Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ten Batgirl Cosplay Looks


I'm a big fan of Batgirl. I've written a couple pieces on that admiration, both for the character and it's current writer Gail Simone. Found an article online showing some pretty sweet Batgirl cosplay. Thought I would share it with you. Merry Christmas.

Batman: The Deal

 

Found this amazing piece of Batman fanfic called "The Deal" during one of my StumbleUpon binges. I won't give anything away, but it focuses on one of Batman's longest relationships but in a very deep and very dark way. If you're a fan of The Bat, you really need to check this out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Too Deep

Another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge from his Terrible Minds blog. This time, it's a 1,000-word story, written 200 words at a time, using someone else's beginnings. Three different people have written the prior 600 words, I have written the last 200 and, hopefully, someone will choose to finish up with the final 200 words. The first 200 were written by Jim Franklin, the second by Lynna Landstreet, and the third by CE Konicki.

Enjoy.
------------

The plunge into the ice-cold water hit Derry like an avalanche. A fading knowledge of the film Predator had informed him to lower his body temperature so that the alien wouldn’t see him. Though he hadn’t realised how cold the water would be, how the flow of the water would drag him away from the bank, or how his thick woolen coat and boots would become the rocks that pulled him down.

It’s worth noting at this point that in Predator, the hero was a hardened military veteran with experience in guerrilla warfare, while Derry worked in the Accounts department for a large national fish exporter, and the most alien thing he had encountered in his life so far was the perpetual lack of sticky notes in his office. Being woefully terrible at making quick decisions, preferring an hour or two to mull over every eventuality, also goes some way to explain his poor choice of hiding place.

His limbs stiff, his breathing now wheezy gulps, and his head now spent more time underwater as his legs struggled to move. Derry panicked, with a thought that he didn’t have hours to mull this over…. he was going to die.

As he floundered, the creature loomed over the water's edge, staring down at him -- so much for the hope that it wouldn't see him! It raised some sort of complicated device to its -- those were its eyes, weren't they? Undoubtedly a weapon of some sort, and he found himself wondering which would be worse: drowning, freezing to death, being vaporized, or being eaten. But no laser bolt came, just a light that illuminated his sodden head as the creature peered through some sort of lens. The hell --? Was that some kind of camera?

The thing opened its terrifying maw, and let out a sound somewhat like a cow being fed through a woodchipper. Or at least what Derry imagined that might sound like, not that he'd ever needed to before now. Then it made some adjustments to a device affixed to its throat, and a strange mechanical voice accompanied the bellowing: "Good evening. I observe that you have placed yourself in a context|challenge|predicament causing respiratory and circulatory distress. May I inquire as to the significance of this act among your tribe|culture|species? Are you attempting to terminate your existence, or this is an artistic performance|athletic event|mating display?"

This was not any of the scenarios Derry had imagined.

“Ath… wha? Uhh, wait, no?” he said.

“Please excuse me. I do not understand your meaning|phraseology|intention. Do you use slang|jargon|patois? This lexicon has not been upgraded to include modern slang.”

What did he say to that?

“I don’t… I….” was all he managed before the water pulled him under again. A struggle for the surface brought limited response from his limbs and panic almost caused him to breathe in. He did inhale when something snaked around his waist and the following flight through the air was punctuated with hacking. He landed hard and it forced the last of the water out of his lungs.

Five copper eyes blinked at him.

“Not a mating display,” it said.

“No. I thought…. I thought you were… ah… Predator. From, the movie, because… I did.”

The creature twisted its head upside down like an owl.

“Incorrect. I am not a predator. I am Richard. I am intolerant|on a restricted diet|vegan."

Derry’s brain surrendered.

“Richard,” he said.

“Richard is not my actual name. I have chosen this name for convenience|to make friends|humour.”

“Richard isn’t your real name. Because you’re a vegan.” 

“Correct. What is your name|handle|nomenclature? 

Derry continued taking in the looming pile of weird before him. The irony that he was gaping like a fish after his very wet misadventure was not lost on him. He tried to speak, but the chattering of his teeth prevented any meaningful conversation. He may have been saved from a watery grave, but that was only a brief respite before the hypothermia set in. 

“My n-n-n-n…” 

Suddenly, he was enveloped by feeling of warmth and security. It was liked being hugged by a favorite grandmother while wrapped in an electric blanket. Derry looked up at the stranger to see him/her/it(?) looking down on him intently, all eyes glowing an subtle orange. 

“Do you feel better|warmer|safer now?” 

“Um, yes. Yes, I do. Thank you.” 

“Now,” the being said, “what are you called?” 

“Derry. My name is Derry.” 

“Hello|Greetings|Salutations, Derry. I am (what followed next was a series of eye twitches followed by what smelled like a cross of rotting citrus fruit, wet dog, and toffee.)” 

