Who Are You Weird Fuckers?

It’s been an Age since I wrote a post. I still think about writing posts, and I still pop over to my dashboard at least once a day out of a somewhat vain curiosity to see if anyone’s still reading the bullshit I spewed here over the last year.

Oh yeah, it’s been over a year since I started, by the way. The first post went live on 5/24/15. Guess I missed that anniversary. Oh well.

Anyway, I never claimed I’d get a lot of readers or even really wanted to have many. I expected that a few friends would read this shit, have a laugh at whatever I felt like vomiting on the page at the moment, and go on with their days – and for the most part that has been entirely true.

There are exactly 21 people with WordPress blogs who follow this one. I follow three of them and know three others personally. The rest are mysteries. I don’t read a lot of blogs and usually can’t even be bothered to keep up with my actual WordPress Reader feed.

The Twitter account I made solely for the promotion of this blog has five followers. Three I know personally, one dude who randomly decided to follow me because one of those people did, and yesterday I got a notification for the fifth which seems to be a robot account pretending to be a nude model, porn star, or some other breed of female who only tweets asking if people want to see her naked.

My guess is that it’s some 12 year old Ukrainian boy trying to phish up some attention/credit card numbers, but hey. If he wants to see my twitter wall composed entirely of automated links from this blog, more power to his lonely ass.

I think over the course of the last year and change I’ve pretty much established that I am not the most active social media person in the world, and my blog posts are almost entirely self-gratifying rants about shit I hate, people I hate, having no life, and occasionally passing on some random tidbit I find interesting and/or amusing. The point was never to be producing shit people actually wanted to read here; just to produce shit that kept me writing, and even that’s been waning in recent months.

But, I digress.

Back to the issue at hand.

See, every time I pop over to my dashboard to take a look at the measly stats, I find that someone out there is still reading some of this nonsense. It may be the most pathetic stat counter of all time, but the Tanis posts and “Fuck. Zombies.” pull in a consistent 2 and 1 views per day!

I told you it was pathetic, but still. What in the actual fuck? Who cares what I have to say about either of those throwaway topics? Why are people who are searching for zombies and Tanis finding me at all?

Who are you fuckers?!

Yeah, it’s a crap blog full of hideous rants – many written at varying stages of intoxication – but there are some gems here, too. Does anyone read my mythical summaries on Susanoo or Inanna and Dumuzi? No? How ’bout the varying posts all tagged “writing” that explore the very serious (and utterly ridiculous) issues with calling oneself a writer and actually doing something about it? Nope, not those either? Well, fuck, what about that whole page over there where I put up the prologue to my first novel for free?

Not that either.

Nope. It’s a rambling bit of bullshit about first impressions of a podcast that just keeps falling further and further apart as it goes along (seriously. Should have ended it when Nick disappeared into the cabin and left the mystery hanging. Just sayin’.), and an even more rambling bit of drunken bullshit about how overblown and masturbatory the entire zombie craze is that garner steady attention.

I guess people just prefer stupid shit to anything of substance.

In news not at all related to zombies or Tanis, though, I’m finally on a work schedule that doesn’t require long stretches of utter boredom and solitude, so maybe I’ll get back to writing posts that have some meaning, and actually working on those revisions I’ve been putting off for a year.

Or maybe I’ll just keep ridiculing the world and not giving a fuck. Who knows!

It’s Lost.

No, not my mind. That thing has been missing for ages. I’m talking, of course, of TANIS.

I’m all caught up now, and as the podcast progressed I grew a little less enthusiastic about the creative blending of fact and fiction to invent a mystery and the “myth of Tanis” for one very simple reason:

It’s the plot of Lost.

Seriously. TANIS, the podcast’s mythical location, has magical powers to heal, can only be accessed in special ways, moves around, has some terrifying aspects, and a mysterious cabin that could be TANIS itself or just a location within the greater spooky-zone of TANIS.

Oh, and there’s a cult that worships/seeks it, a group of scientists who want to study it (two, actually), and people who go in sometimes don’t come out and are presumed/actually dead in the real world. Electronics don’t work right in TANIS, either.

While the telling is still entertaining, and the narrative and production are well done, it’s become rather clear at this point the whole thing is really a riff on Lost with a tighter cast, a stronger horror theme, and fewer dead-end plot threads.

There is a bright side, of course. No Evangeline Lily over-acting to make up for a total lack of talent, for one. Nic Silver’s performance is solid, and his plucky internet sleuth Meerkatnip (MK later on) does well too, but some of the side characters give rather wooden reads as they’re clearly not as invested in the production as Nic or as familiar with the story. At several places they sound like they’re actually reading separately and being spliced together.

Still. Better than Jack and Kate crying about everything.

Seeking Tanis? Finding Spoof.

I’m an avid podcast fan, but I’m pretty fucking picky about which podcasts I let in my earholes these days. After I hit critical mass on wrestling podcasts from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jim Ross, Chris Jericho, Roddy Piper and Ric Flair I learned two things: All wrestlers have the same stories (and tell them often), and the greatest stories are only about 5% true.

I ended my addiction to wrestling podcasts after far too many drunken rants from Stone Cold as he sat around his ranch bullshitting with his ranch hand about absolutely nothing, and I had to cut the Ten Minute Podcast’s life support off when it became Will Sasso’s Parade of Annoying Characters, but I still clung to a fine selection of less-insane podcasts that were mostly NPR productions and the incomparable Welcome to Night Vale. Since coming out to Ohio, I’ve pretty much been surviving on Night Vale, This American Life, Radiolab, and Serial.

Until yesterday.

