Posted: July 18, 2012 in Randometry

Spontaneous absolutely-not-paid-for review of ‘They Tell Me I’m The Bad Guy.’ A good one, no less. Give this cat web traffic and fealty.

The Empire of Jeff Newsletter

I have a pretty eclectic taste in books, but my favorite genre has always been science fiction, and my favorite sub-genre of that is military science fiction.  But every once in a while, a new niche will take off that has all kinds of interesting possibilites, like Superhero Fiction.

No, not novelizations of comic books or the fucking Avengers movies or the Justice League queers.  I’m talking fresh, new superheroes.  Superheroes in unusual situations, like a zombie apocalypse.  Noirish crime thrillers set in the Louisiana swamp.  C-List superheroes with powers so seemingly useless that they’re more of a hindrance than a help.  And sometimes, supervillains that you just can’t help feeling sorry for.

All of these were fantastic reads (and re-reads), with interestingly imagined worlds, deeply flawed, vulnerable and most importantly, human characters.  Nothing bores the tits off me faster than a godlike, invulnerable hero like Superman.  Who gives a shit?  There’s…

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First step toward the extinction of mankind: Magic Legs.

First step toward the extinction of mankind: Magic Legs.

“Scientists,” the people who brought you such discoveries as Phlogistons and the planet Vulcan, have come up with their latest so-called boon to mankind: robots that move like we do. On feet, knees, legs, and other miscellanea. Forget the days when you could easily confine your Roomba in a vacant bedroom where it would bang around in a bloodthirsty rage (true story). Thanks to “Scientists,” these fuckers will now be all terrain.

These “Scientists,” people driven by sadistic urges and childhood traumas to create technology and concepts that shatter the world view of a populace they loathe, would have you believe that creating human-like devices to do menial jobs in the middle of an economic crisis is a good thing. Tell that to the guy who used to put on car doors on the Ford assembly line (you can’t; the robots already killed him) or the guy who used to tell people to press 1 for customer service (you can’t; he probably didn’t exist). People gotta eat. Robots don’t. Give a robot my job, and what’s he going to spend all that disposable income on? Robot porn and getting blasted on Duracells. This is allegedly progress.

So, everybody grab your ankles and say “Thanks, Scientists!” Thanks for the next phase in derailing human civilization, as if a thousand TV channels and texting weren’t enough. In ten years, we can all look out of our liquid nutrient cocoons at a new Mt. Rushmore of Johnny Five, Hal, a fucking Dalek or something, and that creepy abomination from iRobot.

Uncanny Valley, my ass. Just look at this thing. Nightmare in a can.

Uncanny Valley, my ass. Just look at this thing. Nightmare in a can.

Dade County Sheriff Deputies unable to cope with the stress of zombie apocalypse, befriend undead attackers.

Dade County Sheriff Deputies unable to cope with the stress of zombie apocalypse, befriend undead attackers.

Seriously. Just what the fuck, man. If you’re like me, you’ve been preparing your family to survive underground through the December apocalypse the Mayans will bring upon us “With great revenge and furious anger” — Montezuma 3:16. Out of the blue, however, the apocalypse has come 6 months early in the form of Gulf Coast Zombie Armageddon 2012: Assignment Miami Beach. Those trick-ass Mayans got the jump on us, and nobody paid attention to George Romero’s Reefer Madness-style cautionary tales. As a result, we’ve been caught flat-footed, and I’m in full-on Doomsday Crisis Mode (different vest than prep mode) awaiting the inevitable collapse of society. The CDC says there is no zombie outbreak, but don’t trust them. This is the same government responsible for MK Ultra and chasing a bunch of kids at gunpoint to capture a defenseless asexual alien. So it’s up to us to prevent a Mad Max-ish future but with zombies and hybrids instead of muscle cars and Masters and/or Blasters. To this end, I’ve adopted the following modus operandi (Latin for ‘Take Care of Business’). Fair warning:

1) No Shambling in my vicinity. You’re asking for a headshot because I will not ask questions. I don’t converse with the dead unless it’s through approved channels like gypsies or TV static.

2) If I even suspect you’ve been bitten, be prepared to get a headshot. Immediate family members will be given a running start.

3) I will leave your ass behind. I don’t know if zombies can smell blood. My gut says they can, so you’re one paper cut away from being an ejected party member.

4) Do not play pranks or try to surprise me. There are fucking zombies out there; that shit’s not funny anymore.

5) No more baths, no more salt. Period.