Derry looked at the creature in front of him, mouth still wide open. 

“That is why I choose the name Richard for this mission|job|trip.” 

“I totally get that,” Derry said.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Thieves' Quarry by DB Jackson

 

I've always said I would never provide a negative review for a book. There's enough negative and bad vibes in the world without me being cynical and overly critical regarding someone's book. The latest book I review for LitStack took that conundrum completely out of my hands by being awesome. Thieves' Quarry by DB Jackson is easily one of the best books I've read in quite awhile. Check out my review HERE and then go buy the book.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

LitStack.com: Banned Book Week

 

For the three people who read this blog, you know George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of my all-time favorite novels. Since it it was published, it's also been banned for various reasons by various people. Since last week was Banned Book Week, I thought it would be a great time to show off a college paper I did on the book. I thought it held up pretty well. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LitStack.com Staff Pick: The Literary Series I Didn't Want to End


It's Harry Potter. Roll it.

Dream World: A Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck Wendig laid out his weekly flash fiction challenge from Terrible Minds: Subgenre Frankenstein. The writer is to randomly pick two of the 20 literary genres he provided and drop 1,500 words on it. My two were Low Fantasy/"Grimdark" and Fairy Tale. This may be the most disturbing piece I've ever written.
-------------------------------


Thomas woke up laughing and was slapped across the face.

The boy was startled into full consciousness, rubbing the rising welt on his left cheek. The joy and magic he felt in his fading dream were gone, replaced by the awareness of where he was.

“Always something funny with you,” Zach said. “Always laughing, always smiling.”

He slapped Thomas again, this time rocking the boy's head back with such force, he struck the wall behind him, making a dull thud that could be heard throughout the barracks-style room.

Zach was slender, but had a wiry strength to him, the kind of muscle that comes with growing up hard. He also loved to inflict pain on the boys. He wasn't above a well-placed kick to some of the girls, either, but he had another method of showing displeasure to young women placed within The System. Thomas knew the worst for him was a beating; for the girls, the punishment was much longer and sadistic.

The System was a federally-operated institution where the children of illegals were sent. The Illegal Minor Education Act of 2019 stated that undocumented foreign nationals who came to the United States and had a child there, were to be immediately deported while their child was to be taken by the government and placed within the Arpaio School for International Youth or The System, as it came to be called.

The institution was built to house and educate these children to become hard-working Americans. Unfortunately, employees within The System weren't paid well and were barely educated. Many never had positions of leadership, much less among children, so the excess of power more than compensated for the lack of pay. Several were former prison guards who treated the children the same as they did the convicts at their previous jobs.

Thomas, ten years old and small for his age, now began rubbing the back of his head, struggling not to let the tears fall. Zach hated seeing kids cry because he felt impelled to beat the remaining tears out of them.

“I'm sorry, Zach,” he said. “I didn't mean to.”

“I don't like you, Tommy. I don't like you at all,” Zach said, leering with a disturbing glint in his eye. Thomas felt fear awaken in his gut; it was whispered that, sometimes, Zach punished some of the smaller boys the same way he punished the girls. Thomas knew he couldn't fight Zach and also knew he may not survive the older boy's sweet tooth.

To Thomas' relief, Zach turned, leaving his bedside. Other boys casted knowing looks at Thomas, all of them having felt Zach's heavy hand before. Although he knew they felt for him, Thomas also knew they were glad it was him and not them. He understood that. He felt the same way two days ago, watching Zach belt whip a boy younger than Thomas across his bare back. Zach hadn't stopped until his arm was sore, which was five minutes after blood was drawn. The little boy was taken away and hadn't been seen since.

A speaker in the ceiling emitted three short electronic notes, alerting the children it was time for morning announcements.

“Good morning all!” a baritone voice said jovially.

No one was quite sure whose voice addressed them every morning and evening, but inmates of The System (or “residents” as the school called them) didn't think it was anyone in charge. None of the kids within the school had met anyone who sounded so nice. The only time people sounded friendly here was when something bad was about to happen. But even then, boys like Zach, standing at the front of the room, monitoring them in his role as Dorm Boy, never sounded nice. He was angry all the time. Thomas nearly snickered at the idea of Zach trying to smile, but his throbbing head silenced him.

“And now,” the pleasant voice said after going over the day's menus, class changes, and activity schedules, “it is time for our morning prayer. Everyone please bow your heads!

“Our God, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name, please watch over us all, the supervisors, the teachers, the school staff, and our beloved little residents who will someday be great Americans like our President! And, oh Lord, be especially with our President, who battles evil in Your name his every waking moment and provides a place for the children of the lawless and lost to be raised like the good Christian he himself is.

“In Jesus' blessed name, amen!”

