Countdown to Finality

So, you have 26 days left until the Rapture.  Are you ready?  Made your Rapture Party Plans yet?  Have you found a home for your pet yet (that is to say, for those of you who will be leaving us)?  Have you made your Bucket List?  Get on it people!  There isn’t time to dilly, or dally, or hesitate!

Then again, utilizing a quote I heard during my recent trip to NYC (I can’t claim right to this one, but I will use the hell out of it): “Why can’t you quit?  Jesus did.”  So, maybe you shouldn’t do anything.  Just let it happen.  Heat up some queso, prop up your feet, refuse to shower and watch 26 days of television.

Hell, forward all your bills to the people at We Can Know, seeing as how they’re so up on this whole Rapture shibang.  I mean, can’t there be some type of legal spin on making plans around their May 21st date…you know, in the unlikely event that they’re wrong?

Dammit.  I just paid off my car.  Should have thought that one through a bit more.

Still, maybe this isn’t really a bad thing at all.

I feel secure that my publisher will still be around, since I know God isn’t terribly fond of Faerie worship or purple highlights, so at least Flutter will still arrive in August.  And since I’m not necessarily targeting Christians with my books (well, targeting, yes, but not in the publicity sense), then I can rest assured that my audience will still be around.  In fact, this may be a boon to the publishing industry, now that I think on it, because it will eliminate…er, I mean, remove all the people who are most traditionally likely to whine about literary content.  Vampire Porn for everyone!  Hopefully Stephanie Meyer is taken.  I can’t stomach anymore of her work.

I’m actually thinking that the bulk of people at Twitter and Facebook will still be around, so we’ll still have that.  To boot, all that Christian clutter will be gone, so no more scrolling through the rants and praise to Mr. Jesus.  Heck, little boys all over the world can roam free, safe and secure in the knowledge that their pants won’t be removed by some God-horny Man of the Cloth, so that’s good.  Then again, won’t all the Men of the Cloth who engaged in that activity still be here?  Hm.  Rule of the land!  It’s time to put these imbeciles on a remote island with a few other undesirables, and have an And Then There Were None reality show.  Given the dearth of candidates, and only 12 slots (should we remain true to the story), I’m thinking several continuous seasons of this will do fine.

Fortunately, we’ll still have this:

So that’s cool.

I’m actually feeling confident that the bulk of television shows, actors and actresses, producers, directors, musicians, writers, artists and executives will still be around, so I guess Hollywood just keeps rolling.  I mean, they didn’t stop for Pearl Harbor or 9/11, did they?  Can’t seem them seeing this any differently.  So, we’ll still have a major portion of our art intact.

This solves our energy crises, doesn’t it?  And food shortages?

Can we get back to community-based lifestyles, and weed out the box stores?  I can promise you all non-Christian based indie bookstores will still be around.  They didn’t break for Amazon or B&N, so I figure the Rapture won’t kill their inspiration either.  Should be plenty of stock and, as mentioned, better quality to choose from, so there you are.  Another win.

Looks like the recession is over.  Jobs for everyone!

May have to entertain that Trump for President thing, after all.  He’ll still be around.  I mean, it would appear that every politician is a Christian, or so they would have you believe.  Surely they weren’t lying about that.  I’ll vote for him.  Although George Clooney might be more interested now that there’s no real backlash to him running, right?  Hell, all of Hollywood might put their name in the hat if they can do so comfortably knowing that there’s no one left to call them out on their loose-running morality issues.

What else?

You know, this may very well be the greatest Litmus test in the whole of testing things that aren’t what they purport to be.  I sense a great deal of finger waggling, post Rapture, with some, “Ahhhhhh, I knew you weren’t a Christian!” in for good measure.  Playground rules apply.  Those shamed are cast into the Pit of the Unwanton Liars Who Used to Be Bullies But Are Now Just Stupid Dummy Butts.

Yeah, I’m liking this post-Rapture world.

I need to go stock up on cheese.  Feel free to do the same.  In the meantime, what did I forget?

May Showers Bring May Flowery Deaths

So, yeah.  You’re going to die soon.  Just so you know.  The people at We Can Know can even tell you when.  To the day.  Behold, the End Times:

So, I should hold off on that June Cruise deposit, yeah?

For the record, this is not a joke.  This group of 4 ministries has decided, through biblical prognostication, that the Rapture will, indeed, take place on May 21st, 2011, and that actual end of the world will occur on October 21st, 2011.  So, basically, if you’re a Christian, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.  Finally, the Word will be proven true, and you will be ushered into Heaven, where you will live out your spiritual days in the warm embrace of a loving God.  Conversely, if you are not a Christian, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.  All the Christians will be gone, taken from the world in a flash, leaving you with a world bereft of dogmatic Believers who like to shake bells, throw pamphlets at you, and clog up lines at Golden Corral on Sundays.  it’s the world you’ve always dreamed of.  For five months, anyway.  At which time, your little fantasy land gets gobbled up by a God who is perturbed at your sinful ways (but isn’t at all displeased with allowing Miley Cyrus to continue living, go figure).  There’s a silver lining, though.  You have the next 6 months, and 18 days to do whatever you want , and then you can repent on May 20th, find some Holy-type to dunk you in water, and smile a lot, be fine the next day, and take the G-train to Heaven.  Just a thought.

But, maybe you don’t like baths.  I don’t know.

If you’re in need of a tutorial, the folks who created the video program at Xtranormal can be thanked for letting our Christian friends make this tutorial:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yDWXNKPtNw&feature=player_embedded]

It’s not as funny as the Geico commercial.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, I’ve done the whole bath thing, and been certified Jesusian, but have since reneged on the agreement, and gotten all dirty with sin, and written books that sort of, well, mock the whole process, so I’m guessing that I’m not on the G-train.  And since it may have been a one-shot deal–I’m guessing that you can’t have two baths with Jesus in a lifetime, and sell that you’re totally serious about it this time–I have to deal with the reality that I have, give or take being stabbed in the eye, about eleven months in which to enjoy my time on this rock.  So, rather than fret about the end of the world, I’ve decided that I’m going out with a bang.  I’m sure this list will need some editing, over the period of Doom-to-be that remains, but for now, it’s a start.

