Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Articles Deemed to Controversial to Publish Elsewhere, Part II

Here's one the now deservedly defunct Yahoo Voices rejected because it was an opinion piece that espoused an opinion:


How Fox News has Inadvertently Benefitted Political Discourse

 

Those of us who find Fox News a repulsive entity feel that way because we see it as a right wing propaganda arm of the Republican Party that has, at times, encouraged divisiveness and disinformation in equal measure. However, don’t be put off by that description if you disagree with it, because it isn’t alone in encouraging those things.  Yet while there are certainly those on the Left with whom I personally find myself regularly disagreeing, it cannot be denied that Fox in particular has contributed to the dumbing down of the U.S. population when it comes to worldview.

The uber-conservative publication Forbes reported the results of a study in 2011 demonstrating the overall ignorance of Fox News viewers when it came to international issues and affairs. MSNBC didn’t fare much better, by the way. But MSNBC doesn’t have anywhere near the resources and funding of its right wing counterpart. Ultimately, Fox News viewers were the least informed of all those polled. 

It’s also true that the demographics for Fox News consists mostly of Republican whites over the age of 55, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in 2013. It isn’t a giant leap of logic to presume that a supposed news network known for its blatant opining would gear its message towards that particular group. The national discourse has become polluted with Fox News parrots, each of whom feels they are in the know because Fox somehow stands alone in its delivery of “the real story.”

We could spend forever pointing out all the inaccuracies in Fox News’ reporting, although perhaps the real term is “obfuscation” in their case. But why bother when the documentaries listed below have done the job so well? For that is the one thing Fox News could not have foreseen when it first erroneously claimed to be a “fair and balanced” alternative to the reporting of news. Through their success, they also created an environment that necessitated an ongoing rebuttal.  In fact, the claims being made by the pundits on Fox in particular were enough to spawn many documentaries to the contrary.

Here is a list of 5 such documentaries that, ironically, owe their existence to Fox News while at the same time exposing its ongoing disinformation campaign:

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism- This is the granddaddy of them all, a film that literally takes on Fox News’ deceitful practices both on the air and off. Filmmaker Robert Greenwald has an obvious political bias, but the information he presents isn’t based on opinion. Featuring actual memos and emails from the company itself, this film shows that Fox isn’t just a propaganda machine at its upper levels, but even lower down the ladder among the local affiliates.

Bush’s Brain- It’s always fun when a documentary is done in the style of a crime investigation. This one looks into the events of Bush’s questionable election victory in 2000, drawing the conclusion that Rove’s involvement in politics has almost single-handedly shaped U.S. policy at home and abroad. While obviously not a direct challenge to Fox News, the documentary still deconstructs the fictions surrounding the Bush administration that Fox so vehemently defended for eight years.

Jesus Camp- Sometimes a documentary can actually be regarded as a masterpiece, and this is one of those times. The filmmakers gain unprecedented access to an evangelical brainwashing…er, indoctrination…umm, summer camp for kids where they are encouraged to scream and cry when abortion is mentioned and come disturbingly close to praying to a picture of George W Bush. The kids are tragically likable but swiftly headed toward adult obnoxiousness and intolerance mixed with willful ignorance. The film is actually fair and balanced and could teach Fox a thing or two or three about how to maintain objectivity. It presents both sides of the issue and never takes a side, preferring instead to allow those involved to speak for themselves and the viewer to draw their own conclusion.

Capitalism: A Love Story- We all know Michael Moore loves to shake up the squares and has made a very good living doing it. We all know his message doesn’t always reconcile with his actual life, especially when it comes to earnings. But in the end, his work has benefited more people in need than anything done by anyone on Fox…ever. This film could be his magnum opus if he never makes another, an in-depth analysis of how the right wing hijacked the concept of democracy and slapped it together with capitalism using duct tape. Unlike his previous films, Moore is taking on a broad topic, one that most Americans have been taught to revere: Namely the very existence of a supposedly “free market.” The results are heartbreaking, hilarious and, oddly enough, encouraging.

The Corporation- Another one for the masterpiece category, this documentary runs for over two hours without ever feeling long. Using the psychopath test psychologists use for individuals and based on the right wing conceit that corporations are people, the resulting profile is frightening. Point by point, we get to see how, if corporations actually are people, they are dangerous, murderous, uncaring psychopaths. The very thing that Fox News is and what it represents and defends 24 hours per day is put on the couch and revealed to be a lunatic. Required viewing!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Feature: Articles Deemed to Controversial to Publish Elsewhere.

I won't say where this article wasn't published due to the subject matter, I'll just leave it at the fact that I am publishing it here because it was bounced back to me:

WHY THE "BLACK STORMTROOPER CONTROVERSY" IS IDIOTIC.

It’s almost become a running tragic joke. A person of color gets cast in a film as either a character from a novel or comic book who wasn’t originally of color or was described in a manner that indicated being of color and trolls go bat-crap crazy! Recently, the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall, the guardian of the Rainbow Bridge in the Thor movies horrified some because a character from Norse mythology would no longer be white. While they never clarified why they thought a god from another dimension would look just like the people that believed in him, their ire was flammable. Then there was the casting of Amandla Stenberg as Rue in the first installment of The Hunger Games. The comments made about her casting were beyond repugnant.

