Thursday, October 30, 2014


Tomorrow night, I'm going to a party. I'm not entirely sure if they would want me to specifically name their party, so I won't. Twitter people probably won't know, but Facebook people will have an 80% certainty rate. So I'll keep my mouth shut for now, unless they give me permission later.

However, they throw the best parties ever. When I was younger and living a block away from Jay, who was interviewed for issue 2 of TABARD INN, things were different. He threw the best parties (made better by the fact that I could walk home after, instead of driving). Now, as an adult past the age of 30, someone else throws better parties. This husband/wife team also tends to have prizes for various things.

The last party at their place? I won a Tuggie. You probably don't know what that is. Here is a picture of me wearing one of them (if you can see past my awful gut):

It's not as warm as the advertising on the box says, but it looks pretty cool.

I will never win something as awesome as this at any party, even one of theirs. But there are prizes for this Halloween party tomorrow. I don't expect to win one, although it would be cool. However, I think getting drunk and passing out at their party will be reward enough.

If you're attending this party, I'll see you there. And I'll try to keep my pants on, but I don't make any promises. Goodnight, lovelies.


Have you ever noticed something odd about the routine world around you? Something you probably should have noticed years, maybe even decades, ago? Something that was probably there all the time, but you just never noticed it before?

This happened to me several times today. Maybe it was just the way the sun hit these places, but I wonder. Usually, I'm driving around Elmhurst late in the day, but today I was going around in the early to mid-afternoon. I noticed an alley I'd never seen before, despite the fact that I've driven past the area at least every weekday for the past twenty or so years. And I'm not an unobservant guy.

You look at a building that has been there for longer than your grandparents have been alive, and you see something different, something you haven't seen before. A beauty in age, overlooked by most, if not all. It's almost like being the narrator of HPL's "The Music of Erich Zann."

Is it possible for pieces of the world to remain hidden from the perception of most people during certain times of the day? Can you only enter Smaug's mountain on that one dusk of that one day of the year? Maybe. I doubt it, of course, but things look different at different times of the day, at least for those who are willing to watch and wait.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Tonight was spent in an unexpected fashion: I was in the hospital with my grandfather, who had slipped and fallen outside. He scraped his noggin pretty badly, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It's OK, he didn't even need stitches. The VA took a CT scan and saw there was nothing wrong. They just put a bandage on and told him to put ice on it for 20-minute intervals.

Still, it's kind of fucked up that this happened today when I told you all I was going to talk about him in tonight's GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS.

First, I should give a great deal of thanks to him. All of the times you've heard about me being in the hospital, dying from pancreatitis or suffering from a mystery illness or trying to live with an abscess or fighting through dental problems, he drove me to the ER. For a change, I got to drive him. I rolled him around in a wheelchair. I stayed by his side while the hospital ran a variety of tests on him. And then, as I left with Gramps in the wheelchair, bringing him out to my car, I brought the wheelchair back to the lobby. On my way, I saw the guy who collected wheelchairs from the parking lot. He was in his own wheelchair, and he thanked me profusely to the point where I started wondering if I was the first person to ever bring a wheelchair back to the lobby to save the poor guy from having to go out and bring it back. It's not like this is a shopping cart you can just leave in the parking lot. It's a frigging wheelchair. I couldn't imagine someone NOT bringing one back to the lobby.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I want to discuss my grandfather's youth as a mad man. No, he wasn't in advertising. However, he led the kind of MAD MEN lifestyle you see in Jon Hamm & Co. He went to martini lunches and smoked in the office and all the other things you see on that particular show.

Truth is, he was in men's clothing. He worked in sales at Bonds until it went under. Then, he worked locally at Leonard's until that was sold. All told, he worked in the business for more years than I've been alive, even now. But back in the day? That was something different.

Gramps taught me how to make a real Manhattan. Mixologists get it wrong all the time. If there's ice in your Manhattan, the guy who made it fucked up. A long time ago, I posted Gramps's recipe on MySpace, but since that's no more, I'll post it here for posterity: Take two shots of whiskey (it can be rye, but it's better if it's regular whiskey) and one shot of sweet vermouth. Stir it together over ice. DO NOT SHAKE. Then, pour it into a martini glass, but make sure none of the ice gets in there. Put a cherry into the glass (I skip that part, because I'm an asshole and I hate fruits and veggies), and you're done. Gramps told me that he knew a guy back in the 'Fifties who would drink about 10 of these things and then drive home to his family. Do that math: three shots (two of which are whiskey) times ten. I asked my grandfather if this guy died young, and he didn't. His heart gave out about twenty years ago, which placed the guy in his seventies.

My grandfather told me about the time he was driving home with the woman who would become my grandmother, and they hit a guy in a shady part of town. They looked in the rear view mirror, and they saw a guy back there in the street, but they were certain the guy was pretending, so they drove on. This, of course, shocked me when I heard about it. However, he told me that people who didn't have so much money back then had a habit of jumping in front of cars just to get a payday when they get hit.

And then there were the stag parties. Gramps would get all of his work buddies together, and while their wives played bridge in the living room or parlor, the guys would watch stag films while smoking cigars and drinking scotch.

Surprisingly, these are all things I learned as an adult. You'd think that knowing these things as a child would have informed my career as a writer of fiction. Not so. The world has always been fucked up, it's just that most people don't think about it.

I grew up in a house that was next to a whorehouse. Of course, I never knew that when I was a kid. However, my mom and aunt went to school with the daughter of the woman who whored herself out next door. Johns would drive through the neighborhood, looking for the house, and they would sometimes see my grandmother, who was only forty back then, and think she was the woman they were looking for.

They eventually arrested that poor woman. The family that moved in after her bore a daughter of their own, who would eventually become the first girl I ever played doctor with.

There are certain things you don't expect of suburbia . . .

You never think your neighbor is selling her body to stay afloat.

You never think of your coworkers as guys who would gather together to watch porn while their wives played cards downstairs, and that something like that would be a socially acceptable practice.

You never think of your grandfather as a guy who drank and partied and fucked and generally had a good time.

You never see Gramps as Don Draper, but let's face it. He probably was. I know, in my case, that my grandfather lived up to those kinds of things.

It's not always a good thing. He's sexist, even though he doesn't mean harm. My grandmother once told me that he said, on their first night together back from the honeymoon, that he swore to never do the dishes because that was women's work. He's racist and refers to the mail woman as a Negress, but he means no harm to her. He would actually step in and do his best to stop harm from coming to a woman or a person whose race was different from his own. He's not a hateful guy. He knows that the world has moved on, and he's trying to be better about it. He's not there yet, and he might never be. But he's trying,

I don't know about his feelings on gays. I've never asked him or seen anything from him on the subject. My guess is that he doesn't like them, but he would not want them to be hurt because of their sexual inclinations. If he saw someone being hurt for such a thing, I'm certain he would step in and do his best to help them out of the situation.

My grandfather is not perfect, but he raised me with as much love as anyone could ever bestow upon another person. For all of his flaws, I love him more than I've ever loved another man.

Tonight, I washed blood out of his hair. I treated the wound as best as I could, and I bandaged it with what I had at hand. I looked up the symptoms of a concussion, and I asked him about his experience. Thankfully, he was in the Army, and treatment for him at the VA was free. I drove him there, and the VA checked him out, tested him and made sure he was OK for release. Thankfully, I was right about my diagnosis: there was no concussion, and he didn't need stitches. They let him go after three hours.

In three years, he will be 90. He's got a lot of my medical issues: the 'Beetus, high cholesterol and hypertension. He's had all of these without losing limbs, losing sight, having a heart attack or having a stroke. He gives me hope.

I'm an atheist, so I don't do prayer. He's Greek orthodox, even though he hasn't practiced since he was a boy living in a household that demanded he reject English for Greek in ordinary conversation. As far as I know, he only prayed once as an adult, and that was when he had skin cancer. It was cut off of him, and it was benign, so he was fine afterward.

