The Ballad of Murder Joe: A Cautionary Tale

Full disclosure: nobody died, his name wasn’t Joe, and thankfully no one was singing. And yet this is a true story.

WestVirginiaAtNightWhile on a trip to my home state of West “By God” Virginia, my spouse and I were on our way between stops when we had to change lanes on Southbound I-79 just before midnight. We were in high spirits, having found a favorite restaurant open on our way and looking forward to some much deserved sleep, but being deer season, a buck had wandered onto the road and been struck. The lane change had been to avoid the fresh carcass, just behind another vehicle who had done the same.

Before we could switch out of the passing lane, the vehicle in front of us did so abruptly; a thick wooden or metal grating was in the lane and over it we went. The front tire cleared but my right rear tire snagged. A tire pressure warning on my dashboard appeared almost instantly, and Exit 5 was just ahead. I caught a glimpse of a gas station sign, so I took the exit. As I made the turn, I felt how badly the tire was pulling, so I stopped beneath the underpass to check it.

This was my first mistake.

You’re more visible on the interstate — even in a rural state like West Virginia. At midnight on a moonless night, it’s dark…like REALLY dark. Get off the road but don’t leave the road. The other problem was it was highly unlikely either of the aforementioned gas stations were open; this is a state where the capital rolls up its sidewalks at dusk. Moving on…

DarkSoulTireDownRealizing where I’d stopped, and took my high-lumen flashlight out and did a quick sweep of the underpass; we were alone. While I was born in WV, movies like Wrong Turn are far more realistic than The Blair Witch Project, so we weren’t looking for any encounters. I had a tire pump and a repair kit but not a spare, something my car manufacturer assured us was more than adequate.

This was my second mistake.

I have low-profile tires. They look good and grip the road really well, but what I didn’t know then is the grating had gashed my tire’s sidewall, something the repair kit wasn’t going to fix. The tire was a loss and we were stuck. A donut could have gotten us back on the road and to our next destination. Lessons learned.

And then Murder Joe appeared out of the darkness.
Continue reading “The Ballad of Murder Joe: A Cautionary Tale”

Advertisements

Innocence Incarnate Vs. Femme Fatales

Are nice guys actually doomed to loneliness forever, or are they just forever helpless in the power of the femme fatales they pine after?

Full disclosure: this is the kind of character dissection that happens too early in the morning, just after waking up, between two writers married to each other. It was inspired in part by “The Blacklist” in which (spoilers!) Aram breaks a promise because he felt betrayed by sweet, smart, deadly Navabi.

IMG_5513Aram is an NSA coder and cracker who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s a successful nerd working in the intelligence community in too-close proximity of female operatives waaaaay out of his league. Part of the problem is Aram himself; he hides nothing and expects others (read: SPIES) to do the same. But Aram also puts women he admires and respects — and often fancies — upon a pedestal, equating beauty and strength with self-imposed standards of nobility and purity (of character).

Aram is a nice guy who is enchanted by femme fatales.

What Aram doesn’t understand is he isn’t the kind of guy that agents Navabi and Keen would see as a potential lover let alone a serious love interest. Never mind “don’t get your honey where you make your money,” but he isn’t alone in the world. Lots of guys like him exist, looking for perfect women to idolize and secretly (or publicly) dispising them when they discovere how unangelic real people are. It reeks of an overprotective single mom raising her boy to have only respect for proper ladies…but those aren’t the kinds Aram is attracted to.

The worst part — and this isn’t Aram’s fault — is that these idolic women ask him nicely for favors, and he’s only too happy to do as he’s been manipulated. They know who they’re preying upon (yes, that’s as bad as it sounds), but it’s obvious that Aram is a one-woman kind of guy who sees a potential mate in a preconceived image: honest and morally perfect. He can be manipulated because he sees himself as unworthy while hoping beyond hope he’ll be “chosen” — not out of pity but because the right woman will recognize his inner nobility and potential eternal devotion.

In other words, he’s a bad guy waiting to happen.

