A Fistful of Dollars

A revised excerpt from my second novel, Looney Bin Incorporated. It’s a satire that highlights corporate greed; specifically, drug companies that charge exorbitant prices for life saving drugs. This chapter is an exchange between Drake, a patient at Looney Bin Inc. and his therapist, Dr. Olive.

Drake: I would like you to change my diagnosis from crazy with acute eccentricity to paranoid socialist.

Dr. Olive: I don’t think that is a real diagnosis.

Drake: Well, neither is crazy with acute eccentricity.

Dr. Olive: Why don’t you just become a socialist? It would be easier than changing your diagnosis.

Drake: I already am a socialist.

Dr. Olive: Then you don’t need to have your diagnosis changed, do you?

Drake: But I don’t want to be just a socialist; I want to be paranoid as well.

Dr. Olive: You can be paranoid all you like. Lots of people are paranoid; I’m paranoid.

Drake: I want to be a paranoid socialist.

Dr. Olive: You can be a paranoid socialist; no one is stopping you.

Drake: I want it to be my official diagnosis.

Dr. Olive: It can’t be your diagnosis because socialism is unpatriotic.

Drake: So you won’t change my diagnosis?

Dr. Olive: The best I can do is change it to paranoid capitalist.

Drake: What does that mean?

Dr. Olive: It means you still have an unreasonable distrust of others; but you believe the investment, the means of production, distribution and exchange of wealth should be maintained by just a few individuals and corporations.

Drake: I believe my mistrust of capitalists isn’t unreasonable.

Dr. Olive: If I change your diagnosis to paranoid capitalist, then that means you are cured of your eccentricity and have moved on to something better.

Drake: What about my craziness?

Dr. Olive: I’m afraid that is incurable; you are stuck with that.

Drake: What else can you offer me?

Dr. Olive: If you’re a paranoid capitalist, you can invest in our corporation.

Drake: What corporation?

Dr. Olive: Why, the Loony Bin, of course.

Drake: The Loony Bin is a corporation?

Dr. Olive: Sure it is; why do you think we are called Loony Bin Inc.?

Drake: I didn’t know we were called that.

Dr. Olive: Yeah, we even have a catchy jingle for our commercials that goes like this:

Come on out and don’t be lazy, if you know you’re really crazy. Anxiety and OCD, we want you. Bipolar, schizophrenia and depressives too. So listen to those voices inside your heads, because Loony Bin Inc. has got your meds.

Drake: Will I still have to take medication?

Dr. Olive: You don’t take the medication; like any good capitalist, you sell them.

Drake: It’s a deal. I am now a paranoid capitalist.

Dr. Olive: I will write it down in your file and make it official. {writes down $$$}

Save Our Ship

Cruz: What do you mean we hit an iceberg? I told you there was a big ass iceberg right ahead an hour ago.

Graham: I know but Mitch fell asleep at the wheel again.

{Cruz and Graham rush into the wheelhouse}

Cruz: That’s not Mitch! There’s literally a turtle steering the boat.

Paul: Shouldn’t we be trying to pump out water or round up passengers?

Hawley: No, go and rearrange the deck chairs.

Paul: What’s that going to accomplish?

Hawley: Nothing, but it will make it seem like we are doing something.

Graham: Do we have enough lifeboats for everyone?

Paul: No, we don’t because we cut everything that might save lives out of the budget.

Graham: Who is going to remain on the boat?

Cruz: Poor people, obviously.

Hawley: Some people were hurt when we hit the iceberg. Rand, go see if anyone needs medical treatment.

Paul: Why me?

Hawley: I thought you were a doctor.

Paul: I’m an ophthalmologist.

Hawley: Well, no one will be seeing you after this term anyway. HaHa … get it? I said, seeing.

Paul: No.

Graham: Did we send out a distress signal?

Cruz: Yes, but everyone said they were too far away from our coordinates.

Graham: What are you talking about? I can see Marco Rubio’s ship, the S.S. Rube, from right here on the deck.

Cruz: {shrugs shoulders}

Hawley: Omg, the turtle is heading straight for another iceberg!

Graham: We need to get into the life boats.

Paul: It looks like our entire base is going down with this ship.

The life boat sails away with the GOP. The people stare at the lifeboat as the ship begins to make its final decent into the watery abyss.

Hawley: {raises fist in the air}

Cruz: {sees turtle swimming towards lifeboat} Lindsey, would you mind grabbing the turtle.

Graham: That’s actually Mitch.

Cruz: Oh, never mind then.

Interview With Author S.D. McKinley

Today I am speaking with S.D. McKinley. He is a blogger and the author of How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal, which is a very entertaining book packed with action, fast-paced dialogue and mischief.

M: Your book is about the journey of two friends, LJ and Rom, trying to save their friend Dom, the heavy metal guitarist and by extension the world. Where did you get your ideas for the book?