  1. Listen to every Justin Beiber song until I have them memorized.  Attend concert on December 23rd at Phillips, and squeal until my voice cuts off.  Buy t-shirt.  Why not, right?  I mean, it’s not the New Kids or anything absurd like that.
  2. Contact Warner Brothers, and plead with them to move up Deathly Hallows Pt 2 to May 20th (I can just hear it now: “Yeah, I was going to get baptized, but it was either that or watch Harry Potter.  Pretty easy choice, I think.”), or to implement a post-Rapture contingency plan to ensure the release of the movie.  I’m not dying before I see how it plays out on the big screen.
  3. Find a booth at Waffle House, and stay there for 24 hours.  Eat everything on the menu.  Enjoy the next 24 hours, alternating between the toilet and the tub.
  4. Host a Rapture Party on the rooftop of the tallest building that will accept money.  Watch the Christians float into the sky, and create a pool for “number of airplanes crashing into buildings as Christian pilots are taken”.  Rig pool so that you win.
  5. Move into the largest church I can find on May 22nd.  Host readings of Apocalypse South every Sunday, readings of Flutter and Anointed every Wednesday and Friday, and change the sign outside to read: “God is good, God is Great, WTF, did I just inherit a Chruch?”  Misspell ‘church’ intentionally because Russ Marshalek will want it that way.
  6. Get a job at Starbucks (because we all know they’ll still be around), and ask to be paid in coffee.  Drink only coffee until the world ends.  Never sleep again.
  7. Begin reading the Mark Twain bio.  Put it down three days later when it becomes apparent that there isn’t enough time to finish Volume 1.
  8. Walk part of the Appalachian Trail with an ATV.
  9. Acquire the most expensive computer available (depending on availability when the looting begins).  Strip it of every program, and create a screen saver that reads, “What are you doing, Dave?”  Leave it on until the world ends.
  10. Host a “naked party”.  Invite no one.
  11. Watch every Star Wars movie in succession, enjoy them immensely, then write a 400 page letter to George Lucas detailing how much better they could have been if he hadn’t directed any of them.  Reference Empire as the platform of awesomeness that it is.  Hand deliver to the first person you encounter, and thank them for buying Statewide Rapture Insurance.
  12. Create a Twitter account for a Christian who you know has been Raptured.  Tweet from Heaven.  Tell those remaining (I just deleted, “left behind” three times…I just can’t say it.) what they need to do in order to be Saved.  Hint: it involves cheese being delivered to my chruch.
  13. Make enough Kraft Mac N’ Cheese to fill the bathtub.  Bathe in it.  Bathe in it real good.  Like it like you want it, mmmhm.
  14. Find a replica Darth Vadar costume to wear from October 18th through October 21st.  Speak only in Vadar lines, and die with your helmet off.
  15. Call the ex-wife on May 22nd, and remind her that she didn’t get Raptured either.  It goes both ways, apparently.
  16. Find some D&D goons, and suggest your chruch as a fine place for a week-long campaign.  Play all week, so that you can die knowing that you’re a rogue Elf with…
  17. Learn D&D terminology so as to better define your character before you die.
  18. Make the trek to Chicago, and find a seat in the bleachers at a sure to be empty Wrigley Field and yell, “you suck!”  Do the same in NY at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, before returning to Atlanta, and Turner Field.  Do the chop for six straight hours.
  19. Call all my friends (none of them will have taken the G-train, for sure), and let them know they don’t have to worry.  I’m still awesome.
  20. Call my Jewish friends, blame them for everything, and say, “I told you this would happen.”
  21. Find Seth MacFarlane, and thank him for being such a delightful bastard.  Let him know that you got yourself checked, and your not retarded.

This isn’t done, but I’m too impatient to save it and wait.  Who has ideas?

Touched by the Long hand of God

You’ve all heard this one already, so I’m not going to tread over ground that’s already been flown around the world, massaged, and molested.  But the facts are the facts (at least the facts that are being reported): Eddie Long, Pastor of the Atlanta-based mega-church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple teenage boys.  The charges imply that Long coerced the young boys into sexual relationships, and…this is where I just add, yadda yadda yadda, because what more is there to say?  Then I say, “Of course, these are simply allegations, and Justice is Blind, and ants can’t carry celery, and stuff,” which is meant to pacify you into believing that I haven’t already prejudged the pervert.

If it didn’t work, then maybe you should eat more celery.

There are many issues at play here, not the least of which is the idea that a professed man of God, who has marched against homosexuality, is accused of homosexual acts with underage boys.  I can’t gloss that one over.  There’s also the fact that we have, in Pastor Eddie Long, a man who has accumulated vast amounts of wealth, and assets, from people who are offering their very wallet’s end, simply to give unto the God they believe in.  This man, who has been quoted as saying, You’ve got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that’s supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering,” has bilked these people of their meager earnings, and has done so with a sense of purpose and divine right that even the one he supposedly speaks on behalf of–that Jesus fella–did not.

Jesus wore sandals.  Just sayin’.

Eddie Long also offered up a quote that completely justified Anointed, for which I am eternally grateful. Behold:

“We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation.”

Ah…it just smells like redemption.  I may have missed the boat.  The Christ Corporation should have replaced Timmy Christ with a handsy black preacher-man.  Oh, well.  There’s more writing yet to be had.

Is there anyone else that finds this a little creepy, in retrospect?

But, for me, the real issue is that Bishop Pastor Molester Man Eddie Long has now–whether guilty or not–joined the long line of evangelists, who preach, and thrive financially from, the supposed Word of God that they cannot possibly, or are not capable of, believing in themselves. And in doing so, he has further alienated Christianity from those who are either agnostic, atheist, or simply wavering in between.  Yes, I’ve heard countless times already that he is but one voice amongst millions.  But he is one very prominent, and visible, one.  Much like Falwell, or Graham, or Hagee, or Mr. Toothy Shine, Joel O’steen.  He is the Tom Brady, the Barry Bonds, the Kobe Bryant, or any member of Congress, of Christianity.  He is to be held at a higher standard, whether he–or you–likes it or not.  Such is our culture.  And when you have something as virulent as religion, especially one that loves to jam itself into your personal space in order to share a message you might not have even asked for, you get emotional reactions that ultimately define lives.

