Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Short one tonight, folks. Sorry.

I'd heard a lot of horror stories from friends and even family members about a Chicago commute. When I first started doing this thing I figured it would be par for the course. Now that I'm a month and a week in, I have to say: GOOD WORK CHICAGO.

There are a lot of attractive people on my morning commute (men and women and everyone else), and I'm proud to say that I haven't seen a single incident of catcalling. People told me this kind of thing was out of control. Maybe in other cities, but not here. I have yet to see it, and that makes me proud of Chicago.

I don't say that often. I live in a place where it's pretty common to get shot. I hate the city. Every day I slog my way to the office is a day I despise. I only do it because I like my job, and it pays pretty well. I'm a suburbs kind of guy. I don't walk fast, and I don't lose myself in my phone. I walk slow, and if I pass someone I say hi. The city is everything I stand against.

And yet today I'm proud of you, Chicago. I hope your choice of sports team wins something important. (And you don't decide to riot in the streets if that happens. Just take it decently and not roll over anyone's car. Please and thank you.)

Of course I probably just jinxed myself, so . . . goodnight.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I've generally been OK with the sun until I got my new job. A few times I've been angry with that ball of flame in the sky, usually because I was hungover at the time. But this is fucking IT.

I walk into the sun every morning on my commute to work. I walk into the sun every evening on my commute home. It renders me into a sweaty pile of flesh both ways, and I'm sick and tired of feeling that way. It's dehumanizing. It's disgusting. It's a crime against humanity.

We need to ban the sun.

Hey, the sun causes cancer. Look it up. I'm sure you'll see that I'm telling the truth. Our government is so dead set against anything that causes cancer (except for cigarettes, of course; can't stop big business in the US) that it bans a lot of stuff. But it never bans the sun. Why?

My grandfather got a healthy dose of cancer from the sun. Luckily he survived that. No thanks to the government, that is.

The US is content with the War on Drugs, but that's insignificant compared to the dangers of the sun. Smoking weed can actually be helpful. Standing under the sun, on the other hand, could give you CANCER.

We need to stop this madness. Trump, forget about the wall between the US and Mexico. We need a bigger wall. We need a wall around the earth to protect us from the cancer-giving sun.

While we're at it, the ocean is scary as fuck. It's full of fish poop and dangerous creatures. Let's ban the oceans, too. Earth is a dangerous place. Let's get some government regulations on that shit before it kills us all.

And it will kill us. Do you want your children to die in the ocean? NO. Do you want your kids to die because of the sun? NO.

Make America safe again. Ban the sun and the oceans.

This has been a public service announcement from the People of America Dedicated to the Election of John Bruni and Danger_Slater 2016. #VoteBruniDanger2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Yeah. I love Roy Orbison. "Crying" is fantastic. You should all listen to it.

My mom and dad were never married. I am a literal bastard. I love mom despite her weaknesses. I love dad because of his weaknesses. I love my second step-mom Ann (she's a pervert like me, which I didn't get when I was a child but love as an adult). But I don't love my stepdad (the asshole my mom married before my half-bros were born).

My dad was laid back. He accepted things. My step-father was a dick. He was a biologist, which should have made him one of the good guys. Nope. He was a piece of shit. He beat the living daylights out of me when I was too young to fight back. He physically abused me for a good portion of my childhood. I used to go to sleep every night trying to think of ways I could murder him so he wouldn't beat me or my mom or my brothers (his sons) to death.

My biological dad would have been content to let me grow as I am. My step-father, on the other hand, wanted me to grow with a healthy fear of him at my fore front. He beat me mercilessly because he hated seeing me cry. If I shed a tear he would ruthlessly beat me until I had no more tears in me.

No matter how badly friends hurt me I never cried because I was trained not to. I was a cold bastard in my youth. A girlfriend fucked me over? Fuck her. She couldn't hurt me because the King Bastard already hurt me worse.

Sometimes I thought that was a blessing. I couldn't cry for a lot of my adulthood because of this lunatic. But he died. I feel bad for my brothers because he was their dad, and I never want to hurt anyone like that. But I was happy he died. That meant he couldn't hurt anyone else.

