Friday, November 21, 2014

Should We Defund The Pentagon And Give That Money To Canadian Musicians?

US security services don't protect us. That's clear. That's what every grownup knows. Our soldiers, sailors, spies, and contractors - God love 'em - do a number of very difficult jobs in the world. They are honorable people, most of them. (The ones who don't commit atrocities and then take selfies.) But actually keeping ordinary people from getting killed is not one of their accomplishments. We've spent more than a decade fighting jihadists, and the result is that those jihadists have changed the name of their group. We launched two wars, committed targeted killings - we've lost and taken countless lives - all for a rebranding.

The question isn't whether we're wasting our money and our young men and women. We are. You know we are. The only question that matters is what to do with the money once we admit we're wasting it with all this out of control interventionism.

And I'd suggest we use it to support the Canadian music scene.

Have you heard some of the songs on Brill Bruisers yet? Most of you probably have. But clearly we don't have enough awareness. Watch this:

 

Doesn't financing this make more sense than whatever the hell the NSA is really up to? But it goes beyond the New Pornographers. We could be helping Metric produce new albums. We could be the reason Arcade Fire finally gets that next dozen musicians that's really going to give their sound some depth.

The bottom line is US armed forces and their supporters have promised us security and freedom, and they have not come across. The Canadian music scene has promised us rock, and they have fucking delivered.

Don't think I don't know the risks. Could arrogance and mission drift bring us the next Rush? Sure, it's possible. But Rush never waterboarded anyone. Not really.

I guess what I'm saying is that we could take all the money and effort we've spent on our defense establishment, and we could literally do any other thing with it, and it would make the average US citizen on an airplane or in a big city less at risk than what we have been doing - which is picking fights all over the planet with people we barely understand. We could light fire to all that money. We could spend the next two weeks putting all our forces into the biggest, most elaborate game of paintball the world has ever seen. We could crash all our aircraft carriers into each other and create a giant artificial reef just to develop tastier crabcakes. It doesn't matter. What we're doing right now is so obviously pointless and heartbreakingly counterproductive that it does not matter what else we do. All alternatives are on the table at this point.

So, I'm thinking Canadian indie rock. Brill Bruisers kicks ass, and it doesn't make me ashamed.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night Of The Libertarian Werewolves

I really can't stay… 
Baby, it's cold outside. 
I've got to go away… 
Baby, it's cold outside. 

Dean Martin was crooning through the minivan's speakers, and it made it hard to hear what was outside. But Rat Pack Christmas was the only thing that calmed Douglas down. Donald was sitting next to him in his car seat, wailing and screaming for me.

"Help me, daddy," he said. "Help me!" But Donald was the baby, and he was more dramatic. He laughed and cried easily. Nothing seemed to really get to him. I never worried as much about Donald. Douglas, almost four then, was serious and quiet and thoughtful. The whole world seemed too much for him sometimes. Anything could break his heart. He was absolutely silent and wide-eyed in the back, and he understood enough to know he should be scared.

"Are you okay honey?" I asked, looking at him in the mirror between glances at the row of white front yards and black-windowed houses. He nodded and didn't mean it. I went back to my business, searching in the sweep of the headlights as the van turned. I held tight to the wheel, and we skidded on the ice. The trucks hadn't sanded the back roads and subdivisions out here in the county, and the snow had been falling heavily since early that morning. As the van slipped I heard the hiss of glass chips sliding across the back seat. The rear window was completely smashed. Through it, a draft of wind slipped in and made the minivan's cabin numbing in spite of the heater. I had enough time to grab blankets to wrap Donald and Douglas. But I didn't have time to dress. I was in my boxers, a T-shirt, and shoes without socks. I'd gotten gloves, but discarded them. They made it hard to work the Mossberg, thumping around down on the floor of the passenger's side.

I kept one foot touching it to know its location in case I had to get it quickly. But on the passenger's seat was the revolver, and that seemed a quicker reach.

This evening has been… 
So very nice. 
I'll hold your hands; they're just like ice. 

My nose was still bleeding. Every time I snorted I could taste rust. When I coughed or breathed too deeply, a rib let me know it might be cracked. Bruises covered my body. And none of that was as bad as the nub of the hunting arrow sticking out from my shoulder. I'd broken off as much of the shaft as I could. The head had hooks though, and I wouldn't be able to get them without pliers and time. I had neither - not then. So I hunched to keep that part of my back from touching the seat, but now and again I would brush it and the shiver of pain was exquisite. I discovered so many things, things I never suspected, but I never found out quite who the fuck shot me with the arrow.