S: The ideas really sprang out of a deep sorrow for what has happened to some of the music stars in the 90’s and 00’s, which ended tragic to say the least. I chose to turn that sorrow into a fun story, to pay a comic tribute to these events and channel that energy into something teenagers and adults could enjoy. I wouldn’t say that these events are a passion of mine, but I felt strongly at the time.

Ideas really are a funny thing. There’s a little thing that clicks in the brain when a substantial idea comes to you, and It’s a conglomeration of these clicks stacked on top of each other, along with outside inspiration from other media, friends, and channeling something tragic into passion. This example is in works by James O’Barr, who lost his first love in a car crash, although I don’t recommend anyone going through that in order to make some artwork; it’s a healthy way to deal with these emotions.

You mentioned at the end of the first sentence – “the world.” Not only is the book about saving the life of a friend, it is also about saving the fictional world from a nefarious force that is hell-bent on the destruction of mankind’s dreams. Details are disclosed more at the very end of How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal.

M: There is a lot of technical knowledge about cars and the two main characters are rally drivers. Are you a rally car/race car enthusiast or did you have to do a little research for the novel? What distinguishes rally car racing from other types of racing?

S: I’m ecstatic that you brought this point up, because my father was a speed boat racer ( ← YouTube link, Dad is mentioned around 7 minutes into the video ) for OMC / Evinrude and won a World Championship in France. He has also been in National Geographic on a couple of occasions, he’s a legend in the family. He continued with the company after his racing days were over as an engineer for boat motors:

When I was a teenager, my Dad was my pit crew and I drove high octane go-karts on a dirt track. You can say racing is in my blood. It was a lot of fun and we grabbed a couple of trophies as a result. Imagine being 5 inches off the ground going 60 mph in a thing the size of a small computer desk. Adrenaline rush!

There was some heavy research on the features of a rally car and I became an expert overnight. While the book, I don’t believe has a lot of technical descriptions of the cars or rally racing itself, rally racing is something that is a lot bigger overseas. It’s all out madness, a single car at a time, racing as fast as possible through a linear racetrack with a driver and a co-driver to help. The co-driver is sorely needed to call out the next turn. That’s how intense it is.  Although it’s not a great spectator sport, unless a drone follows the car. Hopefully we will see more of that in the near future, with all the lit technology coming up.

M: There’s an interworking of pop culture in the novel like zombies, music and colloquialisms. They are not merely references; they set the scene for the novel. Do any of these things reflect what you like as well?

S: I’m happy that you could see this in the writing. Exactly, it’ like a cog in a machine, each piece being integral to the other. I really didn’t want to beat a dead horse with the zombie thing, so I put some twists on it, as to make it fresh for the reader. The crystal heart in the Jhaman’s chest serves a purpose. The Jhaman really sets the stage for the dark force in the book, which extends way beyond anything imaginable ( there will be answers in book #2 ). I do like things such as The Walking Dead, technology and fictional magic. As far as the music goes, I’m not biased at all toward heavy metal itself, which can be seen through what the rally car blasts through its speakers on the way down to Florida. I am, however, biased toward crafty music, whether it’s mainstream or not.

M: The story is about the journey to save heavy metal but it’s also about friendship, specifically between LJ and Rom, who have very different personalities. Do you have a close friendship like that? 

S: Excellent question. I have a friendship like that and this is where things get a bit emotional for me. Just before I got the idea to write the book, a bad turn of events in the night led me thinking my friend ( which was a main inspiration for Rom ) had been badly hurt or worse, had died. There was a visual indication that he had fallen. I had no way of knowing if he was alive or not, because of my circumstances, which were unfavorable to say the least, and I wasn’t able to confirm or deny what happened for a couple of months. It’s a very difficult thing to talk about.

Friendships that have polarity are very powerful and deep. I should mention that everything is completely fine now with my life and my friend is great as well.

M: Your book is action-packed with a little bit of humor and camp. I was thinking it would also make a great graphic novel. Have you written anything else besides the novel?

S: Your idea about a graphic novel is perfect.

As far as big-project writing, this book was really an evolution of style and form in which I started writing compositions on paper around 2012. They were like rap lyrics and sometimes interludes to country songs; I house some of those on my blog now.

M: Do you try to write every day or is it more sporadic? Do you set benchmarks or goals for yourself?

S: I do write every day, but not in the book every time. I think it’s very important to exercise the craft daily and then also take breaks. When I break, it’s meditating on what will be included in the book next, which I consider to be writing as well. An idea may pop into my head, and I’ll use a note taking app to make sure it doesn’t get lost. It really causes a solid ‘ah shucks’ to escape my mouth when a thought for my writing gets lost, so I do everything I can to make sure I take hold of the moment in that regard.

