Wednesday, July 31, 2013

News You Can't Use: Mutilated Cows Found at Missouri Farm, Police Not Ruling Out the Possibility of Aliens

If there's one disappointing aspect of the last few years, other than the total collapse of western civilization, it's that extraterrestrial intelligences seem to be getting bored with us. A relationship that once burned down the bedroom with probing and hybrid creature breeding experiments has lost its spark. The Grays are all "it's not you, it's me" but I think we all know better. They're cheating with some Planet X hominids and we've been tractor-beamed to the curb.

Or maybe not! A story from the Show Me State gives hope that the minds that explained agriculture and pyramid construction to us may be back and very, very interested in cow genitals.

 Who would cut the tongues and take the reproductive organs from several cows?

This is the question I think we're all trying to answer in our own special way.

Robert Hills, Henry County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy, says the first cow was discovered in December of 2011, the second and third this summer. All were female cows and were owned by rancher Lyn Mitchell.

Three missing cows. This is what passes for a crisis in rural Missouri. If you were wondering why everyone wants to leave the city, consider this your answer. Also "female cows." As opposed to what? A male "cow" is called a bull, city slicker. "They ain got dat on yer fan-see gaw-gol? You some kind o' mo-ron?" etc.

“We couldn’t see any signs of trauma, and it doesn’t appear that there was any type of wild animal, such coyotes, that were involved,” Hills told KMOX.

Crazy old "science" probably has an explanation, but it's more fun to pretend that the decomposition/scavenger animal process is some impenetrable mystery.

Deputy Hills says decomposition of animals in the summer can cause a certain type of bloating.

Not to be confused with the certain type of bloating caused by typical American dietary habits.

“We’re having to look at this from two sides,” says Hills. “Some people believe that there are aliens that are involved in this or the possibility of the occult going to the other end of the spectrum, we’ve talked to other people that say that just when cows die that’s what happens to their bodies.”

"We've narrowed it down to saucer people or evil wizards as the most likely suspects." I guess the reverse vampires and colors out of space have been safely ruled out. As has the obvious, rational explanation, of course.

Traveled 10,000 light years. The objective: cow tongues.

The first cow discovered on Mitchell’s ranch had her tongue and ear removed. Mitchell told KSHB-TV she assumed the mutilation was part of a sacrificial ritual or just teenagers, so she didn’t report it.

"Prolly just dem kids doin' thar Say-tan-ic rit-u-alls. Don see no need to git da law." Seriously, I love her blase attitude toward black magic ceremonies. I mean, what could you even do, right? It's not like the police have a bunch of elder signs in the trunk of their car or something. 

Mitchell said the veterinarian told her the cuts to the cow were precise and surgical. Also what seems to be the common denominator of all these incidents is the lack of blood and other bodily fluids surrounding the area and inside the animal.

With the Scooby Doo gang retired and keeping bees somewhere this case may never be solved.

Mitchell told the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) that the third cow’s heart was removed and exposed, but was not taken.

Creating an acronym organization does not provide instant credibility. Sorry.

Komment Korner  
Is there such a thing as a decent report or some semblance of decent journalism anymore? Constructing a sentence is elementary.

Looks like the work of some secret sinister man. Carlos Danger maybe

Aliens, doing jobs Americans won't do.

*sigh* It's what happens when a cow dies, and vultures get at it. They attack the exposed areas where skin is thinner, so they go for genitals, tongues, eyes, etc. The lack of blood is because the animal was already DEAD.

and your mama.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, July 26, 2013

DotTeeVee: How to Play Office Politics --

Are you stuck in a job where neither nepotism or special preferences are helping you? Yes, of course you are. You could always work hard and be the best possible employee. After that fails, it's time to aware yourself on the exciting game of office politics. Think of it as the victim group you create for yourself and consists only of you, the gossip and character assassination set aside or the big rewards that come when you embrace that inner sociopath. The only problem is you'll probably make a mess of it and be one of those criminals that gets caught and punished instead of the usual case where they get big prizes.