We look to those who have succeeded, as possible glimpses of what we can be.  Likewise, we also look at those who have succeeded, where we believe they should not have, and scrutinize their acts, analyze their words, and fill the webber-nuts up with blogs, updates, and posts about how much we disagree with them.  This is natural.  This is human.  And this is what Eddie Long, and his misbehaving band of Christians, has done: He is the nail in coffin for many, many, people who were on the fence about Prince Jeebus.  He has removed any desire that they might have had to possibly give Christianity a chance.  If they were in the back seat of the car, listening to the debate up front, they opened the door and jumped.  Is this right?  Is this fair to the entirety of a religion?  Well, hell no, but it’s reality.  Unfair stuff happens all the time.  I think that might have been omitted from the Bible, but I’m sure God would like you to know.  Shit happens, and we have to deal with it.

Christianity has to deal with this.  I don’t.  It just gives me more to write about.  And what Christians around the world should take from this simple statement, is this: Back off.  Let people find their way.  Let go of the notion that you are some holy crusade to bring people to God (and it’s important to note that the word, ‘crusade,’ has some links to The Crusades that you might want to be familiar with).  And for God’s sake–no really, He’s getting a little miffed–quit giving life to mega-church evangelical poopyheads (that was for you B).  You want people to respect you as a faith, and look to you for guidance, and perhaps even walk alongside you?  Then don’t feed the pandas.  They will eat you.

I remember watching this movie and thinking, “This is why religion sucks.”  The video’s a little wonky at first, but evens out.  For some reason, I can’t seem to find a better one.  Hmmmmm.

Imaging Googe

Here’s the Googe image I referenced in a previous blog. Thanks to the ever vigilant Katie Moss for taking five seconds of her time to locate it for me.

It’s the simple joys in life…

Speaking of simple joys, I have somehow, over my time, managed to completely miss out on Chick Publications, which is not at all what it presents itself as.  There are certainly no chicks to be found on this site at all, which is always a bit of a sad, if you ask me.  But the chick-less nature of Chick aside, it’s an utter win to find a piece of religion that so insists that you pay it heed.  Apparently, as I am told, this Jack T. Chick person created these books–slightly more than a comic, I guess, but far less than Superman can offer me in such a short blast–that are handed out at various religious functions, on street corners, or at the Gap, if it’s a particularly slow day.

There are quite a few to browse through, or buy, if you’re in a festive mood.  I’m collecting the whole set.  They’ve presented me with a Michael Corleone moment.  I thought I’d finish up with Flutter, and leave Timothy, and gang, be after that, but they’re pulling me back in.

Here’s a little peek into the glory of Chick Tracts:

He has a Little Black Book, has he? Hmmm...must be quite the dater.

Ahh! Zombies! Oh, wait, never mind...they're flying away.

Fire, fire, fire! Hey...who's getting married? Jeebus?

Is it just me, or does the Beast look like Rob Zombie? I didn't know he had an army.

A thousand years? Awww...I can't wait that long! Mom, why doesn't God have a face?

The End?

Anyway, I have a new love.  Chick(less) Tracts are basically going to be responsible for a few more devil fiction books that I had no idea I absolutely had to write.  A lesson to all writers: Inspiration is everywhere.

Mah Birfday

Today is my birthday, or, as some have called it, the anniversary of my birth.  I don’t really care how you spin it, as long as it involves cake.

It needs to involve pizza, if at all possible, as well, though a good run through at a Hibachi joint will serve as a nice substitute, if necessary (and it’s generally superfineok with me if it is).

So, what, pray tell, do I want for my birthday?  Well, I did find seasons two and three of Six Feet Under on sale, so that’s an easy Win.  I was gifted the first two seasons of Dexter, so that’s Win number two.  Hibachi?  Check.  Cake? Check…and, check, actually (Win, Win).  Tasty Coffee? Archer Farms Fudge Brownie, with Bailey’s Irish Creamer (not Bailey’s itself I am sad to say), check, and Win.  75, ooo 7th Day Adventists? Chec…wait, what?

In honor of all that I am likely to do wrong over the next ten days, and because this is my damn blog, and I can write whatever I damn well please, I would like to say that there is no greater gift on my birthday, than this:

59th General Conference Session

(I have no idea who this guy is, but I hope I get to sell him a copy of my book)

3468625879_9457578da5_m.jpg

A General Conference Session is a unique occasion. There is no moment in the life of the Church which demonstrates so vividly–so tangibly–the extraordinary way God’s Spirit is moving among us. And so I’m delighted to invite your presence and participation at the 59th Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in Atlanta, Georgia, June 23 –July 3, 2010.
Now, I do have a job to protect, so I have some boundaries, but when you have someone tell you that you shouldn’t sell books on Vampires because it is an affront to God (sadly this wasn’t said to me, or I probably would have hissed, and bitten her), it evokes a certain need to speak your mind.  Of course, on the heels of my blog about Jesus slaying vampires, I’d say that, in relation to Vampires, the Christians have very little to be worried over.  I mean, zombies, or werewolves, or emo-goth-punk-hipsters of the FU I’m Texting Generation, are far more threatening at this point.  Frankly, I think the Second Coming is on delay while Jesus polishes his skills a la Neo and the Matrix, and catches up on South Park episodes involving the Goth Gang, but the next ten days may teach me otherwise.
Also–and as a serviceable farewell for the moment–I’d like to leave you with the opening paragraph of the worst book ever written, Apocalypse South, by Kyle Watson.  If you haven’t ever read this book, do it now.  Buy it used, and read it immediately.  This is complete, and unedited by these hands.  Frankly, it wasn’t edited by any hands and is the poster child of everything that is wrong with Print on Demand technology.
“A host of demons is hovering above the crust of the earth.  They are waiting on their leader to speak to them.  None of them are speaking words to one another, only hissing and snickering has come forth from the mouths on their evil angelic faces.  Their leader is dressed in a black robe wearing a gold colored breastplate, and his demon followers are dressed in brown robes with silver colored breastplates.  The leader starts to speak when a demon asks a question.
‘Satan, since we have lost the war in Heaven, what is our next plan?’
The Leader roars like a lion before he speaks.
‘How many times have I told you to call me Lucifer and don’t you ever again say that we have lost anything.  You hear me?” Lucifer says infuriated.
Ah…that’s better.
They say you can tell everything you need to know about a book from its first paragraph.  I gave you a couple of lines of dialogue to reinforce the point.  Now, go find a copy, and read it.  Then tell everyone you know.  I’m going to make a bestseller out of this guy yet.

