Happy Halloween, here’s The Night Ripper!

It’s Halloween! Whether you plan on dressing up as a sexy (insert random job title here),  gorging yourself on candy and sweets until you slip into a diabetic coma, suffering a terror stroke on a haunted hayride, or curling up on the couch to watch your favorite holiday movie (Hocus Pocus, obviously), you should add one more item to your spooky to-do list: Buy my newest book!

The Night Ripper is now available for purchase as both a Paperback and Kindle eBook!

This novel is the first book in my new Watchers in the Dark science fiction series, and has everything your little Halloween Hearts might desire. A haunted spaceship. Hungry vampires. Bloodthirsty pirates. A pretty princess. Friendly aliens. Unimaginable cosmic horrors. Hot Chocolate. Penis jokes. All the holiday essentials!

Give it a read…you know you want to. Then, be sure to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads to let others know what you think!

The Night Ripper

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Why are liberals such garbage people?

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Until our current presidency, I never really thought about politics. I knew when elections were, and I knew that my parents and friends and coworkers voted, but I never knew who they voted for. To be sure, this was partially due to my general apathy on the subject, but there is no question that it was also because at that time, political affiliation was a more private, less polarizing, relatively minor facet of somebody’s character. Now, it seems that whichever direction you lean politically inevitably provokes judgment from friends, relatives, and even strangers. If you express a liberal point of view, you are immediately labeled a retarded communist fairy snowflake by more conservative peers. If you espouse any conservative biases, accusations that you are a retarded greedy heartless Nazi fascist are sure to follow. Here’s the thing, I know a lot of liberals, and I know a lot of conservatives, but I don’t actually know any retarded communist fairy snowflakes, or any greedy heartless Nazi fascists. The people I know, on both sides of the political spectrum, are just that – people. People who are, for the most part, good, and kind, and generous, and so very intelligent. I miss the days when learning somebody’s political affiliation wasn’t an immediate call to battle, because we could all remember that we were not actually enemies. We’re actually all teammates, working toward the common goals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and yeah, sometimes we have different ideas on how to reach those goals, but as mature, responsible, fully-functioning adults we should always be able to extend a little empathy and compassion, and continue working together to achieve those shared goals, even if it requires a little bipartisan compromise.

So where did this disturbing level of vitriol and lack of mutual respect come from? The internet mostly. Never before have we been directly connected to so many other people. Never before have we been able to indulge so easily in masturbatory, self-congratulating echo-chambers of agreeing viewpoints, while drowning out any divergent opinions. Never before have we ever had immediate access to so much information, all conveniently collected, organized, and distilled into understandable chunks and placed right at our fingertips. I mean, really, the entire breadth of human knowledge is at most one or two mouse clicks away, more information than we could possibly absorb even if we lived for a thousand thousand years, but what do we actually use the internet for? Porn mostly, and sharing political memes that are  ALWAYS biased, and almost always promote information that is misinterpreted, incorrect, or outright lies. And I think, for the most part, we know it too, but we share anyway, because all of those likes and shares and affirmations we receive on our posts from like-minded individuals are addictive, and feeding that addiction is more important than fact-checking or engaging in a fair and honest dialogue.

So, what are we going to do about it? Since it is beyond my abilities to bookmark Snopes.com on the favorites tab of everybody’s web browser to help them determine if the preposterous meme factoids or viral stories they’re sharing are in any way true, and since I don’t have the resources to teach everybody even the basics of media-literacy, statistical analysis, or the rudiments of the scientific method (Correlation doesn’t equal Causation guys), I’m stuck with this – Let’s have that fair and honest dialogue. I need to believe that most of the fear and discomfort and disrespect currently simmering between liberals and conservatives is due to simple ignorance. Conservatives don’t get liberals, not necessarily because they don’t agree with the liberal viewpoint, but because they literally don’t even know what that viewpoint is. The same goes for why Liberals don’t get Conservatives. So let’s try to change that. Let’s actually have a discourse, and explain our viewpoints. I have a sneaking suspicion we might find that we have more in common than we think.

I’ll go first. Warning, this is MY viewpoint, so you might very well disagree with it in whole or in parts. That’s OK. That’s fine, really! If you feel differently, I’d LOVE to hear why. That’s the whole point!

I am a white, heterosexual, upper-middle-class American male. I love this country, and consider myself a true patriot. I like crass jokes, red meat, fast cars, and big titties. I’ve lifted every truck I’ve ever owned. I like guns and hunting. I think the government are a bunch of corrupt incompetent fucks, and I prefer that they leave me alone. I approve of the death penalty. I want nothing more than to work hard, become rich and successful, and protect and support my family.