If you pray, I'm sure he'd be grateful for anything you would say to any Lord that might exist. I even hedged my bets a little. I don't believe in God--or any god at all--but I offered my prayer to whoever might be listening, not because I think anyone's listening, but just in case. I would never ask anything for myself, but for Gramps? I'd ask the world.

Thank you, John Kopoulos, for everything you've done for me. I hope for . . . well. I just HOPE.

Thanks for reading this GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS. It's the most important one I've ever written, and I love you all for making it this far. Hugs and kisses for you all. Goodnight.

Monday, October 27, 2014


OK, so I had to go to a retina specialist today to make sure I wasn't going blind. My eye doctor said that he saw something that might be diabetic retinopathy, which eventually leads to blindness, so you can imagine the fear involved in going to the specialist. Luckily, the guy told me he saw nothing to indicate diabetic retinopathy, so it all worked out. However, it took me three hours to get that answer. Plus, they put a lot of drops in my eyes because I wasn't dilating properly. This took such a chunk out of my day that I might as well have not been off from work, since I didn't have a lot of free time to do things I wanted to do, namely write my ass off. It's hard to write with dilated eyes. I'd say it's near impossible. By the time clock I had in my head, the drops should have worn off by eight, and I could get to work. It wound up lasting a lot longer.

But never mind that. All of this happened in the afternoon and evening. When I woke up, I felt amazing. I had this whole day to myself, and it's only the first day of the week I have away from work. What did I do instead of working today?

Well . . . I had a couple of drinks, just to show the world that I could enjoy alcohol--strictly prohibited in the office--when I should have been at work. Then I looked at very questionable websites, which led to me jerking off a couple of times. Oh, how glorious it was to fuck around doing unimportant things when all of my coworkers were slaving away!

And then I watched MAVERICK while eating lunch. I washed up. I got some reading in before I had to go to the retina specialist. But goddammit, those first few hours when I woke up today were fabulous. I won't be doing that tomorrow, because I have a lot of shit to do, but just to do it ONE day was incredibly satisfying.

Hey! I'm 99 GF's into this thing. The 100th post will be something special. Maybe it will be tomorrow, if I'm not too busy. You'll definitely want to read the next one, though. It will be about my grandfather, and I know how you guys all love him.


OK, I'll admit it. I went into the show thinking I was going to hate it. There was a part of me that hoped for the best, but I knew it wasn't going to happen. I knew that I'd get the New 52 version of John Constantine, which I loathe, for the most part.

But something interesting happened. CONSTANTINE, the TV show, wound up in the middle ground between HELLBLAZER and the New 52. I did not expect that, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Before we go any further, I want to state that I despise the idea of John Constantine, exorcist. He's not, all right? While he's had practice booting demons out of people, he's not an exorcist by trade. And I also dislike the idea that he doesn't smoke. Ordinarily, I wouldn't care about something like that, but the comic book version of him DOES smoke, and it's not a superficial ain't-I-cool kind of thing. It actually fits into the story, in particular the Dangerous Habits storyline.

But there were two moments in the pilot episode that sold me on the TV show. The first was when Constantine spiritually blackmails a character into doing his bidding. When you look at HELLBLAZER, very little of it is magic. It's almost always a con job. Constantine does have magical abilities, but 80% of his character is made up of conning other people into doing shit he wants done. That one moment is absolutely Constantine-ish enough for me.

And then there's the other side. Constantine isn't just a mystical character armed with wisecracks and a penchant for being in the wrong place at the right time. He's also a dude who likes to hang out, have a few drinks, get some laughs out of his mates. The very end of the episode shows him in a bar with his friend Chas, getting boozed up and bullshitting about something your friends would bullshit about. That's the part that the New 52 always forgets about.

But . . . goddammit. HELLBLAZER is a story of British horror. I'm glad they kept Constantine rooted in the UK (and they actually got an actor who looks like the character this time), but I hate that this show happens in America. I'm not sure that this could be fixed for a modern audience, though. As soon as Constantine took on the lead role in HELLBLAZER (he was always a supporting character in SWAMP THING before), Jamie Delano, the first writer of the series, definitely put a particular stamp on the character. I don't think you can have a Constantine who wasn't a young man during the Maggie Thatcher period of England. It had such an overpowering effect on the character and the storyline that a modern audience can't connect with the original John Constantine anymore. My John Constantine was a period character. He'd be in his sixties now, to give you a good idea. Of course, Nergal's blood has kept his appearance much younger than you'd expect, but still.

The TV show is good. Not great, but good. What would make it better? Chas being a hard man and British. He doesn't need to be involved with magic like he is on the show. It would be nice if his wife was introduced, considering her hatred of Constantine and the situations that could get the two characters into. What else? Well, I love that Astra is a major character point on the show, but it would be great if the people who died during that incident were haunting Constantine, like in the comics. Also, if those who died in SWAMP THING were haunting him like in the comics? That would be amazing.

It's too early to say, but my fellow comics fans know Constantine as a guy who will sacrifice his friends for the greater good. Maybe we could have some of that taking place on the TV show?

CONSTANTINE earns extra points for the Dr. Fate reference. I desperately hope that will come into play later on the show. Anyone who read the original BOOKS OF MAGIC by Neil Gaiman will appreciate this. Currently, the New 52 is trying to pull some kind of stunt with Dr. Fate. It's actually not bad, but it could be better. Waaaaay fuckin' better.

I've got high hopes for the TV show. I'll definitely be back next week, and probably every week after. I didn't expect that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Looks like tomorrow is the debut of CONSTANTINE, a TV show based on one of my favorite comic book characters from the Big 2. I know I'm going to hate it. I'm going to give it a shot, but I know I'm just going to shit all over it later.

I don't want to, but the thing is, this show is based on the New 52 Constantine (pronounced CON-stan-TEEN), not the HELLBLAZER Constantine (pronounced CON-stan-TYNE) that I loved so much. It's pretty easy to cover that bullshit version of Constantine pretty well, since bullshit is easy for TV to deal with. However, I think it's impossible for a TV network to capture the essence of an incredibly complex character, like the Constantine portrayed in HELLBLAZER.

I think they're going to pull a WALKING DEAD on us. In the TV version of TWD, the characters of Michonne and Andrea are written as if they're the comic book versions for TV. Here's the problem: on the TV show, neither of those characters earned the things their comic book counterparts achieved so well. TV Michonne displays a hatred for the Governor that borders on the insane, which only makes sense if it's comic book Michonne, who was raped and tortured by the comic book Governor, things that never happened to TV Michonne. The same goes for TV Andrea, who thinks she's a bad-ass only because comic book Andrea really is a bad-ass. TV Andrea is a full-on fuck-up. I'm thinking the same thing is going to happen with TV Constantine.

At least this time they got a guy who actually looks like comic book Constantine. That's the best I can say, so far. I'm sure I'll let you know more of my thoughts when I see the series premiere tomorrow. Until then, goodnight fuckers.

PS: If you're doubting my pronunciation of the HELLBLAZER CON-stan-TYNE, then we're going to have a problem. Alan Moore created the character for SWAMP THING. Constantine proved to be so popular, he wound up getting his own title, HELLBLAZER. I forget which issue it was in, but in the letters column of one of them, Moore is quoted as saying that Constantine, who was born in Liverpool and therefore has a Liverpudlian accent, pronounces his last name as CON-stan-TYNE. Here's a secondary source, which is also pretty official. Just scroll down to Major Story Arcs, under DC Comics: New Earth Swamp Thing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


When I came home from work tonight, I didn't want to do anything. Fuck my workout, fuck my writing, I was just too wiped out to do anything. So I didn't do shit. Instead, I closed my eyes and dozed for an hour until AGENTS OF SHIELD came on.