The latest actor to join in the “fun” is 21-year old John Boyega. In a sea of asinine comments on YouTube that would cause even the greatest spiritual leaders in history to reconsider their faith in humanity, people started complaining about the black man’s head on the white Stormtrooper’s body (Well, the armor is white anyway). People complained that the very inclusion of someone who isn’t white indicates a slide towards supposed “political correctness,” because we all remember how Billy Dee Williams joining the cast in The Empire Strikes Back basically turned the whole thing into Roots in space.

Then, of course, there have been the obligatory hip hop references where the character couldn’t possibly act like anything except a negative black stereotype, even being from another planet and dwelling in an entirely different galaxy!
Never mind that he’s not even American.

Naturally, some people are claiming there is no controversy and the “few” negative comments that have been made have come from stupid kids. Only the most sheltered individual would believe that, and why not? It makes them feel better about their fellow person.

If there is one ray of hope in this reaction, it is that people can be pretty damned dumb. In fact, history alone shows that “dumb” is an upgrade. So, perhaps they don’t understand why they’re complaining and perhaps, just perhaps, some of them just don’t get a crucial element of the  Star Wars mythos: Namely, that the Clone Troopers were only the beginning. It’s been roughly fifty years since the ascent of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. In that time, there have been literally thousands of conscripts who felt it was their patriotic duty to join the Imperial military.

Don’t believe me? That’s fine. Click here for the whole story.

In the meantime, John Boyega told those who had a problem with his casting to basically shut up and deal with it. Good for him.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Comicbook.com Once Again Makin' Sumthin' Outta Nuthin'

It probably should come as little surprise that former Batman actor Christian Bale recently confessed to a shocked reaction when he heard someone else was taking the cape and cowl for the upcoming Batman v Superman. He was, after all, synonymous with the character for the highly successful trilogy directed by Chris Nolan. He’s also seemingly unaware that not everybody was impressed with his rendition of the character.

In an 11/23 article on Comicbook.com, a misleading headline declaring Bale’s “shock” at learning Ben Affleck got the part he supposedly reinvigorated helps establish a glaringly false premise. In fact, the article’s author presumptuously asserts that Bale was “as shocked as the rest of the world upon the announcement that Ben Affleck would assume the role of the Caped Crusader…” -

The rest of the world? Really?

Before you accuse me of being literal-minded, I’m well aware of the supposed technique being used to insult the selection of Affleck. I’m also aware that the author is basically saying anyone who wasn’t shocked has something wrong with them.

Here’s what Bale really said:

“I’ve got to admit initially, even though I felt that it was the right time to stop, there was always a bit of me going, ‘Oh go on…Let’s do another.’ So when I heard there was someone else doing it, there was a moment where I just stopped and stared into nothing for a half hour.”

So, what exactly caused Bale to go into shock? Was it Ben Affleck’s casting or was it the fact that the actor whose Batman movies were undeniably successful was no longer going to be playing the part?
Objectively speaking, Bale sounds more like the guy who quits a job he had for years thinking nobody would ever replace him and then finding out he had indeed been replaced.

“I’m 40. The fact that I’m jealous of someone else playing Batman…I think I should have gotten over it by now,” Bale added.

Well, maybe not. While Bale’s Batman often grated and felt flat to me, the man jumpstarted a lagging franchise into enormous popularity. And while Nolan’s Dark Knight probably wouldn’t fit into the DCU integrated storyline very well, it makes perfect sense that the man younger generations see as Batman would feel a tad slighted.

Bale shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad. But those who are trying to use his legitimate response to be being replaced as a platform for their own snarkiness, on the other hand,  ought to just give it up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Wonderful Parsec Anthology.

Yesterday, a copy of this anthology arrived in the mail featuring my short story, "Floorboards." Another fine job by a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a platform for authors... and they don't define that as "payment by exposure."

I am honored and pleased to once again be included in its pages.



Friday, October 10, 2014

How I Explained "internal logic" to a Student with Reading Comprehension Issues.

As I've mentioned on Facebook but maybe never here, I am an Open Writing Lab and Peer Literacy Tutor at one of my alma maters. The meaning of the latter isn't important in this case, but the former means I take students on a walk-in basis who need help with writing. I help them at all stages of the process, including brainstorming and organization and, sometimes, even comprehension.

Recently, a student came to me wanting help planning a paper he was writing, but also with reading comprehension. The other day, he returned for a second visit and we spent an hour on reading comprehension exclusively. He hadn't brought any reading materials with him, so I printed off my latest film review for The Movie Zone and had him read it and explain what he did or didn't get, line-by-line. One expression he didn't get was the phrase "internal logic."

To be fair, I told him, that's not a commonly understand term. Here's how I explained its meaning to him:

Me: Have you seen the Lord of the Rings movies?

Student: Yeah...

Me: Well, if you walked up to me and told me that was a true story, I'd think you were a raving lunatic.

Student: (Slightly confused) Okay?

Me: Because it hasn't happened and it never will. You look disappointed.

Student: (Laughing) No, no.

Me: Anyway, it's fantasy. However, even though it's a work of fiction, the author has to create certain rules, right?

Student: Yeah. I mean, right.

Me: So, if Frodo suddenly started flying in the third movie so he could throw the ring into the firepit..."

Student: (Laughing) Oh, I think I--

Me: Basically, your reaction would be: "Why the hell did I just spend nine hours of my life watching this guy walk for two movies when he could fly all along?"

Student: Ohhh! So, the logic is based on the way the story is set up!

Me: Internal logic.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Read my latest Free Story!