All the children murmured “Amen”, though truth be told, the majority had long ago lost faith in a God that would leave them here, while the few who did still believe wondered what they had done so wrong in their young lives to be banished to Hell.

Thomas got out of bed, removed his pajamas and began putting on his regular clothes. During the week, the boys' uniform consisted of red polo shirts (each dorm was assigned a different color; Thomas lived in the Red Dorm), khaki pants, and brown shoes. He went to the community bathroom, brushed his teeth, singing “Happy Birthday” in his head twice, once for the bottom teeth, once for the top, washed his face, and returned to make his bed and put his nighttime clothes away. He stood at the foot of the bed, ready for Zach's morning inspection.

A boy older than Thomas, five or six beds down, gasped audibly as Zach kicked him in the shin for leaving a sock on the floor. The boy, Miguel, didn't say anything, but was still breathing heavily. He was new to The System, arriving last week. He had injured his leg before he came here and Zach knew it. Miguel had just learned a valuable lesson.

Zach grunted his approval at the remainder of the beds until he got to Thomas. He stared at Thomas until Thomas looked away, the younger boy too smart to force a battle of wills. Zach's hand shot out, grabbed Thomas by the hair, and forced Thomas' face near the pillow.

“What the hell is that, Tommy?!” Zach yelled. “What is it?!”

Stunned, his face buried in the bedsheet, Thomas stammered, “Wh-what, I don't...”

“Are you fucking kidding me? You're lazy and stupid? Come with me!”

Zach, still clutching Thomas' hair, jerked the boy's head up and marched him towards the front of the room. Thomas could again see the combined look of terror and relief on each boy's faced as he passed. The fear Thomas felt earlier exploded into ice-cold panic. Warm urine flowed down Thomas' legs as he saw where he was going.

He was being taken to the Dorm Boy's office.

Any time a resident was taken to the Dorm Boy's office by Zach, that resident was either never seen again or beaten so badly, they weren't recognizable. The last time it had happened, a 12-year-old girl was drug in there by Zach and another Dorm Boy and held for more than an hour. She cried and begged for help that never came the entire time.

Thomas was thrown into the dark room, consisting of an old metal desk with a computer monitor and three paperwork bins atop it, a filing cabinet, and a dry-erase board with writing he couldn't make out. Thomas tried to turn around to face Zach, but was grabbed by the back of the neck and forced face first into a corner.

“I don't fucking like you, Tommy,” Zach growled in his ear, his grip tightening on Thomas' neck. He no longer cared about controlling his tears; they streamed down his cheek as he began crying. “Always smiling, always laughing. Well guess what? I'm about to take your smile.”

Thomas heard Zach unzip his pants with his free hand and began screaming. He screamed until he felt as though his throat would shatter. Zach leaned closer, his breath loud in Thomas' ear. Thomas heard Zach's pants drop to the floor. He screamed louder as Zach leaned into Thomas' back and--

He woke up, covered in sweat, a shriek for help dying on his lips as he sat upright in his bed.

“Thomas, my prince, what is the matter?”

The boy looked up to see Gorma, the winged gnome who had been Thomas' nanny/constant companion since he was born. He looked around, no longer in a small, dark office, but in his open, light-filled bedroom, one of nearly a hundred rooms in the Land of Kizdom's Royal Palace. Seeing Gorma's face, lined with worry as it was, began the calming process for Thomas.

“I'm OK, Gorma. It was just a bad dream.”

“The same one? Where you are imprisoned in that bad place?”

Thomas nodded.

Gorma shook her head. “I don't know why you have such terrible dreams, my prince. You always go to sleep so happy and full of laughter.”

Saturday, July 27, 2013

LitStack.com Staff Pick: New Genres by Your Favorite Author

 

I'm a big fan of the author Chuck Wendig. If you've read this blog, you know I participate in some of his Flash Fiction Challenges and I reviewed his book Blackbirds. My latest offering to LitStack involved the scenario What Genre Would You Like to See Your Favorite Author Tackle. Not sure if erotic torture porn is do-able, so I decided on Westerns. Read it HERE.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shards

Yet another of Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenges. This week's challenge was to go HERE to find a random plot scenario and use it to write 1,000 words. My plot was to start my story off with the protagonist breaking a mirror and to also have a sports editor play a joke that went wrong. Here we go.
------------------


“Jesus jumped-up Christ, Tommy! What the fuck?”

David wiped water from his face, looking down at the shattered remains of a hand mirror on the floor. The Gazette's lead political writer had come into the break room to use the sink in order to clean said mirror. It was filthy and seemed to have something scratched into the glass.

However, Tommy, the newspaper's longtime sports editor, decided tying a rubber band around the activator of the sink's dish rinser would be a bit of fun. So when David turned on the faucet, he was immediately sprayed in the face, dropping the mirror in his surprise.