Luckily, there's a video! Like a nine to five Borgia you can now unlock the secrets of Byzantine maneuvering, explained in terms so simple and patronizing there's no chance of screwing this up. Big promotion, here we come!

Unless the boss has a kid that also works there or there's a government mandate to promote a handicapped, female gay Aleutian islander. Than you're boned, sorry. 

I should also point out that this video is for the "health care" professional, so I'm guessing they'll be lots of advice about cultivating an atmosphere of distrust by constantly making oblique references to the coming "Obama Care" disaster.

Cheery corporate video music plays as we meet "Ann," a woman who looks like she does her tanning at a New Mexico nuclear testing site. She also has the bad habit of speaking in what I call the "Olive Garden Waitress Voice." You know what I mean. Way too much simulated cheerfulness and ersatz enthusiasm, coupled with a healthy dose of condescension. Who better to guide us through the minefield of health care-related office politics? 

"I'm Ann and I'll be teaching YOU how to sow that discord!

She concedes that politics can leave one feeling like a "pawn" or even "collateral damage." Man, that movie was horrible. I did like the scene where Arnold goes nuts and starts smashing computers with a ball bat for some reason. "Ja, heir ist your co-lat-er-awl dam-ige!" Doing that probably won't help you get that big raise, by the way.

That Weiner creep should be joining you here in Sex Prison very soon.

It's a dirty game, but we're told we're going to "have to play." You're already in the sewer, health care professional, now it's time to get dirty. She talks about "stakeholders" which caused involuntary cringing and then she mentions "regulators." Yeah, if only. Sadly, she's doesn't follow that with references to not being a "geek off the street" and being "handy with the disclosure of information, earn your keep."

Instead we get more patronizing language. The key is mastering some simple techniques. You don't want to jump right into using elaborate mindwashing interventions without a sound base. First rule: don't make crazy remarks. Yup, no more "Man, that Hitler had some good ideas." To help make this complicated concept a little more clear she suggests you might bash a university only to find out your boss actually went there! Whoops! Get ready for that "Braxton Community College" snob to land on your hopes and dreams like a cartoon anvil.

How dare you criticize DMU! 

We even get a "glass breaking" sound effect. I guess the needle skipping across a record sound wasn't available. Sadly Stone Cold Steve Austin doesn't come out and give Ann the stunner, like I was expecting. Instead our lecturer declares this hypothetical situation to be "Awkward!" The suggested alternative to ranting about your extreme political views and hatred of anyone even slightly different than you? Yes, shutting the hell up. Also try to get along with others. Man, this stuff is gold! No more walking through the prenatal ward with a chunk of particle board on my shoulder and daring co-workers to "knock it off and see what happens!" 

It's a madhouse! A madhouse!!!

We should also stay out of the "X-Ray tech's personal issues." What he does with that machine, lead vests and the more naive interns is none of your business.

Because we live in a glorious future of flying cars and so on we must now address "electronic mail." I was anticipating a painful reference to "netiquette" with grim resolve, but incredibly she doesn't use that particular term. The advice we do get is don't send messages while "angry." I would also include not sending them after washing down a fistful of pills with vodka, as painful personal experience has very gradually taught me.

"Assume your boss does not want to see your homemade fetish videos."

Just calm down, basically. We should imagine our supervisor actually reading a message that consists of a blurry JPEG of your bikini area and ten pages of rambling threats. Instead, please bottle up that rage. You know, this whole video is one giant advertisement for the benefits of not being yourself.

In case we're still not getting it, we're now told to "listen." This is crazy enough to work. "Some things are better left unsaid," says Ann. Various violence fantasies about your immediate supervisor probably fall into that category.