This is not the life I want to lead. Granted, I woke up early to work early, but lately, things have been happening like this. I'll get home from work, and I won't want to do anything. I have to force myself through the motions, which makes me feel even more miserable. Some of it can be chalked up to my strong 'Beetus medication, but I had so much sugar today it couldn't possibly be that.

In the morning, I'm miserable. But I'm not so miserable that I give up on everything and close my eyes and pretend life doesn't exist. So here's my plan:

I'm going to start getting up early so I can get a workout in right away, so I won't have to think about it later. If I can somehow manage it, I'll get up early enough to write before I go to work. I don't know if that will happen or not. I doubt it. The exercise, I can definitely do. Writing will probably have to wait. But as much as it pains me to admit, writing isn't as important to me right now as being healthy.

I'm wondering if maybe I should take time off from writing to focus all my energy on getting back in shape. It's really hard to do both.

My new plan won't start this week, because I already have plans. Next week is out of my hands, too. However, the week after that should be perfect.

I hope.

Because if this shit continues, why bother with trying to be healthy? Why not just give in to the urge to eat fast food all the time? Why not get drunk every night? Why not sleep with women of questionable cleanliness? Like, a lot?

Seriously. I came home from work tonight and wanted nothing more than to go to bed. The only thing that kept me from this was because I didn't want to miss an episode of a show I enjoy, because tracking down that missing episode would be too much effort.

What ISN'T wrong with that paragraph?

Maybe I'm on the wrong meds. Maybe I need a new doctor. Am I depressed? Is that it? I don't think so. But what if I am, and I'm not smart enough to realize it?

I wonder what would happen if I stopped taking my meds and behaved with my diet. Because behaving and taking the meds always leads to disaster. I'm afraid to do that, because my doctor said that people who lost their feet to the 'Beetus are people who don't take their meds. I don't want to lose my feet. I enjoy walking a great deal, especially since it helps me work out writing problems.

I'm a fucking mess. To those of you who give me shit about not having a girlfriend and/or kids, that's why. I don't want the horror in my head to be transferred over to someone else. I think I'll figure everything out someday, maybe even soon. Otherwise, I probably would have offed myself a long time ago.

The one thing I have going for me is a scientific thought process. In my weaker moments, I'm a self-loathing baby, but when I think about things--which is almost always--I can at least experiment.

I just wish my experimentation would help me find something that works for me.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I just got my contributors copy of Big Pulp's new issue of MURDER & THE MACABRE, and I'm so proud of myself. If you've known me for any length of time, you know that occasionally I write a story that I feel will never EVER be bought by a publisher. Yet, I can't help myself. I've got to get it out of my head and onto the page.

"Going Down," which is in the new M&M, is one of those stories. I wrote it while I was in the hospital suffering from a mystery illness (no one knows what my problem was, although in retrospect--even though they tested it--I think it was my pancreas). I was full of pain and anger, and I had to get this vicious thing out of my brain, even though I knew no one would want it. I chalked it up therapy.

Much to my surprise, Big Pulp wanted it. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the stories I think no one will want actually turn out to be stories publishers really want. Maybe I'm stuck in the old mindset from when I started TABARD INN, a fiction magazine I created for stories so extreme that no one else would want them. I find it hard to believe that the rest of the publishing industry has caught up with that ideal.

For example, I never thought anyone would want "The Knot that Binds," and yet there it is in STRANGE FUCKING STORIES. I wrote a story about two meth-heads who want to sell their baby in a Wal-Mart parking lot, but shockingly, HARDBOILED wanted it. Or how about a story about a zombie apocalypse in which the zombies have total recall but they're still dead and still have a love life? "Pack Rat" wound up getting published three fucking times and is the story I will be remembered for if I die tomorrow.

I'm working on the final draft of a story I don't think anyone will want. If history has anything to say about it, my story will be purchased after four attempts, and it will be one of my biggest publications. But doubt still sets in, and it's right to. No one should want the story, but it's so batshit fucking nuts that someone will want it.

I hope.

I guess my message for tonight is, even if you think the story you're working on is so ri-fucking-diculous, you should finish it anyway. You never can tell.

At first, you will think that "Going Down" is about a guy who wants to be famous for being able to suck his own dick. By the end of the story, you'll wonder why you thought that in the first place. It's so grotesque that you can't forget it. Like "Pin" by Robert McCammon. It's just such a visceral, over-the-top story that it will find a place in your heart, even if you don't want it to.

This is Big Pulp's website. The magazine that contains my story hasn't been posted yet, but keep an eye out. You'll want this one. And hey! Check out the cover! It's by Luke Spooner, who did the cover for my upcoming book, POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS.


I saw FURY yesterday, and I really enjoyed it. However, it woke up a childhood memory in me that I'd completely forgotten about. Let me tell you about it.

When I was a kid, my grandparents would take me and my cousin, and sometimes my brothers, out to Cantigny Park in Wheaton. I loved the shit out of that place. Every time they said they were going to take us, I got really excited.

Many of you familiar with the area are probably thinking about the beautiful gardens there, and yeah, those are pretty cool. Or maybe you're thinking of the museums, which are also pretty cool. But I'm thinking of my two favorite exhibits there, and I'm pretty sure any kid would agree with me.

My second favorite part was the trench exhibit. It's an exact replica of the kind of trench you'd be in if you were a soldier in WWI, complete with sound effects and light shows. You can climb the side, you can hold guns, all of that wonderful shit. It's a great deal of fun, because you can play war without actually being in a war.

But my absolute favorite part was Tank Park. Here they kept actual tanks that saw action on display. I'm told that before my time, you could actually climb inside of them and check out the interiors, but by the time I showed up, the tanks had been sealed and completely deactivated. Still, you could climb all over them and pretend to be playing GI Joe for real. It's one thing to be playing with toys, but it's something completely different to actually be on a tank, where they still had weapons mounted on them.

They also have heavy duty guns on display in Tank Park, and I seem to recall that they had deactivated bombs on display. I could have sworn one of them was an a-bomb, but my research has turned nothing up on that one. Maybe it was just the fancy of a child.

My grandfather stopped taking us after they upped the prices back before I got into junior high. I heard they took the tanks away shortly after that, but it must have been for a remodeling project, because according to the website, they're clearly back.

Now, as an adult, I have the strong urge to go back, to see what it's like now. To see if I would still feel the childhood glee of seeing tools of war, or if I would feel the very mature fear of war. I think I would appreciate the gardens more, now. And while I liked the WWI displays, I think I would have a greater love of them now.

Maybe I'll go back someday. For now? I think I'll stick with the memories.

PS: If you don't check out the website, it's worth knowing that the original owner of Cantigny was Robert McCormick, who served in WWI and was at the real Cantigny battlefield. For my fellow Chicagoans, you'll recognize his name from McCormick Place, home of C2E2, which was named after him. The guy was so impressive that while he might be buried at Cantigny Park, he has relatives in Graceland, one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever been in.

I recommend Cantigny to anyone who is interested in history. If nothing else, it will help you appreciate movies like FURY even more.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Do you know what one of the most wonderful feelings in the world is? OK, orgasm is high up on that list. Also, achieving one's goals is probably in the top five. The top three probably involves true love. But! One of the greatest things in life consists of something that not a lot of people talk about.

Ever since I had my gall bladder out, I've been plagued by awful farts. The problem is, some of them are so powerful that before I let them leave my body, they feel like they could be diarrhea shits. Every time I feel gas build up inside of me, I take my boxers' lives into my own hands when I try to push it out. For all I know, I could be punished with a quick squirt of shit instead of the glorious release of painful gas.

I try to pull myself back a little bit with the muscles in my anus. This helps a great deal. Then, there's the experimental push. Nothing strong, just enough to see if it's gas or shit.