Brother Alex told me that my step-father died horribly. His organs were so loaded down with booze that the doctors tried to save him, but like the devil he came back and tried to strangle those Samaritans who tried to save him. Anyone who tried to kill someone trying to save them should fuck themselves,

Never mind that. For a lot of my life I couldn't cry because it was beaten out of me. Within the last five years I relearned. I could not have predicted it, but it feels really fucking good. It's cathartic. It gets the misery out of my system.

I love crying. It makes me feel terrible because I was beaten at a young age that crying makes you a pussy. Being a pussy gets you beaten up a lot. My step-father called me a fag because I cried as a child. I believed him for decades,

I'm glad he was wrong. It feels good to unleash my grief. Crying is horrible, but it feels really fucking good afterwards. We should cry more often.

Does anyone I know need to cry? If so, I'm here. Let me know how I can help. I love you all. If I can help, I'm here. Just ask.

Sometimes I fell like I'm all alone. A void surrounds me. I have great friends, but often I feel like I'm alone. When I was a kid I felt like an alien because no one else felt like I did. As an adult I know that others feel the same.I just wish we could all get along despite our differences.

I love you all. Even the assholes who disagree with me. Because we are all in this together.

There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. There is only here and now. We make that happen. Let's make it as nice as we can for as long as we're here. No one else will.

Monday, August 15, 2016


I couldn't believe the news. THE NIGHTLY SHOW was canceled today?! That's insane. Granted, the show is still kinda new in the grand scheme of things, but think about it this way. Imagine Comedy Central canceling THE DAILY SHOW. Or NBC canceling THE TONIGHT SHOW. Or CBS canceling 60 MINUTES.

THE NIGHTLY SHOW is one of those shows that should have been around forever. It certainly gave that impression. Maybe it wouldn't continue with Larry Wilmore. Maybe he'd stick with it for 10 years and then pass the torch to someone else.

I think the thing that burns my ass the most is that the Unblackening won't be seen to its conclusion.

I don't understand. The official reason is that the show didn't connect with an audience, but I can't believe that. Just about everyone I know watched the show and loved it. It's a funny fucking show. Maybe uncomfortable for a certain demographic group, but let's face it. This show brought us a different, scathingly smart voice.

I hope THE DAILY SHOW brings all of those great THE NIGHTLY SHOW performers into their fold. Can we at least get the conclusion of the Unblackening?

I'm going to miss this show. So are a lot of other people.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


There are two things you should read in order to get anything out of this GF. The first is my favorite GF I've ever done. It's about a picture that always brings me to tears and the tragedy of Audie Murphy. The other is my Forced Viewing review of GODS AND MONSTERS.

I'm not a big fan of fictionalized stories about real life people. I don't care about Edgar Allan Poe hunting serial killers. As far as I'm concerned Lovecraft never faced off against Cthulhu. And so on. You can point fingers at me for writing about the time that GG Allin went on a dream-quest for dope. Or the time I wrote about Doc Holliday stealing Wyatt Earp's body so he could survive TB. That's fair enough. Because I believe there are some exceptions.

My favorite exception is GODS AND MONSTERS. Is that how James Whale spent his last days? Probably not. But it's a wonderful, beautiful, shocking story.

I kinda want to do the same thing for Audie Murphy. The idea of him going crazy while watching a war movie based on his experience in which he plays himself is creatively stimulating. I would love to sink my teeth into something like that. There is so much nuance in a tale like that. There is so much that could be done. It's impossible to resist.

Is there anyone in the world who would be interested in that? I know that not a lot of people know who Audie Murphy is now. Chances are I'd be writing something that only people over 50 would appreciate. But it's something I'd like to do. I know some publishers. Would any of you want to see something like that? Let me know.


One of the cool things about the Printers Row show was meeting librarians. One of them invited me to do a festival in Morris, IL. It's at the end of September. You can read all about it here.

That's pretty cool. I get to sell my books for free. They have a set up for me for free. Here's a few more details from the email followup I got from the librarian:

Last year, we had 13 authors and they all told me they sold books. Some authors sold quite a few. Since I want to keep it simple for my own planning purposes, I don't charge authors to be here and I don't pay authors to be here. We provide a table, chair and an easy up tent. We set up in our parking lot and we get a lot of people passing through from downtown to Corn Festival events in a nearby park.