“Good stuff, huh?” asked Tommy, laughing.

“No, jackass, not good stuff. I found that mirror in a desk on the fifth floor. Something's scratched into the face and I wanted to see what it is.”

“Jinkys, Velma, do you think you've found a clue?” Tommy asked.

“Go fuck youself.”

“Aw, don't get all frowny. I'll help you clean it up and we'll solve the riddle together. Then we'll go out for ice cream. Would you like that, David? Would you like ice cream? And a hug?”

Tommy rose from his chair, arms spread as if to embrace his co-worker. David put is arm out to stop the advancing sports writer.

“If you touch me, I'm going to HR,” David said. “Again.”

Crest-fallen, Tommy stopped and dropped his arms. “Alright, you big baby. Let's see what we've got here.”

The two knelt down, picking up the pieces of the mirror. They retrieved the largest fragments, sweeping up the rest and began cleaning the remaining bits in the sink (after Tommy, who had forgotten about the rubber band, was hosed in the face, creating no small amount of pleasure for David, feeling vindicated by karma). Once the shards were reasonably clean, they were gathered up, taken to the round table in the middle of the room, and re-arranged by the pair.

Given it was a small mirror, it didn't take them long to put it back together. While not perfect, the reflective face of the looking glass was back to its mostly-original form.

“'I SEE YOU,'” Tommy read. “What does 'I SEE YOU' mean?”

“Uh, read it the same time you did,” David said. “I know has much as you do.”

“You found this on the fifth floor? Didn't that used to be where the ad reps were?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well,” Tommy said, “There were a lot of chicks that worked up there. Most of the advertising staff were broads.”

“Your misogyny aside,” David said, “I had pretty much assumed it belonged to a woman. Not a lot of guys walking around with hand mirrors.”

“My point is, one of them may have been fucking with someone,” Tommy said, his tone becoming low and conspiratorial. “Maybe she thought someone was stealing from her desk and she wanted the thief to see this. Eh? I'm all Micky Spillane and shit.”

David thought about it. Tommy had a good point. It's wasn't as though it was an expensive mirror—it had a sickly green plastic base that had also cracked with the glass when he dropped it. He had seen similar items going for a couple bucks at the local dollar store, so defacing this one probably didn't represent a financial loss to its owner.

“Waitaminute,” Tommy said, almost whispering now. “Remember hearing about that girl who killed herself about five or so years ago? She was one of the department team leaders. Killed herself around the time they decided to move advertising downstairs and to use the fifth floor as storage.”

“I do remember,” David said, his voice dropping as well. “Rumor was, she and another ad rep had a thing and he allegedly raped her. I had just gotten here when it all happened. I heard she thought she was pregnant and the guy wouldn't accept it. He was transferred to a different department and she was found in her garage dead a week later, hanging from a beam."

The two looked at each other silently for half a minute or so.

“But why 'I SEE YOU'?” David asked, breaking the silence. “Did she think he was going through her desk?"

“That's what it looks like,” Tommy said, “Dame like her, got taken advantage of, wanted to send a message to the fella who done her wrong.”

“What, are you a 1930s New York gumshoe now?” David said. “'The fella who done her wrong'? You're a rube.”

The two bent over the look at the mirror again when a voice broke their trance.

“Hey, you two are supposed to be at the meeting.”

Both writers jumped with Tommy yelping like a puppy getting swatted on the butt for piddling on the carpet. They turned to see Larry, the copy editor, in the doorway.

“The hell's wrong with you two?” he said. “The budget meeting started ten minutes ago and Anthony's already in a shitty mood. Get in there so it doesn't get worse.”

Tommy and David got up with David about to swipe the shards off the table into his other hand to throw them away when Tommy stopped him.

“Forget about that,” he said. “Let's get in there. We'll get it after.”

David nodded his agreement and both left the room. As they exited, the glass pieces moved ever so slightly as the writing began to fade. The face of a young, pale brunette could be seen within the broken shards, angry tears falling down her disheveled face. New words now began appearing on the mirror, which had returned to a single, solid piece of glass, back in its sickly green plastic frame.

I FOUND YOU

Monday, July 15, 2013

LitStack.com: My Top 5(ish) Comic Books


So now that I'm back into the swing of things when it comes to writing, I broke out with five (or so) of my all-time favorite comics for LitStack. They include my very first comic (because everyone remembers their first) as well a couple obvious ones and a few that have special meaning to me. Basically, what I'm saying is, this is my list. Not yours. So I don't want to hear your bitching. Make up your own list. Anycrap, you can read the full list by clicking HERE.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Best of Punk Magazine

 

I do some stuff for a neat website called LitStack. I haven't done a ton lately because I've been in a funk and haven't written much. I was assigned this review a LONG time ago and I felt really bad because they actually gave me a review copy of this beautiful hardcover coffee table book. I justify missing the deadline by four months because it's the punk ethos. In reality, a hard-fought battle with depression and laziness is the actual cause. Either way, I finally got it done and I'm going to tell you now--it's fucking awesome. If you're a fan of the punk scene in NYC in the 70s, just buy it. But read my review anyway.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Terrible Minds Flash Fiction: Tropes

As the four of you who follow my Twitter account know, I have something of a man crush on Chuck Wendig. Dude can write his ass off and can advise said ass off on the ins and outs of the writing game as well. He has a weekly flash fiction challenge at his website Terrible Minds and I haven't done one in a while. HERE is his latest challenge and HERE is my trope.