"The Love of a Good Entity," my tale of inappropriate love taken to the extreme is now available to read for free at Bad Dream Entertainment!

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed getting paid for it...er, and writing it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Quick Review of “Continuum”


A Facebook friend named Tim Bamford who was also one of my original Blogger connections has been raving about a Canadian science fiction series called “Continuum” and asked me to take a look at it to see what I thought. Since he and I once co-hosted a movie review blog (when people cared about reading more than 160 words at a time) and we scarcely agree on movies or TV shows, I was reluctant to give it a shot.

Turns out I was right to feel that way. “Continuum” is simply dreadful. And it’s not just bad drama, it’s also shitty science fiction.

I’m not sure how things are done on Canadian TV these days—the digital conversion killed my ability to tune into the CBC, a privilege we Michiganders once took for granted— but if this is an example, it’s probably for the best that I don’t know. “Continuum” is one of those shows that would have been considered edgy during the syndication boom of the early to mid-Nineties, when shows such as “Seven Days” and “Andromeda” crapped up the airwaves.

Its plot is nothing special or unique in the genre: Seventy years from now, corporations control the planet and squash any forms of dissent using a police force known as “protectors.” Naturally, there is a resistance movement that has been labeled as terrorists, and they have no problem killing thousands to kill a couple dozen CEOs. I have no problem with it either as long as they got the creator of this piece of crap.

In typical pilot episode fashion, the so-called “bad guys” find a way to escape to the past, where they plan to change recent history. This was supposed to be a trip six days into the past but UH-OH, everybody! Looks like they arrived in 2012! Wonder what madcap weekly antics will ensue now? In case you haven’t guessed, one of the Protectors is swept up into the time jump as well. Her name is Kiera Cameron, portrayed by the astoundingly wooden Rachel Nichols. I wanted to believe she was a Canadian actress, but no such luck. She’s American and she’s terrible. Most of the other actors aren’t much better, although the great William B. Davis, who is Canadian, adds his peculiar charm in the few scenes I saw him in.

Aside from the wretched acting, there’s also the fact that the show’s moral compass seems to be spinning wildly out of control. That would be fine if this were a show such as “Lost” or “Heroes.” But in this instance, we’re expected to give a damn about a cop whose sole function is to make the world safe for future fascism. Despite their extremist approach, the so-called villains are really the good guys. Yet they’re portrayed as complicated bad guys while Cameron gets to be hero by ensuring humanity will not be free in the future.  If she is intended to be a dynamic character –meaning she changes and grows as time goes by—it isn’t established well enough in the beginning to hold my interest.

The actions sequences are listless and paint-by-numbers and the effects work feels flat and portrait-like. There’s also the melodramatic shooting style, where muted but pounding music underscores every bit of rancid dialogue. This show is straight out of the Nineties cliché factory and I can’t believe it made it past a season.

I made it through the pilot episode and half of the second one before I yelled, “This show is so boring!” and turned it off.

Never again, Tim. Never again!

 

 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Upcoming Reading Event & More!

A while back I had a short story titled, "Beautiful Libby and the Darkness" published in the anthology "Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails," published by Dragon's Roost Press and in support of Last Day Dog Rescue. On Friday, September 26th at 7:00 pm, fellow contributor David Hayes and I will be reading our stories at Off the Beaten Path Books in Farmington, MI.

I'm pleased to be part of this event and honored to have been invited to read.

Speaking of being honored, I have also been asked to be a speaker at Penguicon next year. More on that as events unfold.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robin Williams & The Movie Network.

I chose to wait until I was a few weeks in before really posting about this just to make sure it was going well and in the direction I wanted. So far, so good. The Movie Network is filling the gap left behind by Yahoo Voices quite well, despite my only being able to write about movies.

In light of the stunning and tragic loss of Robin Williams, we were granted permission to write as many articles about him as we wanted. I waited until the following week because I wanted to review a movie of his I'd never seen. Click here for the review.

I chose the movie review because I couldn't really put into words why my reaction to Williams' suicide hit me so hard. I could have mentioned how my dad was obsessed with him when he first burst onto the scene and how Williams always stood in place of my dad, who died much too young. But even that doesn't really get to the heart of it and I've given up trying to do that for the moment.

Also, if you're interested, here's where I slammed Guardians of the Galaxy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sweet, sweet validation.

I don't tend to write easily accessible stories for the mainstream genre market. I tend to see genre as an extension of the literary world, just more dynamic and fable-based. So, occasionally I write something that becomes very difficult to find a home for, a fact my previous post also discussed. This time it is the tale of a sad, lonely woman who's always been a bit too close to her brother who suddenly finds the perfect man entering her life. Of course there's a catch. There's always a catch.

The story has been passed around from magazine to anthology to weekly grocery store newsletter, always with the same result...until now. Below is the acceptance email I just received upon waking and my response to it. Nice way to wake up on a Monday morning:



Hi Christopher, and thanks for the submission, we really appreciate it. Sorry for the long response time, we've been pretty inundated with submissions lately.
I really enjoyed reading through 'The Love of a Good Entity', it was a very well told and compelling story on a character level. Very touching in a bittersweet fashion. If it's still available I'm potentially interested in publishing it on the site; I say potentially because I wanted to ask you if you would consider cutting out the last section of the story. I feel like leaving with the open ended conclusion better suits the sense of loss and emptiness of the story, and the added bit after that seems to detract from the somber and heartfelt atmosphere by making it a more 'conventional' horror tale, in part for its bluntness.

