A Halloween Rant

by Liam McNalley

 

Let’s just say that Halloween is not my favorite holiday. My dislike of this bizarre cultural ration of insanity only grows worse as I get older.

The creepy, sometimes disturbing “decorations” my neighbors put out to give small children nightmares is only the beginning. The worst part is that Halloween seems to be the time that all the stores start putting out all the cheesy Christmas stuff. Seriously? Can’t I enjoy Thanksgiving before I get inundated with wretchedly bad Christmas music, and visually assaulted by over-commercialized yuletide crap?

Halloween is also a stark reminder that autumn is slapping me in the face, and all the things I wanted to do during the summer never got done. It makes me feel old.

Speaking of feeling old, I dare not leave the house on Halloween. The idiotic tendency of people wearing dark clothing to walk right out in front of me while I’m driving makes me go bat-shit crazy. Delinquents tossing eggs on my truck makes me want to do Halloween the original way… by instead of carving a face in an oversized, vine grown, hard-skinned fruit, making a real jack-o-lantern. Originally this was done by hacking the head off an enemy, and tying it by the hair to a tree branch. “Get off my lawn.”

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Sure, pumpkins look cool, but butternut squash is much better in beer, and sweet potato pie is hands-down more flavorful.

Halloween also tweaks a pet peeve of mine… Just for the record, Cider is NOT that unfiltered apple juice everybody on the planet calls “apple cider.” Cider is by definition, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting apple juice. There is no such thing as “hard” cider, since ALL cider is alcoholic. A person is either drinking apple juice, or they are drinking cider… period. Adding the word “apple” in front of cider is as redundant as saying “I made an apple, apple pie.” Just because one idiot misuses a word doesn’t mean everybody has to. I recently saw some pear juice marketed as “Pear cider.” This is a labeling abomination. Cider consists only of apples, and if the pear juice was fermented into an alcoholic beverage, it is called “Perry.” This stuff wasn’t even fermented, so they failed miserably on all counts.

My favorite memories of Halloween are not even of dressing up in a silly costume, and guilting adults into giving me candy; they are of the food my mother used to cook. Roast pork and mashed potatoes drowned in rich gravy, and my favorite: melt a half cup of butter in a big cast iron skillet. Add a half cup of brown sugar, a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, and one of nutmeg. Let this cook for a minute, and add a bunch of sliced tart apples, and some water. Let them cook until tender. YUM!

Staying up late to watch scary movies on a black and white television set, while stuffing my face with popcorn, was pretty fun too. But I can do that any night I want now, and the television is actually in color!

So there you have it, my take on Halloween. While you are enjoying whatever fun crap you have planned, I’ll be the drunk guy muttering profanities with all the lights turned off.

Why don’t you pick up a copy of our new anthology, ECHOES & BONES, which is dark, like Halloween… and me, I guess. You can also enter to win a copy on Amazon. ‘Muricans only, because them’s the rules. Folks from other countries can go to our Facebook page to find chances to win book goodies.

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Doctor Who Has a Dick and You Just Need to Accept That

by Steve Wetherell 

 

 

Listen up you mindless sheeple, ‘cause I’m about to mansplain a few things to you. I’ll happily accept that women can be doctors (providing they’re not my doctor) but I draw the line that at women being Doctor Whos. They just can’t. Because Doctor Who is a man, and has been for generations. Through his various iterations, brought to life by various actors and writers each with their own unique perspectives on the character, the unifying characteristics have always been that the Time Lord has two hearts and two balls.

A woman being a Doctor Who is just ludicrous. I mean, Doctor Who is a calm, rational pacifist, and everyone knows that women are screeching lunatics with no sense of proportion. A woman Doctor Who would probably try to claw the Master’s eyes out before breaking down and crying into a tampon. Then they’d travel back in time to when they were prettier and never come back because they’d met a nice man and settled down. And exactly how much maternity leave does a Time Lord expect? Will the world be laid to waste by Cyber Men because Lady Doctor took nine hundred years off to stay at home watching daytime TV and eating toast? FUCK THAT!