Benchmarks, not so much. I see a lot of information swirling around these days and it’s just not for me. I would love to be able to sit down and write 2k words in a day, but at the moment it just ain’t happening. Maybe tomorrow, though. Who knows?

M: What are some books that have had an impact on you? Who are some of your favorite authors?

S: I think it might be obvious through the interview so far that I try to “toss it up” in the air sometimes and see what falls down and precipitates. That leads me into the venture of indie books, along with pub house books, also to non-fiction and fiction as well. I’m reading a book right now called Salt Blood by T.C. Parker and it is resonating with me pretty strongly and I love that.

When I was a teenager, I read a book titled The Eureka Effect: The Art and Logic of Breakthrough Thinking by David Perkins that really changed my whole life. If you are into upping your brain’s functional level, I can’t recommend it enough.

It’s difficult to pick favorites, but with mainstream fiction, I would have to say Stephen King’s The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three, the reason being the way the words seem so effortless, being put down on the page in a way that makes writing seem easy for King. I forget, a lot of times with media there’s a hell of a lot of effort that goes into it and if that grindy synergy comes in just right, the efforts appear something similar to magic.

M: Will there be a sequel to How LJ and Rom Save Heavy Metal?

S: Absolutely. I recommend fully reading and grasping How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy first, it isn’t required, but I hope you’ll be glad to know there’s a web serial running for book #2 on my blog right now. As a reader, you are going to see the story spiral out in a way that will not disappoint and you’ll learn why Dom lost his dreams, along with more fighting against crimes at odds with big money makers and fictional celebrities. After all, that is why they are called celebrities, because it’s a celebration of something excellent.

M: Is heavy metal dead or does it live on through the ghost of Cliff Burton?

S: Thankfully, Cliff Burton’s personality gem was uploaded into a computer upon death. His spirit lives on through a more modern hard-hitting medium called dubstep that clicks with the kids these days. If you are interested in checking out some good dubstep, I recommend Feed Me or Pendulum. And mark my words: heavy metal will make a comeback at some point to mainstream media!

M: Tell people where they can find out more about you and your book.

S: A funny thing about books in relation to their author, is sometimes we don’t realize the scope of what we did until we contemplate it for a while. I just realized that the book should be classified as historical fantasy ( I’m working on that with the Amazon categories now ), because if you think back there was a polarity shift with music somewhere around the turn of the century. I realize that things can never really be “the way they were”, but this book signifies a place in time where it could have been different if LJ and Rom had stepped in to prevent this polarity shift. It’s just a thing of healthy expression and wonder.

About the author: S.D. McKinley – indie author / blogger:

S.D. McKinley lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in the first half of the 1980’s and grew up in Wisconsin as a young boy, then moved to Georgia when he turned exactly twelve years old. During teenage years, he raced dirt track go karts and played guitar. He discovered his current love for all kinds of art after his mid-life crisis at 25 years old. S.D. McKinley began writing books in 2017.

About How LJ and Rom Saved Heavy Metal, available via Amazon, world-wide:

Blurb: Ride along with LJ and Rom as they travel the US to stop the death of their friend Dom, a legendary heavy metal guitarist. What unravels before their eyes is a trippy conspiracy against them and technological warfare on the dreams of not only Dom, but humankind alike. Action packed with fast cars, guns, monsters, magic and an ending like no other.

Thou Doth Quoth Too Much: An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe

masque of red

“It’s a lovely evening; I thought we could take a stroll through the park, get some fresh air and look at the fall foliage,” I said.

Poe removed his top hat and shook it, making a cloud of dust. “I was thinking we could go down to this crypt I know, sit in some of the coffins and watch vampire bats feast on old rotting flesh,” Poe said.

“That was actually going to be my next suggestion if you didn’t like the park idea.”

The crypt was in an old church, which was weirdly situated between a Costco and a Starbucks. The Starbucks door swooshed open and a raven flew out carrying a cup in its talons. “Poe skinny mocha latte” was written and underlined on the side. Poe grabbed the latte from the raven.

“That’s the last time I’m getting your fucking latte. Nevermore,” quoth the raven as he flew away.

He offered me a sip but I declined.

“I love their lattes! They’re a little pricey though, considering I only make about $2 annually.”

There’s an ominous blood red moon in the sky tonight. A wolf begins to howl from some where close by, even though we are downtown in an urban area strip mall. I was mentally composing my will , when a kid came bounding up to Poe.

“Can I get your autograph?” The boy asked, thrusting his pen and Starbucks napkin at him.

“I love that one story, where the narrator does something unspeakable over another character’s minor offense and then all of his irrational fears come to fruition,” the boy gushed.

Poe signed the kid’s napkin and whispered something in his ear. The kid turned deathly pale, letting out a blood curdling scream as he ran away.

“What did you say to him?”

“I told him that he was going to die in a week, by being boiled alive in a cauldron of his own blood. Then I told him to never give up on his dreams.”