In a conversation with my brotha-from-anotha-motha-and-fatha I was forced to accept TANIS into my life. I was assured it was a mystery, and that he couldn’t say anything about it until I heard it for myself. A few minutes of casual Internet searching turned up a number of sites promoting TANIS as an absolutely true mystery and a number claiming it mixed fact with fiction, but not much in the way of actually calling it out as total fiction.

Lucky you; I’m here to do just that.

TANIS comes at you from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, who also produce The Black Tapes – but I’m not interested in that one right now. If ever. Found-footage (or audio) horror annoys me.

The premise of TANIS is that the world is so connected now that there’s nothing you can’t find in a few minutes on the Internet, and they wanted to “find” a true mystery to make a podcast about. So they found the “myth of Tanis”, somehow, without finding anything about this “myth” on said Internet.

It’s worth noting that the TANIS podcast website itself doesn’t actually call this a documentary. They market it as a docudrama, openly, but that doesn’t seem to sink in with some of the people listening. The production is straight forward, and well done, with narrator/host Nic Silver laying out the week-by-week results of his investigation in a style clearly cribbed from Serial. In fact, if we really want to get down to it, Nic Silver and his delivery style might even have hints of Cecil Palmer of Welcome to Night Vale fame.

The idea is that there’s this myth of something, somewhere, or someone called TANIS. TANIS is… everything, and nothing at all. It’s a word at the beginning of the podcast, and the host doesn’t have any idea what it really is or what he’s looking for. Some of the offered explanations are that TANIS is a place that moves around from time to time, or maybe it’s Hell, or maybe it’s Atlantis, or maybe it’s a person, or a state of being, or, or or…

The point is, TANIS could be anything because the myth of TANIS is being crafted by the podcast itself.

Now, I will note here that there is a historical Tanis. It’s a city in Egypt. It’s a place you can go today, assuming you have archaeological permits and aren’t murdered by roving packs of ISIS supporters. Historical Tanis sits northeast of Cairo in the Nile Delta and was the capital of the 21st and 22nd dynasties of Egypt from about 1069 BCE to 720 BCE before it was abandoned to the shifting course of the Nile and the usual changes in the balance of power that go with any three-hundred year reign in the ancient world.

So, abandoned, Tanis became buried in silt and considered “lost” to the world at large. It was known to have existed from numerous sources, but no one quite remembered where it was. In fact, there’s a long history of people stumbling across other abandoned cities and proclaiming them to be Tanis until 1936 when Pierre Montet finally uncovered it after more than a decade of digging.

So that’s the real Tanis; a city that is lost and “found” several times. Its location always shifting according to whoever claims to discover it.

As it so happens, that’s also a theme with TANIS-the-podcast. The ephemeral concept of what TANIS is to the host includes one certainty: TANIS moves around and its location forgotten even by those who’ve been there.

This parallel might be the only real connection between an actual Tanis and the TANIS of the podcast. Everything else is nonsense. Fiction crafted not for the sake of uncovering a mystery, but establishing a myth.

As the podcast plays out, I find it hard to believe anyone would actually believe this patchwork quilt of fringe whackado could possibly be grounded in reality. Hard, but not impossible.

Remember, I’m a longtime fan of Art Bell. I’ve heard everything the most hardcore crazies believe in. Every conspiracy about secret societies, aliens, demons, angels, lost super-cultures, mystical powers, and more such shit than I can even list here has passed through my earholes thanks to Art’s parade of lunatics. If people will believe that shit, it’s not too much a stretch they can believe the increasingly complex tale the TANIS spins.

Name dropping starts right away in the first episode where rocket scientist and Thelemite (as in the Ordo Templi Orientis; Aleister Crowley’s cult) is given as the impetus for this whole investigation thanks to a rambling short story about finding TANIS that essentially sets up the whole premise of the show finding a myth everyone else has forgotten.

Parsons is a favorite of the conspiracy crowd and often blamed for introducing evil pagan names and rites into NASA missions for various Illuminati-themed conspiracies about space and the “truth” of our space program’s findings and goals.

It doesn’t stop with Parsons though. In just the first three episodes we also hear Crowley himself trotted out for having drawn a picture of a being he called LAM and the show accepts in the Ancient Aliens explanation as a drawing of an alien (Crowley did not define it as an alien, but a spiritual entity), Charles Fort (for whom the word “Fortean” was coined to describe any weird mystery or happening) writes a cryptic letter that seems to point toward a search for TANIS, a crazy basement-dwelling hoarder has a mountain of audio tapes and an amateur radio and conspiracy fixation (an obvious Bell nod, as Bell is an avid HAM operator), numbers stations, a sinister “Tesla Nova Corporation” that locks employees away from the rest of the world, an archaeologist who specializes in “new energy” (because, “new” and “archeology” are words that are totally synonymous), a cabin that’s bigger on the inside than out and teleports around, and of course: mysterious forces following the host around erasing evidence of TANIS almost as soon as he finds it.

The shadowy stalkers delete the bare scraps of digital information our intrepid reporter’s scrappy hacker sidekick/employee (who only works for bitcoins) manages to find in a version of the “Deep Web” only seen in movies and seems to exist solely to post innocuous and cryptic messages (unlike the real Darknet, which deals in illicit goods and services, human trafficking, and everything your mother thought the kosher Internet was going to do to you in 1995) almost seconds after she digs them out. Tapes are erased. Mountains of tapes disappear. The Internet is sanitized against anyone finding anything about TANIS: except the podcast that’s all about finding TANIS, and the city of Tanis in Egypt.