In a surprising twist worth of M. Night Shyamalan at his prime however, I am a liberal.

Let me explain. Since I am a real, complex human being, I do not agree with the entire liberal agenda. I also do not disagree with the entire conservative agenda. I am allowed to decide what is important to me, and to hold my own unique opinions, just like everybody else. Very few people I know fit neatly into either camp without overlap.

I am a white, heterosexual, upper-middle-class American male. I have A LOT to be thankful for. I receive almost universal respect, and am honestly treated quite well, both by fellow American citizens, and the system itself, based solely on my skin-color, sexual orientation, and financial security, all of which are circumstances of my birth completely outside of my control. I LIKE the way I am treated. I enjoy being respected. I like how the system works for me. BUT, I am aware that the way I am treated and the way the system works for me, does not work similarly for everyone. I believe that our country’s issues with racism and bigotry and small-mindedness are a SYSTEMIC problem, if not created by, then certainly perpetuated by the government, and are only able to be completely changed at the federal level. I am aware that non-white, non-straight, non-financially secure, and non-male American citizens do not have equal access to the same American dream that I do. I don’t think that is fair, I think that everyone deserves to receive the same advantages I have received my entire life.

Even if you have brown skin, or weird clothes, or a funny accent, you are still entitled to the same Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness as me.

Even if you like mushing your genitals somewhere I would prefer not to mush my genitals, you are still entitled to the same Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness as me.

Even if you worship different gods, or the same god differently, or no god at all, you are still entitled to the same Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness as me.

Even if you happen to get sick, or lose your job, or fall on tough times, you are still entitled to the same Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness as me.

Even if your family looks different than my family, you are still entitled to the same Life, Liberty and Pursuit of happiness as me.

It is NOT the government’s role to enforce traditional values. It is the government’s role to protect everyone equally under the law.

That is why I am a liberal.

I am pro-choice. Based on my understanding of the science, I don’t think a fertilized egg is a person, nor should it be granted the same rights as a fully formed human being, and I don’t think life starts right at conception, but a little further down the pipeline, but that opinion shouldn’t even matter. I am pro-choice because I support the bodily autonomy of women. I am an organ donor. That means when I die, if I have any ripe juicy usable organs left in my squishy meat sack body, they can be harvested and used to save another person’s life. That is my choice. If I decided NOT to be an organ donor, upon death, even if my organs were perfect and could save 20 lives, they wouldn’t be touched. Because it’s my body, and my choice. Not being pro-choice on abortions, but accepting as a matter of common sense that a person can choose to not be an organ donor upon death to me means you are giving a DECAYING CORPSE more rights than a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, human woman regarding what can be allowed to stay in or taken out of her body.

That is why I am a liberal.

I’m no commie bastard. I like money. I like the free-market in so much as I like earning and spending money, and I don’t like anything that causes me to earn less money, or infringes upon my ability to spend said money once earned. BUT, I think that we need government regulation to protect us little folk from the greed of big businesses. I think businesses are very short-sighted, they do what they do to maximize short-term profits for their owners, and board, and stock-holders at the cost of the welfare of the environment, their employees, and their consumers. Businesses aren’t moral. Businesses aren’t kind. Businesses are unthinking, unfeeling systems designed to do one thing, and one thing only. Make money. I don’t think a federally mandated minimum wage that you can actually survive on, or higher taxes levied against the richest of the rich, who will feel the pain of those taxes the least, are unreasonable. I am not worried that since I am a “Have”, by helping the “Have Nots” I will be come a “Have less” or a “Have Not” myself. It’s not a closed system. We haven’t achieved peak Having. I truly believe I can still “Have” while everyone else “Haves” as well.

That is why I am a liberal.

I consider myself a patriot, not because I think this country is perfect, but because I love this country, but I admit that it is flawed, and I want to work on fixing those flaws. What is more patriotic? Being proud of your country no matter what? Or actively working to make your country something worth being proud of?

If you love your house, but the roof was leaking, what makes more sense? Telling people if they don’t like the roof leak they can leave, because your house is perfect and anybody who says otherwise is a traitor? Or admitting that the roof is leaking, and working hard to fix it, so your house can be the best damn house ever?

The United States has problems. Ignoring them won’t make them go away.