As soon as I realize it's gas, I feel soooooooooo wonderful. Only then can I cut loose with an awful gasser. THAT is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

I've had a few close calls, but my sphincter always seems to recognize shit at the last second and closes up to avoid a potential accident long enough for me to find a bathroom. But as of yet, I've only shit myself once as an adult, and that one time was completely understandable. I was in the hospital dying of pancreatitis at the time. Thanks to the care of the doctors and nurses, I survived, and so did my boxers. It was only a slight slash of shit, something that could be easily cleaned even though I was incredibly high on painkillers at the time. (Maybe I'll talk about my love/hate of painkillers tomorrow night.)

So yeah. I'm thankful for all the times I could have sharted, but instead I let out mean farts. It's a fine thing to do, or get away with, or whatever.

However, the older I get, the less inclined I am to take the chance. These days, if I'm in doubt, I play it safe and go to the bathroom. I haven't been wrong yet, but I AM approaching middle age. Who knows? Hopefully my streak will continue. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Remember when you were a teenager, and you had all sorts of inane conversations that you totally thought were meaningful, but looking back, you recognized them for what they really were? Have you ever had one of those conversations as an adult?

Tonight, I did. I got out of work and hung out with a friend at Taco Bell for a bit. Whenever I get a quesarito, I order it with extra cheese . . . both shredded and nacho. You have to be specific, or they'll think you just mean shredded. It takes about three or four bites until you hit that first cheese pocket, and when you do, it's absolute heaven. I made an offhand remark about suddenly believing in God because of the glorious taste of that cheese pocket, and we cracked up laughing. I then went on to curse those stupid assholes who found mere pictures of the Virgin Mary on grilled cheese sandwiches. They were all missing God in the cheese pocket of my quesarito.

And then, for some reason I started examining the burn marks on my quesarito, and I realized there were patterns to be seen. I found a zombie and half of Nosferatu's face. My friend discovered Jason Voorhees on his quesarito. The next thing you know, we're pointing and laughing at various shapes we've found in these patterns. It was like we were a couple of stoners. Or maybe more like kids, seeking out patterns in the clouds above.

No, we didn't think any of this was meaningful. We thought it was funny as all fuck. But still, this was the kind of thing I used to do when I was a teenager. I'm not ordinarily a nostalgic guy, but in that moment, I was transported back to a time when I bought cigarettes for all of my older but underage friends because I looked older than them, and when I used to walk miles to get to a theater for a late night show.

It was an odd moment, but I really enjoyed it. The next time you get a quesarito, you should stop and think about some of the burn patterns you see. You might just surprise yourself.

PS: For some reason, this incident made me think of this Megadeth song, which inspired me to call this post by this particular title. If you like older metal, then you'll get a kick out of this.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This one's a short one tonight. (Hell, they should all be short ones, but I sometimes get carried away.) I just wanted to bring your attention to something. Check this out for a moment, and then come back.

Got it? Cool. Supercool, in fact. To be mentioned in the same breath as those other authors is an amazing feeling. I felt my chest swell up a bit, not just with pride, but also an amazing feeling. Nikki Howard thinks my work is so awesome that I can be counted among those other awesome authors.

It's times like this that all the misery that goes into writing is worth it. Worth it and more. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


A while back, I talked about the three geniuses I've met through my work with StrangeHouse Books. The first was K.M. Tepe. The second is Jesse Wheeler. For the third, though, I pulled this fuckery. I thought it was pretty funny, and I think everyone else thought so, too. I hope.

But I've kept my silence long enough. Fuck it. It's time to name the third genius and eliminate the mystery. The genius in question is . . .

Hold that thought. In all honesty, the identity of that third genius should surprise no one. It's very obvious who this person is. No one has asked me privately about who this person might be, mostly because they might have been nervous about the scenario I mentioned in that third GF piece. Either that, or maybe it was because everyone knew who I was talking about in the first place.

So without further ado, let's pull the mask off the third genius, whose name is . . .

I wonder if I got to anyone with that third piece. I wonder if anyone cares about it, or if anyone is even reading this. That third piece racked up a ton of readers, but the GF numbers have been down lately. Anyway, the third genius of SHB is . . . someone whose name I'm going to announce next week!

Just kidding. It's Kevin Strange, of course. He was the mastermind behind SHB. It not only took a lot of smarts, but also a ton of balls, to take on a project like that. Most of all, it took a lot of generosity. In this world of self-publishing, who the fuck would want to publish anyone else? I asked him that once, and here is his response.

Not only did he pull off the juggling act of being a publisher, he also wrote some great books. My favorite is probably VAMPIRE GUTS IN NUKE TOWN. Or maybe it's the uncut McHUMANS. Or perhaps THE LAST GIG ON PLANET EARTH? Or . . . I could go on forever. You get the idea. He's full of batshit crazy ideas about down-on-their-luck dudes who find themselves in situations where the odds are totally against them, yet they rise to the challenge. He's the champion of the underdog, and he stomps assholes flat, as evidenced in "Inside an Asshole" (found in MURDER STORIES FOR YOUR BRAIN PIECE, which I helped edit along with Sean Ferrari).

Today is his birthday. Help him celebrate by buying his books, which can be found here. You won't be disappointed. Happy birthday, Kevin Strange, you mad genius bastard, you!


I have a definite line when it comes to art. I believe that anything goes . . . except if art causes someone to be hurt or killed. Snuff films are not art, and if someone actually gets hurt in the making of art, it has crossed the line. By "someone," I also include animals in there. Anything that lives, really.

I saw a movie recently that deeply troubled me. It's called AMORES PERROS, which translates loosely to "love's a bitch." There's double-meaning in the title, since there are a lot of dogs in this movie. In fact, there are some very realistic depictions of dog fights, and this is what bothers me the most.

I'm not against DEPICTING dog fights. If I did, I'd be a hell of a hypocrite, considering how many violent acts I've depicted in my own fiction. However, filming VERY REAL dog fights is, in my opinion, evil.

AMORES PERROS really blurred the line for me. When I first saw the dog fights in the movie, I could have sworn they were for real. Whenever they showed a dead dog, that dead dog looked dead for real. The corpse wasn't an effect; I could have sworn that the director had really killed a dog so he could get verisimilitude in his scenes. Let's face it, there are a lot of dead dogs in this one. If my immediate impulse was true, the director probably killed about twenty dogs to make this movie. (It's not true. He said he drugged them, as if they'd gone to the vet for an operation. A bit questionable, I think, but not evil.)

I had to stop the movie. I couldn't, in good conscience, continue watching the movie if it was for real. I did some research online, and I wasn't surprised to find that a lot of people had accused the director of animal cruelty. Some critics called him to task for showing dog fights at all, even if they were faked. I don't agree with that. (They also said that the movie didn't call for that kind of thing. It did, actually. You can't have a movie about dog fighting without depicting dogs fighting.)

However, I found some statements from the director and film crew. They insisted the scenes were fake, that the dogs wore protective gear for the shots and the rest of the realism was captured with the magic of editing.

I didn't agree with that, either. Not at first. When I looked back at those scenes, though, I started realizing that yes, that could be the truth. You don't actually see much, and the moments you do are kind of blurry. Do I believe the dogs wanted to attack each other? Yes. Do I think they actually did? Now? No. The director said he took the exact same care with the dogs that he did with filming the car accident scene. My initial reaction was not to believe him, but the more I thought about it, and the more I looked at it, I realized that he was probably right.

It's like the old story about the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. People will swear left and right that they actually saw the meat hook go into the woman's back, but that's the power of imagination and editing. It just didn't happen that way, yet people believe it did.

AMORES PERROS is a beautiful movie. It's different. It's jarring. You can't watch it and not be changed, unless you're a complete asshole, of course. I recommend it, but it's not for people weak of stomach. Nor is it for people who want storybook endings. It's advertised as the PULP FICTION of its generation. Sure enough, it's not told in a linear sequence, but that's all it has in common with the Tarantino masterpiece. It's the AMORES PERROS of its generation. Period.