What if the atmosphere is so toxic that even not directly expressing my many personal pathologies isn't helping? Fear not, there's job listing on some sort of website! Next time be respectful, listen to others, send professional e-mails and succeed for sure! Assuming the health care worker in question isn't stealing pills to feed an addiction or accidentally pulling the plug on the "bad ones," or something, of course. It wouldn't hurt to be related to someone, either.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

News You Can't Use: Scientists Finally Discover The Function of the Human Appendix

Science is never allowed to admit it doesn't know the answer. Make up highly improbably post hoc explanations, lie like crazy, or just declare that the function of an organ is "nothing." Then when you're proven wrong, take a comical visit to a "Creation Museum" until the heat dies down. Might be time to go look at that "Old Testament Dinosaurs" exhibit again, guys.

It has long been regarded as a potentially troublesome, redundant organ, but American researchers say they have discovered the true function of the appendix.

Any criticisms about the dearth of scientific achievement produced by Big Brother Canada can now cease. We figured out that an organ in the human body does things, instead of being an internal hood ornament.

The researchers say it acts as a safe house for good bacteria, which can be used to effectively reboot the gut following a bout of dysentery or cholera.

Great news for anyone planning to write a noir about the immune system. "I was still leaking from my shoulder when I hit the alley, but considering I blasted that virus right in the groceries with my own heater and left it bleeding out like a sieve on some filthy sidewalk I ain't complaining. Pathogen died hard, bawling like a animal. That's how you reboot the gut, haw haw. Gotta get to the safety of the appendix, wait there until the cholera stops dog-tailing me."

The conventional wisdom is that the small pouch protruding from the first part of the large intestine is redundant and many people have their appendix removed and appear none the worse for it.

The science of gaps.

"Shocker: Lindsay unable to reboot gut."

Scientists from the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina say following a severe bout of cholera or dysentery, which can purge the gut of bacteria essential for digestion, the reserve good bacteria emerge from the appendix to take up the role.

Nothing screams SCIENCE!!! like repeated references to the "gut." Perhaps the appendix also plays a role in "going with your gut" and so forth. I had it removed, destroying the male version of intuition, etc.

But Professor Bill Parker says the finding does not mean we should cling onto our appendices at all costs.

Forget you, professor. I'm going to keep bitterly clinging to my appendix, fearing the vibrant change out of ignorance.

“So it’s sort of a fun thing that we’ve found, but we don’t want it to cause any harm, we don’t want people to say, “oh, my appendix has a function”, so I’m not going to go to the doctor, I’m going to try to hang onto it.”

"I mean, I'm not some kind of monster. I'd feel a little bad if people started dying over this or something."

“As an idea it’s an attractive one, that perhaps it would be a nice place for these little bacteria to localise in, a little cul-de-sac away from everything else,” he said.

I like my immunological noir better than this guy's "Bridges of Immune System County."

“The thing is that if we observe what’s been happening through evolution, the higher on the evolutionary scale we are and the more omnivorous animals become, then the smaller and less important the appendix becomes and humans are a good example of that.

We now know it's a safe house for good bacteria and/or a special little tucked away community for them to share the rich pageant of life. We can stop with the lies.

Full Story.

Komment Korner

Melissa, don’t worry about GC. He’ll select himself out of the gene pool when he gets appendicitis and doesn’t get it removed.

And the media or someone taught ya’ll to have to say something negative about a scientist who is attempting to learn more?

That has nothing to do with her appendix, Rita.

LOL! you’re funny, like a child.

The next day, I felt worser

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure #5: The Mystery of Chimney Rock

After an unfair, deprotagonizing and generally ungood voyage to a land of swords and sorcery it's back to the Choose Your Own Adventure series and some relatively modern horror. Make no mistake, this was definitely an area where this series excelled. While my parents were just glad the moron box was off, I was experiencing refined nightmarium. They probably would have been less happy about all that reading if they knew it was generally stories where you die a horrible and meaningless death at the hands of supernatural evil.

This one opens with a fair amount of back-story, well at least more than most early entries. I'm visiting my cousins in Connecticut and we're checking out this "large stone house." It looks abandoned, but instead of becoming the center of a thriving squatter-based heroin industry it's also uninhabited, on account of a curse. People go and in and don't come back out, basically. Like most problems, a cat lady is involved. Apparently this old woman, who may or may not have been a witch, placed the curse so that people wouldn't bother her cat. Yeah, really. Others theorize that she isn't actually dead, but the bottom line is we've got this creepy haunted house ruining the local real estate market.