Our prison system is obscenely over-crowded, a huge amount of the inmates are doing time for non-violent drug crimes, and the rate of people of color incarcerated is disproportionately high. This is not because poor black men are more likely to do drugs. It is because poor black men are much more likely to be convicted for doing drugs, while a rich white boy named chad who’s father is a lawyer who plays golf with the judge on Sundays can do all the drugs he damn well pleases with no consequences except maybe spending a few weeks at a Malibu beach resort rehab center. Do you know what is happens prison? Free labor. So, slavery. If you think there wasn’t a conscious decision somewhere to convict as many black and brown men as possible of bullshit crimes to put them back to work as literal modern day slaves, you’re a more optimistic person than I am.

Our public education system is in shambles, and should be invested in. An intelligent, mature, well-adjusted, well-educated future work force is necessary to our continued survival and success. We shouldn’t cheap out to save a few tax dollars now, we need to invest in our nation’s future with well funded primary schools and affordable graduate programs. We can’t blame the youth of America of being dumb stupid idiots if we’re the ones who voted to defund their education.

Our environment and our natural resources are our greatest wealth. We should be focusing on ways to husband and protect and extend their long term value, not strip-mining and polluting and ruining everything for extra profits now at the expense of future generations. Why not invest in solar, wind, water and other renewable energy sources? Why not protect our wildlife, and keep our water clean? So what if we magically don’t run out of coal and oil and natural gas some day, and never need clean renewable energy? What is the down side to having invested money into making the world greener, cleaner, healthier, and happier?

Our healthcare is overpriced. Our health insurance is expensive, and is a for profit system. That’s fine. There is nothing wrong with making money. If people want to purchase health insurance, they should be able to purchase health insurance. BUT health insurance should be UNNECESSARY. Just like we pay taxes to the government to maintain usable roads and infrastructure, and to have a huge big dick swinging military that is better funded then the next 12 biggest militaries combined, we should also be able to pay a modest amount and receive top-notch, cutting edge, inexpensive nationalized healthcare. It’s not a hopeless pipe-dream. Other countries have nationalized healthcare, and some of their systems work. If we adopted a nationalized healthcare system, people could go to the doctor if they get sick or injured, and receive the care they need without going bankrupt, losing their house, starving their family, and annoying their friends with GoFundMe accounts. If other countries can figure this system out, we should be able to as well. Maybe we can use some of that crazy military money.

At the end of the day, I’m a liberal because I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of people who are different than me. I’m not afraid that giving everybody the same advantages I’ve always had will in some way harm me. I imagine that conservatives likely view the liberal mindset as unrealistic or overly optimistic. I imagine they think trusting the government, corrupt and incompetent as it is, with any extra control beyond the bare minimum is a foolish idea.

My question is, can you really trust individual people instead? Can you trust individuals to act for the good of everyone? Or is it more likely that they’ll act in their own rational self interest to make sure that they and their families have what they need, and the rest of us, especially those of us who are different, can burn in hell?

That is why I am a liberal. What are you, and why?

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FINALLY, another book

Barring any last minute printing issues, my new book – The Night Ripper will be released in FIVE DAYS. That’s pretty exciting. (for me anyway) It is a science fiction novel with all the best parts of science fiction. Like space ships! and aliens! and ominous Lovecraftian horrors from another dimension! Also, Vampires. Why wait FIVE DAYS however, when you can read an excerpt now!
In the meantime, or if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you should definitely check out my old book – Apostate Konstantin. That book is about witches battling a dangerously militant church in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You know, that old song and dance. It is already available in paperback or as an eBook, and the kindle eBook version will be FREE to purchase for the next FIVE DAYS.
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Supporting local artists who suck, and other tricky situations.

My town is not what you would consider an especially sophisticated community. The restaurants are mostly all chain restaurants. The ones that aren’t are pizza parlors. It doesn’t have trendy coffee shops for young hipsters to mix and mingle, it has multiple Dunkin Donuts where grumpy blue collar professionals can get their morning caffeine injections. The local dive bar’s patronage has an average age of 102. They all drive 4×4 pickup trucks. Writers, musicians, painters, and other more esoteric creatives do not flock here for its vibrant and dynamic artistic scene. It has no artistic scene.

My town has warehouses. It has tobacco fields. It has tobacco barns. It has assorted tobacco-centric farm equipment retailers, resellers, and servicers. Its only nod to high culture is one museum. It is a tobacco museum.

For all of that, there are artists here. There are painters, musicians, and writers. Against all odds, they exist. I wouldn’t say they’re thriving, but like a persistent fungal infection they lurk in the dark sweaty crevices of this fine rural hamlet, stubbornly plying their craft with little fanfare or support. To them I say – Thank You. Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t let anybody discourage you from your dreams. Also, maybe don’t read the rest of this post.