Monday, October 13, 2014


In the wake of the new season of COMIC BOOK MEN, I feel the need to talk about my love of comic books. Since I started reviewing comic books for the Elmhurst College LEADER in 1998, I've been considered a comic book reader. To be fair, I did this long before. I loved comics when I was a kid, and I didn't stop until Marvel's incarnation of THE TRANSFORMERS ended, much to my chagrin. Years later, CJ, a friend I'd met during my senior year of high school, got me back into comics with EVIL ERNIE, PREACHER and HITMAN. Three years later, I was writing reviews for the LEADER as the first comic book reviewer EVER on staff. My time there won me an award from the Chicago TRIBUNE. (I got two, actually, but I only got one for my comic book work.)

Still, whenever I mention my love of comic books, people assume I'm talking about superheroes. This pisses me off a great deal, because not all comic books are about superheroes. In fact, I don't like superheroes. I know, that's blasphemy in this age of Marvel movies. Let me make myself clear: I love the superhero movies, but I can't stand the superhero comic books. I'm not condemning those books. It's a matter of taste. I don't like them, but I don't hate people who like them. That's your business, not mine.

I don't really read superhero comic books. The only time I do is when a writer I respect is writing them. There are a handful of great superhero stories, I think. One of them is obviously WATCHMEN. Another is THE BOYS, which is one of the greatest comic books ever written. I loved Mark Millar's take on OLD MAN LOGAN. The same goes for David Morrell's take on SAVAGE WOLVERINE. And then there's books like Brian Azzarello's WONDER WOMAN and so on and so forth.

But ultimately, those aren't the books I'm interested in, aside from THE BOYS. I think superheroes are stupid. I find it's a fucking shame that the average person isn't aware that comic books are more than some person wearing skintight underwear facing off against criminal/evil alien villains. I want PREACHER. I want TRANSMETROPOLITAN. I want 100 BULLETS. And yes, I want LOCKE & KEY. How about AMERICAN VAMPIRE? Or DICKS? Or CROSSED? Or THE FADE OUT? Or CRIMINAL or FATALE? FBP? SAGA? SEX CRIMINALS? STRAY BULLETS? TREES? How about DORK and MILK AND CHEESE? I could go on forever, but most average people, whenever they think of comic books, will think about Superman, Batman, the X-Men, Spider-Man and whoever else wears spandex tight enough to show the shape of their genitals.

I love Tommy Monaghan, one of the few guys in the old DCU who took the piss out of superheroes on a regular basis. He puked on Batman and showed how Green Lantern was a cheapskate. Or how about THE BOYS, who policed the degenerate supes?

But . . . the loyal fans of HITMAN remember very well that there was one superhero who had earned Tommy's trust: Superman. And just like that, I can appreciate certain things about the comic book superheroes.

Whenever someone brings something cool into the Stash on COMIC BOOK MEN, I can truly appreciate it. I'm wowed. I'm very interested to see how these things turn out, because they're historical documents.

But let's be honest. Superheroes should have died out long ago. Marvel manages to keep them alive, for the most part. I don't like a lot of their methods, but they have their hearts in the right place. DC, on the other hand, has driven their titles into the ground. They don't know what the fuck they're doing. If their BATMAN/SUPERMAN movie succeeds, it will only be because people were curious enough to see it. Not because it's great, though.

Some superheroes are immortal, and that's fine. Those who aren't should have been released a while ago. The Big Two work constantly to reinvent these characters, but in all honesty, I think they should just be released. If they continue with new people behind the mask, then it's the same ol' bullshit as ever. If there's a reboot, no matter how much you change it, it's still the same ol' bullshit as ever. If you let these characters die? They can serve a narrative purpose.

Reboots only serve as commercial agents. Actually killing characters off would serve stories very well. Not like I give a shit. Just give me my non-superhero books, and I'll be satisfied.

But what the fuck do I care? You guys fuck around with your superhero comics, and I'll stay over here with the other stuff. Goodnight, fuckers.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


This is a hard picture for me to look at because it embodies an emotion I don't know if I can describe. It drives me to tears every time I see it. The desperate sorrow and fear is palpable, and it strikes me on a very basic human level.

I talked about masculinity last night, and when it comes right down to popular opinion, there is nothing more masculine than war, especially an older one like the Korean War, during which the picture above was taken. People--mostly older guys--bitch and moan about modern values, and they like to think back to a time "when men were men." That's a glaringly sexist comment, but never mind that for now. I'm thinking about its implications about the past. It suggests that there was a time when men were the embodiment of all things considered masculine. All men, except for a handful of degenerates, of course.

But that's simply not true. All you have to do is look at this picture. Imagine taking it out of its context. Take away the war and put this photo in a less masculine (but definitely testosterone-driven) situation like, say, a football game. Anyone else would point and laugh at these two guys and probably question their sexuality.

If something like this happened during the time when men were supposedly men, then I'm pretty sure that the time most older guys mourn for probably didn't really exist, at least not outside of movies and TV.

I've never been on a battlefield, at least not while the battle was going on. (I once walked the Chickamauga site, but that was about 140 years after the Civil War.) However, I tend to trust the reports from people who actually saw action. My favorite observation comes from William Tecumseh Sherman. Everyone knows he said, "War is Hell." Not everyone knows the whole quote, which reads as follows: "I've been where you are now, and I know just how you feel. It's entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don't know the horrible aspects of war. I've been through two wars, and I know. I've seen cities and homes in ashes. I've seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!"

Those of us who have never been in a soldier's boots will never understand. We can only come close to getting it. From everything I've read, war is a horror beyond all imagination.

Knowing this, it's suddenly easy to see a soldier breaking down. And only another soldier possesses enough understanding to comfort him.

That's what gets to me about this photograph. It's the true embodiment of the psychological effect on the survivors of war. It's not traditionally masculine to break down in the wake of incredible and shocking violence. It's certainly not traditionally masculine to comfort a man who breaks down in such a way.

But here's the thing: traditional masculinity can go fuck itself. Actual masculinity? You're looking at a picture of it right now. I don't know what happened to these two guys after this photo was taken, but I know that shortly after, they got back up and in the face of fear and misery, they continued fighting the war, knowing that it would probably lead to their own destruction.

I hope to never walk in their boots.

PS: Here's another case in point. I don't know how many of you remember Audie Murphy. My older readers will remember him as possibly the manliest man of the 20th Century, but once upon a time, he was a great movie star. He was usually in war or western pictures. However, he was also the most decorated soldier of WWII, a war that embodied the idea of a time "when men were men." Murphy was in an unusual position, though. He wrote an autobiography about his time overseas called TO HELL AND BACK (and it's a great book, which I highly recommend). They even made a movie out of it . . . starring Audie Murphy as himself. Freaky, right?

Here's the problem: Murphy suffered deeply from combat shock, what we now call PTSD. He suffered so badly from it that it was reported that when he saw the movie based on his real life experience--starring himself, no less--he broke down and couldn't watch. As a result of his time in the war, he suffered from drug addiction, which was chief among his other self-destructive tendencies. There was talk that there might be a sequel to that movie, one that would depict his time after the war as he tried to fit in as a citizen, but he was very reluctant to show how fucked up he really was. Which, by the way, is an ugly reaction to the stereotype of the manly man. This guy kept a lot of pain in because he was afraid of how the rest of the world would view him if he let it out. That is not a healthy practice. It usually leads to more self-destructive behavior, which is how it worked out in Murphy's case.

By the time he died in a plane crash, it was probably a relief to him, all things considered. Does this sound like someone who lived during a time when men were men?

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I'm not a manly man. I tend to steer clear from the usual macho bullshit. However, I did have a pretty masculine job once upon a time. I worked for the City of Elmhurst as a parts driver. To be honest, I shouldn't have gotten that job. I didn't know shit about it. I had to carry the original part with me just so I could match it up in the parts store. I was great with directions, but I barely knew my ass from an alternator back then.