It’s time we took back Doctor Who from the Cuck Travelling Time Lord he has become (sorry, that should read Time Travelling Cuck Lord) and made him a man’s man again. Maybe have a Doctor with a beard who just continuously flaps his balls onto the table whenever he’s talking. Maybe a Doctor who finally puts a decent spoiler on the Tardis, and kits it out with a plush leather interior. Some respectable subwoofers. A Doctor that smokes cigars and once hit someone with a pool cue because that someone said something about his mum. And give him a robot dog again, for fuck’s sake! And don’t even think about substituting with a robot cat. Cats are gay, and anyone who disagrees can travel back in time to when women still knew how to make sandwiches, and make me a fucking time travel sandwich. 

 

By now you probably think I’m satirising all the misogynists who can’t stand the thought of a female Doctor Who, but I’m actually not. I thought I’d just contribute something controversial, because the people outraged about misogynists being against a female Doctor Who seem to vastly outnumber the actual misogynists who are against a female Doctor Who. I rather suspect that it’s just one person living in Croydon whose mum once stamped on his model Daleck. 

I don’t think there are really that many professed Doctor Who fans who also hate women, though there will be some, obviously, because chances are one in ten people you meet is an irredeemable cock-hole. (But which one? Look out, it’s the one dressed as a priest! He’s got a knife!) And as for those who aren’t Doctor Who fans, well they probably just don’t give a shiny golden fuck about your tea-drinking dimension-hopping train spotter.

I must admit, when I see people openly weeping about there being a woman Doctor, I feel like I’ve gotten up for a piss and then realised mid-flow that I’m actually at a Peruvian wedding. And then I realise it’s a dream, and I’ve pissed myself, and that I’m at an entirely different Peruvian wedding. I find it weird, is what I’m saying.

Is it important? It certainly seems like it. Freud died without ever answering the question “What do women want?” If someone would have just told him it was a female Doctor Who we could have saved the guy a lot of trouble. Likewise, if we’d known that solving equality would have been as simple as gender swapping a kids TV show character, we could have demanded this be done years ago.

So, what next? Why not a woman Robin Hood? Why not a woman King Arthur? Why not a woman James Bond? There is no real answer. It doesn’t matter. And if it sells more reboots? Have at it. (So long as you don’t get a fucking American to play it, because that kind of prejudice is fine, for some reason.) 

…One thing, though. If gender representation in pop culture is so important, and little girls need to be able to see themselves as Doctor Whos, and Ghostbusters and Iron Mans, then isn’t anyone a little concerned that we’ve just gender swapped the one pacifist, intellectual male adventure hero in the mainstream? 

…Just gonna leave that there…

 …and back away slowly…

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Would the ‘Real’ Stephen King Please Stand Up?

 

By C.M. Saunders

 

 

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I don’t know if you’ve noticed (okay, people with actual social lives probably haven’t) but there’s been a storm brewing over on Amazon for some time now. It concerns the prolific writer Stephen King, who has sold somewhere in the region of 350 million books since his first novel Carrie came out way back in 1973, and another writer, also called Stephen King, who hasn’t sold quite that many.

The thing is, he’s sold a few. Probably a few thousand. Mainly to people who think they are buying books written by the other Stephen King. The famous one. Or, as they like to call him, the ‘real’ one. People are upset. Some call bullshit, others throw words like ‘fraud,’ ‘charlatan’ and ‘fake’ around. Some have even alluded to some kind of Amazon conspiracy geared to selling more books. As if the ‘real’ Stephen King didn’t sell enough for them as it is. The vast majority of these readers feel they have been duped and leave scathing reviews mostly centred around the fact that they didn’t receive what they thought they would be receiving, i.e. a book by the right Stephen King. Some sample review headlines include: Buyer Beware! NOT the real Stephen King! Beware of Imitation! Why Try and Fool the public?! Fake! Outright Lie! And my own personal favourite… Muck from a Loser!

I think it’s fair to say this guy is really suffering at the hands of the buying public. There have been masses of complaints, a lot of discussion, and it’s a hot topic on various forums and message boards. Even one on the ‘real’ Stephen King’s website, which was forced to issue a response. 

It’s also a common topic on fan sites, and personal blogs, where people, quite simply, be losing their shit…

Even other well-known writers are having their say. 