To add to the excitement of the day, this year, we are combining our comic con with the book festival. So, there may also be light SABR(see what I did there) training, a cosplay contest, Dr. Who trivia, etc. going on at the same time.

Last year, some of the authors said it was a really good book festival, especially for the first one. Authors seemed to make some connections with other authors, especially the ones with whom they shared a table. I love attending author festivals, so I was pretty excited to host my own. I had many people come up to me and tell me to have another one, so we are.

So . . .  local authors, or anyone who might be passing through the area, are any of you interested in doing this show with me? Let me know in the comments, respond on Facebook or Twitter or if you have my phone number, text or call.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I've been working pretty hard of late at my square job, trying to learn everything. Other aspects of my life have suffered because of this. I finally found a moment to relax and do nothing. I switched on the TV and surfed a while until I came upon FX. They were showing the first Captain America movie. I watched for a bit.

And then came the scene after Bucky "dies." Cap is sitting in a bar alone, pouring drinks from a bottle of booze. Agent Carter finds him, and he waxes poetic about the super soldier serum. He says that because of it he heals so quickly that he can't get drunk.

I thought to myself, well, if that's the case maybe you shouldn't drink like that. He pours a bit into a glass and downs it. Of course he's not going to get drunk that way. When your best friend dies, you should get drunk. That's the only sane response.

I wonder what would happen if he drank an entire fifth in one go. I imagine he'd heal pretty quickly, but it can't possibly be instantaneous. No, I think he'd be drunk for a little while at the very least. Maybe he should drink a handle of booze in one go. That would keep him occupied for quite some time.

Then I remembered the scene in Age of Ultron when the Avengers were all getting drunk. Cap looked a bit buzzed there when he was trying to lift Thor's hammer. Maybe the director forgot about Cap's inability to get drunk?

I like to think that he drank a fifth of Tony Stark's booze for that scene. The good stuff. The scotch that Tony doesn't want people to know that he has.

Cap. Seriously. If you need to get drunk give me a call. I can get the job done. I might not be Dr. Whiskey, but I know him. We can help.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


This is my third week at my new job. It is also my third week of being a city commuter. I'm sure you're all tired of my commute observations. It seems like most of my new GF's are about this experience. Well . . . OK. Maybe I'm wary of it, too.

But almost all of these GF's come from my observations, and most of my conscious time these days is spent either at my new job or on my commute. So yeah.

For the first time I recognized the overweight guy who swings his one arm waaaaaay too wide when he walked, like he was trying to swat everyone in his path. There's the geeky girl who always seems to be in a daze. There's the guy who looks more than slightly like Garret Dillahunt, who always wears sunglasses even on cloudy days.

And then I realized that I was starting to recognize my fellow commuters. Considering how many people I see every day, especially between Ogilvie and Wacker, that should be impossible. There are so many people on that stretch of road that I would never even consider driving through there at that time. There is no place for motorists in that area in the morning. No, the pedestrian owns that fucking place. If you're in a car you are doomed. I'm sure the suicide rate for cabbies and CTA drivers is pretty high.

Wait a minute. If I'm starting to recognize them, surely they must be recognizing me. Holy shit. What am I to them? The fat guy who sweats even when there's a nice breeze? Or am I thought of as the CROSSED guy because the bag I carry with me at all times is branded that way?

It doesn't matter. Even though we're all just a face in the crowd we are still observed. Therefore we exist. We might not know each others' names, but we are a part of everyone's lives if only on an observational level.

All the more reason to be nice to each other. We share life together. Let's make it through with as little agony as possible.

Monday, August 8, 2016


When I was in college one of my professors tried to convince me (and my fellow classmates) that when Columbus rolled into the Caribbean the natives didn't even see his boats. The reasoning is that none of the natives had ever seen anything like that, so their primitive eyes couldn't recognize their boats as reality. Sorry, I don't buy that. Even the stupidest bastard of the time knows what a boat looks like. Granted, these were majestic boats, but come the fuck on.