But there was something truly satisfying about that job. I got to drive around for four hours every morning (if I was lucky; if I wasn't, I was stuck being a janitor around the garage). Best of all, there was a great camaraderie at that job. If you've ever seen RESCUE ME or SIRENS or even THE JOB, you understand what I mean by that.

The job required strength and resilience from me, and I always delivered. It also required a lot of ball-busting, which I also delivered (although as the probie, I mostly had to take the ball-busting that happened at this job).

But there was a tender side to that job that I and I alone enjoyed. You see, I had a routine every morning. I'd punch in, and then I'd fill in the rag bins and the oil absorbent granules barrels. Then, I'd pump all the oil drains out to make sure the guys had fresh canisters to use throughout the day. (I would always check the pump in the back room to make sure it wasn't full. If it was, or the used oil filter bins were full, I'd call the disposal company to come out and take care of the mess.) I'd also fill up the gas tank of the parts truck and make sure there wasn't anything else that needed replenishing.

The last thing I did before checking with my boss to see if I had any parts runs was emptying the recycling bins. I'd roll out the cardboard bin to the dumpster out back, and I'd throw the big chunks in by hand. When it came down to the little things at the bottom, I'd lift that heavy fucker up and turn it upside down in the dumpster until it was empty.

It was not very romantic work, but I will say that the cardboard dumpster was out by a patch of fairly thick woods. If you cut through them, you'd eventually come out at a recreational pond with a fountain in it. But immediately, you'd see a bunch of trees (and an abandoned cabin with an odd past that once won me a college journalism award; a story for another day).  Sometimes, the patch would be inundated with fog. On some mornings, it was incredibly beautiful, which was odd, considering my masculine and blue collar job duties.

One morning, however, I was disposing of the cardboard recyclables when I saw something odd among the trees. I squinted my eyes and realized there was a deer back there. I paused, watching it watching me. Neither of us did anything. It was a magical moment, and I watched as its graceful movements brought it closer to me, step by step. It got so close to me that I wondered if it would let me pet it. I don't think I would have ever done something so audacious, but the idea that it might let me do that kind of excited me.

And then some guy drove by with an end loader, bent on getting rid of steel recyclables, and the deer sprinted off into the woods, where I would never see it again.

I love peaceful moments, and the most masculine job I've ever had gave me one, even if it was pretty fleeting. I still remember it to this very day, and I morn its quick passing.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Have you ever taken a shit so clean that your ass didn't need to be wiped? I'm sure you have. It happens maybe once a month. More, if you're lucky. You can usually tell as soon as the turd leaves your body. Yet . . . just to be sure, you've got to still give your butthole a swipe, right?

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to take this kind of shit. But I'm also a very clean guy. When I give myself a quick wipe after one of those kinds of shits, I carefully examine the paper. Not at eye-level, but I'm pretty sure you know where I'm coming from. Sometimes, there's a slight bit of ass juice on there, and you've got to keep wiping until that's gone, but sometimes--SOMETIMES--you come away with a dry bundle of toilet paper.

For most people, that's good enough. Not for me, though. For as long as I can remember, there isn't a single instance of me taking a shit when I didn't wipe at least three times. I mean, you could miss something with the first wipe. It's even conceivable that you could miss something with the second. The third, though? If you haven't hit Texas tea by then, you should be in good shape.

Even if I don't squeeze anything out, I'll wipe three times. You never know how wet your fart was. It's like a safety precaution. You don't want to go about your day with a kinda-sorta wiped asshole. You want to be sure you're clean, especially if you're at work. You might be OK if you work at a shit factory, but any other place? Eh . . . play it safe.

By the way, lest ye fuckers think this post wasn't classy enough for you, I would like it noted that I wrote it while listening to Dean Martin songs. That guy classed EVERYTHING up. He could make Godzilla bukkake into a song your grandparents could enjoy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Before starting, I should warn you that I don't like Pat Quinn. Since America is full of them-or-us bullshit, I feel the need to say that I don't like Rauner, either. Quinn has proven himself to be inadequate for the job of governor of IL, and I don't want him running my state. Rauner is a piece of shit, and I don't want him running my state, either. Don't bother mentioning anyone else, because we all know that it will come down to a choice between these two fuckers and NO ONE ELSE. So yeah, I'm stuck with having either puke or shit run my state after this next election, and there's nothing I can do to avoid that, except move out of the state, which I can't afford right now.

Enough of that. This isn't about politics. This is about horseshit. Or bullshit, if you prefer. I'd even accept dogshit. (To be fair, if Quinn lost, it would be kind of novel to have an Illinois governor who got to leave office without going to prison first.)

This morning, I saw a Quinn reelection commercial. He spouted a bunch of stuff about how he wanted to reform the college loan laws so people could refinance it just like they could refinance a car loan or a mortgage. It's a message I agree with, but that doesn't matter. (Especially since Illinois has waaaaaaay more important problems than that.) But after talking about this for about thirty seconds, he said, "I'm Pat Quinn, and I approve of this message."

That phrase has become so ubiquitous that most people don't even notice it anymore. You all know my feelings about it. However, despite the fact that I'm enraged by this utterance, I'm even angrier at this usage than anything else.

Politicians started saying this because OTHER PEOPLE were saying things about them in an attempt to get them elected, and they decided to add this insidious phrase to those commercials to show their endorsement of those who support them. (OK, I know. The politicians themselves were responsible for these commercials in all reality, so of course they were approving of their own message. But that's all behind the scenes. They were at least pretending that it was otherwise, and I can make my peace with that. It's unethical, but at least it's not stupid.)

However, the Quinn commercial I saw today insulted me on a very basic level. YOU CAN'T USE THAT PHRASE AFTER ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF YOU GIVING THE MESSAGE. If there is a single human being on this planet who couldn't understand the message THAT YOU, PERSONALLY, JUST GAVE US, then you haven't done your job.

The only reason I can possibly fathom for this is that politics has become so untrustworthy that politicians feel the need to tell us, hey guys. We're not liars. We really mean this shit. Here's the thing, though: if you feel the need to tell us that you're not a liar, chances are extremely high that you're a liar.

Any other usage of this--ANY--suggests that you're a dumb ass. You might as well say, "We should do this, that and the other thing. My name is Dumb Motherfucking Piece of Shit, and I approve of the message that just left my stupid fucking redundant non-liar mouth."

Fuck. I need to get laid.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I remember a while ago, I went to buy my first car. It was a used piece of shit, and it cost me out the ass because I didn't have any credit rating, aside from my student loan. I'd always believed credit cards are evil, and I've avoided them most of my life. And then I realized that I'm going to need to get the fuckers because in order to make it through life, I needed some kind of credit rating.

So I got a few credit cards, and things spun waaaaaay out of control. I blame my piece of shit car for the most of it, because I had to get a new set of tires for the fucking thing every ten months, not to mention everything else that went wrong with it. Maybe I spent a bit too much on books, and I know I spent a shit-ton on my girlfriend at the time, but for the most part, I think it was that car. Oh yeah, and the tooth implant I had to get back then. Jesus, that cost thousands of dollars.

Then I got a couple more credit cards, and things got worse. Holy shit, I'm bad at this. I don't think I'll ever be out from under this debt. Maybe if I finally get done paying for the super-awesome car that replaced the piece of shit I used to own, but that's not going to happen for another year.

I'm at the end of my rope, so what did I do? I got a couple more credit cards. Yeah, I know. That doesn't sound very bright. I'm pretty sure I'm well on the road to fucking myself up entirely. I wanted to see if I could get a credit limit that would allow me to do a balance transfer on one of my cards, since the interest is breaking my fucking back on that one, but no one will give me a $5,000 card.