Let me know what you think and maybe we can get something going; if so, I'll put it through an editing pass (though I didn't notice much of anything that needed work on the first read-through, ending aside) and once that's done I'll get the simple contract to you. Is it original (unpublished), or would this be a reprint?

Thanks again for the great story, I think it will make a great addition to our line-up!

Brett Reistroffer - Editor, Bad Dream Entertainment
 
 
Brett,
 
Thanks for your kind words regarding what has been a difficult-to-place story. I agree with you regarding the ending and have always ping-ponged between the open-ended section and a perceived need to explain the aftermath. I have no problem losing the last section for publication. The story is previously unpublished.
 
Also, if you think the amount of time it took between submitting and your response is a long time, you and I just became BFFs!
 
Sincerely,
 
Chris Nadeau

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Floorboards" has found a home.

Most of you have no idea what I'm referring to, but my short story "Floorboards" was read before a small yet captivated college audience two years ago and has been bouncing around the submission world ever since. Now, finally, the annual Triangulation anthology which published my short story, "The Party" in 2011 has included it in their latest collection entitled "PARCH."


 
It just came out and the first Amazon review is already a positive one!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

First Look at Darkness Internal Issue 2!

The next issue of Voluted Tales' The Darkness Internal, created and edited by this here guy right here, is soon to go live. In the meantime, below is the cover image (not a final version) of the next issue. As always, I am very proud of the work being presented. This time, however, I had some input on the cover's concept.

I am very pleased to see that artist Terry Pavlet took my vague notion and made it something really eye-catching!

Here it is:









I will also a link when the issue goes live.

P.S.

For those interested in reading the final installment of the Catholic and Buddhist posts, don't fret none. It's a'comin'!


Monday, July 21, 2014

A Catholic & a Buddhist Walk into a Nursing Home Part II: The Special Section


(Continued from Part I)

Having left the woman who had been pleading for death behind, we made our way deeper into the nursing home, in search of the next person on the list. Dazed by our recent experience, we walked in circles in the hallway for a few moments.

My wife sucked up her tears and said, “This isn’t my suffering; it’s hers.”

Together we walked back into the main lobby, where one of my wife’s favorite patients sat in the window, as usual. Her husband who only has one arm sits with her all day and they stare out at the day as if on the cusp of joining it. Despite having dementia, she can be surprisingly lucid and her attitude is always positive and upbeat.  That includes this visit, during which she admitted to having been feeling a bit down the past few days.

She and my wife agreed it was likely due to the abrupt temperature changes we’d been experiencing and more pleasant small talk took place afterwards. Sometimes the husband would chime in with words that didn’t sound quite like words, his bemused expression more distant than that of his wife.  I looked over and saw a woman coming towards us, smiling. She had been at the counter next to us signing in. She was also the daughter of the couple we’d been talking to.

She too had been to church that morning, happily sharing the message she’d heard about monitoring our words and actions when it comes to dealing with others.  She was a positive force in a negative place and, perhaps selfishly, I was grateful for her presence so soon after the woman who’d been pleading with us to let her die.

My wife and the daughter hugged once they’d concluded Communion, both of us still stunned by the revelation that she was 62 years old. We’d thought she was in our age group. And her mother, whose appearance indicated no older than early seventies, is nearly ninety.

We went to the dreaded second floor next, the one with the special section of advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. One lady in particular holds a special place in my wife’s heart because she was one of the first patients she connected with when she first started her ministry and because the woman looks like she could be a relative. She’s been in hospice care for months and comes and goes as far as awareness is concerned. This time she was very aware and very much into taking the host.  I had to stay behind for a few minutes and make sure she didn’t choke before rejoining my wife in the patient lounge.

This was where some of the worst patients were located. Elderly men and mostly women sitting in wheelchairs, staring off into nothing, drooling, spitting. But not all of them.

While my wife was busily doing her best to pray for and with a woman who barely registered her presence, I had gained the attention of a couple old ladies who, shall we say, were in enough possession of their faculties to have the following conversation:

Lady#2- Now that’s what I like right there. Big and tall!

Lady #1- Tell him.

Lady#2- What? No!

Lady#1- Go ahead. Tell him what you like.

Please let this pass, I thought. Please let this pass.

I knew it wouldn’t; I’d had this experience at too many nursing homes in the days my mom was trapped in them to expect any other result except what happened next.

Lady#2 said, “Stop it. You’re crazy!”

Lady# 1 reached over and tapped my arm. I pretended not to understand what she said next, prompting her to repeat herself.

With a raised eyebrow and a smile that was probably sultry when she was younger, Lady#1 said, “She said she likes them big and tall like you.” She leaned in closer. “I like it too!”

I laughed nervously. “Thank you.”

Now she was holding onto my wrist with all her strength which was, surprisingly, pretty impressive.  “Do you have any brothers?” she said.

“No, I’m an only child.”

“You’re an only child?” She glanced over her shoulder and leaned closer to me. “Any cousins?”

The young medical assistant who had let us through the security doors walked over, covered her mouth with her hand, and asked if Lady#1 was bothering me.

“No, she’s fine.” Aside from her aggressiveness, this was nothing new.

“Yep, I have some cousins,” I said.

“You do, huh?” She pulled me in closer. “Well, bring ‘em! Bring ‘em all up here!” She laughed, but not in a way that meant she was joking.