Because I Need To

I’ve been pretty busy opening The Corner Bookstore (of which it seems necessary to note I do not own, but am managing), and it’s left the well of writing rather dry of time, and quite neglected.  I genuinely consider this to be one of the more difficult things to deal with, and have to acknowledge that there is little in life that makes me as happy as writing, no matter how nonsensical it may be at times.  But, I’m getting things ironed out with the store, and whittling down my schedule to a mere 55 hours a week, and will be back at it again soon.

Which is important, for more than the obvious reason.  The more pressing matter is that, despite what I might have believed in February, Flutter: An Epic of Mass Distraction, is not yet finished.  It lacks, in fact, a third act.  A third act that was, until a few weeks ago, meant to be a third book in the Anointed series (which was never meant to be a series, but what the hell, right?).  Which would seem to be a bummer–and is–but isn’t as bad as it seems.  The truth is, Flutter will be a better book for it.  It will take you for a longer, and wilder, ride, leaving you just as breathless as dear Timothy will be by book’s end.

And, in a nice twist, and flagrant ode to one of my favorite writers–Douglas Adams–I can now refer to Flutter as: The Second, and final book, in the Anointed Trilogy.  Why not?  Makes me laugh, and as long as my publisher’s up for it, then so be it (Or, “and, so it is,” if you happen to be a Pretty Wild junkie like me…I mean, come on!  This isn’t real, right?).

The downside is that my October release is now somewhere in the front end of 2011.  So, yeah.  But it’ll be out there.  That’s what matters.

Anyhoo…I had too much coffee this morning, and…wait…no, there’s no such thing as too much coffee.  Strike that.  Ahem.  I had more coffee this morning than I typically have–by design in order to kickstart a Monday that followed a weekend of moving my stuff into storage by myself (what!?!?!)–and decided in a heightened state of euphoria, that what coffee lacks is an operatic ode to its importance in our daily lives.  Something on the Bugs Bunny scale.  You know what I mean.  This one:

Something epic.  Something tragic, yet redeeming in the end.  Something that seems to jump on a skateboard, and roll along at ludicrous speed (Ah…Spaceballs), before crashing in a coma-like burn as the caffeine wears off.

Something sort of like this:

(man holding a cup of coffee in the air)

Coffee!  You are so excellent!

I love to drink you in the morning,

afternoon, evening, and night!

And most any time in between!

(insert hoppy little musical interlude, as our man dances about with his cup of coffee, drinking it in large gulps)

I drink you with breakfast, I drink you with lunch,

I drink you with most anything that I can munch,

I drink you to think, I drink you to write,

I drink you despite you make me, um, not sleep at night!

You give me the shakes, you give me a buzz,

You are an addiction I can’t quit because,

I don’t remember what life was like living without

you, which isn’t a sad but is something I love!

Coffee you’re excellent!

You make my life livable!

Each time I drink you,

I feel so much better!

With each sip I’m happier!

With cream you’re just like dessert!

Coffee you’re excellent!

FTW, LMAO, LOL!

(our coffee drinker, in his exuberant celebratory state,

drops his coffee in a colossal crash)

Oh, coffee…

What have I done?

Your brilliance shines so bright

upon the floor!

NO!

Oh, noes, coffee!

You were once in my hands,

these deceitful, clumsy, claws.

Now you are lost,

and I don’t know for how long!

How long???

But, oh…hey!

Not to say that you weren’t a joy!

Still I regret your splaying on the floor!

But I just thought…just now in fact,

that perhaps I could, perhaps just now,

make some more instead!

YAY!

Coffee!

I will drink you again!

(the thunderous final note brings the house down)

Sure, it needs some work, but it’ll do for now.  And I need more coffee.

Label ME This

I read the news today, oh boy.  About a child actor who overdosed.

Ok, the Beatles version is better.  I’m sort of torn over whether or not I should be sad about the death of Corey Haim.  I mean on one hand, he was Corey Haim, and aside from a couple of years in the mid, to late, eighties, that doesn’t amount to much.  I mean, the Corey duo were entertaining, in that sort of Odd Couple kind of way, but I can’t really thank either of them for any of the movies they brought us.  I was, and am to this day, a huge fan of The Lost Boys, but I can’t necessarily thank either Corey for that, any more than I can thank Kiefer Sutherland.  Still, he was in it, I liked it, he’s dead, and I guess that makes ME sad.  So, here, today, you can bear witness to the entirety of MY process of grieving.

There.  All done.

So, anyhoo…after MY post yesterday, which I think I wrote in about twenty minutes, sprinting through the blog like a naked twelve-year old on fire, MY publisher asked the most important–and most often asked–question anyone could have asked of ME:

“Who the hell are you?”

Which was oddly timed, as I had been thinking of that question just moments before.  Not the question of who the hell I am, as I’ve long since given up on answering that (for fear of actually finding the answer, if I must be honest), but rather in an entirely separate context.  It seems that this question, or variance of it to any degree, is the default introduction into a probe of an individual’s personal convictions.  “What are you?” tends to precede greater questions of faith, politics, sexual orientation, and wizarding capabilities, in an attempt to frame a reference–a label–that the inquisitor can relate to.  You can’t simply respond with, “Why, I’m nobody,” or, “I’m six-feet of seaweed in an ocean of autistic minnows,” as the reply lacks either functional definition, or a basis in sane reasoning.  In most cases, should we feel that any reply might offset the delicate balance of conversation moving forward, we digress into a non-answer, a deflection, a rambling that so twists itself around its neck, that the entire conversation is choked off, and dies.  I wa reminded of this the other day, when the owner of a business was telling me about a local news crew that had showed up earlier that day, in order to interview some of his patrons, who were well-known for their political rantings.  Needless to say, once the cameras were turned on, their opinions–their defining beliefs–switched off.  Instead of espousing their heartened beliefs, they deflected, and digressed, and dismissed.  Why?  Because they forgot them?  No, because they knew that they were about to exposed on the local news for the people they intrinsically were.  Their friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, preachers, therapists, and dogs would see them for what they truly were, and they would never be able to hide from it thereafter.  They would be labeled, and unable to bend from their position.

Of course, they could have just been terrified.