It’s a clever tale, for sure. The producers (whoever they REALLY are) manage to blend their creation into a vast conspiracy culture that explains quite nicely why there’s no actual information on this myth available. It’s not that it was never there until created as a work of fiction for a podcast- it was destroyed by a shadowy cabal!

The overload of fringe nutballery has a purpose, though, and it’s one that I do applaud the writers for instead of simply shaking my head in disbelief. They’ve learned this technique from the fringe itself, applied it to their own (made up) story, and bent the names and scant facts in such a way as to make the whole pattern seem just too encompassing not to be real.

By spitballing everything fringe under the sun into one story, slapping a “mystery!” label on it, and delivering it in a very straight forward manner with the occasional hint of serious harm or consequences for the investigators themselves, the guys and gals at Pacific Northwest Stories have effectively emulated, and spoofed, the entire fringe movement in one beautiful stroke.

Radio programs like Art Bell’s Midnight in the Desert, Coast to Coast AM, a metric shitload of podcasts on the Dark Matter Radio Network, and TV shows like… well, everything on the History Channel these days that isn’t about manly men challenging nature with chainsaws and heavy machinery all work on the same premise: pile all the bullshit together and draw in everyone who believes in just one part of it so they’ll believe in all of it.

It’s pretty much what’s kept Ancient Aliens on the air for NINE FUCKING YEARS; that and college kids who like to drink whenever Giorgio Tsoukalos says “it was aliens!”.

They’re just fucking with you, the PNWS gang. They’re telling a good bit of fiction, spinning it as though it could be real, AND trolling every fringe “theorist” and believer who stumbles across the podcast and buys into it. It’s really quite an exceptional bit of work.

Sure, I could just listen to it as a story and try really hard to believe like so many of the other commentators out there, but I prefer to listen to it for what it really is: a microcosmic spoof of a culture of idiocy currently gripping America (and voting for Trump) with a quality of writing about six steps above the actual conspiracy theorist bullshit.

These guys do their research, but it’s not research into whether TANIS is real or what it is. It’s research into how to carefully pile a lot of bullshit in one place and get people to eat it up.

Well done, PNWS crew, but next time don’t tell us there’s something the Internet doesn’t know. That’s just silly.



Third Shift Shenanigans, and Fishy Dealings.

So, it’s Wednesday morning and I’ve been at work now for three hours with nothing to do and no supervision. Obviously this means I get to do whatever the fuck I want, and lucky you- that means I’m actually writing something!

See, there was a rash of post-holiday robberies at other stores and corporate freaked out and instituted a permanent third shift in Electronics. This meant I could get a full forty hours a week, but ultimately only about fifteen of them actually wind up with anything to do. 

There’s not much stock to run because no one is buying shit, and the only people who show up in my little midnight fiefdom are wandering goons who always look and never buy a damn thing. Luckily I have a shiny new phone and plenty of games to keep me entertained.

Some nights I manage to wrangle a bit of conversation or get some light RP writing done for one of my many PotP projects. Some nights I just laze about and grind levels in Final Fantasy Record Keeper. Most nights, that. 

The simple fact is there is no point in me working this shift. Or anyone. But I get money, so I endure the vast hardships that come with the title of Overnight Overlord.

The most excitement I’ve had here since the holiday madness wore off, however, turned into a somewhat life-changing event that has no doubt annoyed everyone I’ve come in contact with over the last week. Since most of them read this blog; I’ll probably annoy them some more now!

Two weeks ago I went walking randomly through the pet department in my way back from dropping a modest pile of cardboard into the compactor. I just figured on taking a spin past the fish tanks to see what was there when I noticed something odd about the Betta shelf.

One empty bowl. One bowl with two male Bettas going at it. Instant rage.

Some fucking miscreant, some misanthropic piece of shit, had dumped them together to see what would happen. I suppose it could have been a roaming pack of teenagers who thought they were being funny, but I suspect some of the less savory third shift stock team, myself.

Either way, I grew up with fish of all types (and three snakes, a snapping turtle, a salamander, a number of cats and dogs over the years, and at one time live piranha) and I hate to see any animal abused in such a way. So, like the good superhero junkie, I leaped into action. Saved the fucking day. 

I set the fish who was clearly losing the fight aside with a note explaining what happened and told whoever read it that I’d take the fish if they couldn’t sell him otherwise. Well, no one ever got back to me on that, but I saw him still sitting there a couple days later.

By the third day, he’d disappeared, and I wasn’t sure whether the blue Betta sitting in his spot on the shelf was him or the lookalike who had been behind him on the shelf the night I found the gruesome scene in progress. Regardless, I resolved myself to taking that one home just as soon as I could afford a nice tank.

Most people keep male Bettas in those crappy little bowls or a vase with a peace lily and a few pebbles, but in the week I waited for my tax return to come in I’d done enough reading to convince me that was no way to treat a fish; especially one that you presumably want to keep healthy and good looking.

So, I wound up buying a nice three gallon tank, a heater to keep the water closer to tropical temperatures, a few crappy plastic plants, some gravel, and one beleaguered blue Betta with a veil tail. I’m still not sure this one is the one I saved, precisely, but he was looking just rough enough around the edges to convince me he needed to get the fuck out of that piss-poor plastic bowl and into some real fucking luxury.

By last Friday I got him situated in the new tank, and he seemed a thousand times happier and healthier for it, but I wasn’t quite ready to call it good enough. Those plastic plants were too bland, there wasn’t enough cover for him to really relax, and it just looked cheap and unflattering.

Again I ventured out determined to pimp my fish tank.