I noticed someone with a black cloak, carrying a scythe had been following us for some time. Every time I looked back, the hooded-figure darted behind a parked car. Not very furtively though, because I could still see the scythe protruding out from around the car.

“Is that the Grim Reaper following us?”

Poe looked back, “yeah, his name is Bob.”

Poe pushed open the creaky old door of the church. The first thing he did was to sprinkle holy water on the two of us. “Just in case,” he winked.

A guy in a purple robe was standing in front of the altar. He had a symbol of blood on his forehead, and was mumbling some sort of incantation over a skeleton. He looked up when we approached.

“Oh, hello. It’s a lovely night for a resurrection.”

“It’s a perfect night for one,” said Poe jovially.

When we get to the door leading down to the crypt I asked, “What was that all about?”

“I have no idea,” Poe said.

We descended into the crypt and I could see a plethora of coffins but they were all occupied. “I don’t see any empty coffins.”

“Just take out the corpses; they won’t mind.”

“I think I’m just going to find a dry place to sit.”

Poe shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What’s that smell?”

“It’s mold, fungus, rot and other toxins. So, try not to breathe in too much.”

I tucked my knees in so tightly to my chest, that it looked like I was ready to re-enter the womb.

“Do you ever think about death?”

“Only every time I’m with you,” I said.

“Most people think I’m obsessed with being buried alive, death, retribution and first person narrative, but I think about other things too like … well just other things.”

I nodded and watched a rat the size of a smart car idle bye. It looked at me with sadness, that my life had been reduced to such a state.

“Really though, all I have ever wanted to do is to tap dance.” He began to rummage around in some of the coffins. “Found them,” he said holding up a pair of tap shoes.

“You keep tap shoes in a crypt?”

“Of course, I keep them down here so they won’t get stolen.”

He laced up his tap shoes and began prancing around the crypt, tapping like a maniac. Bob, the Grim Reaper, peeked around the corner but then dropped the scythe and made a run for it. He had witnessed death so many times but the sight of Poe’s jazz hands was just too much for him.

When Poe was finished, he was sweaty and out of breath. I clapped, even though it was the worst dance performance piece I had ever seen in my life, and I’m including that time I had a twitch in my leg.

“I feel so free when I tap dance.”

The rat was gone but it left a piece of paper behind with something scrawled on it. I pick it up and on it the rat had written the number for emo’s anonymous. I put it in my pocket for later.

Poe felt rejuvenated. “Let’s get out of here. I could really go for some ice cream.”

I began to cough and continued coughing for the rest of the night.

“You really should see someone about that cough. I know this really good witch doctor at the cemetery near my house. We will need to bring a few items. Do you happen to have a strand of wombat hair?”

You Can’t Go Home Again

nope mat

The Druids were an interesting Celtic culture, made up of religious leaders, philosophers, and political advisors. We associate them mostly with Stonehenge. The Druids told their history orally, so no personal accounts were ever written down to be preserved. We mostly know about them from the writings of other civilizations that encountered them, like the Greeks and Romans. Fortunately for everyone, on one of my “archaeology” expeditions, I found some old scrolls that had been lost to the annals of history, until now. The scrolls contain a personal account written by a Druid named Seisyll about his time at Stonehenge.

{Druids busy laboring with placement of stones. One Druid named Divicacus is barking orders at the others}

Divicacus: No … no … no! I didn’t want that stone there and I told you that other one was too small. You people are ruining my vision.

{Two Druids, Seisyll and Maedoc are off to the side discussing Divicacus.}

Seisyll: What’s going on with Diviciacus?

Maedoc: I think he’s just going through a midlife crisis. He just turned 15 and he knows in a couple of years he could get a splinter and die.

Seisyll: Why can’t he just redecorate his cave like the rest of us?

Maedoc: I don’t know why we had to travel a 150 kilometers, rolling these huge stones along just to find this particular plateau. There were plenty of perfectly good plateaus near home.

Seisyll: You know after this, Divicacus said he’s going to Rome to become a Christian.

Maedoc: Christianity seems to be the all the rage this season.

Seisyll: I guess it’s alright; you’re supposed to be charitable to your fellow man but you have to pray to a God though. No more worshiping trees and harmonizing with nature.

Maedoc: Oh, you have to pray? I don’t know about that; it sounds like a big commitment. I thought it might be something I could do on the weekend in between my turnip farming.

Seisyll: How is your turnip farm?

Maedoc: Good, I think they might all be edible this year.

Seisyll: I dread the long journey home.

Maedoc: I’ve decided that I’m not going home.

Seisyll: What about your wife?

Maedoc: I told her I was going hunting. That was five months ago! If I tell her we rolled all these huge stones all the way out here because Divicacus was gong through a Suprematism phase, she would tell the elders that I’m crazy and the villagers would all throw stones at my head. Besides, I have a callus. Can you die from a callus?