Places curses, ruins property values, throws cats.

There's also a creepy caretaker who lives in a nearby shack and presumably spends his days writing anti-technology manifestos, when not fulfilling the classic horror movie "insane prophet who is totally vindicated by later events" role.

Like any true friends, my cousins immediately suggest that I enter the cursed, haunted, roach motel for humans. I'm all "let's do this stuff." We get some nice descriptions of the general unpleasant aura of the house and I'm having second thoughts already, but the desire to not to look weak in front of second tier relations is a powerful, powerful thing.

Inside I enter a kitchen that is not exactly of the "dream" variety. Mister "It's got a death curse!" never goes into the house itself, which explains both the many chipped tiles and why "caretaker of cursed property" is the best job in the world.

In classic horror movie style I head up the stairs to investigate, say "Who's there?" at unexplained noises and generally blunder around wasting time before the inevitable. There's dust and cobwebs everywhere and the railing is falling off, which I'm sure is in no way telegraphing a possible horrible fate. I enter a room filled with various mismatched items, like an old radio and some rope. There's a closet in back. Go in? Of course.

Before I can complete that process, a mouse runs at my feet and I'm all set for a death struggle against two pounds worth of vermin. However, before I can "kick it away" it dies on its own. Well, all right. This prompts a mild freak out and I run out of the room. You know, maybe this whole witch house thing wasn't the best idea. I did notice some keys next to a police officer uniform hanging on the wall prior to my embarrassing battle with a self-destructing rodent, so I decide to go back and get them. I must properly honor the memory of Officer Van Halen.

Please type in your home address and what hours you're not there.

I get the key ring without incident, but heading back to the stairs a big black cat is hissing and generally looking unfriendly. After that whole mouse thing I can imagine how poorly this is going to turn out. Recognizing that I'm totally outclassed by an animal that regularly chokes on its own fur I bolt for the kitchen. Here someone is calling for "Melissa" and sure enough, it's the witch! Suddenly all crazy brave I stare her down and she runs off down some stairs. I try to follow, but end up going back outside instead, wondering what all this nonsense means. 

Got scared by a mouse, ran from the cat, then I "ethered" a witch.

The next day I go back and encounter the caretaker. I fear the worst, but instead of being all "look on this omen and despair!" or whatever he claims I freed him from the witch's curse. Man, if sitting in a shack all day ranting about the United Nations and inhaling booze counts as a curse I must be under the direct wrath of God. Either way, good for you, dude. "She died yesterday," he explains. "For the last time!" Oh, shocker! Bum bum bum BUM!!!!! Please do not ruin this incredible surprise ending by telling your friends.

I liked this book. It's got some nice atmosphere and builds tension, even if nothing that happens made any sense in hindsight. What were those keys for? Who did that uniform belong to? Why do mice just tire of life and die? Why did the old woman running off somehow result in her final, real, no take-backs this time, death and the lifting of the curse? There aren't any good answers and there probably shouldn't be. It's just supposed to scare you and based on all those childhood nightmares, mission accomplished.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

News You Can''t Use: City Subcontractor Demolished Wrong House

People make mistakes. That's why pencils have erasers and prisons have those giant revolving doors. Since governments are just many people combining like a semi-functional version of Voltron it's to be expected that they, too, will sometimes make errors. Usually little things, like being replaced by self-aware cameras, giving weapons to criminals or tracking absolutely every move you make. Sometimes the failures are a bit more obvious, like destroying the wrong house.

Imagine driving up to your home – or vacation home – and realizing it’s not there.

This is not my beautiful house! Really, it isn't. It's a pile of rubble.

It happened in the Lake Worth section of Fort Worth last Friday when a city subcontracted demolition crew took down the wrong house in the 9700 block of Watercress Drive.  The crews apparently demolished the house next door to what was the original targeted property.

