ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Stupid

Some folks have a difficult time coping with the deaths of celebrities, famous names like James Dean, Elvis Presley, or Jim Morrison, just to name a few.

For years, fans of these larger than life personalities have refused to accept the truth, insisting their favorite idols had cheated death and were still alive. Some have gone so far as to claim they’d personally met these deceased icons.

One such example is ESPN Sports, which is now claiming that their favorite Confederate General, Robert E Lee, is not only still alive, but is currently employed with the network.

ESPN executives were reportedly shocked this week when they discovered the former commander of the Army of Northern Virginia had tricked them into believing he was an unassuming college football announcer of Asian heritage, named Robert Lee.

ESPN recently held a joint press conference with Mr. Lee to confirm this amazing discovery.

“He was hiding in plain sight!” an ESPN spokesperson said. “We checked Robert E. Lee’s Wikipedia page and it said he died in 1870, but everyone knows how unreliable Wikipedia can be.”

“I’m not Robert E. Lee,” Mr. Lee said.

“Nice try, general,” the ESPN spokesperson countered. “Everyone thought General Lee was dead. Turns out he’s some Japanese guy who works for us! Who knew?”

“I’m not Japanese,” Mr. Lee said. “I’m Chinese-American.”

“Whatever,” the spokesperson said. “Everyone knows you dead confederates all look the same.”

“Robert E. Lee was born in 1807,” Mr. Lee said. “If he was alive he would be 210 years old.”

“You look great for your age, General,” the ESPN spokesperson said. “By the way. How do you know so much about Robert E. Lee? Is that because YOU ARE Robert E Lee?”

“It is not possible for me to be Robert E. Lee,” Mr. Lee said.

“Sure man,” the ESPN spokesperson said. “That’s exactly what Robert E. Lee would say.”

ESPN’s spokesperson went on to say that in light of this stunning revelation, the Network’s HR Department will be reviewing Mr. Lee‘s employment status.

“We are not sure we can keep this guy on staff,” the spokesperson explained. “ESPN has strict hiring requirements regarding race and we just found out we are short one Asian.”

“Besides,” the spokesperson added. “He might try to invade Pennsylvania, or bomb Fort Sumter or something.”

When informed that Robert E. Lee was not present when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter, the ESPN spokesperson admitted ESPN can be “crazy-bad” with facts.

“We were probably thinking of that other Confederate General, Stonewall Jackie Chan.”

“I don’t have to put up with this,” Mr. Lee stated. “I’m leaving.”

“Sure, man. We can end the press conference early, you traitorous rebel bastard,” the ESPN spokesperson said. “I know you are in a hurry to leave so you can surrender your army to the Union.”

The ESPN spokesperson then ended the news conference, thanking reporters for coming, and wishing Mr. Lee “Good luck at Gettysburg.”

“Say hello to General Grant for me,” the spokesperson said. “Don’t get dysentery on the way out!”

Advertisements

Excerpt From My Second Novel

I’m proud to report the second book in the Wither the Waking World saga is coming along nicely. While Theel hasn’t fully conquered all of his demons (no one does), many of the obstacles he faces in the second book will be external rather than internal. In the first book, he had to overcome many inner struggles, his lack of confidence, maturity, and faith. But in the second book, many of his struggles will be external.

For this reason, we will be exploring more of the fantastical elements of Theel and Yatham’s home island of Therhson. There will be more than just physical obstacles like the Great Dividers Mountains and the canyon called Krillian’s Cut blocking Theel’s path toward the completion of his quest.

There will be monsters.

Below is an excerpt from a chapter in which Theel’s brother Yatham encounters one. In this case, there is a story behind the monster’s existence, one that must reach its conclusion if the monster is to be defeated. Rather than try to fight the monster, Yatham decides to pray for it.

 

The place had the look of an inn, even though the name on its broad board was obscured by snow. Yatham could tell it was either abandoned by its owner, or was in the care of someone who had no regard for its appearance. Many of the wooden shutters on the ground floor were smashed, leaving the windows gaping, and with snow covering the sills. One of the two wooden doors at the front of the building had been ripped from its hinges, allowing several feet of snow to find its way inside.