Seisyll: Probably.

Maedoc: I already have a place to live in mind.

Seisyll: Where’s that?

Maedoc: I’m going to live in that sinkhole we passed on the way here. I’ll put a thatch roof over it. That should probably keep out about 2% of the rain and hail. I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I threw some sheep bones and the way they landed indicated good fortune. Of course, it could also mean I could die from a rash. Divination is kind of pseudoscience. {itches leg}

Seisyll: That was a nice sinkhole. You know if you put in a bear skin rug and had the right lighting, you could really turn that sinkhole-house into a sinkhole-home.

Maedoc: Hopefully, it won’t sink any further because I’m not tall enough to climb back out.

Seisyll: I wish you luck. I hope there’s a still a home left for me when I return, and the Gauls haven’t sacked it.

Maedoc: Yeah, those Gauls can be galling.

Seisyll: I see what you did there.

Maedoc: Bye my friend; I will really miss you. Try not to freeze to death.

Seisyll:  I have another robe on underneath this robe, so I should be good.

{Maedoc and Seisyll hug and hear a commotion. One of the stones has toppled over and landed on Divicacus.}

Seisyll: That’s really a shame. I guess he won’t get to see Rome after all.

Maedoc: Wasn’t Divicacus carrying the only map?

Seisyll: Does your sinkhole have room for two?


An Ode to the Absurd

funny books

People enjoy all kinds of literary genres and sub-genres. Books can evoke a wide range of emotions. For me however, I like nothing better than reading a book that makes me say, “um … okay?” It’s like saying, I see what you did there, when you really didn’t see what they did there. Nothing gives you that feeling of wtf more than absurdist literature. Absurdism if you will. No other genre of literature mimics actual life quite as well. It’s the joy of creating an entire world and then just sitting around poking it with a stick. Life is theater of the absurd; and if you don’t believe me, you’ve been dead since 2016 because we now live in a Kubrickian nightmare, where our president has lost all of his fuzzy warbles. Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes, and absurdity.

Take Waiting for Godot, it’s all about pointless conversations and waiting around for nothing, which is exactly how I spend the bulk of my time. If you really want to add bats to your belfry though, Kurt Vonnegut is always a good choice. His life and literary mantra is, “so it goes.” He once famously said, “we are here on Earth to just fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.” Figuratively speaking, (literally if it’s Taco Tuesday) farting around is really what humans do with most of their time. Absurdity is practically limitless because it can expand and be stretched like rubber. I recently read Sudden Death by, Alvaro Enrigue. It’s about a tennis match between the painter, Michelangelo Mersi da Caravaggio, and the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. Among some of the spectators are Galileo, the Pope and Mary Magdalene. They play with a special ball made from the hair of the recently beheaded, Anne Boleyn (human hair was one component put in tennis balls in the 16th century, in France the hair was mostly taken from a person who had recently encountered Madame Guillotine). Surely we can all relate to a surreal tennis match, where we hit a ball around made from the hair of a disembodied head; we’ve all been to the DMV. It’s also a great scene to put in a Fellini film because no one would notice.

Absurdity is everywhere, most especially in bureaucracies and government. The inefficiencies of the military industrial complex are written best in Catch-22, where the hero, Yossarian, is diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having, “a morbid aversion to dying.” It’s a catch (excuse) that is used the entire book for every outrageous thing someone does, even though it has no relevance. The office that wins the prize for being ineffectual, would have to be the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit. It’s a place where nothing gets done and gets done well. The office constantly pats itself on the back about what a good job its done (sounds vaguely familiar). My favorite line that embodies the senseless existence of a bureaucracy is when one worker begins complaining, “he walked in without an appointment and said he wanted to know. You know.” It really captures the futility of certain corporate establishments. In the play, The Memorandum, an organization creates a new language called “Ptydepe” to maximize efficiency. In the end, no one can really understand the intended meaning. The memos are constantly getting misconstrued. It has the same cryptic effect as sending a text with the poop, gun, and thumbs up emojis. In, 1984, the use of “Newspeak” eliminates words by artificially combining then into a portmanteau, so that people can think less. Incidentally, this is also Betsy DeVos’s entire educational policy. The words become so deceptive and misleading, they create a new reality. It’s kind of like “alternative facts.”

In life, sometimes we can’t tell if we are Rosencrantz or Guildenstern; it really doesn’t matter though because we are all going to end up like Yorick. It’s 2020, and things are fucked into a cocked hat of absurdity my friends. Life is Kafkaesque, so don’t be surprised if you wake up as a giant cockroach, waddling around being cannonaded by fruit.