Here goes.

-----------------

Bob was getting twitchy.

The dumbass was late. Bob hated late. Late meant sloppy. Late meant the possibility of no longer being above ground.

Bob was also two weeks into a new diet. After his doctor told him he was diabetic, his wife went on a rampage. Angela was a good woman, but she was a ballbuster, especially when she had a mission. Bob now ate so much fiber, his guts were liquified and shooting out of his ass. He was cranky and convinced he'd shoot his own mother for a half-eaten chocolate bar left in a truck stop bathroom.

So yes, Bob had other things on his mind, but that didn't change the fact the dipshit was late.

Bob sat on a bench in front of a hotel in a sketchy part of town, awaiting an informant bringing him evidence proving the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown in American football's championship game was part of a drug-running operation that included using girls as young as ten as mules. Bob's stomach gurgled, but this time, it wasn't his diet; it was thinking about kids forced to put bags of heroin in their--

Bob stopped thinking. Everything about this disgusted him. He made detective three weeks ago and this was his first case. He could've been given an easy murder case. But no, he gets a case that will be on every channel. Bob hated the limelight. He preferred being in the background. No more of that.

Bob also had to deal with the informant, a pissant who had been in and out of jail since he was 14. David wasn't a troubled man looking for redemption. David was a felonious shit trying to keep his ass out of jail again and for good reason. David was pretty and, Bob had heard, looked even prettier wearing red lipstick and a wife beater cut just so.

David also liked to start fires. One was a no-kill animal shelter resulting in the deaths of dozens of dogs and cats looking for good homes. Bob couldn't stand people, but loved animals. He had seen the worst humanity had to offer and never blinked, but was on the verge of tears seeing that goddamned Sarah McLachlan commercial.

An old Buick of indeterminable color pulled up in the parking spot closest to Bob. He saw David behind the wheel as he waved at Bob. Bob nodded curtly. The future Miss Protective Custody got out of the car, cellphone in his hand.

"Hey, man."

Bob looked up at him.

"You're late.”

"Couldn't be helped. My girl--"

"I don't give a fuck about your girl," Bob said, cutting him off abruptly. "I don't give a fuck if the last five Blowjob of the Year winners were lined up in front of you. The only reason you're not on the wrong end of a cock right now is because you said you could provide pics and audio. Now. Do you have pics and audio?"

"Fuck, man," David said, looking like someone had just teabagged his birthday cake. "I'm sorry. Yeah. I got the stuff."

David handed Bob the cellphone that had been given to him two days earlier. It was to be used specifically for the purpose of taking pictures of the Heismann Trophy runner-up paying off a known drug dealer named Big Dean while recording the tight end talking about the drug operation.

There they were. The pictures showed not only the financial transaction, but bags of what looked like smack on the table next to him. Another featured the baller smoking a joint with Dean.

He played the audio. Clear as day, the soon-to-be former football player talked about the little girls. Jesus wept, one of them was his own fucking daughter.

Bob heard a click. He looked up and saw David had a snubbed-nose .38 to his head.

"The fuck you doing?" Bob asked, his voice calm. He cursed himself for not being more careful. Ten years on the force and this dickhole got the drop on him.

"He's doin' what he was told to do," said a voice behind him.

Bob turned around and saw Big Dean. He looked pleased with himself. Bob looked back at David, who still held the gun steady but looked terrified. Bob looked back at the dealer.

"Pretty ballsy doing this in broad daylight," Bob said. "If I arrest you, you'll get ten to fifteen years. You kill me? A cop? You're getting the chair."

"First, they ain't got no chair no more. It's all lethal injection. Think they still do hangins in Utah or somethin'. Second, my cousin works the desk here and he's on break. Look around you, man."

Bob took a look. The parking lot was deserted.

"My boy would like that phone," said Dean.

"Fuck your boy," Bob said. "He's gonna go down for this."

"Suit yourself," said Dean, chuckling.

"Hey boy," he said to David. "Shoot him."

Bob looked at David, saw his finger tighten on the trigger and closed his eyes. He heard the shot, felt his eardrum explode as the smell of gunpowder washed over him.