I like the use of "apparently." "So it would appear." "Our best guess..."

"Not the targeted property? Whoa!!!"
“Typical city,” said neighbor Stephen Neumann, laughing.

I mean, am I right or what? Ho, ho, ho.

Neumann ruefully observes this kind of mistake has happened along the lake before and that he keeps his own property spritzed up to avoid any confusion.

He wrote "don't tear this one down" in huge letters on the garage door. Yes, "spritzing" is just the thing to prevent disaster. Keep yourself spritzed up to prevent that punitive audit!

“I just seen an excavator tearing that house down and I was wondering why,” he said adding, “It was a pretty good house, it wasn’t all that bad. When this one next door has been needing tearing down for years.”

It's sort of like those doctors that amputate the wrong limb, leave their car keys where your appendix used to be or you come in for a routine checkup and instead get chemically castrated. "I was wondering why he was exposing my genitals to massive amounts of radiation, but was too shy to say anything. I'm not the expert, after all."

The city calls it a mistake.

The assigning blame to a convenient scape-goat process is still ongoing. The current frontrunner is anyone who wants lower taxes or fewer regulations.

The owner of the demolished property actually has a permanent home at Eagle Mountain Lake. CBS 11 has been unable to contact the owner, but it’s expected they’ll be compensated for the loss.

By that we mean it will be declared an "Act of God." 

Please do not visit the ad-heavy source.

Komment Korner   

OH NO!!! All of my Van Goghs & ming dynasty vases were in there!

It's Bushes fault!

Sorry you're thinking of old school government. We have new school government now. Things are different.

The reported did a good job on the story.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, July 12, 2013

DotTeeVee: Parents Upset Over New Nintendo Console - Super Nintendo - Circa 1991

Are video games destroying lives? In 1991 the answer to that was "yeah, probably" as opposed to the "yes, definitely" of today. As the technology made another big jump forward from the rather basic Eighties games the world changed, perhaps irrevocably. Who better to document this tumultuous time in the history of something that really doesn't matter than local news reporters?

"Have things gone too far?" is the question we'll be addressing. Is "Pilotwings" creating a generation that will forsake wage and marriage slavery to obsess over gliders? Could the castrated SNES version of Mortal Kombat lead to real life crime? We better start with a therapist.

Yes, group therapy for Super Mario codependency. The therapist actually has the balls to ask "does this really have to cost this much" in reference to the games. Keep in mind she's probably charging each family $100 an hour and they don't even get a private session, instead having to air Johnny's embarrassing inability to beat Mario without warping despite near constant play to a bunch of equally troubled strangers. Our counselor suggests getting angry at "The Manufacturer" because assigning blame to outside agencies is always the first step to addiction recovery. Meanwhile a younger version of one half of Kid 'N' Play dominates the shot.

"You ain't going to no stinking (video game) party!"

The voice-over grinds in additional indignity, calling the victims "Nintenpendent." I'm sure they came up with that after hours of brainstorming, beating out other strong contenders like "Nintendopeheads" and "Junkies For Eight Bit Smack." Sadly this is the end of the therapy session so I can't give you much more help with your joystick problem, other than blaming capitalism, of course.

One woman suggests "peer pressure" is part of the issue. "You want to try some Bayou Billy, kid? Come on, all your friends are doing it."

We move on, suggesting that the number of vidiots in therapy and insane asylums will only increase with the new "Super Nintendo," priced at a staggering $200. Yes, kids, there was a time when two Franklins was considered an obscene sum to pay for a toy that hooks up to the moron box. Still, there will be "better pictures" or so we are told. 

The next generation of "picture" technology.

We have now reached the painful moment where the uncool, goofy news reporter actually tries to play these so-called "electric games." Making it less, or arguably more, painful is the fact that the magic of television shrinks down the reporter so it appears he's actually in the game! Naturally, he sucks at it.

Learn to play, newb.