The medical assistant said, “I’m so sorry, sir!”

I forced a chuckle and disengaged my wrist, following my oblivious wife to the next woman, whose dementia was so advanced she had to wear a bib due to periodic spitting. She had no idea what was happening and, after a quick prayer, we moved on to Lady#3.

She was sitting in a wheelchair off the beaten path.  As we approached, she looked up at me and said, “Hello, Father.”

My wife said, “Oh, no. He’s not a priest, he’s my husband. He’s helping me with the Communion. Would you like to take Communion?”

Lady#3, whose eyes had been half shut, seemed to come to life as she looked me up and down. “That’s your husband, huh?”

“Yes,” my wife replied.

“Good-lookin’ man,” Lady#3 replied. “GOOD-lookin’ man. Mmmmm-hmmmmm.”

If I were a Christian, I suppose I’d say the prayer she welcomed afterwards hopefully wiped out the sinful lustfulness in her heart!

Frankly, I was eager to leave what I now saw as the “horny section” of the nursing room. As it turned out, the most emotional experience still awaited us both.

(To Be Concluded)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Catholic & a Buddhist Walk into a Nursing Home Part I: Pleading For Death


To paraphrase the insane, enormous woman on the reality show about trading wives, I’m not a Christian. I’m also not a Catholic. I’m a Zen Buddhist and have considered myself one for two decades, despite no longer practicing. My wife, however, is both a Christian and a Catholic (Yes, they're Christians, too) and she is also a Eucharistic Minister. What that means is, she takes what Catholics call the “host,” more commonly known as Communion wafers, to those who cannot visit church and participate in the ritual.

Actually, these are people who can’t participate in much of anything because they’re elderly nursing home patients, many of whom are in the throes of various forms of dementia. The Catholic Church is huge on charitable acts to those who are suffering, one of several traits they share with Buddhists. In addition, this particular church is run by Franciscan monks, men like Pope Francis, whose devotion to those in need is both admirable and intense.

Each week, my wife delivers the host to these unfortunate elderly people, and I have been going with her of late to make it easier both logistically and emotionally. Buddha spoke of having compassion for those who cannot escape suffering, and this certainly qualifies.

I’ll be honest: In the beginning, I didn’t quite understand the point beyond maintaining religious commitments to those who belonged to the Catholic Church. Having grown up Protestant, I’d taken Communion in a few Lutheran churches, but its significance, while high, was not as important in those churches as it was in the Protestant churches I attended. I didn’t know that for Catholics, the belief is that these wafers as we call them literally transform into the body of Christ.

I’ll be even more honest: That kinda creeps me out. I’m pretty sure most people who were raised Protestant feel the same way. But that’s not important. What matters is that, for these tragic individuals, it’s a link to their past when they were still young and vital and even aware enough to participate on their own. Watching how they respond to the ritual is proof enough of that.

My previous trips to this particular nursing home were difficult for me; my mother spent a few years in three different ones due to Type 1 Diabetes and complications brought upon by it. She was only in her early fifties and a clinical psychologist, so the staff tended to regard her as a mentor. They also knew I was going to be there too often to pull any shit; not that they would have. It helped that some of them also had crushes on me, I suppose.

By contrast, these people (mostly women) are old and confused and some seem to have been deposited there like expired food waiting to be thrown away for good. One woman, Nettie, expressed her utter loneliness when she said no one ever comes to see her. That brought tears to my eyes, but the most recent trip was a whole different story.

We go from room to room based on a church supplied list.  There are two floors, including a section where special access is required because of the mental state of the patients there. Sometimes we “luck out” and find several of the listed people in the lunch room. Today, as we walked in, my wife spotted two of the women she normally visits.  The first one took Communion like always, graciously and cooperatively.  The next one was a different story.

My wife had to confirm and re-confirm this was the correct person; she didn’t look like the same woman from before.  She seemed older, more withdrawn.  Once her identity was established, my wife asked her if she wanted to take Communion.

“Please!” the woman yelled. “Please!”

“You do want to take Communion?”

“Please!” she repeated. “Please! Please!”

“All right,” my wife replied. “We’ll start with a prayer.”

“Please let me die!” the woman yelled.

My wife’s eyes filled with tears. Mine did, too, and I looked away as the woman kept repeating the phrase. Even during the prayer, she kept saying it. She didn’t want to take the host, either, which is their choice, but my wife couldn’t just walk away. She started telling the woman what a wonderful person she was and how God loved her. The woman stared at her with eyes filled with intense understanding; far too much to be dismissed as someone with Dementia.  She grabbed onto my wife’s hand with all her might and stared into her eyes as the words “wonderful” and “love” and “good” filled the air.

She said it again, this time with less conviction but still enough to show she meant business.  “Please let me die!”

My wife told her she understood.

“No, you don’t!” the woman yelled.

“You’re right, I don’t,” my wife replied. “I only understand that you’re suffering.” She hugged the woman, and the woman leaned her head in.

That was only the beginning of a day filled with sadness, reminders of mortality, and even a few dashes of humor.

(To Be Continued)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Don't Write For Free.