"Daddy, help."
"I can't help you now, Donald," I said as evenly as I could. "But I bet we can sing a song together…"

The kid shook his head and his face crinkled up. I sang along with the radio to get him interested, even though I could tell it wouldn't work.

I wish I knew how… To break this spell. 

"I'll take your hat; your hair looks swell," Dean and I answered.

"No sing!" Donald said, "No, no, no!"
"Donald, please. We'll drive out of here, and then I promise you…"
"No!"
"Donald, why don't we…"
"NO SING!"
"Donald!" I shouted, but I never finished. Because then something bumped up against the window right next to his tiny head, and I saw it in the mirror. I didn't see it long, but it had eyes and teeth and it looked right at my son, and then it was gone. Startled by the sound, Donald stopped crying. And then he broke out laughing and laughing like it was one of our games, and I'd just surprised him.

Douglas didn't even change expression. Just stiffened a little, and soon I smelled he'd pissed himself. But I wasn't looking directly at them. I turned around in my seat, straining to see it, but the thing was somewhere beside the vehicle, just out of sight, and moving toward the open window in back. I hit the accelerator and the van jerked forward. I made it to the end of the street and spun around, almost toppling the vehicle. Whatever was out there could outrun us. I knew that. There was only one thing to do. I clicked on the high beams and sped back, aiming for a trash bin and a clump of cardboard boxes with a shadow behind them. I barreled into that mess, taking most of my neighbor's trash halfway down the block. For a second I thought I missed it, but then there was a thump from the grill and right tire, and it felt right. I pounded the brake and fishtailed to a stop. Then I backed up about fifteen feet and hit it again, trying to put my wheel right onto its head.

Silence and stillness. Nothing but the curtains of headlight and street lamp spotted with snow. The cell phone buzzed in the side pocket, jolting me. I picked it up with my left hand. I kept my feet on the brake and my right hand free to reach the gun. I was ready to see something terrible rise up, and I knew I'd have to shoot it without hesitating.

"Is everything okay?" Ellen wanted to know, "I called the landline." She'd been away for awhile, and she worried on nights like this.
"Oh yeah, honey," I said. "I had them in the bath."
"It's really late for that."
"I know, I know. They wanted to watch Airplane, Airplane. And then they wanted to watch it again, and I just, I just couldn't say no…" I chuckled unconvincingly.
"You sound strange."
"Just a lot of… stress. It's nothing."

She murmured sympathetically. It had been a strange day. But it was difficult to be a stay-at-home dad. It was always worth it, and I loved my family, and every day was an adventure of course. Still, some days were harder than others.

"Don't worry," Ellen told me. "You've got all the important stuff." It's something we reminded each other when we ran low on money or our work got hard. Because if your kids were okay, and you were in love with your wife, then you really couldn't worry about anything.

"I know you're right, honey," I told her. "Now, I gotta…"
"You have to put them to bed."
"Yes."
"Love you."
"You too." She hung up. I dropped the phone. Even Donald was quiet then. Whatever was down there in front of us hadn't moved. It was time to kill it if I could. I almost reached for the Mossberg, but changed my mind. The revolver. Because it had silver bullets…

The hidden full moon glowed softly from somewhere behind the clouds. The interior lamp chased it away as I popped open the door. The trash was everywhere - old plastic bags, an empty can of corn, unopened junk mail envelopes splotched with dark liquid. And beneath them, a torn sign:

Rand Paul 2016

I'd been seeing them all around now. Everywhere. It made a crazy kind of sense. The gatherings of college-aged white men in identical sport coats in hotel conference rooms. Arguing with each other. Spreading out over the country to give you pamphlets and tell you this theory to explain everything. And you knew they weren't actually going to put anyone in office. So what were they really up to? What else could it be?

"Daddy's got to do something, kids, and then we'll go have ice cream, okay?" Donald smiled weakly. Douglas nodded a little. I punched the emergency brake and stepped out to finish it off.

Note 1: More to come.

Note 2: THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. And it is FREE today. GET IT HERE.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Bible-based Horror Story Is Free Today And Tomorrow

The dead you love are in a kind of Schrodinger's experiment spun out of control, the box closed forever and the ones inside neither really here nor ever gone.