He realized after a second he wasn't dead. He quickly looked at David who still had the gun pointed at where Bob had been. Bob spun around to see blood pouring out of a hole that was Dean’s eye. The other was wide open, a look of shock within it as he fell backward.

Bob looked back at David and David looked at Bob. "I'm not a bad guy," David said. "I've done bad things but I'm not a bad guy. And I didn't set that dog pound on fire. I love dogs. Got a puppy..."

David burst into tears. Bob could barely hear the boy, a high-pitched whine screaming in his head. But he was alive. And this kid saved him.

I don't give a fuck what Angela says, Bob thought. I'm getting a goddamned candy bar.

This


I'm a terrible hypocrite

 
(I win the internets.)

I am a terrible person. No, don't argue with me; it's true. I will take to Twitter on a regular basis and mock people who beg for RTs because it's their birthday or because some relative survived skin tag-removal surgery. The worst are the people who asked to be RTed due to a tragedy e.g. "Hey @BigTimeCeleb, please RT in memory of the heroes who were killed in the blah, blah, blah..."

If you've done that, you're a dick. Stop it.

Now, while I've never done that, I will say nice things about people I respect and I will use their Twitter names while doing it. They get their respective balls busted on the reg, they should see compliments, too.

I've been a fan of Kevin Smith since I saw Clerks on VHS in Guantanamo Bay in 1995. I own all his stuff (even Jersey Girl) and am particularly a fan of his comic book work, specifically Batman: Cacophony and Batman: Widening Gyre. His podcast Fatman on Batman is an absolute must-listen for anyone who loves comics, even if you're favorite character isn't Batman.

On a road trip to Chicago, I was listening to a recent edition featuring my all-time favorite artist, Jim Lee. For me, Neal Adams and John Byrne and George Perez are the masters and Jim Lee makes them all look like slow children scribbling with broken crayons (NOTE: Not an insult to the three; just my opinion on the greatness of Lee). The back and forth between the two was brilliant. They were talking about the books I grew up on and I found my self numerous times nodding my head and smiling and even talking along with them.

I felt the need gush about the experience on Twitter. Now, I'd be lying if I didn't hope a little bit that maybe one of the two would throw me a RT for my effort, but that wasn't the genesis of the tweet. I simply wanted them to know how great I thought the episode was. Kevin Smith did me one better, as you can see by the pic.

Yeah. I'm a pretty big deal.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Randy Blythe's Plea to His Fans

(Lamb of God during their May 20, 2013 show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. Photo by Kurt Bali)

I've supported Lamb of God's Randy Blythe on this page a couple of times. They're a great band and I'm blessed to be a friend of their guitarist, Mark Morton. I've spoken to Randy exactly once and that was when Mark introduced me to him in 2010 before a show.

I, like many metal fans, followed Randy's trial over the fall and winter of 2012 when he was accused of manslaughter in the death of one of this fans in the Czech Republic. He is free, for now, and has been very vocal about how respectfully the family of the deceased young man has treated him and how fans, bands, and venues need to ensure the safety of those around them during a show.

Randy penned a personal message to his fans regarding this situation and I feel compelled to post it here. I just saw them a couple weeks ago and will see them again soon. They are good men and want their fans to be safe. Read these words and heed them. Metal needs all its fans above ground.

-------

If you are reading this, more than likely you were directed here by a link on some heavy metal news site. That means that more than likely you know who I am, what I do for a living, and why I went to prison and then to trial for manslaughter in the Czech Republic earlier this year and last. This also probably means that you are part of my extended music family, and in all likelihood have seen either my band or at least one other band of the metal/punk/hardcore/hard rock genre perform in concert before. You have witnessed the kind of activity that occurs at these shows, and maybe even have participated yourself at some point. Moshing, slam dancing, crowd surfing, and stage diving – these things are a unique part of our scene; the ways some of us express ourselves, shed our cares for an hour or two, and enjoy this music that makes us feel so alive. I grew up in the punk/hardcore scene doing all of the above mentioned things, and I have the lumps, aches, and scars to prove it. I am just like you, just probably a little older and uglier.
 

When I returned to Prague for trial, answering the charge of killing a young man named Daniel Nosek who was a fan of my band, one of the biggest hurdles I and my legal team faced was attempting to explain the atmosphere of a heavy metal show, trying to get across to three Czech judges how smashing into other people and flying through the air over a crowd in the hopes of being caught was a normal thing. From the perspective of folks who are not a part of our scene, these seem to be the actions of insane people.
 

"Why would anyone do such a thing? You could be severely injured.”
 