That's right, I don't. What does that mean exactly? It means several things, and I've gone to the trouble of bullet pointing those things  below:


  •  I don't send my work to entities that promise "exposure" in an era where any simpleton with an internet connection can obtain the same.
  • I don't contribute my work, non-fiction or fiction, for free in the hopes that my other work will be purchased by people who...just read my work for free.
  • I don't do gimmicky giveaways of my work in the hopes that it will act like a gateway drug and magically inspire people to buy whatever else I've written. If they aren't willing to spend .99 on a short story, they aren't my readers, they're bargain shoppers.
  • I don't have my work published in anthologies and magazines so you as a reader can tell me you don't feel like buying the whole thing and wonder if I would be a lamb and just send you an emailed free copy of my work.
  • I don't work for next to free, meaning idiotic offers such as $1.00 per thousand words are unacceptable and laughable.
  • I don't submit work to collections based on who else is in it, i.e. "This well-known author is going to be in it so that means others will read yours, too! YAY!"

 In short, if it can't at least buy me a cheeseburger, I ain't interested.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Article About Banned Books that Yahoo...Banned.

Below is an exact copy of an article I submitted for publication to the Yahoo Contributor Network. I have been cranking out articles for them for the past couple months, all of which were accepted and published until now. For some reason, this one was deemed unacceptable by their standards.

I am posting the article here because I'm curious to know what exactly was the issue. Below the article is the editor's response to the piece and below that are the sections of their submission guidelines that most closely relate to the rubber stamped feedback I received:


Every year, a list of banned books gets circulated and those who find the very idea abhorrent tell everybody they're going to read those books just because they have been banned. Unlike in the not-so-distant past, books that get banned are no longer being withheld from adults who might find them interesting. These days, it's kids who suffer the most.

This phenomenon isn't limited to the Bible belt or the Midwest either. And while the majority of those with a vested interest in suppressing the written word tended to be right wing in the United States, that is most certainly no longer the case. It's becoming increasingly as common to hear parents decrying a book selection for their kids because they portray racism as it is to find objections to sexual content. So-called "political correctness" is just as much a motivator for censorship as prudishness.

In response, an observation known as "Banned Book Week" sprung up in an attempt to expose what they saw as the sheer stupidity of censorship. On the organization's website, they write, "Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries."

Reasons for book banning range from finding subject matter offensive to avoiding controversy. Millions of parents are apparently so afraid of their children reading such books that they feel the need to prevent them from doing so. The very Freedom of Speech that allows writers to create works they choose is also used to curb the reach of those works in favor of such vagaries as "Christian decency" and "racial sensitivity."

To ban a book is to also ban an idea and, often, a truth. It is the act of thought control many of its proponents are the first to speak out against when it's happening in a way they don't sanction. Limiting access to important and controversial written work is tantamount to societal blindfolding, a crippling act that has developed a culture of sub-literate, provincial loudmouths who think opinions are as good as facts. So, why is it ultimately good for society?

For starters, the mere act of banning something increases interest in it. That might not be true amongst the Mormons of Utah who feel justified in watching non-studio approved edits of Hollywood films, but most people want to know what all the fuss is about. Why, they wonder, is that book no longer on the required reading list? What could possibly make it so objectionable?

One of the reasons libraries must never go away is because they stand as the vanguard against censorship and selective release of information. If parents in a staggeringly ignorant move decide Mark Twain's fiction is racially insensitive or encourages rebellion, kids can go to their library and decide for themselves.

It's never too early to learn critical thinking, regardless of what many Americans believe. Even a child has the capacity to observe and record and interpret…with help. Instead of suppressing that, we should be encouraging it and helping it along.

The other reason book banning is a boon to society is even more vital, and it's surprising that those so hot to do it haven't picked up on this yet. Banning books keeps the written word at a high level of importance. Perhaps many religious Americans know better than to try and eliminate the perception of written words being important because they know how that would make their insistence that the Bible or whatever religious book they follow is the most important a bit less acceptable.

While people are still actively engaged in book banning, that means books still have the power to inspire, instill, change and even outrage readers. True, many of these people have never read the books they want to see gone, but again their actions inspire others to do so.

Whoever said, "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right" had the right idea. As long as people still care enough to go after books that make them uncomfortable, that means books haven't become dusty relics without purpose. How can that not be beneficial to society?
 
 
 







Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we cannot publish this content because it contains language, references, or ideas deemed inappropriate by Yahoo! Contributor Network. We encourage you to consult our Submission Guidelines for more information.
Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we cannot publish this content, because it contains language, references or ideas deemed inappropriate by Yahoo Contributor Network. We encourage you to consult our Submission Guidelines for more information.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

Don't go "there." Examples of content we won't publish or link to: Anything pornographic, threatening, obscene, defamatory, or abusive; hate speech; anything that encourages illegal or discriminatory conduct; anything containing potentially offensive generalizations about a group of people; anything that promotes online gambling sites; anything that infringes on the rights of a third party; anything that constitutes or encourages cyber-bullying. This list is not exhaustive. (We recognize that many of these descriptors are necessarily subjective, but in order to maintain a library of great content that’s safe for all Web readers, we will apply these standards at our sole discretion, as necessary.)

Don’t rant. We welcome your authentic personal perspective, but we ask you to avoid using an extremely negative tone. Criticism should be thoughtful and measured, should make clear distinctions between opinion and fact, and should cite sources when appropriate. If you just need to vent, your personal blog is a more suitable venue. Never let frustration lead you to factually misrepresent any individual, product, business, service, or other entity.


On the off chance I didn't include a relevant reason for the rejection based on the editor's remarks, click the hyperlink above and read the entire thing. I did. I still don't see it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day.