I despise labels.  I am constantly asked, “what are you?” at book events.  It seems a preposterous question.  “I’m an alien!  Do Not Run, I Am Your Friend!” (of course, at least one of my sibling would certainly agree with that)  It seems that, in order to continue conversing on religion, there needs to be a frame of reference.  If I say that I am a Baptist, then all further answers I offer are based in comparison to that line of faith.  Deviate from the scripted path of the Baptist, in any fashion, and I stand as a potential hypocrite.  Much the same for politics.  If I say that I am a Republican, or if I say that I am a Democrat, then I must believe in a certain philosophy, or support specific policies.  Deviate, and I’m a Mugwump.  Adhere strictly to the law on that side of the fence, and I’m an unwavering, uncompromising doo-doo head (ah, to be four again).  There is no flexibility of thought, and no possibility of acknowledging fault, or flaw, in that line of reasoning.  To do so would be an abandonment of my, “core beliefs”, because of who I profess to be–who I am labeled as.

Label me a fool.  Label me odd.  Label me strange, and somewhat off-kilter.  These are natural tendencies that I do not have to revisit in order to maintain.  They are behaviors, they are patterns, they are ME.  But, historically speaking, find a president who governed to the populace by way of leaning too far to one side, or the other.  Not an easy task.  Find a religious leader who spoke to, and inspired, a global audience by condemning every other faith, save for their own.  Not gonna happen.  There is a reason why Presidents who govern from the Center are so popular, and successful.  There is a reason why the Dalai Lama is so popular, and considered so kindly.  There is a reason why Devil Fiction is not a real category, and why people in the publishing industry cringe when they hear the word, “satire.”  Once you are defined by a label, or once a label is set in place to define all those who follow it, flexibility of thought, and of choice, is limited.

Corey Haim was a victim of this.  He couldn’t do a movie without Corey Feldman that anyone would want to watch, and he was forever a child actor, with limited ability.  Once the label of, “child”, was removed–when adulthood came knocking, he was no longer Corey Haim.  At least not the Corey Haim we knew.  He was just, “that guy who used to be a child actor, that was in those movies with that other Corey guy.”  I think that saddens me more than his death.

So, who am I?

I’m ME.  That should be enough.

A Villainous Life

Good day, and welcome to another session of, The Further Promotion of ME.  I–that would be ME–am your host for today’s festivities.  Thanks for stopping by.

Today we have a special treat in store for you.  Recently, I had the opportunity, during a break in scenes, to sit down and chat with the lead villain of MY most recent work, Flutter.  We discussed his motivations, his dreams, the true side to that demonic darling, Natasha, and whether or not the life of an angel is everything it’s cracked up to be.  His name is Morpheus, the angel of dreams, and God’s second-in-command.  The following is the transcript from the conversation.

(Morpheus enters, side-stage, dressed in a flowing white cloak, that seems to bury him in his nearly translucent pale skin.  He sparkles a gleaming smiled, offers me a wink of a blue eye, and sits, hands in a steeple in his lap.)

ME: Welcome, Morpheus.  It is a delight to have you, and a joy to talk with you.

Morpheus: I appreciate the opportunity, and thank you for inviting me.

ME:  Well, let’s just jump right into, shall we?  Who is Morpheus?  Aside from the character in the Matrix, of course. (I laugh, but Morpheus just stares cooly in MY direction)

Morpheus: Right.  Well, I like to think of myself as an architect of dreams–a conductor even, if that imagery is more apropos.  I am the keeper of the dreams of humanity, and the most prominent ear in God’s hierarchy of arch-angels.  It is a blessed existence, despite the obvious shortcomings of being immersed in the insanity of the sleeping human mind, yes?

ME: Um, yes.  I guess.  Anyway, I have to admit, Morpheus, that doesn’t sound very villainous.

Morpheus: (bristling) Oh, I never professed to be a villain, sir.  I might call that slander, in fact.  All that I do, I do for the glory of angel-kind.  I serve the interest of Heaven, and wish only to bring about a greater sense of pride in the angelic populace.

ME: But, in, Flutter, you orchestrate a rebellion, and propose a war on humanity.  Is that not the mark of villainy?

Morpheus: (he smiles broadly.  I can’t help but feel the reports of his ways are slightly misconstrued.) Is it?  I think not.  After all, what is a villain?  I, for what worth it may grant your opinion of me, am not a killer.  I am a dreamer.  I do not exercise might, but practice in the art of conversation.  It is not my way to simply sweep into a room, barricade the doors, and blast everyone to oblivion, should they fail to do as I ask.  No, sir.  I am a diplomat.  It is why God leans on my presence so in Heaven.  I have learned from the master.

ME: So, tell us about Flutter.  Not the book!  Forgive ME, I mean the device for which our story is named.  Where did it come from, and what is its purpose?

Morpheus: Well, I suppose there are some matters to which it would not behoove me to speak, yes?  But, allow me to simplify an answer for you, and your readers, so that there is some facet of understanding.  Flutter is a social networking system, not dissimilar from your, ‘Twitter.’  It operates under the same philosophy, as well as the same parameters.  You see, we angels do pay curious amounts of attention to you humans.  And, often, we find something of use in your actions, or your tools; and though we do not generally agree with your motives, we cannot deny ourselves useful means of banter, or activity, if it fits our needs.  Flutter is an example of that.  What better to unite the angelic populace, than a device–and its corresponding network–whose sole function is to gather thought, and opinion, as well as a good dose of cheek. (Morpheus winks, and I nearly giggle.)

ME: (once I compose MYSELF) Humans have found social networking to be a bit of a distraction.  Much in the same way that texting, or gaming, or cell phones themselves have left us in tricky, if not altogether perilous, situations.  What do you say to those who might suggest that angels will suffer the same fate? 

Morpheus: As with all luxuries, there is an acceptable level of distraction that comes hand in hand.  But, please do understand, that angels do not sleep.  We do not cook dinner.  We do not mow the lawn.  Our job is constant, with very little in the way of a break.  Just ask an angel the last time they took a vacation, and see the ire that brings! (again, the laugh, which is airy, yet hearty, and quite full)  So, why not?  We deserve to have a form of distraction, especially if that engenders a greater sense of community, and union in Heaven.

ME: It has been reported that many of the, ‘flaps,’ as you refer to them, have been somewhat anti-human. 