Right now, I have these two in reserve. All too often, thanks to my recent medical and dental bills, I've found myself out of money for various things, and I fall back on the credit cards to help me stay afloat. But that's no longer getting to be an option. My plan is to retire my two biggest credit cards and put any emergency-only expenditures on my new cards. That way, I can whittle the others down a bit, and since I don't have to pay interest on my new cards for a year and a half, it might buy me enough time to put the car payments six feet under. Once that happens, I'll have a sudden gush of money into my coffers every month. Five hundred motherfucking dollars will be freed up, and I'll finally be able to kick some ass with the credit cards.

Today was payday at work. 100% of my check went to bills. The car payment, a few medical bills, my dental bill and my insurance payment. I have literally zero money left over from all of this. The next two weeks are going to be fucking awful.


I'm thirty-six years old now, and I'm doing much better than I thought I would when I was younger, at least when it comes to appearance. I'm sure younger me would not appreciate the pounds I've put on since then, but younger me also thought I'd be bald and toothless by now. (I've always had bad teeth, and my grandfather went bald by the time he was in his early twenties, so I figured that would happen to me, too.)

I only lost the one tooth, which is an implant now. And my hair is just as thick as it was back then. I might have the 'Beetus and a bunch of other health problems, but at least I look fairly decent, and I carry my fat pretty well. Back when I weighed 306 lbs., no one would believe me when I told them that's what I weighed. So I've got a good frame for that.

All in all, not bad for a guy who thought he was going to be dead of a heart attack by 40. I won't get ahead of myself, though. An early death is still in the cards (thanks a lot, pancreas), although as I get closer to 40, the idea is no longer quite as appetizing as it once was. Plus, I have a lot more to live for now, considering how my writing career is finally starting to get some attention.

A while ago, I discovered a couple of gray chest hairs. Then, I found a gray hair on each of my sideburns. Now, my right sideburn is rapidly going gray. So I can only assume when I grow my beard for the winter, it might not be as dark as it usually is. I'm OK with that, because it looks like my hair is going to go gray in a very cool Nick Fury-ish kind of way. It worked very well for Bruce Campbell on BURN NOTICE. So yeah, I should be good on that front.

But . . . the middle finger of my left hand has been killing me the past couple of days. It makes typing very difficult, although aspirin seems to help for a short while. I feel the pain deep down in the bone and at the joints. I'm starting to wonder if I might have a touch of arthritis developing there. I guess it would serve me right, since I've been cracking my knuckles since I was in elementary school. It's kind of funny. Every time I did that, Mom would yell at me that I would get arthritis if I kept that up. It's even funnier because I developed this bad habit after watching her do it several times a day.

Well, hopefully I'm just being paranoid. If I'm not, well, thankfully it's on my left hand. I'm right-handed, and that one's doing fine.

Getting old sucks. Maybe LOGAN'S RUN had it right.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I was notified a few years ago that I had the 'Beetus. I've probably had it longer than that, but let's operate on the fact that I've had the 'Beetus for, say, three years. Now, I hate needles. Always have and always will. But my testing supplies include super-thin needles. It's not painless, but I barely feel it. I'm used to physical pain, so I can cope with these things, no problem.

But sometimes it's hard to get enough blood to test my sugars. I have calluses on my fingers because I'm a writer. I'm right-handed, which should mean that my left hand is OK to use for testing. However, I've been typing for a loooooooooong time. There are plenty of calluses on the fingers of my left hand, too. Jabbing those fingers only makes the calluses worse.

As a result, if I jab the fingers of my left hand for a blood test--and I have to, since my left hand is so weak I can't get a reliable test out of the fingers of my right hand--I have to squeeze the motherfucker to get blood out of it. Usually, I have to squeeze at the base of the finger and slowly bring the pressure up to the tip, where the hole should be. This usually results in a tiny dot of blood, which is just enough to test the sugars.

Yesterday, I jabbed myself and squeezed, thinking I'd get two millimeters of blood out of my finger. Instead, blood exploded out of that tiny hole. It was so bad that I wound up with blood in my eyes. I grr'ed and argh'ed, and I rubbed the blood out. I got my reading, which was a bit high (but then again, it was the weekend, which is when I cheat, so it was still acceptable at 140). It wouldn't stop oozing for about a half an hour. Then, I figured I was OK.

And then I saw my glasses. The lenses were dotted with blood, which I quickly cleaned off.

And then I went to the bathroom, where I saw the rest of my face. There was a LOT of blood on me, like someone had jerked off on my face, except instead of semen, there was blood. It took me a few minutes to clean it all off, because by then it had dried and cemented a little.

Still. All of that from just a teensy, tiny hole? That's fucking crazy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Whenever I go to see a movie in the theater, I like to go to a matinee at the York in Elmhurst. It's cheap, and it's close to home. The only problem is, it sometimes doesn't get the movies that I really want to see, like TUSK or THE DROP. In those cases, I tend to head off to the Marcus theater in Addison, because I can't stand the super-expensive AMC in Yorktown, and those are my only other options.

I hadn't gone to the Marcus in a while, but this month I've gone out there twice, and they had a mighty unusual change recently: apparently, they don't have regular seating anymore. They have reserved seating, and all the chairs are wide recliners.

At first, I hated it. It seemed silly to want reserved seats for a movie, and who needs recliners? Are they trying to get me to fall asleep at the show? More so, I'm shocked that Hollywood is OK with this, considering how this cuts down on a theater's capacity to hold people. How would something like this work out for the opening night of, say, the new STAR WARS movie, when it comes out? They can only fit maybe fifty people in there, whereas before they could fit a lot more. It doesn't make much sense.

When I saw TUSK, I didn't like the seating arrangement. But when I saw THE DROP, I kind of didn't mind it. I'm a fat guy, but I'm not a whale. I can fit comfortably in a regular theater seat. (I'd say I can fit comfortably in a seat on a plane, but I'm also a tall guy, so I don't have the leg room to make me comfortable.) The new theater recliners were pretty wide. Plus every pairing has an armrest that comes up, so if I brought a lady friend, we could act like we were on a couch instead of at a movie theater.

It was kind of nice to put my feet up. And put my arms behind my head. And maybe roll around a bit if one of my ass cheeks starts getting numb.

All right, I like it now. I'm cool with it. It won't make me go out to Addison every time I want to see a movie, but if I had to make the trek, that's fine.

One more thing: both shows I went to the Marcus for had almost no audience. I found that pretty bothersome. Both times, there were me and two other people. Yes, they were matinees, but attendance shouldn't be THAT bad. TUSK is a Kevin Smith movie, and Smith has a rabid following. There should have been more people in the audience. THE DROP is based on a Dennis Lehane novel, and his books are adapted by the likes of Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese, and they contain major star power. This one has Tom Hardy, who is probably the greatest new actor we have, in addition to the final performance of Tony Soprano himself, the late James Gandolfini. There is no possible way that such a film would have an audience of three, even at a matinee.

That's disappointing. I know that movies on the big screen are a fading part of the experience of being a human being, and it will be a shame when that's gone. There is a certain excitement that comes with the ritual of buying a ticket, getting popcorn, and experiencing a movie with an enormous crowd of people. I remember when I saw SE7EN in the theaters, and I heard people responding--with genuine shock--to the scene with the Sloth victim.

There is no replicating that experience.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


This happened a few years ago. The seeds were planted at Mullen's in Lisle, where a friend had a regular karaoke gig at the time. That night, the guest was a DJ from Q101, and anyone who got on stage and sang would be given free tickets to a local show. If memory serves me correctly, the DJ was Sludge. Anyway, I'd already planned on getting up and singing. The previous week, I'd gotten my friend into trouble because I serenaded a blowup doll to Elvis's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You." I had to play nice this week. I'd planned on wearing a strap-on dildo to stroke while singing Chuck Berry's "My Ding-A-Ling." Because I didn't want to fuck my friend's gig up, I wore a string of bells around my waist instead. When I was done with my rendition, a Q101 rep came up to me and gave me my choice of concert tickets.