Yatham walked through the portal and found himself in a darkened common room with two stone hearths, both of them dark and cold. Ribbons of pale light streamed in from the windows, splayed across a stone floor covered with broken furniture, splintered table tops and chair legs, and the glittering remains of countless bottles. The place reeked of wine, urine, and vomit. Each time Yatham stepped, he felt his boots sticking to the floor.

The trip across the common room was an ordeal, requiring careful placement of the feet. The further Yatham walked from the windows, the harder it was to see. He nearly tripped several times, and he quickly decided there was no proceeding without light. He found a piece of wood, whether a remnant of a table or chair he couldn’t know, nor did it matter. All it took was a little bit of whiskey from a mug on the floor, some flint and steel, and he had a passable torch.

As he approached the bar, the faint odor of putrefaction stung his nose. He threw a quick glance over the bar top and wasn’t surprised to see the dark form of a man lying face down, obviously dead for many days. Yatham choked and held his nose, scurrying through the doors to the kitchen.

This place was just as bad as the common room, perhaps worse, and awful clutter of destroyed things, pots and pans, wooden bowls and spoons. Whatever furniture was here was now kindling. Empty wine and liquor casks were scattered about, some tapped, but others hacked open as if with swords and axes, as if whoever did this was more interested in bathing in the stuff than drinking it.

He eventually found a brick stove and oven, but wished he hadn’t. The oven was dark and cold, but it was recently used. Looking inside, he could just barely see, by the flickering orange light of his torch, the charred bones of a skeleton.

They cooked someone.

The very moment his flickering torchlight passed across the empty eyeholes of the skull, he heard the pained shriek of a child. It seemed to be screaming for help, but was muffled as if suffocated.

Yatham shuddered. It was a horror he’d rarely known, is if the icy finger of Dehen Yaulk slithered up his spine, causing all the hair on his arms and legs to stand up straight. For a moment, he was frozen, unable to understand why he wasn’t moving.

Then, out of the cold dark oven, where there was no heat to cook, and no fire, not even a latent ember, a streak of flame leaped into Yatham’s face. He reared back, his stomach roiling, his teeth clenching. He stumbled backward, managing to keep his feet at first, but there was too much clutter on the floor, causing him to trip and fall down.

He sat among the splinters and broken glass, blinking, staring at the brick oven. It was cold and dark once again, but now his vision was scorched by a large orange blur. He pinched his eyes shut, and the orange blur was still there, as if painted on this inside of his eyelids. And now he could see the shape of the flame and the dark outline of a small hand in the middle of it. He realized it was a blackened hand that reached out of the oven, as if trying to claw at his face.

Slowly, tentatively, Yatham rose to his feet, and walked himself backward, his boots crunching in the broken glass, retreating until he bumped into the wall opposite the oven. This time he kept his distance, raising his torch to look into the oven from where he stood on the far side of the kitchen. The orange light of his torch once again fell across the charred bones of the skeleton, but this time, when he looked into the eyeholes of the skull, he could see the faint reflections of two small eyes. They were small and hurting and terrified. And staring at the torch in his hand.

He heard it again, the faint echo of a child’s cries, muffled as if screaming while suffocated.

The sound caused Yatham to shiver, his sense of humanity recoiling at the awfulness of what he was seeing. But despite his physical reaction, his brain was working to puzzle this out. Now he understood, but that did very little to slow his sense of horror, or settle his boiling stomach.

Semei had warned him of drownlings near the river. But there were greater horrors to be found. Just as he feared, the ground beneath the village of Tumblebrook was soured. Some ancient slumbering evil had been awakened, and now the spirit of an innocent child, tortured and burned for the amusement of evil men, was bound to the mortal plane. It was imprisoned within the tainted Craft of this place, unable to find peace, and slowly maturing into something terrible.

A fire wraith.

Since Yatham didn’t know when the child died, he had no idea how dangerous its spirit was. It seemed to retain enough of its former self that it was confused and frightened by its situation. It didn’t quite know it had no hope. It still had no reason to anger. And yet, it was trapped in the mortal plane long enough that it could already control the method of its physical demise.

Fire.

It was only a matter of time before the child would seek revenge upon the living. The village would suffer unnecessarily and even the deaths of the child’s murderers would not be enough to quench its vengeful rage. There was only one way to keep this from happening. Justice must be served while there was still a chance for the child to find peace. It was a deed as necessary as it was revolting, but Yatham knew it must be done.