At the same time I always thought the bullshit about the natives being afraid of trains was just that. Come on. The Iron Horse (which is not a reference to the Motorhead song, which I believe is about heroin) is a bunch of white people garbage.


This is my third week of commuting to my job in the city. Every day I leave home at 6:45 am, and I leave my car at 7:00 am sharp so I can walk to the train station so I can catch my ride at 7:20 am every morning.

The pattern is always the same. As I'm parking a freight train goes by. When I'm sitting down on my bench a Metra Express train rides through. Not too long after is the outbound train to Elburn, and six minutes later is the inbound train to Ogilvie. (If shit is running on time.)

Let's talk about that Express train. It doesn't stop at Elmhurst (or anywhere else until the city, as far as I know).

I've had some time to get used to this fucker, but it's not happening. Even if I'm at the bench in the station, far away from the one located outside, I feel . . . Well.

I don't know how to describe this thing. It thunders through Elmhurst without mercy like a wrathful god. Just passing through it causes a suction effect. It feels like it wants to drag me under its tracks. It's absolutely terrifying. Every time it passes through my balls try to Charles-Bronson-in-The-Great-Escape it back into my lower guts.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand the suicides who throw themselves in front of trains. I would sooner shit my pants and proudly show it off to family members than to jump in front of one of these death machines.

I'm a big guy. This fucking Express train nearly drags me off my feet just by passing me. I can't imagine being a stick-thin person under six feet at a hundred and twenty pounds withstanding the onslaught.

Trains are powerful fucking things. While I still refuse to believe the natives didn't see Columbus because their eyes couldn't comprehend his ships, I suddenly understand the threat of the Iron Horse a lot more.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


I was trying to get out of the parking lot of a strip mall. Stuck at a red light that seemed to go on forever. I glanced to my side and saw a bunch of sparrows hopping around, digging holes in the loose dirt. Some of them had nice berths for themselves, so they relaxed. But the others were using their wings to dig a bit deeper.

And then there was this one asshole. He kept jumping into other sparrows' holes, pecking at them and driving them away so he could see if there was anything cool down there. I saw him do this several times, and I assumed he was the alpha. That birds have alphas. Never thought about that before, but there you go.

Came the time this asshole tried it on the last bird in the flock. This guy fought back. The two of them went at it like two Tasmanian Devils fucking in a sock on a hot summer day. I thought, "Yeah! Don't take shit from him! Get the bastard!"

I didn't find out who won. The light turned green, and I finally escaped from that horrible place. I like to think the alpha got his ass handed to him, though. I don't like alphas. They treat everyone else like shit.

I hope the good guy got to keep his berth.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


When was the last time you wrote a letter? I'm not talking about emails. Those are just communications. I'm not talking about Christmas and birthday cards. Those take no effort whatsoever. I'm talking about something you wrote, either typed or handwritten, and sent via snail mail. When was the last time you did that?

I used to do that all the time. Now I do it very rarely. With reason, of course. Email really is easier and more cost effective. It's no surprise that letter writing has fallen by the wayside. However there are a few instances where it becomes necessary.

The only letters I've written in the past five years or so were to prisoners. A friend of mine was locked up for a while, and I typed up letters to her and sent them along. No other way to communicate with her.

And then there's Walker County Jail in Georgia. A friend of mine is an unwilling guest there at this time. You know him. He's my partner on The Cocaine! Bros. I feel he's been imprisoned wrongly. I won't go into it because there could still be legal repercussions, but suffice to say he should not be behind bars for this.

Walker County is particularly vile because they don't allow prisoners to get letters. No. The only thing you can do is send a 3 x 5 postcard, and what can you really say on something like that? What are they afraid of? That a normal 8 x 11 piece of paper can be used to give a guard mortally damaging paper cuts? Or God forbid a couple of pages?

I sent my friend a letter. It came with an unpublished story of mine. He's my first reader. Everything I do passes through him before I send it out. I wasn't looking for feedback this time. This time I wanted to entertain him for a little while. He's going to be in there until November at least. That's when his trial is. You see, Georgia is a state still living in a forgotten time. They only hold court there twice a year. How fucking backwards is that?! I thought we as American citizens were entitled to a speedy trial. Am I reading the Sixth Amendment incorrectly? I can only assume that their judges ride into town on horseback ready to deal out justice in a saloon with the barkeep as a bailiff.