It probably doesn’t help that when you search Amazon for Stephen King books you get a selection from both blokes, and a lot of the ill-feeling seems to stem from the fact that Amazon ‘recommend’ books by both blokes to readers, based on their buying and search history. This begs the question, would you buy a Morris Minor just because it had a Rolls Royce badge on it? Of course you wouldn’t. Unless you either wanted a Morris Minor with a Rolls Royce badge on it, or are just dumb as fuck. Amazon as an organization are very strict when it comes to fraud and other such matters, and rightly so. You can bet after they received the first batch of angry complaints they investigated the issue thoroughly.

Now, here’s what I think happened…

Amazon approached the ‘fake’ Stephen King and demanded he prove his identity. And you know what? He did. Because his name really is Stephen King. It’s quite a common name, believe it or not.

I might be in the minority here, but I can’t help feeling a bit of sympathy for the guy. Imagine his delight when his book suddenly started selling by the proverbial truckload, then his dismay when he realised most, if not all, those people who bought his book did so accidentally. And then blamed him for their mistake. It’s hardly his fault he was given the same name as one of the greatest writers on the modern age. It might not even be his intention to try to ride the ‘real’ Stephen King’s coattails. We don’t know, because he hasn’t broken his silence yet. He’s probably in hiding because of all the people who want to string him up by his balls.

Of course, he might just be trying to make a fast buck. Maybe he doesn’t even like writing. Judging by most of the reviews, he isn’t very good at it. In which case he deserves everything he gets, but let’s err on the side of caution and go with ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

I can’t help thinking most of the fault lies with the people who allowed themselves to be ‘duped’ then kicked up a storm over it, probably because they are angry with themselves. I mean, any release by the ‘real’ Stephen King is big news. You hear about it all over the mainstream press. His books don’t just slip into the Kindle Store unannounced. And if people had enough common sense to do the most basic research before hitting the ‘click to buy’ button, none of this would have happened. How about checking the ‘real’ Stephen King’s website, or doing a quick Google search to see if there are any new releases?

The more savvy might note that the ‘fake’ Stephen King’s books aren’t put out by Simon & Schuster, the ‘real’ Stephen King’s publisher. Or, indeed, any publisher. On top of all that, the covers are amateurish. At least, they aren’t what you’d expect from a major publishing house. And any self-respecting ‘real’ Stephen King fan should be able to smell a rat just from reading the book description. To make it REALLY easy for the dullard consumer, Amazon even post a disclaimer next to fake’ Stephen King’s books.

Please Note: If you are looking for books by Stephen King, bestselling author of Doctor Sleep and The Shining, please visit his author page.

Yet, ‘fake’ Stephen King still has three books in the Amazon #10 at the time of writing. That’s more than the ‘real’ one.

Isn’t it ironic?

 

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Bob Ross Presents: The Joy of Whiskey

by Katrina Monroe

 

A couple of weeks ago, the internet went fucking bananas because Netflix, in their infinite wisdom (may we worship them until the television becomes sentient and kills us all), added Bob Ross’s “Beauty is Everywhere” to their list. Relaxing, nostalgic (though none of us can really remember why), and just fucking delightful, people dropped their lives to binge-watch the Man Himself paint happy little trees.

Like any self-respecting booze-hound writer, I got hammered and watched until I passed out.

This is my journey.

 

Hour 1:

Phthalo blue is not a real color, Bob. Phthalo is the name of a hobbit, cousin of Bilbo, who still doesn’t know how to spell his name at the age of 549, or however long those little fuckers live.

I don’t like the way you smile when you say, “Beat the devil out of it,” Bob. Do you know something we don’t? You’ve made deals, haven’t you? That’s why it takes you twenty-three minutes to paint an entire landscape with zero self-loathing and trips to the bathroom to “get a little inspiration.”

Phthalo still isn’t a color, no matter how many times you say it, or how much crimson you add to it. And while we’re at it, that color is purple, not blueandcrimson.

Ohmagawd this is so relaxing and this whiskey is delicious.

“Just make some decisions,” he says. Like he knows me. Pfft. I have until the first of the month, just like everyone else.