As a dedicated consumer of art, especially strange paintings and genre fiction, and a creative dabbler myself, mostly of strange paintings and genre fiction, I want to support their endeavors. I want to take pride in their accomplishments. I want to enjoy the fruits of their labors, the results of their efforts, the expulsions from their imaginative wombs.

To that end, I recently visited the small independent bookstore down the road from my house in order to browse the local authors section and, hopefully, find a new favorite author that I could stalk and imprison a la Stephen King’s Misery. To me, an independent bookstore should be a cramped and disorganized place full of crooked, teetering stacks of second or third-hand cookbooks, Harlequin romance novels, and John Grisham paperbacks. The type of place where time has no meaning and hours of browsing can result in the discovery of countless How-to manuals for rebuilding obsolete automobile carburetors, or a stack of dusty travel books for now defunct nation states, or a signed copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s lesser known and controversial Hobbit sequel Radagast’s Revenge – There and Back Again Two, Electric Boogaloo, or even a hitherto undiscovered copy of the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. It should be the sort of establishment which smells more than faintly of cat piss, the overweight bewhiskered culprit has laid claim to the most comfortable armchair, and the elderly proprietor is clearly just barely tolerating your patronage, and would really prefer if you left immediately without touching another one of their precious yellowing  and dog-eared paperback treasures.

The independent bookstore near my house is not like that. For one thing, the owner is young, and SO NICE. Truly, a credit to her profession. For another, her store is well-lit, clean, and organized, with only two walls of books, all of which appear to be new prints. If I’m being honest, the small amount of books actually available for sale in the bookstore is surprising. I might have more on my bookshelves at home. In a world with Amazon, and digital readers, and mega-bookstores like Barnes and Noble however, this perhaps is not insanity. Instead of trying to compete with those businesses, my local independent bookstore offers something different, something you can’t get with the click of a mouse online. Events. Book signings, Book clubs, Author lectures, Arts and Crafts lessons, whatever you can think of, it’s probably scheduled. This place is less of a store for buying books, and more of a venue for literature related activities. It’s an interesting business model, and I truly hope it succeeds.

For all its lack of actual books, it does have a fairly large shelving section dedicated to local authors, so I went there with high hopes that I’d find something at least remotely interesting. It was a bit of a wash I’m afraid. The section had all of the expected non-fiction biographies on local historical figures and fixtures, the type of obsessively but amateurishly researched fare that exists everywhere because any time a town has a person or a thing there is someone who feels the urge to write about that person or thing. There were also some young adult fiction stories which were recommended as good sellers, but I wasn’t in the mood for young adult, especially because good young adult fiction is often fairly bad, and I don’t imagine debut young adult fiction from an unknown local author would be any better. The store owner, who so solicitously helped me in my search was able to recommend one local author’s science fiction book, which I happily purchased because local and science fiction were exactly what I was looking for. I should have requested that the book also be good.

Unfortunately, it sucked. It sucked so bad. It was the opposite of good. It was, in fact, terrible. This thing was an abortion from start to finish. Obviously a self-published job, I was immediately annoyed by the amateurish formatting errors present throughout.

Like how the author indented every new paragraph. But also put a space between every new paragraph. I mean, you do one or the other. That’s an obvious rookie mistake that even the slightest editorial oversight would have caught.

In addition the dialog read like it was written by a non-native speaker with Aspergers overhearing and transcribing the conversation between two other people who also have Aspbergers, and also all three of them have never heard anybody else ever have a normal conversation but they kind of know what words are and that you need to put a few in a row and then put a comma or a period, so they’re going with that and hoping for the best.

I don’t want to go into too much detail but the premise was shaky, the plot was shit and the execution was weak. 0/10, I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul. The most upsetting part however, was that I really wanted to like it. I wanted to become a fan. I wanted to be impressed and excited by the literary genius of a local author. Because I wanted to support him. I want to support all my local artists. But what does that mean? Am I obligated to support my local artists, even when they suck? If they produce garbage, do I have to happily consume that garbage with a smile on my face, because hey, they’re local? Tell me the rules here.

If I was just a consumer, it wouldn’t really matter at all. This author made a product, I didn’t like the product. End of transaction. The complication is that, I also write. It’s a small town. If we both keep writing, we will potentially cross paths. Maybe even at an event at the aforementioned bookstore. What if he asks me if I’ve ever read his stuff? What if he’s read mine? What if he actually likes my writing? I mean, he probably wouldn’t, it’s pretty bad too, but still. Stranger things have happened. How do I navigate this tricky situation? Advise me, Friends.