I received a postcard from him recently stating that his bail has been lowered. If only I could reach his mother. She would bail him out. I don't have her number. I don't know where she is. I contacted his friends and girlfriend in hope that at least one of them would have this information. None of them do, and I have no money. I spent more than a month unemployed, and I have very little money and no working credit cards.

He's stuck there with no one to put money on his books. He's a tough bastard. He can take care of himself. He's a machine that was built to kick ass. When he was a kid he was abused so badly that he became an expert in kicking other people's asses before they had a chance to do the same to him. But he's in a really tough spot.

And my only way of communicating with him is through a shitty 3 x 5 postcard. What the fuck? I hope he gets out of there, and shortly after I hope a toilet seat from the space station falls on the warden of Walker County Jail, or whoever came up with that bullshit rule about postcards only.

When was the last time you hand-wrote a "letter" to someone you love? I did it today. I wrote as small as I possibly could on a 3 x 5 piece of card. I fit a lot more than I thought on there, even though I spilled over to the other side. No paragraphs. I wrote all the way to the edge.

It felt weird working without a delete button on something like this.

Here's an added bonus: Rob Tannahill's birthday is on the 8th. He's spending his 39th birthday behind bars with no money on his books and no hope of being freed by his mom.

How's that for a kick in the ass?


On my way home I usually get on my train about 20-25 minutes before it's ready to leave the station. It's good because I get my pick of the seats, and I get a lot of quality reading time in. Today's train was kind of different, though.

So far I've seen a couple of horrible things on the train. I've seen a lot of apathetic things. But I have seen zero good things.

The car was half-full when it happened. Someone jostled my seat pretty badly, and I looked up to see an extraordinarily beautiful woman moving past me to get to the next car. She didn't have a care in the world if she disturbed someone else's world. Except when she tried to open the door, it wouldn't open. She tried for about a minute and looked very confused when she couldn't get through. Everyone in the car looked at her, but no one said anything.

I said, "Do you need help?" She said yes. I stood up, and I opened the door for her. She was very appreciative, and she moved on.

And then I saw it happen again with a little old lady. I offered my assistance and helped her on her way. Then came this scrawny little dude who tried to open the door with both hands. I helped him get through, as well.

By the time the train started rolling I helped about five people get through that door. Later, as we were headed for Kedzie (our first stop), I saw the big strong burly conductor try to get through that door. He heaved on that fucking thing for a couple of seconds, and then he stopped to catch his breath. I was about to offer my assistance when he rallied his strength and burst through.

And then I saw that he'd only gotten through because there was another conductor on the other side of the door helping him.

Jesus. I'm not that strong. I consider myself kind of a weakling. Metra should really fix that door.

If you're one of those people who lament the lack of good deeds in the world, I have but one thing to say to you: you can change that. Helping strangers can sometimes lead to a better world. Give it a try sometime.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Many of you know a lot about the horrid bathroom at my previous job. It was bad enough as it was before the company was bought out, and we were in our own building. But when we moved to the office building and had to share with another company? Things just got worse. The Booger Man kept leaving his nostril-minings all over the place, including on the toilet paper roll. The people who literally shit on the floor. The two times I actually saw blood on the walls. The condoms and the piss-sprayed toilet seats and the time a dude puked into the urinal.

As horrifying as all of that sounds I was told that the women's bathroom was even worse. Someone once described someone taking a shit in there as "someone firing a machine gun into a mud puddle."

At my new job I have so far been impressed by the bathroom. I haven't even seen a piss-sprayed seat, not so much as a drop, and that's pretty common everywhere.

And then it happened. Today a coworker told the rest of us about how someone had just shit on the floor in the third stall of the men's room. People were horrified, and I couldn't help but think, "Isn't that adorable?" It was like they were losing their innocence.

I told them some of the horror stories about the bathroom at my old job, and one of my coworkers said, "What the fuck is wrong with [company name redacted]?"