The most important item on my list was a skull. I’d named the fish Gorak, after my PotP Trolloc character (and my D&D Water Genasi Monk) and Gorak needed a properly brutal little hiding spot. I hoped to find him a battle axe too, but alas, no such luck. Yet!

I did, however, find a big ass skull with a trauma wound in the back he can swim into: so, win!

After much deliberation and back and forth that no doubt bored the shit out of my roommate while I grappled with serious decor decisions in my headspace, I snatched up the skull and a few leafy silk plants and made for the door. After paying, of course, though I left my wallet at home and had to pay back said roommate once we got home.

Then I went out again!

I needed sandpaper to take some of the edges of the skull, and to pick out a tank backing that I had forgotten in the first trip, but this time went alone so as not to wake up stabbed in my sleep.

After I let all the new things soak in clean, conditioned water overnight and cleaned them again the next day just to make sure all the potentially harmful bullshit and germs were eradicated, I went to work on the tank again. 

Gorak was none too pleased to have to sit in his crappy store bowl for the process, but I let him watch instead of locking him up in the bathroom like I had for his first two days of waiting for his home to be ready.

NOW he’s all set, and has thoroughly explored his new villain lair and found it pleasing, but the ornery little bastard still insists his favorite spots to chill are the inch of water above the filter and the space between the heater and back wall. Goofy shit.

Anyway, I find myself compelled to just sit and watch him swim around and tell him he’s doing it wrong when he slithers under the cheekbone of the skull instead of using the blunt trauma hole or one of the eye sockets. We’re just about a week into this strange new life, but I’m already convinced he’s a better pet than that damn noisy cat.

I don’t normally do image posts here, but this time I’ll make an exception to get the scope of Gorak’s villainy across:

Yeah. Maybe next time I’ll write something useful.

Fuck. Zombies.

I know it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, and I really do intend to continue to do so, it’s just been a busy couple of months between going off the third shift schedule to days for a couple agonizingly low-hour weeks and back to nights again for a full 40 hour week.

I haven’t really had much to write about, and have probably done even less writing, but I’m always plotting and have spent a bit of time coalescing my thoughts into notes on just what I want to do with novel revisions. Hoping to get that rolling again, because the things I managed to come up with all sound like solid fucking gold in my head!

At any rate, I’d been considering what to write about for this first post of the new year for a while, and a couple nights ago while wandering aimlessly around the store in search of something to do, I thought I’d hit on a nice rant.


I’m so fucking sick of zombies. Everything is zombies these days, and everyone thinks zombies are so fucking cool, but really? Everything that ever needed to be said or done with zombies happened between forty-eight (Night of the Living Dead) and thirty-one (Day of the Dead) years ago.

Little fat man named George Romero. Ever heard of him? If you’re under twenty-five, probably not. Fucking millennials.

Romero was the first. Other films had come before him to depict zoned-out zombie-like people (see: 1932’s White Zombie), but Romero started the flesh-eating-cadaver-monster craze; and let’s be honest, even he ran it to the ground by the time Land of the Dead rolled around.

Sure, there’ve been some enjoyable bits of zombie fiction since the Lord and Master of All Things Undead really hit his stride, but they’ve all just been aping cues he set down before I was born.

Think The Walking Dead TV show is “groundbreaking”? The comic was better, but even it essentially rips the plot of Dawn of the Dead into little pieces and scatters the survivors all over Georgia instead of focusing on a single shopping mall. It’s all there. The cop hero, the pregnant woman who gives birth during the infestation, the finding-our-new-life scenes as the survivors establish a new home in an unfamiliar place (see: Walking Dead’s prison), even down to the less-savory elements of society forming their own bands to rape and pillage.

But that’s all just foreplay compared to the tremendous amounts of bullshit out there starring zombies.

One of my duties at work is to occasionally, when I have nothing else to do and no customers trolling around Electronics at ungodly hours (thankfully the cold is keeping most of them away) is to go straighten up the books section. During one of these runs the other night, I came up with the idea for this post.

Now, I don’t usually keep up with what’s new in literature these days – especially where Young Adult nonsense is concerned – but I couldn’t help but notice something truly insipid lurking on the New Release endcap: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

That’s right, Jane Austen. You’ve been trolled.

See, this utterly useless dickhead named Seth Grahame-Smith (also responsible for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter) decided to rewrite Pride and Prejudice in an alternate universe where zombies roam the countryside. Then he had the audacity to credit Austen as co-author.

What a piece of shit.

Beside that idiocy, we also find titles like Alice in Zombieland (two guesses what that’s about, and neither one counts) and some others I don’t even remember at this hour now two nights removed from my hideous sojourn into the wasteland. I know there were a few more zombie-centric YA titles huddled together for warmth under the cold fluorescent lighting, but I was still pretty much in a rage about the Pride and Prejudice thing.

That’s just recently-published zombie trash, though. It’s a whole other fucking level when we get into the talk about why the Call of Duty games remain such a big seller.

Hint: they groan, and you shoot them.

I’ve seen couples buy the new Black Ops 3 for their seven-to-ten year old children because the kids wanted to shoot zombies. Seriously. This is a thing.

In fact, it’s such a thing, that to my great dismay that just one day after I had the idea for this post I read… well, THIS.


So, I missed the story when the kid first shot his dad and brother to death, but the mother testified in court that her husband had trained their son to kill zombies and both spent untold amounts of time obsessing over real-life zombie outbreaks and that they regularly played zombie-centric games together; including Call of Duty. While Call of Duty itself is a war game, the zombie-centric multiplayer levels are immensely popular, particularly among kids.

So, at 14 in March of 2014, Eldon Samuel III admitted he killed his father and his autistic brother. Brutally.