“I must find the men who did this,” he whispered to himself. “I must find them and … burn them.”

The frightened eyes within the skull looked at the torch, darted toward Yatham’s face, then back to the torch. The sorrow contained within those eyes reached out to Yatham, reached into his chest, and gripped his heart, testing his resolve. The thought of what happened here caused his jaw to quiver. It took every scrap of his willpower to keep from weeping. Had anyone witnessed this? Why had no one done anything to stop it? Yatham thought of this child’s parents and wondered if they knew the fate of their offspring. Were they still looking in vain for their little one?

No matter how many times Yatham swore he would never question God’s plan, he still did, and now was such a time.

He fell to his knees.

“God forgive me for doubting you and your motives,” he prayed aloud. “I should not question those things I cannot understand, only dedicate myself to acting as would please you. I know you are a God of mercy, but I fear you ask something terrible of me, something truly unmerciful. If I must be the tool of your righteous vengeance, then please give me the strength to see it through. If I must commit horrible deeds, let me do it without any doubt of your will. Bolster my faith. Strengthen my heart. And if I must do this horrible thing that makes me sick to think of it, let me find a speck of good somewhere in all this evil. Let me find the parents, so they may know the fate of their child, so they may know this trapped spirit has been freed. Let me through this horrible act purchases them peace, knowing the spirit of their child is with you, basking in happiness and joy, waiting to be reunited as a family when the world breaths its last.

“And another plea, one from my own impure sinful tainted guilt-ridden soul,” Yatham added. “I ask for my own peace. I ask for your love and forgiveness to sooth the soul and ease the guilt of this mortal fool who must act on your behalf, and do your will as the slayer, the executioner, the executor of your righteous justice. If I might find the parents of this poor child, if I am able to bring the father to this place where the condemned are to die, let me empower him to free his child’s soul. Let me give him the privilege of striking the match that will cleanse this world of the filth who did this, and set the spirit of his babe free.

“I know it is wicked of me to ask, but my sinful nature compels me,” Yatham prayed through his clenched teeth. “If a killing must be done to avenge the dead, let it provide some satisfaction for the living. Please let it purchase some peace for those left behind.”

Keeping his eyes closed, he rose back to his feet, his boots scraping on the sticky floor, bits of broken glass dust tinkling from his shins like a tiny snow storm. He stood for a moment, keeping his eyes closed, unsure if we wanted to look in that oven again. But he must, and when he did, he was pleased to see the eyeholes of the skull were dark once again.

“Yes,” he muttered. “Sleep little one. Find what comfort you can. This will end soon and you will be safe within the Lord’s embrace.”

Excerpt From My Current Project

Thank you to everyone who has asked about the current status of the second novel in the Wither the Waking World Saga. Please be assured I am putting great effort into completing the sequel to The Death You Deserve. Theel has many more steps to take in his quest for Warrior Baptism, and I am as anxious to complete this journey as you are.

My current goal is to have it ready for publication by Christmas. I know this is unsatisfactory for many of you. Hopefully an excerpt will help tide you over.

Enjoy …

Horrible deeds committed on this ground had colored the Craft weaves black, making it sour for the living. When this happened, even those not practiced in the ways of the Craft or the Method could sense the darkness that clung to the earth. Most people who encountered such things would shrink away, fleeing in terror from the truth. But Theel sought the truth, no matter how terrible these memories were, no matter how they curdled his stomach. Rather than flee from the horror, he ran toward it. He needed to know.

He realized he was running, chasing the sounds with a strange desperation in his heart. He hoped it was happening at that moment, an oddly terrible desire. But if it was happening right then, he could still do something to stop it, to aid Leely, to comfort her. These memories were recent, but he couldn’t be certain how recent. Leely might have screamed only moments ago, but it also could have been a year ago, or even longer. But whether moments or a year, his heart didn’t know the difference and the ache in his heart begged him to act. And so he ran through the trees, the snow crunching under his boots, the frigid air filling with plumes of his hot breath.