Where the shit did all those trees come from?

I don’t think indication means what you think it means, Bob. That isn’t the indication of a big fucking tree; that’s an actual big fucking tree.

I could totally paint this. *sluuuuurp*

 

Hour B:

Okay, okay. LISTEN. Shhhh. I’ve got an idea.

BOB. Bob.

Drinking game. Ready? Cool.

Beating the devil out of a brush: take a shot.

“Little doers” make an appearance: take a shot.

SOME RANDOM FUCKING ANIMAL SHOWS UP OUT OF NOWHERE: Pet your cat because she’s adorable, then take a shot.

“Oooh that’s nice.” Take a shot. Hell, take two, because it reminds you of how little you’re getting laid.

Drunk yet? *sluuuurp* Me, too.

“The canvas will pull out what it wants, and give you back what’s left.” Since when are we getting deep, Bob? What are you hiding from me? Are you seeing another pitiful drunk woman?

I’d murder a mildly innocent person to get you to say fuck, Bob. Say fuck. Just once. You could even whisper it. Listen. Fuuuuuuuuck. Isn’t it lovely?

… No I don’t want to see your little creature, Bob. Especially not your “pocket squirrel.” Just paint, god dammit. Perv.

 

Hour 3.5:

I have a theory. It’s not a good theory. And probably not even a theory. I’m not drunk. Just speaking cursive. His shirt matches the first color he uses on the canvas. There’s probably some deep, meaningful reason for that, but it eludes me at the moment, much like my sobriety.

Yellow ochre. Phathalo blue. Van Dyke Brown. Bright-motha-fuckin’-red. Could you not think of ANYTHING to compare red to, Bob?

*snort* Bushes. I ought to ladyscape soon.

Using odorless paint-thinner is like drinking non-alcoholic beer, Bob. How dare you condone such behavior? THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Or if not the children, think of me.

What is this insanity? You just STOP PAINTING? The painting isn’t finished when you DECIDE. It’s finished when you can’t stand to look at the fucking thing anymore. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

 

Hour… uh… something:

I was in the kitchen for five goddamned minutes, Bob. You couldn’t wait five minutes to finish the lake? How do I paint those little doers by the shore? Which obscenely complicated combination of colors did you use to paint that rock? WHERE DID THAT MOUNTAIN COME FROM?

I’m useless. I will never be able to create landscapes as beautiful and efficient as this winter wonderland.

That chip was burnt. Ew. Oooh! Pizza. Praise the baby cheezus.

Why does that evergreen tree have more friends than I do? Am I too person-like? Do I have too few branches with which to shade them?

Life is pointless, Bob. You know that? I think you’re lying about the paint thinner fumes.

But that seascape is fucking beautiful.

No, YOU’RE crying.

I wonder if there are any new episodes of Kimmy Schmidt.

Fuck you, Netflix.

 

 

Dear Gym Douche…

by Steve Wetherell

Dear Square Dude Track Pants,

Hi there. You probably don’t know me, I’m one of the intangible mists that cohabit the gym you seem to live at, serving only to selfishly occupy the equipment you immediately want to use or hog up the full-acre of mirror you seem to require at all times.

I should explain. I go to your gym (I’m assuming it’s your gym, because you sure seem to act like it is) maybe twice a week. Three if I’m feeling like a hero. I don’t like exercising, you see, but I do like beer and pizza, which means I have to go to the gym if I don’t want to choke to death on my own neck fat. When I go to your gym, I go there to do as much exercise as I can in an hour, then I leave for climes more familiar and less armpit-smelling.

In short, I’m no fitness nut. But I still pay my fees, so how’s about you take that condescending look off your swollen, fluid-retaining face?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against people who like to keep in shape. On the contrary. I see guys hitting the gym on their lunch hour or ladies jogging through sub-zero November nights and I commend them. I do. I commend them from the warmth of my car while I drive to the bakery. I realize that their lives will be longer and more fulfilled than mine, and I accept that my life will be shorter and more bacon-centric. It’s the circle of life. Some of us are gazelles, some of us ain’t. But there’s “keeping in shape” and then there’s “being square”, and the two are very different things.