Eldon Samuel Jr., the father, died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was then shot three more times in the head after he died. ‘Cause, ya know, zombies.

The brother, 11 months younger than Eldon III, was shot TEN FUCKING TIMES by a shotgun and a semi-auto .45, then stabbed with a knife and hacked with a machete over a dozen times.

Sure, there are always crazy fucking people out there who’ll believe anything (witness the fact Ancient Aliens is still on), but come the fuck on. Enough with the goddamn zombies, already.

I say this as an old-school horror fan, too. I’m all for a good monster flick, or a bit of weird fiction about extradimensional entities ruining human life for no good reason, but zombies are just lazy business. Gore for the sake of gore. Laziness for the sake of makings buck off a popular theme.

If I ever stoop to zombies: please have me committed.

And the NaNoWriMo Winners Are…

Not this guy.

I started the month off strong with a quick jaunt up to 21k words in the first week, largely re-written work from chapters on the second novel I’d started just after finishing the first, but then life hit me in the dick.

My peak writing times have always been late at night when I can reliably sit alone in peace with myself and my keyboard and a pair of headphones, but then I got a job.

I like my new job selling electronics at the local Meijer, but they started me off on a new third shift they’d never done before for the department and after the first week of working 6pm-2am I jumped right into a full third shift 10pm-6:30am. Let me tell you; eight and a half hours on your feet pulling stock, shelving it, and generally running around like a crazy person all night takes it out of a guy.

Though I’m getting used to the shift now and figuring out how to balance it with sleep, this month was pretty brutal and if I wasn’t working I was sleeping. Leaving no time or energy for writing.

The first couple weeks were especially rough on my feet as I walked to and from work about 25 minutes each way, was on my feet constantly, and had to contend with being uncomfortable in my five-year-old Airwalks with collapsed heels and no arch support or my even older dress shoes that had good heels but pinched my toes mercilessly.

A pair of gel inserts did some good after the first week, but not much. The resulting knot and pressure points, especially in my right foot, made the very effort of it all excruciating. It’s not a hard job, but it’s made ten times worse with bad shoes.


I took my first real paycheck and got a brand new pair of shoes with memory foam insoles and plenty of room to breathe, and have been doing much better since. I’m still working that knot out, but it’s not killing me in the process.

So, my NaNoWriMo project to write the second book in my Unknown pairing fell pretty much flat. I have some solid chapters for it, and a better sense of direction than I had going in, and will by no means actually stop working on it when I have time and energy to do so, but for NaNoWriMo this year it’s a bust.

I’m not all that disappointed, of course. I didn’t get into the whole social aspect of the contest at all beyond some poking and prodding at friends to keep working, and as an exercise it never really seemed like something I needed to pressure myself with, but I did enjoy reading a bit of the struggles others had and updating my word count much to the chagrin of others while I could.

Maybe next year I’ll do better, and go at it with something entirely new.

In the meantime, though, work continues to be an interesting experience and I have plenty of time to build up ideas for the sequel and for things to revise about the first book. Hopefully that first book will see the light of day and an official “I fucking finished this thing” stamp of revised approval in the coming months as things settle down into a more manageable routine.

Congratulations to those who did manage to beat NaNoWriMo’s challenge this year, and to Kathryn for blowing past me by 10k at the last time I checked (five minutes ago), and as for the rest of you: Next year, beware! I’m coming back with a vengeance!


NaNoWriMo: One Week (and two days) Later

Technically, Sunday was the one-week-in point for NaNoWriMo, but I was busy, tired, et cetera. Then Monday I was at work all day for a mind-numbing six hours of computer training modules in which I learned all the OSHA nonsense that doesn’t apply to me at all, all the dos and don’ts of selling alcohol and tobacco – which I won’t be doing at all because Electronics is simply not allowed to ring those up, and a depressing amount of propaganda regarding the company’s history and Corporate Jesus of choice.

Seriously. I don’t care who you are. The owner-operator of a chain of grocery stores is not equivalent to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Nor is it OK to put his color picture next to their black and white ones as though he is actually better and more prominent. Good company it may be, but pioneering the “super-center” concept is not on the same level as outlawing slavery and fighting for human rights.

Nor did I miss that puerile attempt to liken him to King Solomon in that insipid little “quotable quotes” book full of “his” sayings (seriously generic nonsense spouted by everyone who ever owned a company in American history) interspersed with Proverbs.

That idiocy might work on your normal drink-the-Koolaid employees, but I’m a writer, goddammit! I see through your bullshit.


Anyway. I made good headway on the sequel in the first week as I massively re-wrote the handful of chapters I had written just after finishing the first novel and then started in on the new stuff, and my first week word count puts me at 21, 217 words into what will probably wind up about 90-100,000 words for the second of two Unknown books.

While it has been suggested I might finish and decide to go make it a trilogy, I probably won’t. I always had a plan for two books about this guy and the truth of it is that he’s just not a character built for a long-haul. I suppose at best I could put down a prequel series of short stories about his life before even the first novel, but that wouldn’t make it a trilogy either.

So why two?

I like even numbers. I like dualism and balance. I like to tear a character down to nothing and build them back up again. I’m too lazy to plot an enormous series, or my brain just prefers not to dwell on the same story for too long. Take your pick. Whatever it is, there are too many reasons to really lay out. I’ve just always had this plan and this feeling that his was a two-book tale of sacrifice and redemption.

There’s surely a bit of the pulp in the Unknown, of course, and I know he’ll pop up from time to time in short stories (have two with him so far) or take on a new form as I reach further and further into the deep-time plotting of his world in general, but the story of the man himself isn’t nearly as grand as the mythos that grows up around him.