As he got closer, the cries became louder, and seemed to carry greater emotions on the wings of the Craft, as well as some of the story behind what created them. Leely was now a full grown woman, with children of her own, and she feared for their safety. She was in terrible distress. She didn’t know where they were, or if they were safe. Her ears were full of crackling and snapping. Her face was scorched by waves of heat. Her nose was burned by black smoke. All she could think of was her children.

Theel gripped the handle of Battle Hymn tightly, resisting the urge to draw the blade. Fear clawed at him like and icy hand trying to grip his throat. He wanted to fight it off with his sword. He wanted to stab something, break something, destroy something. Whatever it took to fight the fear. But he kept Battle Hymn in her sheath, thinking that if he bared the shadowsteel blade, it would absorb the Craft weaves from the air around him and the memories contained within them, stealing Leely’s voice when he needed to hear her most.

He could see the trees thinning out ahead of him in an area where the ground became more rocky as if he approached a precipice. The sounds tugged him in this direction, the screams, the cracking of fire, the smell of smoke. Now it was becoming unclear to him if these things were brought to him by his Sight at all. Was he actually sensing these things with his eyes and ears? Were these things happening in the present? Was there still a chance to save her?

He scrambled up the rocks, slipping several times on the thin layer of snow that covered them, but maintained his balance by grabbing at the branches of the runt pines that grew there. He looked ahead and saw the plume of smoke, thick and billowing, the offspring of something much larger than a campfire. Then the stink hit him, the acrid smell of a something burning. It scorched his nostrils and caused his eyes to water. His throat tensed up as he felt his body react to the filthy air. He coughed it out of his lungs and knew in that moment this wasn’t coming to him courtesy of his sight. The flames were real. The smoke was real. The screams were real.

This was really happening.

The anguished cries continued, fueling his desperation as he picked his way over the last jumble of rocks. He pulled himself up onto a large boulder, then climbed to his feet, standing at the peak of a sharp ridge. Below him, a stream bubbled its way through a snow-covered glade, turning a waterwheel at the center of three modest buildings made of piled logs and thatch. One of the buildings was an inferno while another was leaking fingers of smoke from its roof and windows.

Theel could not see anyone. He briefly wondered why the inhabitants of the settlement weren’t fleeing the flames. Why weren’t they bucketing the stream to fight the fires? Why was no one was attempting the save the animals? A small collection of sheep and goats milled around with wild eyes, crying out in fright. They weren’t penned in or even watched by anyone. With nothing to stop them, they began to scatter into the trees.

It was then that Theel noticed the two burning buildings were far from one another. There was no way those flames could have spread on their own. His confusion quickly turned to clarity.

 No one was fighting the fires because they weren’t accidental. They weren’t the result of someone knocking over a candle or breaking a lantern. These fires were deliberately set by someone.

Now that the sheep and goats had fled, Theel noticed another animal. It was a large gray dog, the shaggy kind often kept in the mountains for shepherding. It lay on its side with three arrows in its hide.

Someone had killed that dog. Someone had lit those fires.

This was an attack.

Another strangled scream spurned Theel to action. He leaped off the rocky precipice, falling ten feet into the deep snow below, then tumbling down the slope in a cloud of white powder. As soon as his falling momentum was lost, he sprang to his feet and charged toward the third building, the place from which he heard the cries of distress.

And now he felt like he was hooked, like a fish on the end of a line. He as no longer in control of his actions, pulled toward the cabin by the Craft weaves and the emotions, the terror, contained in those screams. He was desperate to know what was happening, but when waves of magic rolled over him, telling him the story, he was instantly sickened.

Leely was being beaten.

“No!” Theel screamed. “No!”

Leely didn’t know who these men were, but they came to take her animals away. And whatever food she and her children had. And now they wanted to take more.

“No!” Theel shouted again.

It was both an exclamation of revulsion, but also an attempt to be heard. He wanted his voice to reach the ears of Leely’s attackers. He wanted them to know he was coming and see him as a threat that must be met. Hopefully, they’d come out of the cabin to fight him. Hopefully, they would leave her alone.

The screams continued to pound at Theel’s ear drums as he ran, and the Craft weaves continued to crash against him, relentlessly, pitilessly, choking his heart with the horror of what transpired within that cabin. There were at least three men, two of them pushing Leely to the floor and holding her there, while the third restrained her children, two small boys, weeping and reaching out to their mother.