Every year, I have to be reminded when it's Father's Day. I'm not a father (unless you count my two dogs, which I don't) and my own father died more than two decades ago. My wife's step-father died over a decade ago and her biological father died as well.

It's been so long since my dad died, I don't even remember celebrating Father's Day when he was alive.  I do have a few fuzzy recollections of dinners at mid-priced restaurants and, frankly, he was lucky to get that much.

On Facebook I see memes and posts celebrating dads worth admiring and looking up to.  Even assuming a small percentage of these are exaggerations, I'm sure most of them are not. I didn't have a dad to admire.  I loved him but he didn't know the first thing about being a father. Whenever I finish my autobiography, those who are interested will have an even clearer idea why.

However, for those individuals out there with dads worth posting about positively, worth admiring and bragging about, know this: You are far more fortunate than even you know. Some of us had wisecracking sperm donors for fathers. And while he is definitely missed, were he alive today, "Happy Father's Day" is just about all I would be able to manage~

Friday, June 13, 2014

Superheroes, Monsters & Me.

My short story, "The Hero Disease," will be appearing in this upcoming anthology (pictured below):


This marks my fourth collaboration with an acceptance by Miles Boothe, formerly of Pill Hill press and owner and publisher of Emby press. Also one of my five favorite editors!

I think this story is the best thing I've written in a while. More on this anthology once it's available!

Friday, June 6, 2014

At Long Last, the Darkness Internal.

After a host of delays, many of them due to my own personal issues, the first regular issue of Voluted Tales' The Darkness Internal edited by yours truly is available. My apologies to the talented authors who had to wait longer than forecast for this but I believe you'll agree the wait was worth it when you read the issue for yourselves.



Read my editorial for free here and pick up the issue as well!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Latest Flash Fiction Story.

The fine folks at Beyond Tomorrow Digital Literary Magazine has seen fit to once more publish a flash fiction piece of mine, this one entitled, "Full this Void or Leave Fulfilled."


Here's the cover image:



Check out the issue here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Help Abused Doggies!

The "Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails" anthology featuring my short story "Beautiful Libby and the Darkness" is now available on Kindle! Click here for more details!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Author: My Wife.

My wife L.Wallace decided to write a poem for "Siblings Day." Sadly, it isn't a light-hearted, celebratory stream of happy-go-lucky verse. Instead, it's a tragic overview of a family comprised of like-minded, self-congratulatory pack members who find dissent threatening. Objectively speaking, I wish she would write more:

A Group of Five:

A group of five, hatched one by one, they share a common time. The years go by; they grow and bond just like a nursery rhyme.
A decade passes, a generation, and now everyone knows their places.
A new hatchling arrives and though they rejoice, they also fear what she replaces.
She grows to be unique, so odd, and strong in her convictions.
Her style, her thoughts, her dreams aren’t ours; she must have some afflictions.
Because we are one, we don’t vector, we think as a unit. This is how we were meant to function.
This one thinks for herself and she backs it up, and we think she has too much gumption.
This hatchling is achieving things money can’t buy. She has no interest in money or gold. She craves knowledge and truth and works to the bone, and she does it on her own.
Well it’s obvious she’s out to make us look bad, by trying to be all she can be.
We must discredit and shun her from the pack, and then one day, she will see.
She’ll see that books and truth and knowledge are bobbles and she’ll parish never knowing real means.
That it’s who you pretend to be and how many you deceive and earn off someone else’s dreams.
Look at how she makes mom cry with each new accomplishment. Yet she still does more than her part, much to our admonishment.
But if she doesn’t stop trying to be nothing like us and if she earns just one more degree…
And if she tries to show us up by caring, and volunteering and not accepting things for free,
then all we say will be true and just, as she is no longer our sibling. She will continue to live in our shadows, the poor little misguided thing
.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Wonderful Cover.

The anthology pictured below features my previously unpublished short story, "Beautiful Libby." It's edited by Michael Cieslak of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and a portion of the sales from the book go to the Last Day Dog Rescue Organization.

Naturally, I am proud and delighted to be in its pages with so many other quality authors.




More on this one once it's available!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Short Story.

My friend and talented fantasy illustrator Larry Lonsby, Jr. is involved with a new literary genre magazine and I am proud to announce the publication of my own flash fiction piece, "From Out the Abyss Within" in its pages.

Larry did the cover for Kaiju, my second novel, and the cover shown below is just as incredible as expected:

Order it here for only $3.99. It really is a duality publication.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What I Learned About Writing About Religion.


The recent debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Creation Museum founder/Young Earth Theory proponent Ken Hamm put me in the mind of something that happened to me during my formative years.  For it was at the tender age of fifteen that I learned what Bill Nye has apparently yet to comprehend: There ain’t no arguing or even discussing the facts with a religious fundamentalist.

Back then, I hadn’t really talked to any.  I suppose I’d been around them my entire life, but the subject of their beliefs never came up until one day when I was talking to a friend of mine in class about the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”   Those who have seen it are aware that the film opens with the Dawn of Man, during which ape-like hominids are shown dying off due to lack of food and ingenuity when a gigantic alien obelisk arrives and provides them with the next step in their…wait for it…evolution.

This friend, who was considered by several in the classroom to be the “smart one,” told me about how that portion of the film had always scared him.  Assuming it was due to the incredibly violent death scenes, I mentioned the killing and was told that wasn’t the reason.

“Oh,” I said, mildly surprised.  “Then what scares you?”