 "She's watching over us."
"He's so proud."
"They'll always be with you. I can feel it. I can tell."

 Keep it shut long enough, and they'll follow you down every street. Keep it shut long enough, and they'll never be far away. This is what it means to live in two worlds. To pray. To hope for something better.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life.

It's free on Amazon today and tomorrow. Read what people are saying in the right column of this blog, and get yourself a copy here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Veterans Day Message From A Man In The Trunk Of A Car

I don't have much time to say this. I hope I don't.

Someone struck me in the temple and wrapped a hood over my face before I could respond. My hands and feet are zip-tied, and my kidnappers are driving wildly and fast. The turning of the vehicle rocks me from side to side in the close darkness as if I'm at sea. One side of my face is slick, and I want to go black and expire before we reach wherever we're going. I've heard what happens in such places.

I should add that I am not the one they were looking for. Their leader didn't say my name correctly. I can hear rumbling from an argument. But they will agree to smother their doubts. Like all of you they know they can't stop.

The men don't wear uniforms. They don't wear your flag. Your leaders don't admit what they are doing. They might belong to units your military does not acknowledge. Or they are retired from the armed forces and now work for a civilian agency. Private companies will hire them for this kind of work soon, if they haven't already. But they are all over the world, and they are working for you, even if you have absolutely no control over them. You know enough to know it's happening, that it's beyond anyone's supervision, and you all have your own reasons for keeping quiet.

I and the others (the many, many others) have only one pitiful revenge. We know this thing you're doing is killing you.

It's destroying basic meaning of all the words you use to tell yourself who you are. The word "veteran" does not actually mean anything under conditions of such secrecy and violence. The phrase "defending our freedom" that you like to use - you already know it has little in common with these grubby little crimes you commit everywhere.

What becomes of a nation founded on an idea when it can no longer use words to describe that idea?

I think you already know the answer.

And that's why, through my pain and terror, I pity you.

NOTE: THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Does Pat Robertson Wear A Hockey Mask And Kill Teen Campers?


It would be irresponsible of me to definitively answer the question I posed in the title. I just don't know. It's hard to say whether Pat Robertson, living as he does in southern Virginia, even owns a hockey mask. I don't have evidence that proves - conclusively proves - Mr. Robertson spends his warm summer evenings crouching in the bushes outside rustic cabins fondling a machete as he listens to the furtive sounds of young people exploring each other's bodies so that he can butcher them afterwards.

I won't claim to know any of this.

Is Pat Robertson obsessed with transgressive sexuality? Yes. Is he a kind of Lars Von Trier figure, telling lurid stories to scared old white people so they can be filled with disapproval and secret arousal? Of course he is. Does he keep a girl in a makeshift dungeon somewhere in North Carolina? We just don't have all the facts.

Does it seem like Marion Gordon Robertson talks more about steamy, sinful man-on-man action than you'd expect a completely straight person to do? Possibly. And does this seem like a common feature of older social conservatives? Who could judge? But that does not mean Pat Robertson has a bright red PVC suit that he wears as he's waylaying young men in the forests around the Regent University complex, tying them up for a series of hideous games that explore the outer boundaries of pain and pleasure. Not necessarily.

Just because a development prompts questions - a whole hell of a lot of questions - doesn't mean you should reach for the first answer you can find. To take a (completely) random example... even if the origin of the universe is shrouded in mystery that wouldn't mean you should believe the explanation found in just any collection of creepy desert scrolls. No. The unknown should prompt debate and rational investigation. It's not there to be filled with wild speculative claims.

We know this much: Pat Robertson takes an obvious pleasure from reciting the violent and disturbing details from an old book of horror stories he clearly cherishes. There is something wrong with him, yes. And with whoever wrote that thing.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bankers And Brokers Have Bought Themselves A US Senate

If you didn't already know this, the fix is in. The winner of the US Senate races will be bankers and brokers. The securities and investment industry has already purchased the Republican leadership, and they will dominate public policy after the GOP takes power.

The Washington Post published an article about the top 13 most consequential races this election. Using data from Open Secrets, I found the top contributors for both sides in every race.