Gonzo’s Journalism


Gonzo Journalism sadly has nothing to do with Gonzo, the Muppet, skulking around Washington, D.C waiting for his big scoop. It is a style of journalism that is not objective by the reporter. It is the antithesis of the journalist Edward R. Murrow. The journalist reflects his or her opinions and emotions. The term was first used to describe Hunter Thompson’s style of journalism. “Gonzo” is a slang term for the last man remaining upright in a drinking contest. I don’t know if it fits his style of journalism or not, but it’s certainly spot on for the man himself. In his novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he uses this style of journalism to discover the, “American Dream.” I conducted my own search for the American dream by taking a journey to Washington, D.C. and unlike Thompson, my journey was drug free; mainly because I’m not cool enough to know anyone that would sell me drugs.

I started my trip from my hometown in North Carolina. I decided to ask some of the locals, who were standing in front of a Confederate monument, proudly defending their heritage by waving Confederate and American flags, what they thought the American dream might be. I pointed out that the American flag and the Confederate flag were two diametrically opposing flags if they thought about it. They did not want to think about it though.  I wrote down several key words that I heard: wall, freedom, International House of Pancakes, Kyle Petty, Walmart, Jesus, Trump, the good book (bible?), heritage, Confederacy, Budweiser ( Interesting note, there was an adverse reaction to the exact same beer in a lighter form), the Alamo, Tim Tebow, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ulysses Grant (Union Officer?) and okra. I was excited by one word I heard which was, successful but due to a translation error caused by annunciation, I later found out they meant secession. I couldn’t arrange these words into any type of coherent meaning, so I journeyed on to my destination, Washington, D.C., in order to get a different perspective.

My first stop was to speak with Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. I couldn’t see him at first, because he was sitting behind numerous unsigned bills that were stacked up on his desk, but then he slowly poked his head out of his turtle shell. I asked him what he thought the American dream was and he enigmatically said, “American dreams can only be fulfilled by hard working Americans.” He went on to clarify, those people indigenous to this great land. I asked him if he meant Native Americans and he said, “the second most indigenous people in this great land.” I decided not to challenge him further on that point. He also mentioned conservative ideology, capitalism and filibuster. I mulled over what turtle-man said, but I still wasn’t convinced that was the American dream.

My last stop, was the top brass, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. I asked him to tell me about the American dream. He said it could be achieved by, “beautiful Americans with beautiful dreams.” I thought he was done because he paused for a long while, but then I literally heard a clunking noise coming from inside his brain, as if information were being filtered through a rusty, ill-used pipe. He laid out a whole series of ways the American dream could be achieved, through both beautiful and great means. Then he had to excuse himself because he said he had to sign, “important things” and needed to find his sharpie. I thanked the singled-cell organism for his numerous non-sequesters and departed for home.

On the way home, I thought about everything that was said, but I couldn’t form a pattern in all of it, except maybe for logical fallacies and weird syntax. I wasn’t discouraged though; I hope to find a different meaning of the American dream on November 3, 2020.

The Funeral of Wulf

viking funeral ship 2

The angel, Netzach, was on Earth for the express purpose of meddling in mortal affairs, as angels sometimes do, like in the form of a burning bush, etc. Netzach was just “killed” in a Viking duel and is now at his own funeral. He wasn’t really dead, because angels can not die, but since he was playing the part of a human, in this case a Viking named, Wulf, he needed to see it through to the end. In attendance at the funereal on the island of Bornholm, was a small audience of Danes and an English monk named Thomas.

Netzach was placed on a pyre that was set up on the beach by two young Danes, who were just barely old enough to be considered men. The Viking Chieftain was growing a little impatient; he wanted to get started with the funeral because the gray sky was foreboding rain. Thomas, an English monk was standing next to the Chieftain. It wasn’t the first Viking funeral he had witnessed, having been there about a year already, but he still found them fascinating.

The chieftain raised his hands and said some words that Thomas could only understand in bits and pieces. “May Odin give you knowledge on your path and may Thor grant you strength and courage on your way.”

He still wasn’t that good at translating but thought the Chieftain also said, “Stop your coughing, Torhild, or we will be having two funerals this evening.”

Wulf the Viking as he was known here, and Netzach the angel as he was known in  heaven, opened one eye just a slit to see what was going on. He had no idea why they had put him on a slab of wood, but he was looking and waiting for his chance to slip away.

“Bring up the offerings,” the Chieftain said.

One by one, everyone put something beside the dead Wulf. The Vikings believed in giving gifts to the dead, so they could take them with them on their journey to Valhalla. The Chieftain wondered about giving gifts at all. Surely Wulf would not be going to Valhalla, but to Helheim. Wulf’s death wasn’t a very noble death, dying at the hands of a foreigner, who was barely able to swing his sword. Netzach opened an eye again admiring all the gifts.

Oh my, what a beautiful tunic. I like that color. What craftsmanship on these weapons. It’s too bad I won’t be able to take any of this with me. 