“No!” Theel screamed again as he sprinted toward the building. “No!”

Then a man dressed in furs and mismatched armor emerged from the smoking building. His strides clanked loudly from the spurs on his boots and the crossbow hanging from his hip. He didn’t see Theel coming, didn’t react to him at all. Instead his face was stretched into a dirty, gap-toothed smile, both satisfied and triumphant.

Theel didn’t know what had this man so amused, nor did he care. What he knew, and what he cared about, was the act of cutting the man’s smile off his face, slicing the man’s face off his skull, hacking the man’s head off his body.

Battle Hymn was singing loudly as her shadowsteel blade burst free from her scabbard. Her tone was majestic, fierce, and filled with vengeance. Theel felt a whooshing of wind as the elements of Craft rushed in to answer the golden angel’s commands. He felt his hair standing on end, and the air crackling with Craft as he raised her blade. There was nothing in the world to prevent this man’s life from ending, right in that instant, from a single stroke of flashing shadowsteel.

Star Wars – An Excerpt From My Memoir

In honor of the release of the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, I would like to share this expert from my memoir, Lost My Jock, A True Underdog Story:

Clearly, I was out of my mind. I was so panicked that I was unable to think, and needed spiritual guidance. I needed the voice of my mentor to whisper in my ear, to tell me what to do.

I was in a situation very similar to Luke at the end of Star Wars.

A lot of you probably don’t understand that reference, since Star Wars was a very obscure art-house film that barely earned back enough money to cover its budget after a limited run in a dozen or so theaters. The movie contains a whole lot of fluff about starships and lasers and whatever. But at the heart of the story is an exploration of the existential angst experienced when oppressed youth is denied the opportunity to go to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters.

I never saw it, but my trusty Internet source tells me that the main protagonist of Star Wars is a guy named Luke Duke. Luke is a spunky teenager who, along with his buddy, a scoundrel named Hung So Low, enjoys driving around recklessly in an orange Volkswagen hybrid, the Millennium Bug.

Luke is really upset with his former BFF, an evil lord of the Sith named Ralph Nader, who won’t hang out with him anymore. Ever since Ralph discovered he has Jedi powers, he’s been spending all his time using the Force to cheat at World of Warcraft. Things get even worse when Ralph ignores Luke’s texts, unfriends him on Facebook, and ridicules his sweater.

Anyway, the pivotal moment occurs when Luke is trying to get revenge on Ralph by blowing up his battle station wagon. Luke is experiencing doubts about the mission, but then he hears the ghostly voice of his dead gynecologist, Obie-GYN.

Obie-GYN says, “Use the Armpit Maneuver, Luke!”

I experienced a similar spiritual moment, only it wasn’t the voice of my gynecologist telling me what to do. It was my brother, Mick.

“Use the Armpit Maneuver!”

The words were a gentle whisper to me, almost relaxing. No they weren’t.

“Dammit, use the Armpit Maneuver you hopeless dickhead!”

That was more like it.

In case you are wondering, The Armpit Maneuver was my “finishing move.” You see, Lost My Jock is a memoir chronicling my disastrous attempt at amateur wrestling when I was in the third grade. It is a true underdog story, but one in which the dog (me) does not triumph. In fact, in one noteworthy bout, I not only did not win, I quite literally, lost my jock. Yes, my jock was laying there on the mat. How is that possible? Read the book to find out. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

Do you like reading underdog sports stories? Do you enjoy stirring tales about unheralded athletes who overcame insurmountable odds to accomplish greatness? Do you need something to read while sitting on the toilet? 

Lost My Jock is a true underdog story. It chronicles the journey of an amateur wrestling legend who overcame humble beginnings to achieve absolutely nothing. He is the proud owner of several awards and records, including Longest Losing Streak, Most Embarrassing Defeat and Worst Haircut. He is remembered by sports historians for possessing “that special kind of magic that turns wine into water.” Some of the most beautiful women in the world have enthusiastically declared that he is “revolting.” 

This is the true story of how I lost my jock. It isn’t a very inspiring underdog story. After all, it’s a story about a jockstrap. So I guess it’s actually a true underPANTS story. But it’s still great for reading on the toilet!

Lost My Jock is available everywhere eBooks are sold, including the following online retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Lost My Jockstrap.jpg