The good news is that many nice guys realize how gray the world can be before they go completely evil. Aram is socially isolated when it comes to the opposite sex, a guy who’d rather read technical manuals and surf the dark web rather than hone the wooing skills that would possibly net him the strong beauty he feels he deserves. At the same time, he doesn’t feel he should have to do this because a worthy woman wouldn’t want someone like that; “Why can’t they see (whomever) for the terrible person he is?” This sets up Aram for continuous heartbreak and disappointment because his dream angel doesn’t exist… but he’s also secretly jealous of the handsome rogues and white knights who seem to “get the girls” effortlessly.

We all admire the brutal honesty of Aram because we can relate; he’s innocence incarnate. We also hope he’ll find someone equally idealistic who hasn’t had her heart destroyed by falling for the wrong guy. But the real truth is we hope he’ll land somewhere between a friend-zoned doormat and a bitter resentful bastard that does unto others what was done unto him.

The guy with the big noble heart doesn’t have to also be the loser in love; he just needs to stop hating himself for who he doesn’t have… so he can be seen for someone worth having.

Hang in there, Aram; nice guys everywhere are pulling for you.

Janiss Has a Holiday Message for Cedarcrest Sanctum

CedarcrestHeader2015smallFor the very first time, the executive administrator of Cedarcrest Sanctum, Janiss Connelly, takes the reigns of the annual holiday address from Timothy Harker to wish a happy holidays to all – and why she’ll never turn anyone into a vampire.

Let’s just say this isn’t your usual Christmas message; read it HERE.

And Happy New Year!
LichheadTransparent

To Say or Not to Say Ello…That is the Question

ElloCaterpillarLabyrinthThe new social network gathering the requisite amount of buzz this…year? Month? Week? It’s called Ello, as in something that cute little caterpillar from Labyrinth would say.

Why is the buzz strong with this one? This is a quote from their manifesto:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership. We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Sounds good, but it’s still in beta, search is buggy, no IOS or Android mobile app yet, blah blah blah. This same idea, by the way, is what’s made WordPress such a strong web platform (and this website is hosted on it along with all of my other websites). As I’ve said many times over, when ANYONE creates a social network that can give people a better experience than Faceybook, so long, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (no thanks to all those game requests).

By the way, I’m @thinkingskull over at Ello.

LichheadTransparent

How HBO’s “True Blood” Should Have Ended

BillSookieFor seven seasons, the HBO series “True Blood” – based on the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books – deviated almost unrecognizably away from the source material. Every character not killed off managed to pair up with someone, but similar to the final Harris novel that reportedly left fans unsatisfied, HBO botched a chance to one-up the author on the final outcome of Sookie and Bill.

Here’s three suggested treatments for a better ending; this is just off the top of my head, but I prefer number three.

***SPOILERS IF YOU STILL CARE!***

  1. Sookie and Bill die together in the graveyard: Unable to watch Bill’s suffering, Sookie offers herself to feed him before he dies, a willingly sacrificing to provide one last comfort before he pops; it ends with friends and family attending Sookie’s funeral revealing a headstone next to Bill’s family.
  2. Sookie begs Bill to make her into a vampire: Finally admitting to herself she would stay with him forever, Bill finally accepts Sarah’s cure before turning Sookie and burying themselves together. Sookie’s blood enables them both to survive the daylight and join in the Thanksgiving celebration: the premiere vampire couple of Bon Temps.
  3. Sookie makes Bill human again with a little help from Grampa: After hearing Bill’s thoughts, she suspects the faerie-mixed Hep-V cocktail she infected him with is turning him mortal but not fast enough to prevent his true death as a vampire. Sacrificing the last of her power and hoping it’s enough, faerie grandfather Niall secretly lends a hand to restore Bill to life. With Sookie no longer a faerie and Bill no longer a vampire, they live happily as mortals raising the family they always wanted and growing old together.

Pick one…they’re all better than what crawled out of the writer’s room.

LichheadTransparent

Do I Think That #Vampires Actually Exist?

I get this question all the time. A LOT.
Fox Mulder inspired my preferred answer…with a heavy influence from Bela Lugosi.

I Vant To Believe

LichheadTransparent

The Matriarch Series Book Trailer

It took over a year to capture the original pictures and longer still to process them into a storybook format. I’ve had to learn a few new music and media skills to get this far, but this trailer is 100% created by me. PLEASE let me know if you do or don’t like it; any and all feedback will help me improve my work in the future. I hope you enjoy it.

LichheadTransparent