He watched as the two young Danes who had put him on the wooden slab, were arranging the stones into what the Vikings called a, “stone ship.” After burning the body, the ashes were buried inside the stone ship, along with all their gifts. Well—most of them—every now and again, someone stole something from the dead.       

Netzach was becoming irritated. He was wondering when everyone was going to leave so he could disappear. He had not had a private moment since his, “death.”

The two young Danes who were holding torches walked towards Netzach; when something clicked in his mind.

Wait, I’m dead which means this is my funeral. They aren’t going to burn me, are they? I won’t stand for it! I won’t stand for it … again.

Netzach had been “killed” before by fire, hanging, crucifixion and he once drowned  trying to save a badger that fell down a well. A disguised angel was never supposed to reveal himself to mortals but he didn’t care. Netzach jumped up, determined not to be burnt alive.

“I’m terribly sorry for all the trouble,” he said and pushed one of the young Danes carrying a torch. He dropped the torch and it fell on to the pyre setting it ablaze, but Netzach was no longer on it. There was a collective gasp at seeing a man rise from the dead. Knut, who had been drinking all throughout the ceremony, let out a loud belch.

The Chieftain was the first to speak, “Odin, forgive us. We did not know it was you. Surely we did not offend thee with anything improper.” Had it really been Odin, he most likely would have been offended by the whole thing.

“I will forgive all of you, but only if I can have this,” Netzach said and picked up the tunic. “It’s exactly what I wanted.” He no longer cared about the rules of not bringing earthly possessions into heaven. He no longer cared about anything.

 “Of course, oh great one. Please take our humble—”

Netzach did not hear the Chieftain’s last words. He snapped his fingers and disappeared. The collective gasp was heard again at the sight of the angel Netzach, who was pretending to be a Viking named Wulf, who was pretending to be Odin, vanish into thin air. Out of all the Viking funerals from that day forth, none would ever compare to the funeral with the vanishing corpse.

A Dane named, Freydis, was grinning from ear to ear. “Odin favored my tunic,” she said. Freydis became very prosperous from selling her tunics and by the time of her death, she had amassed a small fortune. After all, if Odin were willing to come to Earth just to get one, they must have been glorious.

A revised excerpt from the Gnostic Keepers.


The Island of Plenty

Deserted Island

Day 1:  I’m not sure how I got here. One minute I was on a booze cruise headed toward the Bahamas, and the next thing you know, I’m in the drink both literally and figuratively. The boat was set ablaze by a passenger, who tried to light their whiskey on fire. You should never try to light 92 % alcohol, that has been quadruple-distilled. A valuable lesson for us all. The fire extinguishers were useless because they expired twenty years ago and all the compressed air had long escaped. There weren’t any life boats or jackets on board, and the captain said he had to skimp here and there because how else could he afford all of the alcohol. No one could argue with that reasoning. I can tell you though, that’s the last time I book a cruise from a sketchy-looking man, while shopping at Costco. I jumped overboard, resigned that I would try to swim to an island. Besides, the speakers were blasting the Cha Cha Slide and I refused to die to that song. I seriously doubt the Titanic went down playing a kids party tune, that told you where you were supposed to move and when to clap your hands. The last thing I remember before passing out, was grabbing an ice bucket that floated by which still had a beer in it. When I woke up, I was washed up on the shore of this tropical island.

Day 2:  I explored the entire island today and it is completely deserted. Well, at least I’m finally away from all the noisy people and the every day chaos of life. I can be alone with my thoughts in a tropical paradise. There is no one around to bother me, and there are enough coconuts and fish to keep me alive for years. I absolutely love coconuts!

Day 3: Fuck these coconuts!

Day 4: I tried catching fish using a hairnet that washed ashore, but I didn’t catch anything. Also, spearing fish is a lot harder than it looks on the Discovery Channel. Still, it’s nice being alone. I do long for the occasional conversation though, but it’s fine. I’ll be fine alone.

Day 10: My precious!

Day 31: I saw Wilson today and I pretended I didn’t see him as I walked by, but he made eye contact, so I had to say hello. He’s really annoying.

Day 54: I got attacked by an actual tortoise today while in my tortoise pose. I’m not sure if it was offended by my yoga or the fact that I referred to it as a, “goddamn turtle” instead of a tortoise.

Day 80: I tried to build a raft, but Wilson and I couldn’t agree on the best way to make it. We argued for hours and I finally passed out from the heat.

Day 115: I can’t stand the sight of Wilson anymore, so I waited until he was asleep and punted him into the ocean. In the morning, he washed back up on the shore. I said I was drunk and couldn’t remember what happened. It was awkward.

Day 220:  How can I still be fat???

Day 365: It’s exactly a year ago today that I washed up on this island. I don’t care anymore; I’m just going to try and swim for it. With any luck, I’ll wash up on another island that has lots of bananas instead.