I hadn't heard of any of the bands he'd mentioned except for Tantric and 10 Years. I flipped a mental coin and went with 10 Years.

That night, I was arrested for DUI. After years of struggling with the legal system, I was found not guilty. However, at the time, I was about to lose my driving privileges for a year. In that time, I was dating the woman who co-wrote "Suicidal Tendencies" in my second book, TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE. (This is one of the two stories everyone always mentions as their favorite from that book. I owe a lot to her for her help with that one.) She was having difficulty at home for several reasons which isn't my business to talk about here. Suffice it to say, she and I went to this show together. It was one of our most memorable dates.

I remember sitting in the back seat of my car in the parking lot of the venue because they weren't open yet. Others were tailgating, but she and I were messing around a bit. She was cool with one of my big turn-ons, which is public sex. While this group of college-age kids were getting hammered a few spaces over, her and I were doing just about everything but fucking in my car.

When they let us in, we hung out, had a few drinks (most of them poured from the airplane bottles I'd hidden in my pockets), and before you knew it, while 10 Years played on the stage, she and I were getting pretty heavy on the dance floor. It got to the point where we were almost kicked out for public indecency. The bouncers were very uncomfortable with how far we'd gone.

But we didn't get kicked out. Instead, we drank more, danced more (even though I hate dancing) and she tried to get me into a three-way. Back then, I was super uncomfortable with that, even though it would have been with another woman, not a dude. I might be the only guy in history who ever turned that down. I don't share very well, regardless of sex.

Anyway, the show ended, and she liked the band enough so that we got their album, and then we had to figure out what we were going to do next. The father of her daughter was taking care of the kid, so we were free to do whatever we wanted. We got a bottle of Evan Williams, and she pointed out a truck stop in Bolingbrook just south of I-55. We parked and drank some more and then she invited me into the backseat of my own car. I'd like to say we made love back there, but seriously. You can't make love in the backseat of a Ford Focus while parked in a dingy truck stop. We fucked so hard I eventually had to get my car detailed. The windows were fogged up, but we could still see the silhouettes of truckers as they walked by on their way to the store. I'm sure they knew what was happening in my car.

But no one bothered us. When we were done, we got dressed, and she wanted to show me around the truck stop. She'd originally wanted to fuck in the showers they had, but I expressed my reluctance, not knowing what kind of ugly shit we'd find in there. Anyway, she showed me the showers, the store, everything. We wound up with some energy drinks in the lounge, where truckers sat around, watching TV.

And then one of the truckers--a skinny guy with a baseball cap on--started a conversation with us. I don't know how it started, but he wound up telling us about his history on the road. He'd done plenty of drugs over the course of his life, but he'd been clean since 1976, which was two years longer than I've been alive. (She was born in 1983, so . . .) And then, he made an incredibly ridiculous claim: that he'd invented meth back in the 'Seventies. Neither of us could refute his claim, so we sat back and listened to him babble about this for a while. Then, he must have gotten bored talking to us, so he watched TV until we decided to get the fuck out of there. I drove her home, where I spent the night cuddling with her on the floor of her apartment while her baby slept in the crib and the father of their baby snored loudly on the mattress in the corner of the room.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that was pretty awkward.

Her and I are still friends. She looks back on the times we dated kind of negatively, which is fair because those were negative times, for the most part. I don't think she likes to talk about those times. To be honest, I don't, either. However, I'm not going to try to hide a part of my past. If she wanted to talk about it, I'd listen.

The one part of our relationship that she has no problem talking about is that night, however. She looks back on it fondly. So do I.

She brought adventure to my life. I miss that. I don't miss the relationship, which was terrible. We were awful for each other, and I'm glad that we're not like that now. But still, those were fun times. Times that will never happen again.

[I didn't know if I was going to tell this story, but I figured it's a fun tale to tell. Originally, I named my girlfriend at the time, but I redacted her name. Those of you who know me well enough, or those who read my second book, know who she is. I don't think she'd have a problem with me telling the story, but on the off chance, I figured I'd leave her name out of it.]

Friday, October 3, 2014


Despite the things I said in this post, I really do want you to read my first book, STRIP. I'm not going to try too hard, considering how it's the redheaded stepchild of the publisher, for whatever reason. But it is a fun read. Most of you know me from my horror work, and this is a crime novel. It's hyper-sexed and ultra-violent, like most of my work, but it is a crime book. If you're feeling kind of weird about giving a crime novel a try, why not read the first five chapters for free? Go here, and click on the LOOK INSIDE arrow, and you'll get the first five chapters (plus a few pages of the sixth chapter) for free. There isn't a lot of action this early in the book, but you get to meet the characters, and you get to see the seeds of the plot being sown. I think if you check it out, you'll be interested in finding out more. For a mere $5.99, you can read the rest of it. (Plus, you'll get to see the adult content warning that I talk so much about.) It's got a five-star rating, so it's got to be good, right? If you buy it, be sure to leave me a review to let me know what you think. Thanks, as always, for your time.


Once upon a time, I was one of the hardest drinking motherfuckers you could ever meet. Every night, you'd find me at a different bar, hanging out with friends. Mondays were Doc Ryan nights, because they had dollar pints. Tuesdays were Elmhurst Public House nights, because they had dollar personal pitchers. Wednesdays were, I think, random bar nights. My memory is fuzzy about that one, but I think I'm recalling correctly. Thursdays were spent at Seven-Ten, but I forgot the drink special. Fridays were Spring Inn nights, because drinks there were always cheap, and they were five minutes away from home. And more often than not, Fridays ended at Brauerhouse, because they were open even later than the Spring Inn, and they were even closer to my place.

Now? I don't have specific drinking nights. If there's a special outing, of course I'll drink. And if it's Friday or Saturday, I'll probably have a few drinks. But it was nothing like in my drinking prime. I miss those days.

My pancreas stopped working a while back, so I've got to be careful. Even if that hadn't happened, my wallet has gotten considerably lighter, so I've got to be careful about that, too.

Tonight, we had an unofficial work outing. Ordinarily, I'd be one of the last fuckers at the bar, reluctant to go home even after being about ten drinks in. Tonight? I left before midnight, and I barely had a buzz.

It's like I barely know myself. I miss the old days of getting hammered and blacking out and trying to piece together the mystery of last night. That's why I enjoyed THE HANGOVER as much as I did. When you get down to it, it's about solving the mystery of whatever the fuck you did last night. It's almost like trying to figure out a novel by William Faulkner.

Those days are behind me. Except . . . sometimes, I get the urge to become Future Booze Jesus again. I might do that later this year. Maybe for New Year's Eve. I probably shouldn't, because my pancreas might stop working again, but I'm feeling nostalgic.

One of my coworkers/friends reminded me of a time when we used to get drunk and spend the night at another coworker's/friend's place. When I woke up the next morning, I saw an unfinished drink. The first thing I did? I reached down and drank the fucker.

I miss those days. I need to drink more often.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Goddammit. A bit of a set-back in my battle with the 'Beetus. When I tested my blood sugar after lunch, it was a bit higher than it should have been at 148. Oddly enough, I felt like I was having a low blood sugar incident, which made zero sense.

But . . . I felt something else: withdrawal symptoms. I looked the internet up and down, and there is no history of this drug being habit forming. It felt like when I quit caffeine, except without the pain. Could I really be addicted to these stupid fucking things?

Maybe it's Taco Bell withdrawal. I haven't had a Quesarito since Friday.

No, it's the pill. I took my pill, and the withdrawal symptoms went away almost immediately. Am I the first motherfucker in the world to be addicted to 'Beetus meds? That can't be right. It's got to be my mind fucking with me.

More experiments to come . . .

And I promise, GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS isn't going to be a running tally of my battle with the 'Beetus. It's just this week that's fucking with me. I'll do something different tomorrow.