I highly suggest you all update your Zombie Emergency Preparedness Home Handbooks and desecrate as many Mayan ruins as you can in retaliation for this and the last Indiana Jones movie. If you don’t, those smug, asshole, dead Mayans win.

Some trick-ass Mayan

Some trick-ass Mayan

Market Research

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Randometry

Your information will not* be sold to Anonymous Corporate Overlords(TM). Vote for free** money***

* Your definition of “not” may vary. I want a speedboat.
** Your definition of “free” may vary.
*** Your definition of “money” definitely varies.

I Forget This Thing is Here

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Randometry

So, yeah, I basically and frequently forget I have this website. No time for updates, really because I’m in the process of moving to Georgia, a long and soul-sucking enterprise that will last into the Fall. Also working on another book that should be finished up by year’s end, I’m getting a couple of short stories in shape to put on Kindle soon (this is me giving myself no option but to finally put them out there or face public humiliation), and, oh yeah, moving my ass and the asses of my family to Georgia, which by the way, doesn’t even really have a Hazzard County, which subtracts so much wind from my sails it’s ridiculous. I will try to come up with something here and there to throw up here, but it will likely be short (in addition to pointless) since whatever misfiring neurons I have left in my brain are being mostly devoted to book-writing with the occasional Tweet spasm. I haven’t forgotten about all of you, I just don’t have time for you right now. Cue Disney theme music for the movie where I turn into a bluejay or some shit until I learn that playing and indulging whims are more important than working hard.

Hugs and Kisses,

R. D.

Barack Obama wins Democratic Nomination from Hillary Clinton - Artist's Interpretation.

Barack Obama wins Democratic Nomination from Hillary Clinton – Artist’s Interpretation.

It’s that time again when we finally turn our attentions to remembering there’s a government that has a good bit of control over our lives and decide whether or not we may actually want to have some kind of say in that. Some of us might even educate ourselves on what’s going on if there’s nothing else good on TV or if somebody mentions a talking point on Twitter. Yes, it’s that time when the right our ancestors bled for is exercised by a full fraction of the American People: election time.

Don’t be fooled, though, while following these campaigns that you’re picking a Republican or a Democrat. That’s a fallacy. You’re not. When you cast that vote, you’re most likely not even voting for the person you pick. If you are truly voting for that person, then their publicists and campaign managers have failed at their tasks. Because voting is not about a battle of men, it’s about a battle of mythic figures. Without fail, every U.S. election comes down to one thing. The decision between Robin Hood and King Arthur (I’m totes stealing your myths for this, England — we won the revolution, so suck it)

You can probably figure out which figure is which. Robin Hood redistributes the wealth of those he believes doesn’t deserve it, occupies Sherwood Forest in a commune with a bunch of people who probably sing songs and don’t bathe, and he’s a savior to those who believe the powerful are corrupt. King Arthur fights for and at the will of God Almighty he says, believes he and his drinking buddies should rule all the land with good Christian honor and decency, and to his followers is a warrior-king and the only one capable of defending their homeland from constant monstrous threats.

You see what I’m talking about.

Now the thing about mythic figures, and we see it every election, is that you can’t poke holes in them, you can’t argue the logical, linear points of them even when those points are mutually exclusive. Myths are bigger than that, bigger than logic. Myths are capable of being born rich but also coming from humble, poor roots. Myths can rub elbows with the intellectual or social elite but can still relate to the common man over a beer. It can be claimed that myths were in two places at once for the purposes of an anecdote, or that they said completely opposite things but still meant the same thing. Like the myths of old, they will take on different twists depending on the region. Robin Hood may adopt the cadence of a preacher on Sunday morning. King Arthur may suddenly have an inexplicable southern drawl. The myths are made our own wherever they go, and you can’t attack what conflicts about them because myths are bigger than that. They are symbols to their base; they are what their believers believe them to be at any given moment, changing with the winds and tide of opinion like a rudderless schooner. Reality has no purchase over these candidates.

So remember that the next time one of them stumbles for something to say or completely dodges answering a question they don’t want to. They’re not meant to be about those things, those little real-world problems we want to force upon them. They are larger-than-life figures of legend created by teleprompters, body language coaches, and focus groups; simply the fleeting vessels for the myths we desperately want them to be for the next few years.

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Randometry

And, thus, it begins.

So I’ve got this website now. I have yet to figure out how to write an article that is somehow not me talking about myself or talking about crap I have no business talking about. I can’t imagine anybody caring about my writing process or any of ‘tips and tricks’ to coming up with what I throw on a page. That, however, leaves me with few options. I do like history, though, so what I will talk about is the history of the medium of writing. Specifically, the short story.