Isn’t that always the case?

So, here I sit on my day off between yesterday’s grueling exercise in bullshit-tolerance and tomorrow’s fun-filled sojourn into “register training” that promises to drive the stake a little deeper into my soul, staring at a blank line and wondering where we’re going next.

I probably won’t churn out another 21k in the next week, because working is going to severely cut into my prime writing hours (after tomorrow I go on 6pm-2am through the holidays), but I’m sure the Unknown and I can blow that 50k NaNoWriMo goal out of the water anyway.

He’s a wordy son of a bitch, and I just listen and write it all down.

NaNoWriMo and The Unknown

We’re up to day three of NaNoWriMo now, and I’ve spent most of the time editing the handful of of chapters I already had done for the sequel to my first, yet-unpublished novel. I knew at the time that I was writing these chapters I’d have to redo a lot of it, and that’s holding quite true. The basic story is there, but I was struggling a lot  with how to reconcile the sweeping changes between books one and two and how that’d affect how my characters moved forward.

As of this post, I’ve finished the prologue and first two chapters to the tune of just over 13,000 words. I have one more complete chapter to rewrite, and then it’s on to the all-new stuff. NaNo’s goal is a 50,000 word count by the end of the month, and since my first book is over 95,000 and I wrote 56,000 of those in six days in March, I feel confident I’ll blow their count goal out of the water and more than make up for the fact I’d already written a few chapters.

In addition to the second book, though, I’m also going over my first one and making the revisions that I’ve been claiming I’d get around to since July. I’m trying to get as much of that done in the NaNo month as I can.

In regular-jack-off-life news, I got a job selling electronics at the Meijer location a couple blocks from home, and orientation starts Thursday afternoon. With that in mind, I’m trying to get as much done for NaNo as I can in the next few days since I’m not sure how my new schedule will affect my writing time.

Anyway, I thought in lieu of a ranting post about nothing I’d take a little time to define what it is I’m writing. I tend to speak around the subject of “THE NOVEL” in terms of what I’m not doing with it or how I got an idea for something in it, but haven’t really done much to give a look at the actual thing itself.

I started with a simple idea. An image, really. I saw in my mind a man who had a featureless white helmet that covered his face and sometimes shone with its own light source. He wore black, as all good vigilante crime-fighters do, but instead of a cape he wore a long trench coat with a hood he could pull up to hide his “face” if he wanted to go unnoticed.

He didn’t have a name, he didn’t have a gimmick. He didn’t even really have a history or a face or a defined age. I didn’t know if he was black, white, Asian, Mexican, or a green man from Mars. It didn’t matter. Over time, he defined himself as I wrote, to the point that by the end of the first book I felt he was a pretty well fleshed-out entity to himself. A little rough around the edges, with a few gaps, but mostly intact.

But in August of 2008, all I had was that image and a scene in mind. I knew it was a dark and stormy night –  because that’s how these things always play out – and I knew he had a job to do in a burnt-out shell of a church. That church was real to me. I’d driven by it every day for two years since some idiot put the torch to it claiming to be a Satanist, and though it was in the stages of rebuilding by the time I got around to writing the story I always rather liked the decrepit shell it had become and imagined what it’d be like if the area were a little rougher, a little more plagued by crime and homelessness, and a little less quick to rebuild its churches.

So, I wrote what I had, and it took over for itself. I put the first version of what I intended to have as nothing more than a fun short story I might do something with later down in about an hour.

Then I sat on it.

Then the laptop I’d written it on died its final, agonizing death, and I lost that copy of the story entirely. However, since I tend to remember just about everything I write down once, I wrote the whole story out again. This time in longhand with a pen and a legal pad. It had changed very little, and all the key elements and actions were still in place. I got a little more detail going, and by the time I finished writing it out I had another idea in mind for the character and how to use him again.

I thought, maybe, I’d use what I’d written as a script for a graphic novel or something, but by this point I was still very much just writing for the sake of writing. Then I kept writing, and I delved a little bit into topics like public domain super heroes from the 30s and 40s I could get away with using pieces of or updating, and though none of those made it in whole-cloth, the research was valuable for helping me make some decisions where I wanted to go. So too did I spend hours upon hours re-reading the myths and legends I’d enjoyed so much as a teen so I could refresh myself on details and find ways to merge mythic themes into this strange, gritty noir feel I was aiming for in the writing of the thing.

To that end, and my general dislike of trying to pigeonhole any one story into one of the woefully inadequate descriptors we call “genre” these days, I’ve applied my own “genre” to the effort as displayed on my NaNoWriMo page: Mythic Noir.

Before long, I’d done twelve chapters at just shy of 50,000 words and had what I thought was a good story going. It turned from a lone vigilante operating in a world without anyone else of his kind into an epic tale of a man struggling to cope with the sudden rise and proliferation of post-human entities and the question of why and how they had come to be.

But I let it slide. I hit a wall and instead of bashing through it I backed away from it, and the longer I went without trying it, the easier it got to just leave it laying. I focused instead on my RP work with PotP, and occasionally toyed with a short story here and there for my own amusement, and even spent some time trying to plot out the course of thousands of years after the novel’s own timeline to see where it was going and what else I could do.

I am, after all, a fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and the way everything King wrote had something to do with The Dark Tower. Even in the most tangential sort of way. I wanted to do that with The Unknown. To send ripples from one man’s life and struggles through hundreds or thousands of years of history. I figured it was doable, but I had to be able to finish the book first.