Morpheus:  Preposterous.  Is a mere reflection of question, or doubt, in something meant to imply a stance against it?  Of course not.  Are there angels who have a negative view of humanity?  Of course.  How could they not?  They are in servitude to them, day and night, and without celebration or fanfare from the Boss.  Amongst even humans, there is a constant chatter–on your Twitter, such as–of complaint toward employers, and the businesses they run.  Do they stand in opposition to them?  Are they considered anti-employer?  Heavens no.  That would be a ridiculous sentiment, yes?

ME: I suppose that’s a reasonable argument, given–

Morpheus: (interrupting ME with a polite gesture of a hand) Forgive me for the interruption, but I would prefer to discuss matters of great importance, rather than instigating a full-fledged debate on the loyalty of God’s populace of angels.  We serve.  It is what we do.  Humanity stands, still.  That should be enough to assuage the curiosity, yes?

ME: (I nod, buying time, while I flip through MY notes.) Let’s talk about Natasha.  Humanity sees her as a vile, corrupting force, and has denounced her in many, if not all, religious circles.  How does the angelic populace view the angel known to humans as, “Satan”?

Morpheus: (for the first time, he seems uncomfortable, distracted) It may be prudent to simply move on.  I do not profess to be Natasha’s publicist, though I am quite certain she could use one.

ME: But surely you can speak to the image portrayed?  If she is, in fact, a soul of great repute in Heaven, then wouldn’t it be fair–to better understand and appreciate all angels–to speak of the general opinion of her in Heaven?

Morpheus: (his feet twitch a bit, and he’s staring off, and muttering something silently.  When he looks MY way, he sighs, rolls his eyes, and relents.) Very well.  Natasha and I have been acquaintances for many millennia.  The angelic populace regard her…quite…highly (he says through gritted teeth), and with good reason.  That is all I wish to say on the matter.

ME: All right.  Well, then, let’s get to the big question: Will there be a war on humanity?

Morpheus: (leans in, smiles a devilish grin) Well, it would not be a prudent move for me to answer that, if in fact there is, now would it?

ME: So, you’re not denying it?

Morpheus: I’m not confirming it.  After all, if there were a war waged on humanity, it would be swift–more so if you were unaware of it beforehand.  I can tell you this, friend: There will not be a war waged on humanity, so long as angels have a reason not to act, or have not the means by which to carry it out.  Besides, how would we wage a war on humanity with God standing guard?

ME: So, if God were not, you’re saying that you would?

Morpheus: Trickery does not befit a man of your character.  I have answered your question.  I have nothing more to say on the matter.

ME: (I could do this for hours, but it’s clear to me that Morpheus is running low on desire, so I decide to leave the rabbits in the hat, in hopes that he will agree to come back another time.) Well, I know that you are quite busy, and are required for an upcoming scene, so I’ll wrap things up here with a final question.  Tell MY readers, in three words or less, what it is that Morpheus, angel of dreams, wants most.

Morpheus: (he thinks for a moment, flashes one more generous smile.) To surprise you.

Dangling From the Vine

So, I’m still amidst MY archeological dig through the desert of MY past.  I don’t know why I insist on it, or what purpose it ultimately serves, but as it amuses ME to no end, well…this is MY blog, right?  So, why not?  I’ve found, in going through these journal entries that date back to high school (which was, what? like only a few years ago, right?  20?  Oh.  Eek!), that I can’t help but feel alien to the little kid who so scribbled his heart onto paper with nothing but the venom of his own emotional fang.  And yet, I find oddities that I might very well have written last week.  Such as this line from January 18th, 1990 (at approximately 5:27 p.m, should you be checking your date book): “Well, somebody wants me to learn patience.  Seeing as how I have none, I don’t find that particularly funny.”  Or I could cite some modern thought in a line from January 25th, of the same year: “I’ve never thought of writing about death before , but riding in that piece o’ shit DC-9 yesterday made me want to.” Or this nugget a couple of months later: “Emotions are like nuclear weapons.  If you mishandle them, they fuck you up.”

I will also quote, once again, MY favorite thus far, which is also from 1990, on March 25th: “Confusion is a state of mind.  I’d like to expand on that, but I can’t.”

Seems I had a lot of interesting things to say that year.  Granted, a lot of it was about celebrity crushes, the end of high school, girls, girls, and more girls (and the never-ending hope that, someday, one would actually like ME), writing and the satisfied confidence that I would someday be rich from it, and various other innanities that I deemed worthy of discussion, but that were as fascinating as the result of a goopy sneeze.

And yet, through 4 years of entries that I have thus far read, I have yet to find any inkling of the man who would write Anointed.  No sense, or sign, or struggle with religion, or God, or Christianity, or the entire mythos surrounding them all.  Humor, sure.  A desire to impale MYSELF upon the blade of loneliness, yup.  A sort of burgeoning awareness of the universe, and the concepts of the law of attraction, true.  But God was just sort of this bearded fella sitting in the, um, the…whatchacallit chair that a tennis umpire (umpire? is that right? Google anyone?) sits in.  He just sort of watched the game I was playing, and occasionally shouted, “Fault!” or, “Out!” or, “Game, Mr. Steele, Life serving!”  It wasn’t an absence from MY writing.  Rather, He was the parent I was trying to impress, the brother I didn’t want to beat ME up, or the best friend I wanted to chat movies with.  To that end, I may have still missed the point of God, after all.  At least the Biblical point, anyhow.  I rather think I nailed the reality of it.  But, as to the future voice of devil fiction that I would become, it was veiled, and notably absent.

The most remarkable thing is that I somehow thought that cogent, coherent, and other-worldly wise, thought was unleashed somewhere beyond the stroke of midnight, a point to which I know, unmistakably now and despite MY efforts to refrain, to be wholly untrue.  When I begin an entry at 4:25 a.m, with the words, “I’m a nutcase,” it seems to imply that I have crossed some immovable line of sanity that I cannot return from, when in fact, I probably had indigestion from too much pizza at midnight to allow ME to sleep, and the remnant of thought that had survived so late into the coming morning, was soundly, and decisively, coated in marinara and pepperoni bits.  Or perhaps Dunkin’ Donuts.  Either would not have been a stretch, both at once quite probable.  The sheer volume of deep, intricate, seemingly unwavering, philosophical thought I vomited after MY brain had officially checked out for the night, actually gives ME more insight into what living in a commune of hippies would be like, than does it MY awakening awareness to a world gone awry that I handled so heavily.