Over and over throughout my trial, the witnesses and myself were asked if we knew what “stage diving” and “moshing” were, then asked to explain these things. Slowly, through a translator and with the help of videos we put together, we tried our best to show that the aggressive nature of our music and other bands like mine was not an expression of malice. My character was questioned again and again, several witnesses saying ludicrous things like how my quick onstage movements, my deep voice, my profuse sweating, and how I dumped water over my head (astoundingly, I do it because I’m sweaty and hot) was clearly evidence of the fact that I was drunk, on some sort of drugs, and yes, even evil. I was sober as a judge that night, thank God, and I know I never intended anyone harm, otherwise I would not have been able to fight for my freedom. I would have had to tell the judges “I do not know what happened. Maybe I did try to hurt this man. I just do not know. I cannot remember – I was drunk.” As a sober, responsible adult, my conscious would not have allowed otherwise.
 

Sober or not, convincing these judges that our show and others like it aren’t some sort violently nihilistic orgy of hate and self–destruction took a little doing. Explaining via a state supplied translator what you and I take for granted as people having fun at a show was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. It was like trying to tell a person who has been blind from birth what the color purple looks like. People outside of our scene cannot be expected to understand the way we act at shows without a lengthy explanation, and even then they may just think you are crazy. But in the end I was exonerated, and I am a free man as of this moment.
 

The family of Daniel Nosek never attacked me in the press. They never wished me ill, either publicly or privately. They did not smear my name in front of any judge, prosecutor, or police officer, did not stare at me malevolently in the court room. For this I am eternally grateful to them. I certainly would understand if they had, and would have made no attempt to dissuade them from holding a low opinion of me, for all they knew about me was what the Czech press had initially published – a picture of me as a barbaric murderous American with evil intent. I know what it feels like to hold my dead child in my arms. The emotions one goes through are absolutely indescribable. If I had had a finger to point at someone for taking my daughter from me, I probably would have, especially if there had been the sort of media circus that surrounded my arrest.
 

Daniel’s family did not point any fingers at me. They just wanted to know the truth of what had happened to their son, so they came to court and listened as I did my best to provide them with what I knew. Before the verdict was delivered, the uncle of Daniel (who was the family’s representative in court) told the judge that no amount of money was going to bring their boy back, and after hearing the evidence, withdrew the family’s motion against me for damages. He also wanted me to know that Daniel had died on his father’s birthday, and that Daniel’s mother had been unable to function at her job since Daniel’s death.
 

That was it. They didn’t want anything from me in that courtroom except for me to understand how this had affected them. There was no malice, just the real, honest, pain that I was already regrettably so familiar with. It was one of the most amazing displays of strength and dignity I have ever witnessed.
 

When the verdict was read, that I had been exonerated, I tried my best to act with dignity, to show no emotion. Perhaps one day I will be able to express what I felt when I finally learned I was to remain free, but right now I am still trying to understand it. Relief, certainly, but there was a greater part welling up in me, something like disbelief saturated with a deep sadness. A fan of my band was dead, and a family had been shattered. I did not feel like celebrating. I did not feel like going home. I did not feel like staying. I did not know what to do or where to go. It was all very overwhelming. 

Thankfully, Daniel’s family had provided me with one last task before I left Prague. His uncle had asked me earlier that day if we could meet privately after the trial. This was a request I was more than willing to honor. Arrangements were made, and I left court to prepare to meet with him and Daniel’s mother.
 

I cannot tell you what it is like to look into the eyes of a mother whose son is dead as result of attending a concert by your group, his favorite band. I cannot tell you what it is like to hold her tiny hands as she weeps for her dead boy; to hold those hands in your large hands, the same hands accused of killing her son. I cannot tell you in any words what it’s like to feel that grief for her lost only child pouring off of her small frame in a massive dark wave of sorrow, to see that pain again in another, so visceral that your body shakes with the awful power and totality of it. These are things that mere words will never be able to convey.
 

Certain details of the conversation I had with Daniel’s uncle and mother I will never write about, because I do not feel it would be proper or respectful. Suffice it say, they were very kind to me, and let me know they didn’t have any sort of vendetta against me, or wish to see me to suffer further because of Daniel’s death. But there are two things they said that I will write about here, because I think that it is in accordance with the only two things his family ever asked of me.
 

As we sat on a couch crying, the first tears I had allowed myself since my arrest, Daniel’s mother asked me if one day I would play a song for him somewhere. I was astounded by the grace with which she asked me this. Her small request was an immense gift to me, a man who was trying to figure out how he would continue to do the only thing he knew how to do after so many years.
 

I will sing many songs for him.
 

Then, as Daniel’s uncle and mother began to leave my rented apartment, his uncle reiterated something he and the mother had brought up earlier.
 

“Remember – you can be a spokesperson for safer shows. You have that power. Good luck, man. Go live your life.”
 

I promised I would.
 

And so they left me, to return to their town to try and rebuild their lives the best they could. I walked into the apartment and continued to fall apart. I don’t remember how long I cried, or what happened over the next two or three hours. But I remembered their words.
 