Below is a list of Republican Senate candidates with how high up the Securities and Investment industry ranked among their top donors:

Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) - S&I rank: 1
Scott Brown (New Hampshire) - S&I rank: 1
Thom Tillis (North Carolina) - S&I rank: 3
David Perdue (Georgia) - S&I rank: 2
Joni Ernst (Iowa) - S&I rank: 3
Pat Roberts (Kansas) - S&I rank: 3
Cory Gardner (Colorado) - S&I rank: 3
Dan Sullivan (Alaska) - S&I rank: 1
Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) - S&I rank: 4
Tom Cotton (Arkansas) - S&I rank: 1
Mike Rounds (South Dakota) - S&I rank: 4
Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) - S&I rank: 5
Steven Daines (Montana) - S&I rank: 1

In five of the 13 races, it is the top contributor. The top categories in the remaining eight races are:

Retired (Tillis, Perdue, Ernst, Gardner, Capito)
Leadership PACs (Roberts, Rounds)
Health Professionals (Cassidy)

As you can see there's only one actual industry in this group! I'll dig into this some more soon, but the rankings here speak for themselves. When the GOP takes power there is one group of people who will get their calls returned. Every time.

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Orwell And Dumbledore: More One Star Reviews Of Classic Literature

All reviews and excerpts are from Goodreads. Enjoy.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (3.84 stars)

If I want to read about shiftless rich people and their drunken machinations, I'll read the Hollywood Reporter or TMZ. - Zeke

What a pretentious load of crap about a bunch of useless, vapid, hypocritical, materialistic, racist, drunk socialites! Maybe this is a good depiction of life in the 20's for rich people... I don't really know, nor do I really care. I'm neither rich, nor do I live in the 20's. - Andrew

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! - Guy Terry


1984 by George Orwell (4.09 stars)

I seriously disliked this book. I think what I dislike the most is that it is on reading lists for teens and it will filled with sex scenes and sexual innuendos. In my readings, I've come across far more appropriately written books without all the immorality and promiscuity that is NOT needed to share. Some immediate recommendations coming to my mind are: Living with Agenda 21, the Mysterious Benedict Society, The Bridge at Andau. And honestly, just listening to what's going on in our world now is helpful. Podcasts such as Nothing But Truth. Or the movie Agenda. - Shiloah

The middle really bothered me, I felt like the characters were going nowhere and I couldn't stand having them sitting around thinking their thoughts without anything really happening to them. The last 100 pages were filled with violence and only made me angry that a novel with such an interesting premise could turn so sour. - Snorkle

Maybe this was ahead of it's time, at it's time. I thought classics were supposed to hold their value, but this just doesn't. Yeah, yeah Big Brother this, Big Brother that, watch out for the thought police, do your exercises in front of the telescreens...blah blah blah. I mean big brother, thought police, telescreens...this had the potential of being really cool, but it wasn't (what’s up with the two minutes hate thing?). Winston had zero personality, which I'm sure partially came from the oppression, but come on, he was a REBEL, a member of Dumbledore's army!!!! - Sandra Hestand


The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (4.28 stars)

I know it makes me look ignorant and uncouth to declare a masterpiece of literature by one of the greats to be awful, but here I am. - Tania

I started this book twice before I finally finished it. I thought I just wasn't giving good ol' Dostoevsky a fair chance. He totally betrayed my trust. - Danielle

Let me save you 900 pages and untold man hours: rich Russian asshole family members drink, yell, whore, steal one another's mates, murder, more screaming, philosophizing, more screaming, no subtlety to anything, all conversation between characters so over-the-top and full of passion as to be unrelatable. - Eric Althoff


The Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner (3.85 stars)

I was so freaked about taking the test on this book, that I went and got the Cliff notes on it. I read the Cliff notes and literally turned back to the cover to make sure I'd gotten the right notes. I mean, I read them, and asked myself: "What the f@k? Is this the same book I read?" - J. Yandell

This book has inspired me to start a list of crap that is admired only because no one has the guts to admit they have no idea what the hell is going on. Although technically in this category, I give James Joyce the benefit of the doubt simply because I can't understand anyone from Ireland anyway. - Cliff

 I do not like William Faulkner and his stream of consciousness writing ways. - Teardra

THE BLACK BOOK OF CHILDREN'S BIBLE STORIES is about faith and loss, and a haunted house hidden so well you didn't notice you'd been living there your whole life. BUY IT HERE.
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