And yet, I’m there, somewhere.  Hiding behind Motley Crue posters, Debbie Gibson mania, and a pen.  Somewhere amidst the pages of, “Strings of the Heart” (gak!  bleh!), the first book I wrote while in high school, and the recap of MY five months dating a stripper, there lies something of who I am.  Somewhere between MY daily whine of loneliness, and MY prattling on about hitting the road and drifting MY way through America.  Somewhere at a beach in Florida, in the back of MY truck, at a campsite in the southern deserts of Arizona, in MY car at the Texas-Mexican border, or in every home I lived in over that time (and there were a few).  Somewhere, in all of that, is ME.  The ME I am.  The ME I still hope to be.  The ME that still insists on pontificating after his carriage has already diffused into a pumpkin, and the mice are nipping at his heels.  I guess I’m glad I wrote all this inane drivel, to be honest.  At least I know that I’m not crazy.  I’ve just always been this way.

Ramble On

No, this is not a post about Led Zepplin, so please put away all pipes, all bottles, and all frilly blonde wigs that you might be digging through your closet to find.  Actually, the truth of the matter is I really don’t have anything to say, which is a bit of a danger, since ME not knowing what I will say usually results in bizarro world type stuff.  For the most part, it’s how I write, and how I get about to writing some of the weird stuff that goes into print.  Which brings to mind what I am working on now.  Since I am without trendy topics, or useful talking points, you get what I know best: ME.

I’ve been working moderately steadily (EEK! Double ‘ly’s) on the follow up to Anointed.  At the moment, it is called Flutter, and aside from following the paths of a few of Anointed‘s favorite line-up, it introduces aspects of Heaven, angels with a grudge, God incognito, a virgin conception, a redemption of Biblical proportions, and social networking gone awry.  Oh, and, Alvin, Simon, & Theodore, now that I think on it, though, as with all things in MY world, even they are not quite what they seem. 

Essentially, there is a portion of the angelic populace (the Malcontents the earlier title represented), that has decided that the experiment known as “humanity” must come to an end.  Their weapon of choice: A social networking device they call, “Flutter.”  There’s only one problem with the plan: Angels aren’t all that smart, and have never done all that well with the, ‘war’, thing.  And, as if their own inadequacies aren’t enough, they also have to deal with the newly christened angel, “Timothy,” and his angel of desire, Natasha, whom as usual, would kind of rather see humans survive.

That’s the short of it, anyway.  If all goes according to schedule, you will hopefully be holding it in hand by summer 2010.  And since I really don’t want to spoil it further, I will instead offer you a look into the world of Flutter, by way of the first chapter.  I have read this twice in public already, and as no one threw rotten shoes, or leathery fruit at ME, then I suppose it wasn’t horrible.  Well, it is for Randall Crane, but that’s the story, isn’t it?

Feel free to pass along your thoughts.  Enjoy!

Chapter One

The Tweet of Death

Randall Crane did not know that he was about to die.  This, in no way, separated him from the rest of humanity, but did make the event rather surprising all the same.  He never looked up from his cell phone to see the car, never realized he had been hit, and witnesses later verified that he did not even appear at all aware that he had moved straight into the intersection.  He was eighty-six characters into an update on Twitter when he was tossed over the roof of a car driven by a very shocked, and later inefficiently suicidal, lawyer.  By no conscious act of his own, but somewhere through the force of the collision, Randall managed to send his partial message, leaving his three-thousand three hundred and sixty-one followers with a cryptic, and modest cliffhanger of a final statement.

#newrev lol@chipperchrist, ez 2 c u there. going 2 c finalized copy, hope it looks goo

When his body hit the pavement, broken and only mostly intact, he was still holding the cell phone.  He felt no pain, sensed no discomfort, and was remarkably coherent for a man who had just been crushed and tossed into the air by a few thousand pounds of unrelenting metal and fiberglass.  For a moment, he just lay there, listening to the screams, the cries for help, and the occasional blast of a car horn, thoroughly confused.  People crowded overtop him, though only briefly, as a good majority of them darted off with their hands cupped over their mouths.  A frazzled gentleman in a business suit, thin-framed glasses, and an expression that spoke in volumes of unrelenting pain, screamed and threw a handful of business cards at him.  Randall couldn’t understand why he had done this, but he could see that the man was in a great deal of distress, and was insistent on being vocal about it, so he said nothing.

But it’s all a bit odd, isn’t it? Randall thought.  Why am I on the ground?  He attempted to move, in order to gain a better view of his situation, but found his vision distracted, not by the oddity of his position, but instead by the pure blue clarity of the cloudless sky.  He was having a terribly hard time remembering the last time he had looked at the sky, or, when it had last seemed so pristine.  For that matter, he was having a hard time remembering when the world looked so…colorful.

“Randall Crane?”

Randall spun his head away from the perfect sky and the screaming, blubbering man in the business suit, and looked at a figure looming just behind him.  He was extraordinarily pale, dark hair curling neatly across his forehead, black pupils complementing the black robe he wore.

“Are you a vampire?”

The pale man looked at him with raised eyebrows.  “Not remotely, no.”

“Oh, well, that’s good,” said Randall.  “I don’t care much for vampires.”

“Have you encountered many?”

Randall thought about that. “No.  None that I can remember, exactly.  I just read a book recently that made me really not like them anymore.  Horrible book.  Bad dialogue.  Shallow characters.”

“I see.  Absorbing though that may be to you, I don’t particularly care.  It is time for you to go.”

“Time to go where?”  Randall attempted to shoo the babbling man and his business cards away, but to no avail.  Several people joined in, attempting to do the very same, but the man was rather hysterical and prepared to be a bit loud about it.

“You should get up now,” said the monotone voice above Randall.

Randall frowned.  “I was thinking that a few seconds ago, you know, but I haven’t yet figured out why I’m down here to begin with.”

“Does that matter?”

“Seems like it should, I think.  Sort of help me to deal with whatever decision I have to make to get myself out of whatever predicament it is that I’ve gotten myself into.  Now that I think about it, I’d appreciate any help you could offer.”

“I am not here to help you,” he said.  “Not in that context, anyhow.”