What, indeed?

The story made the rounds pretty quickly. I'm sure they're planning a manhunt already. Another coworker mentioned how there was a camera on the bathroom door. Since it was probably a recent incident, maybe all we have to do is pull the recording. The guy who discovered it said that when he entered he saw a coworker washing his hands in a hurry and felt the need to tell him that it was OK if he wanted to wash the soap off of his hands. It was probably him, right?

The monsters are due on Maple Street.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Back when I got the job I held previously I was given a cube-warming gift by the friend who had gotten me that job. It was a beta fish. I was concerned mostly because my track record of keeping things alive isn't very good. "Don't worry," she said. "These things are nearly impossible to kill."

Fast forward two weeks, and either the beta fish learned the side stroke, or it died. Hint: it didn't learn the side stroke. (The story of the funeral is kinda funny in a horrifying way. Maybe I'll tell that at a later date.)

She felt bad for me, so she got me another cube-warming gift. This time it was a spider plant. She assured me that there wasn't a possible way for me to kill this thing. It can go without sunlight indefinitely, and you can forget to water it for a month, and it will still be alive. I was skeptical, but surprise, surprise: this thing not only survived my entire duration at that job (nearly ten years), but it also reproduced with itself so often that just about every desk at that place had a child or grandchild or great grandchild of my spider plant.

Came the day I was terminated. I packed up all of my belongings, including the spider plant. I brought it home, and much to my shock it started dying immediately. I did everything I could to keep it alive, but it's like it had a connection to that office environment and couldn't survive without it.

I went without work for about a month, and when I got hired at my current job I didn't start until a couple of weeks later.

All that remained of my spider plant was a bunch of dead brown brittle leaves. Yet . . . there at the center remained a few living green leaves. The li'l fucker still lived!

I brought it to work today, back to an office environment. I'm gonna see if I can bring it back from the brink. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 1, 2016


This is the beginning of week two of me not writing anything worth a damn. Or at all. That doesn't happen to me often. I know, I feel like one of those guys who can't get it up for the night and try that lame ol' excuse, but in this case it's true. I might write 2,000 words in a day, and at the very least 500 of them will be worthwhile.

Last week: nothing. A few sentences, all of it shit. When I try to move on to something else, I get the same result. Shit. It's getting to the point where I don't even want to call myself a writer.

I've got a great idea for a story, except I don't have a story. I have a situation. I have characters. But I don't have a story, and that's pretty fucking important. It's also a pretty timely idea, what with all of the gun violence that is getting coverage these days. It's like we're living in the Wild West again. Granted, I'm a huge fan of westerns, but I'd rather not actually live one. (Unless it's at the Wild West Show in Union, IL. I love that place.)

But no story. So I can't do it justice.

I tried a couple of other projects. Nothing. There's a book that was going to be published at a company that went out of business before they could put it out there, and I've been thinking of doing it at Riot Forge mostly because it's, uh, a romantic crime story, and no one knows what that means. But I look at it, and I can't make any sense of it.

I also had a good idea as to how I can bring back my vampire book from the grave (ha ha), but I'm still not getting any signals from the lizard portions of my stupid brain.

A week of nothing but shit writing work from me. What caused this? Well, it's not hard to figure out. One week ago I began my new job. It is taking up my entire life right now. I'm trying to cram insanely technical facts into my head because I know that very soon I'm going to have to use them, and I won't have a lot of time to hunt and search for them on a shared drive. I'll need them immediately to deal with customers and carriers alike.

I always say that the only thing worse than working is not working. This is true. I lusted after this job, and now that I've gotten it, it is giving me headaches.

Fear not. I will get over this. When that day comes I will no longer be wallowing in this pit of writing despair. When I get a grip on this madness I will conquer it and get back to writing fucked up things that got me fired from my previous job like DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN and POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS. Or possibly "Attitude Adjustment," my statement on the horrors of the PC office. But probably not that last one. I doubt my HR department read it. It doesn't have the same ring as DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN or POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS.

I know I won't get back my writing abilities until I finally fit my round peg into this job's round hole, but that won't stop me from trying, even though I just got two rejection letters today. Fuck.