Visual approximation of first story-teller.

Visual approximation of first story-teller.

The short story originated in the Middle East, the same place that gave us written laws, which is no coincidence. The history of the fictional short story is really the history of the lie itself, and when did lying become more necessary than with the advent of law enforcement? The first short story involved a man (most likely shirtless) explaining the murder of his neighbor to Babylon 5-0 (Not the show). You see, once upon a time, he had come home from a late night of helping lepers and totally found his neighbor that way in a pool of blood. And also, before the neighbor died, he said it was a group of Hittites who had killed him, so go find them and stop wasting time. ‘I swear that’s the truth, El Officor’ (Translated from the Middle Eastern) was the first ‘The End.’ It was all a lie but the police bought it, and his statement, the first short story, was written by dictabird into stone and into history.

Unveiling ceremony of Hercules wax statue (Plato pictured behind), Delphi, Greece.

Unveiling ceremony of Hercules wax statue (Plato pictured behind), Delphi, Greece.

Short stories stayed mostly as ridiculous self-serving lies forwarded to friends and family to entertain for about fifty years until Ancient Greece happened. Then it was on. Hermaphradites, Dudes turning into rain and geese to score, islands full of lesbians, the Greeks took short stories and ran wild with them. One day, a Greek writer named Plato (Not the toy) came up with the next advancement in short story-telling. He was on a deadline and ripping off Samson for his ‘Hercules’ story but he needed something to make the character different so he didn’t look like a hack. Then, boom, he invents the tragic hero. Hercules killed his own family. Intense. Then Hercules went on to star in twelve action-packed sequels, thus, crediting Plato with the invention of the serialized pulp hero as well. People went crazy for the stories, as crazy as when Hercules killed his family. Plato had found success, and Sophocles’ art-house indie crap could suck it.

After that was the Middle Ages, when short stories were outlawed by the Inqusition. The Templars tried to bring them back but were banished to the Middle East, where short stories began, and kept there by Vatican blood magic.

Several years after that, a holly farmer partnered short stories with moving pictures and birthed what he called ‘films.’ These ‘films’ are still around today as movies. Movies helped make short stories more palatable to depressed audiences by removing most of the words and adding pratfalls and pies in the face. Soon even that got boring, which led to the next short story innovation: the twist ending. Invented by Alfred Hitchcock (Not Batman’s butler), the twist ending was a giant middle finger to the audience to prove the storyteller was smarter than they were. The Twilight Zone guy (Not Edward) perfected this giant F You, and people loved it because they liked surprises and finding out it wasn’t really heaven, it was hell all along! The twist ending device enjoyed a resurgence recently thanks to American Indian filmmaker Midnight Shyamalan.

People put on glasses to watch stories rather than to battle illiteracy.

People put on glasses to watch stories rather than to battle illiteracy.

Nowadays, short stories are a thing of the past and can only be seen in documentaries on PBS. People still tell lies, but “It was a dark and stormy night” has been replaced with “What had happened was,” so it’s not really the same. Perhaps when future humans dig up our lies of today, they will truly be unrecognizable from the lies of the past, and their alien overlords will scratch their heads and demand an explanation for the incongruity. Then, some shirtless guy will step forward and reinvent the short story so that they are all not whipped to oblivion by plasma flogs. And that shirtless guy from Babylon will smile in liars’ heaven and know his legacy lives on.

If you’re interested in learning more facts about history, consult your local internet message board

In keeping with the constant and unending multimedia bombardment and sense-numbing pop saturation, I bring to you, undoubtedly some lost individual who clicked an unfortunate chain of links, this website. Yes, it will be rife with run-on sentences. Yes, it will be more than likely updated infrequently and look as professional as a grandmother’s attempt to fill her twilight years learning web design, but it’s here. Check back in to see what nonsense I channel that is longer than the 140 characters allowed me on Twitter but too short or pointless to find its way into anything I write.

Speaking of writing, I’ll try to have some updates on that front as well. They Tell Me I’m The Bad Guy has been picking up slivers of steam in sales here and there, and I’m currently eleven chapters into writing what will be my second novel; a 1920’s hardboiled detective novel that I’m bringing my own what-I-loosely-call-‘flair’ to. With luck, it will be finished late summer and forced upon unsuspecting publishers, one of which will hopefully be drunk enough to put it in print. After that, well . . . Donnie’s story isn’t exactly done.

Apologies in Advance,

R. D. Harless