 

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Where am I!?

It has been over a minute and a half since my last post. Shameful. Churlish.

Warranted?

The thing is, I haven’t been posting, not because I dislike you and want by my absence to make your lives a meaningless hell of joyless despair, but because I’ve been busy. I’ve got big stuff going on. BIG STUFF.

Big Stuff 1 – My next book has been completed. That’s right, the first draft of The Night Ripper is done! I am still plugging away on editing and formatting and whatnot, but the story has been completed. Guys, I think you’ll like it. It’s got monsters. It’s got aliens. It’s got spaceships. It’s got jokes. If you enjoy those things, you’ll enjoy this book. If you’d like to read an advance copy to help edit and provide feedback, let me know. Look forward to its release sometime this summer. For me to make my self-imposed release deadline however, I need to spend a portion of my limited free time actually working on the book. Thus, less blog posts.

Big Stuff 2 – I’m lifting again. I mean, I never stopped exercising and I’ve tried to remain as fit as my sedentary office job allows, but I’m lifting HEAVY again. Relatively speaking of course. I won’t be invited to compete in any World’s Strongest Man competitions anytime soon, but I am working to get back in to the 1,000 lbs club. The prerequisites for being in this club are simple: Lift over 1,000 lbs cumulative between your squat, deadlift, and bench press. Admittedly, this is a very attainable goal, and is not especially impressive to actual power lifters, but for a slim baby with bad knees like myself, it’s a good goal. Being in the 1,000 lbs club  is basically the minimum weight required for you to be allowed to answer yes to the question: do you even lift, Bro? I want to answer yes to that question again. So I’ve been working out. Thus, less blog posts.

Big Stuff 3 – I’m getting married. That’s right. After only a decade of living together, I bent the knee and asked Mistress Kay to upgrade to Wife Kay. (Downgrade?) She said yes. So I guess you could say it’s getting pretty serious. I mean, we talk or whatever. What this means for me is that since the original has been upgraded to fiance 1.0, I suddenly have the unenviable task of trying to find a new replacement mistress while faced with the added handicap of being old and gross and completely undesirable to any of the opposite sex in my advanced age. The odds are not in my favor. It ALSO means that in my negligible free time, which has already been lessened by my writing and lifting efforts, I’m now dealing with all the soul-crushing minutiae involved with planning a wedding. Venue visits, vendor meetings, food tastings, guest lists, engagement party plans, wardrobe, decor, wedding website design (maxandmarissa.com), save-the-dates, invitations, the list is endless. If I need to spend one more second deciding which stationary card stock has the right weight and feel necessary to convey our love to our potential guests, I’m going to chop of my ding-dong and use it to hang myself from a ceiling fan set on low so that my dickless dead body does stately loops of the living room. Which brings me to Big Stuff 4. All these fancy wedding plans we’ve made cost money. My job pays me just enough to enjoy the mediocre lower-middle class lifestyle I have grown accustomed to. No more. So I’ve gotten a second job.

Big Stuff 4 – I work in retail now. That’s right, I’m a janitor at a shoe store. I asked for my name tag to read Al Bundy, but they refused, so you can see how well things are going already. Because nothing says SUCCESS like being a 32 year old part-time retail employee. Especially when you’re the only male employee, and all of your coworkers are high school students who make more than you because they’ve been doing it longer. Plus sometimes I get to see people I know who are shopping while I’m working, and that’s not at all awkward or embarrassing. Today at work I ran into a girl I graduated college with who I at the time thought was beautiful. Turns out she is still beautiful. She is still beautiful, and I was wearing an apron with my name on it and dragging a mop bucket to clean up diarrhea from the bathroom floor. Again, the last time we saw each other, WE WERE GRADUATING COLLEGE TEN YEARS AGO. She was probably pretty impressed with how much I’ve achieved since then. I’ve gained not only an apron, but also a bucket full of dirty water. Well, gained access to at least. I need to leave them behind when I go home at night. I would have loved to have spent some time catching up, but instead I had to mop diarrhea for $10/hr. Luckily I only do this every weekend and most week nights. I guess you can say things are going pretty well for me.

So there you have it. I admit I have not been posting as frequently as I want to, or as much as you would like, and for that I apologize, but there have been mitigating factors. They are temporary at least, so I should be able to return to a more regular posting schedule soon enough. That, or you know, there’s always the penis noose idea.

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