Let me explain. I see the guys who keep in shape, and when they lift their free-weights they spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. This is because they’re checking their form, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. But you, Square Dude, the first thing you say hi to when you enter the gym is your own reflection. Then you do a little bit of exercise (while looking in the mirror) and then when you’ve finished your three reps or whatever you look in the mirror again. Maybe give it a little flex, a sly wink. Seriously, Track Pants, if Kim Kardashian wrote an autobiography and filmed herself having sex with it, she still wouldn’t be as self-obsessed as you.

It’s not healthy. I’d recount the tale of Narcissus here, but Narcissus has three syllables, and I kind of get the impression that’s two syllables more than you’re interested in. Besides, Narcissus was good looking, whereas you are just square.

Another thing that guys who keep in shape tend to do is grunt in exertion now and then. Usually at the end of a tough set of reps. And that’s all it is- a grunt of exertion. If they ever approach a scream, it’s because something important has just snapped or they’ve just remembered how much they miss bacon. It’s never…how can I put this…it’s never sexual.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing untoward with two square dudes giving each other a bit of encouragement in the gym. And I know that a vocal blast can sometimes give you the extra burst of strength and energy you need. But, for your convenience, I’m going to make a brief list of things you can’t shout in the gym without making it sound like you’re failing a porno audition;

“YES”

“DO IT, MAN”

“GIVE IT TO ME”

Seriously dude, we both know why you’re making those noises, and it’s probably not because of your subconscious homoerotic passion for your gym buddy. If it was I’d understand- everyone needs love, Track Pants, even square people. But you make those noises for the same reason you asked the gym dude to turn up that particularly awful hip-hop track. For the same reason you complained loudly about how crowded it was when you came in. For the same reason you stand there and eyeball the people using “your” machine until they leave. You want people to see you. You want them to know you’re a gym guy.

Why? For the same reason you cram yourself full of creatine and god knows what else. For the same reason you spend more time in the gym than you do at home. It’s because you’re short, isn’t it?

Now, hang on, swell-face, don’t unleash your roid-rage just yet. Hear me out. I understand. I do. You grew up shorter than average and rather than console yourself that some of the world’s most deadly special forces prefer their candidates more diminutive, you decided to make up for your lack of height by becoming as wide as you are tall.

But even though you’re perfectly perpendicular, you’re still not happy. You’re still so aggressive. You still can’t get past the Short Man Syndrome.

I only bring all this up because of that incident the other week. You probably don’t remember it, but I remember it quite clearly. I call it the ‘sweat balls’ incident. I remember the day because you weren’t wearing your usual track pants. I was on the running machine, concentrating on not being fat, and you were doing your usual thing of shouting your homoerotic catchphrases and looking at yourself. Then you came over to the floor fan and started drying your balls. Literally flapping the leg of shorts over the floor fan right in front of me.

Now this in itself was disgusting, obviously, but the weird thing is that you were looking at me the whole time you were doing it. I saw you in the mirror. Just standing there. Drying your balls. And staring at me.

Look Square Dude, if I want my sexual preconceptions challenged then I’ll go down to the Blue Lagoon where everybody’s better dressed and cocktails are half price before eleven.  I’m cool with dudes who like dudes. But I want you to think about what you were doing when you were standing there and mad-dogging me whilst fan-drying your crotch. Was it some kind of intimidation technique (surprise! It worked you mad, sweaty-testicled idiot!) Do you want my recognition? Should I stop what I’m doing and say “Hey, I saw you lift those weights and you rocked. You dry your balls right in front of me anytime you need, man. Take your time, you’ve earned it.”

I respect your right to be any shape you want; rhomboid, rectangle, whatever. In return I expect you to respect my right to use the gym I pay my membership for without becoming part of your odd little domination fantasies.

I appreciate we’re at the same place for very different reasons (I want to lose weight, you want to compensate for your crippling emotional inadequacies) but I think if we both adhere to some very basic rules, we can get along just fine.

Rule number one is; No Staring At People While Drying Your Balls.

Rule two is… actually, you know what? Rule one is just fine. Let’s leave it at that.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Round Dude Beard Face.