Now that I have, though, I find myself needing to finish the second book too. I have a lot of short stories to tie into it later at all sorts of levels in the grand timeline, but I need to know how the Unknown’s story really ends. For that, I’ve always planned two books.

That’s what my NaNoWriMo project is about; finishing the story and moving on. One way or the other, his story will be finished. Though he might live on in the pages of short stories and side stories here and there in the way no pulp character really ceases to stay active, I’m planning (or maybe hoping) that this second book will be the final stage of laying the ground floor for whatever I do from here on out.

Before we get to that, though, I wanted to share a look at how it started. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link to a separate page I’ve uploaded the entire Prologue to. You’ll notice right away it reads a little funny because I’ve taken it upon myself to experiment a bit with tense shifts. The prologue itself is written entirely in First Person Present, which I signify throughout the novel in italics as a way to mark certain events as action sequences of a more urgent feel than the First Person Past narrative allows.

Throughout, I jump between the two where it makes sense (though to some of my proofreaders it didn’t in some places and I’m working to fix the delineation between what “deserves” to be in what tense), and hopefully by the end of this preview folks will see why I do so. I felt it was simply a good way to get into the character’s head a little more thoroughly. I want you to decide for yourself who this man is and whether he’s in the right or not, and to do that you need to see him like I do.

Anyway, here ya go. Enjoy:

The Nameless Unknown: Prologue

At the Last Minute: @NaNoWriMo


Once upon a time, some friends told me about NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, and I just shrugged it off. It sounded like a cutesy idea full of social media people getting together on a site to hold each other’s hands through the process of writing a novel, and I just wasn’t interested in that.

I liked being the tortured artist struggling to do it all alone. Nevermind that it took me seven years to finish one novel. Nevermind that novel still isn’t revised or published. It was dragged through me with all the rage and pain a person with male anatomy can conjure up to resembling birthing pains.

But, on the other hand, I’ve always been a strong RPer with a good group of friends who I can play off of and write with. People who can run the other characters and let me focus on just one main and a couple of NPCs. Those are the people who’ve been nudging me toward NaNoWriMo for years, and I’ve finally given in.

This might be the shortest post I’ve ever done, but it’s an important one. This is me declaring my intent to write the sequel to the first novel in the next month of the NaNoWriMo competition.

I don’t know that I’ll get into the whole community thing, and I will probably never attend a local event around the concept, but I’ll be updating my word count as I go and using the effort to try and push my friends along as well. That’ll be enough for me, right there.

I’ve scheduled this post to launch at 11:59pm Halloween night, and I’m just guessing that the title will pull off the act of actually tagging NaNo in the automated tweets that accompany all of my posts. Nothing like sliding in the door at the last minute with the least effort possible!

Already a NaNoWriMo participant yourself, or interested in watching the horrors I unleash on the contest? You can find me at NaNo right HERE, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot of NaNo-oriented posts this month as we go along.


I was randomly goofing off last night after dinner with a whiskey tumbler full of rum and my Final Fantasy Record Keeper game grinding through an orb dungeon when a friend who some of you know shared this piece with me. I feel compelled to point it out here and then run off down the street on my own little tangent because I don’t want to comment too heavily on it or attempt to summarize out of respect for the piece as is.

As it happens, Kathryn’s blog is the one I mention on my About page as having been instrumental in bringing about this blog’s existence. Maybe one day I’ll get around to adding a blog roll to my rather Spartan (yup, went there) little site someday to give a more proper and permanent link to it and the works of other friends and random Internet-folk I find amusing or interesting. For now, though, just enjoy it, god damn you!

Anyway, while I enjoyed the piece and the focus of it, I’m always looking at the underlying themes in the stuff I read and what drives a story or article and what I can reach my hand into and rip out, turn inside-out, and scatter around like a lunatic painting on the wall with his own feces, a serial killer furnishing his home with lovely human skin lampshades, or an Elder Thing ripping your sanity to shreds by simply intersecting with your reality at a non-Euclidean angle for a moment.

I’m almost certain this means I am irrevocably insane, and entirely certain that doesn’t bother me.

I’m a horror fan. Stephen King’s It was my initiatory rite into the world of adult literature, and reading it at a time when I was crossing that threshold from childhood to young-adulthood – just like the book’s main cast – pretty much shaped the entire course of my literary wanderings from that point on. There was no point in anything else for me. I had no desire to read about knights and princesses, no room for tales of valor and war, and no use for the teen-angst standards of the day.

I needed the fantastic. I craved the weird and the scary. I lived for Halloween when for just one night I could get away with unleashing the horrors King had wrought upon my psyche onto the rest of the world. It was glorious.

Mind you, I wasn’t one of the creepy goth kids. I didn’t wander around in black t-shirts with black metal bands emblazoned on them crying for attention or inflicting my inner demons on everyone else. I didn’t need to. I got all the horror I needed in my life right there on the pages of It, The Shining, Tommyknockers, and Cujo.

Horror fiction was the release valve on all the daily horrors of being a teenage boy in a tiny mid-west town. It was horror, experienced almost exclusively through King and Lovecraft, that taught me man’s most valuable and detrimental qualities are one and the same.


Fear drives us in all things, and I hardly need to go into that particular truth at great length. Fear is an evolutionary advantage that drives not only mankind but every living creature with a brain big enough to process the chemicals necessary to generate fear. Fear tells us, “Hey, moron, run from that thing with blood dripping from its teeth,” and drives us to build shelter against the roaming predators that could snatch our babies in the night and feast on the gloriously soft and un-furred flesh of our awkward bodies.