In a day, I will leave for the first tour lamb of god has done since my trial finished. This is part of my attempt to make good on a promise I made to the family of a dead fan of my band.
 

If you are in a band, remember what has happened to me, to Daniel, and to his family. If you are playing a show, make sure that security is adequate and that barricades are properly placed. A dead fan of my band would still be alive today if those two things had been in place in Prague that night in 2010. I never saw that stage before I set foot on it, and I wish I could go back in time, inspect that nightmare set up, let the people in charge know that they did not fulfill a vital part of the contract we sent out, tell my crew to pull our gear out of there, and leave that town. But I cannot go back in time, I never had the chance to see that stage, Daniel is dead, and I can only warn you band guys and girls to make sure the venue and promoter are holding up their end of the contract. Do not settle for less. 

This is a matter of life and death, as I can sadly attest.
 

If you are a promoter or club manager/owner, make sure your security and barricades are sufficient for the event you will be having on any given night. Security is there to protect the band, the fans, and your business. If you cannot provide a safe environment for a show that requires security and barricades, do not have it. You have no business playing around with people’s lives for a few extra dollars. No amount of money is worth the risk of someone dying in your establishment. Your club will probably shut down anyway, because no one will want to play there. All of us in bands talk amongst each other, and if you’re shady, we will all eventually know.
 

If you are a fan coming to a Lamb of God show and are planning on stage diving, know that in no uncertain terms you are not welcome on our stage. Some bands encourage fans on stage – I know a few, and that is their prerogative. As a band we have never allowed or encouraged fans to come onstage – it’s impossible to play and dangerous for us and the fans if someone is running all over the place knocking into us and the equipment. Now, with all that has happened, this policy is in place more than ever. Absolutely no one is welcome on the stage if we have not invited you up there, and unless you are a small child or in a wheel chair, that is not likely to happen. Please respect this. If you do take the stage, we will immediately stop playing, you will be removed from the stage with great swiftness, and thrown out of the show with no refund, no questions asked. I do not care one bit if anyone thinks I’m being a jerk for writing this or feels I am being harsh. I have been through hell over the last year, I did my best to do the right thing, I am still trying my best to do the right thing, and anyone who cannot understand why we as a band feel this way is a complete and utter idiot who probably shouldn’t be allowed to leave their house anyway. So try not to ruin everybody else’s good time, ok? People pay their hard earned money to see a show, not you interrupt a band’s set while you make jackass out of yourself. You buying a ticket does not entitle you to get on stage.
 

If you are a fan and are going to a lamb of god show or ANY SHOW where there will be moshing, crowd surfing, etc. – know that what you are doing carries a risk. Use your brain – if it is too rough for you, get out before you get hurt. If you are wasted on whatever, please realize that you are not a stuntman, sit your ass down at the bar, and relax. Being obliterated is not conducive to injury free concert activities. Also, for Pete’s sake, if you are moshing and someone falls down, PICK THEM UP. We have stopped shows before because people have been getting hurt, and we will do it again. This is our community, and we should take care of each other. A show is a place we are supposed to be together, having a good time, supporting one another. The real world will beat you down enough – we don’t need to get stomped on at a show. Give each other a hand.
 

If you want to crowd surf, know this – if someone drops you, you could die. Instantly. That’s just the truth. I don’t know any other way to say it.
 

Please don’t drive home if you are drunk. Assuming you don’t die, you could kill someone else and wind up in prison. Prison is not a fun place to be. Just take my word on it, ok?
 

I am not writing all of this to tell people to not have fun, to not get out aggression in a healthy way, or to be a joy kill. I’m not telling you what to do (except to stay off our stage), because that does no good. Plus, I have more scars and badly healed aching bones from shows than I can count. I am just like you, a fan of this music who loves to have a good time at a show. I’m just begging you please to use your head and to be respectful of others. I love the energy of a good show, I love providing the fans with the same cathartic release I’ve gotten from watching bands so many times, I love leaving it all on the floor for the people. It’s what I do, and I love it.
 

I do not love the fact that a fan of my band will never watch the sunset again like I did today. I do not love the fact that he will never get to spend time with his family again, like I have been doing over the last two months. I do not love the fact that he will never get the chance to marry a good woman one day, like I have done. I do not love the fact that his branch of the family name will die with him, as he was an only child. I do not love the fact that his family hurts more than anyone who hasn’t lost a child can ever imagine.
 

I do not love the fact that he will never listen to music again.
 

I did not know Daniel, but I have been told he was a good kid. Now he is dead. Gone. In a split second, he headed for his grave.
 

I hate these things. This young man’s family does not want this to happen to someone else. Neither do I. Please, please, please – I am begging you on my knees…
 

Be carefully.