“Then why are you talking to me?” asked Randall.  “Seems you’re doing nothing more than keeping me from thinking.  I’d rather deal with this guy.” Hysterical Business Card Man was now on his knees and crying.  Randall was starting to feel a touch unnerved by it all.

“This is all quite fascinating, however irrelevant it may be.  You must go.  Now.”

“Go?  Go where?”  The man just stared at him, and feeling a bit odd in his place, and distracted by the babbling man at his side, Randall reluctantly stood.  He felt light and unencumbered, and his thoughts were a bit, well, they were a tad minimal, actually.  There seemed to be a limited number of them to deal with, which was thoroughly abnormal, and more than a little disconcerting.  “Well, how about I ask who you are then?  I’ll worry about my problems later.”

The man seemed to consider this for a time.  “Do you understand what has happened?” he asked finally.

Randall shrugged.  “Beats me.  I was just…just,” he paused, trying to remember exactly what it was that he had been doing.  “Well, I was just doing something.  Talking to someone, I think.  Yes, that was it.  I was Tweeting about my meeting.  Hah!  That rhymes!  I should tweet that!”  Randall looked at his hands for a moment, and then absently patted himself down.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Tweeting.  On Twitter.  140 characters or less.  Updating my daily ongoings, and the like.  Big thing now.  Quite a lot of people interested in what I am doing.  As well they should be.  Hey, have you seen my phone?”

The man offered only a raised eyebrow. 

Randall looked on the ground around his feet.  “Next thing I know, I’m on the ground with people screaming at me.”  Randall motioned to the activity behind him. “Seriously, where’s my phone?  I need to tweet this before I forget.”

“You don’t remember anything else?”

“Depends on what you’re trying to get me to remember.  I remember that I peed myself in fourth grade when my friend Tim shot a spitball in Suzie Perkins’ ear, if that helps.”

“It does not,” said the man, moving a step closer to grip Randall by the shoulder.  He offered something that closely resembled a sigh.  “My name is Gavin.  I am an angel of death, and—” 

“Where’s your scythe, then?” Randall asked, one eye cut to a slit as if trying to peer a line through multiple dimensions.

“Scythe?  I don’t carry a scythe.”

“Well, you can’t very well be Death without the scythe.”

Gavin rolled his eyes, and looked around impatiently.  “Listen, human, I am not Death, I am an angel of death, I don’t carry a scythe—but for what point it matters, I do have a rather fine sword I carry from time to time—and you are dead.”

Randall laughed.  “Dead?  I’m not dead.  I’m quite fine, in fact.  Look at me.  Just because I was on the ground there—whoa!”  He jumped back from the crumpled and bloodied version of himself.  “My arm does not go there!  Where’s my leg?  Hey, there’s my phone.”  Two medics squeezed their way through the crowd, and wasted little time beyond a cursory check for a pulse.  Thirty seconds later, his broken body was blanketed in a white sheet.

Gavin increased his grip on Randall.  “You must go now.”

“Go?  I don’t understand this at all!  I’m fine!  I’m right here!” he shouted at the medics, who were already prepping the gurney.  “Don’t put me on that thing!  I’m not dead!  And give me my phone back!”

“You are, and you must go.”

Randall slapped Gavin’s hand off his shoulder.  “What are you…go where?”

Gavin shrugged.  “Where everyone goes, eventually.”

“Heaven?”

“It’s a possibility.  I’m not a Judge.  Just an angel of death.  Your fate will be theirs to decide.”

Randall scanned the street, and the horrified faces of the people staring at his body as it was lifted onto the gurney.  “My fate?  Heaven?  I can’t go…I can’t be dead!  I have a wife, and kids, and a dog—”

“No, you don’t.”

Randall frowned.  “Oh.  Well, no, I can’t really back that up, but it seemed like the appropriate thing to say.  I was kind of hoping it would help my cause.”  Actually, now that he reflected on it, he was quite sure he remembered something about a wife—his, or, somebody’s wife, any way—and it seemed quite important, but his memory was a bit foggy.  “So, what if I don’t want to go?”

Gavin forced a smile.  “You are dead.  You can’t change that, whether you want to or not.  One way or another, one time or another, you will go.  It’s best if you accept that now, and move on.  Things can get a bit sticky otherwise.”

“Sticky?”

“The Judges don’t take too well to spirits who don’t move on.  You may walk here for a while, haunt friends or places, or whatever you choose, but they will come for you eventually, as do they for everyone, and let me assure you that it will not help your case any.”

“My case?  Judges?  This is ridiculous!  I have to go to this, this, thing that I have to go to!  It’s very important that I—”

“I am fully aware of where you were going.  And had you not met your fate, I am sure that you would have accomplished what you set out to accomplish.  But that’s irrelevant now.  You are dead.  That’s it.  Your road is at an end.  Deal with it and move on.”

“But I don’t want to be dead!”

Gavin offered another sigh.  “Well, that should make all the difference, I imagine.”

“Will it?”

“No.”

“So, what do I do?”

“You choose,” said Gavin.  “That’s all I can offer.  I’m here to help you along.  If you choose to stay, you do so understanding that you are trapped here, unless the Judges decide to retrieve you—a process you may find quite unpleasant.  If you go, you face your inevitability, and the Judges will decide your fate.  Otherwise, you cannot escape two distinct facts: You are dead, and the Judges will have their say.”

For a moment, Randall just looked around, watching the crowd thin, the babbling business card man—who stared at his cell phone as he was consoled, as if it were the cause of his pain—and the doors of the ambulance as they closed on his body, and, apparently, his life.  But Randall could still think, or at least he thought he could think, which was thoughtful in and of itself.  He was still here, and that could only mean that, to some degree, he was still alive.  He couldn’t deny that.  He couldn’t be dead.  Not now.  He still had…still had…something that he was having trouble remembering.

“I’m not dead, and I’m not going,” he said finally.

“Are you sure?”

Randall nodded.  “I’m not dead.  I refuse to accept that my life is over.  I don’t care what you, or these, these judge people say.  I have to go to, well, to wherever it is I have to go, if you don’t mind.”  That said, Randall drove his hands in the pockets of his jeans and walked off.

Gavin watched as the shimmering form of Randall Crane vanished around a corner. “Stupid humans.  So predictable.”