Even the most innocuous of activities can be tied back to fear in the healthy-for-us sense. We fear starving to death because once upon a time our ancestors’ ancestors’ ancestor starved to death and the surviving members of the species saw how fucking awful, painful, and scary that was and ever since we’ve done whatever we had to to make sure that doesn’t happen to us. It’s lead to some interesting inventions and contrivances along the way.

We fear what others will say about the stretch marks on our asses, or the smell of our various fluids and gases, so we wear pants and bathe – and in doing so prevent frostbite and a wide array of infectious and fungal diseases. Some fear is quite good for you, indeed!

But then there’s the OTHER fear, and I mean that quite literally: Fear of the Other. It’s that fear we have of people and things not like ourselves. Sometimes, if that Other is a slavering monster with bloody fangs and a penchant for human flesh, or a semi-terrestrial entity from the void with tentacles that spread madness with their touch, that fear of The Other is perfectly acceptable and absolutely should be listened to.

More and more in the modern world, though, where flesh-eating monsters are less of a worry than they used to be, fear of The Other is turned on less deserving targets. Constructs of “race” and what that word actually means come to mind as we see most frequently even today, but I wander alone through long nights of weirdness and see other Others moving into the forefront as well.

Take for instance the current trend in cable television programming. Where once channels like History and Discovery were actually about… history, and discoveries, and devoted hours upon hours to documentaries about anything they deemed we might find interesting, now we see an endless string of Shark Weeks capitalizing on our fear of fish with teeth and geologists pretending they know historical truths; preying on our fear of education and common sense.

Capitalizing on an undereducated public, these networks and others have been steadily shifting away from droning documentaries by actual experts in favor of the sensational bullshit of conspiracy theorists and woo-peddlers of all shapes and sizes. We can even expand this into the countless ghost and bigfoot hunting shows which often portray crackpots who spend too much time in the woods as experts in things of entirely unsubstantiated reality.

The Average Joe Jack-off has replaced the serious academic as the leading voice in information dissemination across the dial, and disturbingly they often push an actual agenda of resisting the academic establishment or decrying educated people in specialist fields (like archaeologists, historians, physicists, astronomers, and even mathematicians!) as part of an ever-expanding web of conspiracy set in place to do nothing but lie to the common man about everything under the sun to keep them ignorant of the “truth” about the world around them.

What that truth is, however, depends entirely on the woo-peddler of the week. It could be that the universe is a Matrix-like hologram, it could be that aliens abduct everyone nightly and our dreams are hallucinations put there to keep us from knowing about the probes in our asses and the hybridization of humanity, or it could be that a single group of people (take your pick, it’s either the Illuminati – which was a Bavarian flash-in-the-pan for a decade in the 18th century, the Freemasons, or the Knights Templar these days) runs the entire world and all governments are really their puppets.

Regardless, these heroes-of-the-common-man know the truth, and the truth is that anyone who isn’t them is against them. My favorite right now is Scott Wolter. That guy is dumber than the rocks he’s supposed to be an expert on, but he’s now had two shows on History about his Knights Templar wet dreams that are almost entirely built around the premise that the history we’ve all been taught growing up is a lie. This is declared in the actual title sequence for the show. This geologist will save us from our false history, while conveniently ignoring the fact he’s so bad at geology he once misrepresented a rock he sold as a rare Lake Superior Agate (worth thousands) when it was in fact a Brazil Agate worth significantly less and was sued and found in the wrong and thus demonstrates his own lack of expertise in his own field of expertise; so why the fuck should we trust this guy?

Oh, because he’s on TV and he says academics are liars, that’s why.

This particular fear of The Other plays very specifically to The Other being “anyone who could afford to go to college and was successful in obtaining multiple stages of degrees in their field”. To the audience of under-educated and ill-informed individuals who did not go to college for any number of reasons or perhaps simply lack the resources and skills necessary to discern what is credible information and what is the mad raving of an idiot trying to feel important, the educated and well-informed are an Other of such exceeding strangeness that they must, in fact, be hideous monsters perverting the truth in layers of technical language and a vocabulary that expands beyond two-syllable words.

Witness, too, the case of one Michael Cremo. Cremo has made his living selling the notion that one does not have to go to college at all to be an expert in archeology. In fact, if you listen to a Cremo interview and aren’t entirely put off by the fact the man can’t even get through a sentence in an intelligible manner and has the delivery cadence of a four-year-old pushing a wagon full of rocks uphill you’ll soon learn that he actually claims dropping out of college and choosing instead to blindly accept “wisdom traditions” (in Cremo’s case, Hindu mythology) as an equal path to higher education was a GOOD thing!

Sure, we can argue all day about the accessibility of higher learning institutions to the common man, or we could argue about how woefully unprepared the average high school student really is for such higher learning, or we could go on at length about the rising cost of tuition, but those would be actual arguments about education and educational reform that might have some fucking substance. These bottom-feeders running rampant through the pool are arguing nothing more than “academics are wrong, and professors are protecting the party-line of history for the sake of maintaining their tenure in a world run by the NWO”.

Sometimes I wish the NWO really were in charge. Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash would book themselves more airtime than these morons, and at least the “it’s just entertainment” argument would hold water.

“But Clint,” you ask, “what the fuck does this have to do with the article in question?!”

Probably nothing. But I’m a writer. I see a good prompt and I run with it and fear happens to be on of my favorite subjects.

So! Happy Halloween!

I was going to strap a playing card under my sleeve in my usual stand-by “degenerate gambler” costume, but I think this year I’ll just terrify the masses with a stunning intellect and informed opinions. It seems so much more effective, and doesn’t take near as much preparation as the chainsaw-murderer-with-real-chainsaw costume I did in junior high.