s happening next, but something might fall apart. I’ll keep you posted.

A Lack of Character

I’m trying to start a regular writing program again, using the simple steps laid down by writing mage Chuck Wendig. I’ve racked my brains, finally came up with a  good concept or three or four.But once again, I’ve run into the same problem that has plagued my writing for a good decade.

I can write descriptive prose. I can write witty and concise dialogue. I prefer my work to be tight and punchy, not flowery bile. I can come up with plot threads, and a supporting cast that rivals a good RPG session. What I cannot do, for all the tea in Gaiman’s cupboard, is come up with a main character.

If someone would ever ask me what the main symptom of too much Game Mastering would be, it would be this. I spent years coming up with things for my players to do, and react to. But I was never much for being on the other side of the coin.

It’s very hard for me to admit this problem, and even more embarrassing to admit I have no idea what to do about it. All of my main characters have been mostly Mary Sue pastiches of myself.

So  I am throwing it out to you, writers of the universe. If anyone’s got an idea on how to fix this, please rant at me, smack me with a book ,or anything.

Lighter in the Dark.

There’s an apocryphal story told by John Fogerty,lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival. He tells of playing Woodstock,which most people don’t know about or have forgotten about. They went on about 3 in the morning, he says “right after the Grateful Dead put everyone to sleep”. Fogerty says they played two songs, and got no reaction from the crowd at all. They were debating pulling the plug when John saw a lighter flare in the dark, and a voice call out: “We’re with you,John!”  Fogerty says “We played for the next hour for THAT guy”.

I’m at a bit of a crossroads in my head.I’m coming up on a year with this website, and I’m debating whether to keep it or not. Granted, my track record of posting has been spotty at best. But I resolved to go along with Story a Day May, and see what happens. I managed to put out 15 stories in a month, a personal record. And what happened? Did people notice or  tell me,”Hey,you suck at this”? Nope. I got one comment from my mother-in-law the  first day.After that, nothing, utter silence. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I never enabled any sort of web analytics , so I have to go on comments or twitter reposts.

The bottom line is this: I need a lighter in the dark, folks. Someone to let me know that this thing is even fit for birdcage liner.  Ozzy says that”any reaction is a good reaction”, and he’s right. The worst thing is to have your work put out there, and the universe goes: “eh.”  And that’s what I;m getting right now.

I know my site design sucks. It’s about as fun to look at as Don Knotts naked. But if I’m going to re-enlist in this for another year, I have nowhere to go but up.  Maybe with some TLC, and some HTML lessons, I can get this thing looking better. And actually post more than once a week. But I’m so clueless as to how this is supposed to work for authors. I see how it works for some, and they post word counts, and what they’re working on. But half the time when I work on something, I have no idea if it’s going to be something, or if it’s going to die in a mass delete like so much of my stuff  does.

I’ll even make a deal with you all:If I get this lighter, and in 30 days , the site doesn’t look better, I will personally post video of me eating a hat. Probably a stocking, I hear they fry up real well.So here’s hoping folks. I’ve got six Chuck Wendig books on writing to chew on, and it’s time to put some wheels in motion. All I need is a spark.

PS. Yes I know this sounds whiny and pleading. But damn it, I spent the first decades of my life having my happiness be dependent on other’s happiness. This may be a remnant of that,but I’m also  learning, after decades of silence, to ask the universe for what I want and need, and to go after it. Don’t like it? Good. Tell me so.

Story a Day May 14

Yeah, I don’t know what part of my skull this leaked out of,either.

I look just like everyone else in this bar. Except where his brown is dirt, or Joe’s is tar, mine is dried blood. And no one even notices. I sip my cup of decaf, which I tell everyone is because my wife wants my weight down. Like she ever complains about anything anymore.

The coffee has cooled, enough time for my alibi. Not that I really need one. But you do as the Plan tells you, or you don’t do it at all. That’s why it’s the Plan. I tuck my hair under my John Deere hat and wave to Joe. He waves back, smiling.

It will be his last smile. His precious Avril will be on the news tonight, leaving him behind, just vanished. Not worried about them finding Avril,though. Amazing what ten gallons of lye, bleach and a local animal processing plant job will do for your body disposal needs.

My name? I don’t have one. I have masks, people I put on and off like you change clothes. The one guy who suspected me in Topeka called me 8-372, my case file number. They weren’t sure if I was one,two or three people. Not telling you,either.

One of my prey called me the Cuckoo. She said I was like the egg left in place of the regular bird. It was a clever idea, so as a reward, I did her quick. Still raped her, though. A body does have needs.

Why am I talking to you? Boredom. Plus the fact that you’re already dead. That shot I gave you is the best anesthesia money can buy. Keeps your mind going while rendering you as useless as a Cubs bullpen.

Or maybe, because I’m done. I’ve been at this for four decades now. Been all over with work, loved to travel. Got prey on six continents. Would have seven, if not for the damn military changing its mind. I sure changed my commanding officer’s mind. Like it was an air filter.

Sorry bout the dip. Picked it up to disguise myself, now I can’t stop. Becky’s told me I have to stop once I retire. Only thing she’s asked for when I retire.

Getting back to why I’m done. When I started, the thrill was so good. But then I got bored, and careless. Almost got caught. That’s when the Plan became law. And the Plan is simple. Don’t kill the same way twice. Don’t take trophies. Don’t hunt where you eat.

And it’s worked,as you can see. I’ve watched you for about a week now. Like most folks, you don’t pay attention to what’s around you. Thank God for cellphones. It’s made my hunts so much easier. One girl I just took down with a simple nudge of the bumper. Never saw it coming.

So now here we are. You’re fading now. Damn this bra hurts. You never saw that, did you? Especially since I have a wife. And you just thought we were roommates. Hopefully she’s making chicken…

Hey, is that a siren?