“I don’t believe in that stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“All that stuff about evolution and people starting off as monkeys.”

My jaw nearly came unhinged.  I’d never heard anyone say that before.  I tried explaining to him that it was a viable and tested theory, but he put his palm up and repeated that he didn’t "believe that stuff" a few more times.  Finally, I asked him if he believed God took clay and blew on it to make a human being.

“I believe what the Bible says,” he replied.

“Well, that is what the Bible says.”

He seemed uncomfortable, unsure how to proceed.  It was as if an internal struggle was taking place deep inside him, one that probably wouldn’t be reconciled for years to come.  I dropped it, too stunned to continue.

Months later, our English teacher, a jovial man who looked like a less creepy-looking Jerry Mathers, assigned us a comparison research paper.  I knew instantly what I wanted to write about and set about doing so.  By the time we had to bring in our first drafts to go over with the teacher, I was rather pleased with what I’d accomplished.  So pleased, in fact, that I made the mistake of mentioning it to a group of five or six guys sitting near me.

“I decided to do a paper on the similarities between Greek mythology and the Bible.”

Imagine your eyes as a movie camera, slowly panning along a semi-circle of shocked, repulsed and enraged teenage boys and you might have a slight idea what things looked like from my perspective.  I thought they were angry because I’d come up with an advanced topic that was sure to make their efforts look meager by comparison.

Nope!

One of them started yelling at me about how there were no similarities between Greek mythology and the books of the Bible.  Then the friend with whom I’d once discussed the Dawn of Man launched in, demanding to know what similarities I was referring to.  I had five that I’d chosen but I went with my favorite.

“You know how Eve was tempted to eat the apple and wound up learning about sin? Pandora did the same thing when she opened the box she was told not to open. Both stories feature a curious woman who unleashes evil on the world.”

“THAT’S IT, THOUGH!” my friend yelled. “There aren’t anymore!”

“Actually, there are—“

A cacophony of voices erupted from those facing me, each louder and less coherent than the last.  It was only when a person who would become the sole voice of reason I knew at the school told everybody to calm down and let me speak that they stopped.  I thought about it for a moment and decided I had said enough.  At that moment, I’d learned a valuable lesson.  There was no reasoning with these people.  They weren’t thinkers, they were believers, and nothing and no one would ever come between them and what they’d chosen to believe.

The teacher’s reaction was a whole different story.  He was so impressed by the paper, he kept asking me if I’d had any help.  It wasn’t until I started going into detail about my fascination with mythology and the sources I’d used that he realized I was more advanced than my classmates.  In fact, he half-jokingly complained that there wasn’t anything in the paper for him to criticize or have me change, nearly leaping for joy when he found a minor formatting error.

That was when I learned my second lesson.  Never stop pursuing your vision just because people around you are narrow-minded.  I have never shied away from writing about polarizing topics and I never will.

On a side note, that teacher pulled me aside on the last day of school and told me how impressed he’d been by my writing and my intellect and how he knew I would do great things someday.  I’d never had a truly positive experience with a teacher like that and I have never forgotten it, although I do hope he’s not still waiting for me to do those great things he predicted.

And the voice of reason who had wanted to hear more?  We became close friends for years to come and then, one day, he turned to me and in a calm, rational voice, said, “You know science is the devil’s religion, right?”

The story never ends~

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cheapest Anthology Yet!

I looked on Facebook and exclaimed, "Holy Crap nuggets with extra sauce!" The fact that I was at a funeral meant nothing. I was stunned, shocked, I tell you!

Miles Booth, formerly of the sadly now defunct Pill Hill Press, has rescued the monster hunter anthologies he compiled and edited with such loving care and has reissued them under his new imprint, Embry Press. Here's the "holy crap" part:

It is 711 pages and features ALL of the stories from volumes one and two of "Legends of the Monster Hunter!" That means two of my stories are present in the omnibus that some are calling, "Good reading for those who need twice the Nadeau in a single dose." I don't know who the "some" who said it are, I'm just employing the fabled Fox News tactic of saying what I want to say while ascribing it to a phantom commentator.

The other reason I exclaimed about crap was when I realized the Kindle edition of the book is only $2.99! Considering the quality of the work inside, I highly recommnded using your data for this one!

The omnibus is called "Both Barrells" and can be ordered by clicking here.

Happy hunting!

Monsters, that is.  See what I did there?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bestselling Author Thinks Novels with Fantasy in Them Don't Feature Death.

A few months ago, I posted about genre ignorance and those who should know better. The person I used as my example was a person who volunteered for and belonged to a Friends of the Library group.  Sometimes even the most well-intentioned individuals don't know as much as they should, but what about those who actually work as professional writers?

New York Times Bestselling literary fiction author Russell Banks (whom I must confess was entirely off my radar until now) has now stated in two separate interviews that he avoids reading anything described by its author as fantasy because death is apparently not present in such works.  I guess all the jokes my publisher makes about the high body counts in my novels are just jokes.

Read the latest Banks bluster here.

I haven't seen such an unbearable amount of self-indulgence since I tried reading the latest Chabon novel...and I'm a fan of his!

This is yet another case of genre snubbing in favor of what is perceived as "serious literature." Never mind how unreadable and dull much of it is, it apparently still stands head and shoulders above anything involving fantasy.

To paraphrase my fellow Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers member Michael Cieslak, I used to get so angry when I heard or read these things, but now I just experience pity for narrow minds that will ever experience variety.