Day 366: I’m saved! I was picked up by a cruise liner by the exact same captain. I asked him how he survived, and turns out, he had floated to safety on a passengers inflatable sex doll. I told him I wanted my money back, or I was going to give him a bad Yelp review. He didn’t give me my money back but said he would comp all my drinks, so I didn’t want to complain.






Trump Farm: The Worst Farm Ever Built


George Orwell wrote Animal Farm because he was concerned about Stalinism. In the book, the animals overthrow the farmer and take control of the farm. Well, we have a new ism and it’s called Trumpism, and it’s by far the dumbest ism ever. Our current farm is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It perpetually smells from all the steaming horseshit and is run by a pig, along with all of his sheep.

Trump: {In the Oval Office} We’ve overthrown the Democrats, with our clever ploy of barging into every room, and refusing to leave. When does my reign of terror start?

Pence: November 8, 2016.

Trump: {Looking at his Game of Thrones 2019 Calendar} What? It’s not even November yet Mike … and the media thinks I’m the stupid one.

Barr: I’ve been to almost every country, trying to get leaders to help investigate the origins of the Russia probe but no one wants to touch it.

Trump: Did you try some of the shithole countries?

Barr: Which ones are those?

Trump: The ones without McDonald’s.

Barr: Yes, those too.

Mulvaney: Should I hold another press briefing about Ukraine?

Trump: No, you’re worse than Giuliani and that’s why I have him locked up in the White House basement, along with my dumbass son-in-law Jarred.

Pence: I’m going to make sure everyone gets a copy of the Seven Commandments of Trumpism.

Trump: Oh yes, tell me what those are again.

Pence: Well, you copied the first three directly from the Ten Commandments. Have no other Gods before Trump, no graven images or likenesses, unless it is a really cool action figure of Trump and do not take Trump’s name in vain.

Trump: Yeah, I read through the other commandments and I didn’t like them, especially the one about adultery.

Pence: Anyway, the others are, whistle-blowers will be subject to death, Democrats are the enemy, the press is forbidden from reporting any bad news about Trump and McDonald’s must serve the McRib all year around.

Trump: I really want a McRib now. Mick, since you’re completely useless, how about picking me up a McRib and a large chocolate shake.

{Mulvaney leaves the room}

Trump: {Looks at Barr} I want you to get rid of him. Send him to Siberia.

Barr: Why Siberia?

Trump: Putin will make sure he disappears, so I never have to see his rat face again.

Barr: What am I supposed to tell the public?

Trump: No one will even notice that he’s gone, just tell them he went to a ski resort.

Pompeo: I have a new conspiracy theory to promote. We could say that Alexander Graham Bell never invented the telephone; therefore, the telephone doesn’t exist; ergo, the Ukraine call never happened.

Trump: There’s a transcript though and telephones do exist. They’re everywhere; I have one on my desk.

Pompeo: The phone is just a deep state conspiracy.

Trump: Telephones exist and not even that nutball Hannity could sell that one.

Pompeo: Phones don’t exist; just say it a few times and see if you like the sound of it.

Trump: Are you blind? There’s a secure phone on my desk; I use it to drunk call Kim Jong-un. You need to go see Mnuchin’s optometrist.

Pompeo: Is there really a phone there though? {winks}

Trump: Goddamnit! Stop winking at me. {Rips phone out of the wall and hurls it at Pompeo, hitting him in the head}

Barr: {Checks Pompeo’s pulse} You killed Mike.

Trump: {Sits back in his chair with his feet on the desk} Good, that’s one less person I’ll have to fire later for leaking the dumbshit that comes out of this administration. I am the king; no one can ever remove me from this office.

{Nancy Pelosi enters}

Pelosi: That’s where you’re wrong. {Takes off her Anne Klein pumps with orthopedic inserts}

{Barr and Pence make a swift exit}

Trump: Your standing in front of me, and pointing an old lady finger at me days are over cat lady. {Takes off his ridiculously long circus-like tie}

Pelosi: {Lunges at him with one of her pumps}

Trump: {Dodges her and tries to rap his tie around her throat}

Pelosi: {Grabs an Orange You Gorgeous spray can from his desk, and sprays him in the face} Die you orange fascist!

{Mulvaney enters with Trump’s shake and the McRib}

Trump: {Blinded, staggers into the American flag and bumps into Mulvaney, who drops the food} Don’t let it hit the ground!

{Mulvaney dives to catch the flag before it hits the ground}

Trump: No you idiot; not the flag, my McRib.

{Mulvaney saves the flag but the McRib lands on the carpet. The shake splatters over a dead Pompeo.}

Trump: {Grief stricken, he lovingly picks up the McRib with microfiber carpet hairs} You may have won this time, with your seasonal Chico’s couture but you haven’t seen the last of Donald J. Trump. {Leaves in tears}

Pelosi: {Clutching her pearls, turns to Mulvaney} You look familiar; are you one of the kitchen staff?