We get the expected "I'm over 30 so am completely unable to adapt to any new or novel situation" complete with ironic remarks about "watching the road." He runs in reverse for awhile, which suggests an ignorance that runs deeper than unfamiliarity with electronic recreation. Has this guy ever seen a race? It really isn't that complicated.

We try a jump, but lacking the skill of a "nine or ten year-old" he promptly crashes. Game over, man.

"Tell my wife I love her."

Apparently there are resistors to this new era of "it was good for the time, but didn't age well" gaming. A woman explains that she'll tell her child that marketing is used to make you want things you don't need so they can get your money. Actual good advice without bombastic fear-mongering or finger-pointing? Hopefully this never catches on or everything our society is built on will come crashing down.

We finish by noting there's also something out there called "Sega," but I doubt they'll ever amount to much, even if some people prefer their "pictures." Yes, he says pictures again. I understand the average television viewer is unlikely to start the next scientific golden age, but do they really need to have everything explained in the simplest, most patronizing terms? It's not like we've got people putting kids into expensive and obviously worthless therapy for a harmless know what, never mind.

The obligatory "Pac Man" reference and we're done.

Komment Korner

these parents did a lot of LSD in the 60s and they thought their kids were addicts

What a fucking joke, dont buy your kids the shit or better yet make them play outside.

Because Chrono Trigger's powerful storyline and smooth gameplay was specifically designed to make you spend money. Thank you, corny news corporation thingy. 

Lol yeah that was funny. He got owned.

Video mania? What about " Hair Mania" ??

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New You Can't Use: Traffic Cameras Bring Ohio Town to Screeching Halt

Wouldn't it be great if we were constantly under government surveillance? Obviously our Inner Party feels this way and since they're reading this, so do I. I love IngSoc! Death to EastAsia, our eternal enemies! I'm certainly not keeping a diary or trying to remember the past. Don't audit me, bro!

In addition to eliminating wrong-think cameras can also make our roads safer by giving tickets to offenders well after the fact. And sometimes not offenders too, I suppose. It's a small price to pay for SAFER ROADS, right? You're not some kind of monster that wants more traffic fatalities, are you? Of course you aren't. Here's your ticket for a light our camera says you ran back in January.

Those traffic cameras drivers hate and municipal bean counters love have brought a small village in Ohio to a grinding halt.

Bean counters, El Oh El. Looks like someone forgot it's really about our safety, just like everything that happens. Those cameras? Your safety. Body cavity search? Your safety. Arrested for unpopular opinions? Safety.

Elmwood Place (pop. 2,188) has seen four of its six Village Council members resign amid public outrage over a flurry of fines issued by the cameras.

I like how the wording makes it sound like no human agency is involved in this at all. The cameras have become self-aware!

“The public is bewildered with what is going on,” Village Councilman Jerald Robertson told  “There is a sense that they have no idea what we are doing.

"Some days I try to remember what things were like a decade ago, even though we're told not to do that. I don't think it was like this, but I can't be sure. Oh well, back to the television."

“I have no idea what is going on with the council,” he added.

Cities and towns around the nation, working with private companies, have installed the cameras to catch drivers speeding or running red lights. They then split the fine proceeds, generating big profits for companies such as American Traffic Solutions and Redflex Traffic Systems, and much-needed revenue for municipalities.

When the evils of capitalism and socialism unite, look out.

Attorney Mike Allen is fighting back at Elmwood Place, filing for class-action status for a suit against the town on behalf of everyone who paid a fine meted out by an eye in the sky.

He's suing GOD??? Oh, right. It's supposed to mean the cameras.

“We feel what the village did was unconstitutional.”

Whoa, comrade brother. Constitution? That sounds like terrorist talk.

Health problems were cited as the reasons for the resignations for two of the members, but Robertson believes the public outrage played a role in all of their decisions.

The self-aware computer now controlling the city had no comment, other than a blinking, menacing red light.

Full Article.

Komment Korner

It's never anyone's fault but the "out of control" government's. Right? Never mind the people who speed. Or gun it to avoid waiting 30 seconds at a red light. Or someone who thinks it's his/her right to park whenever, wherever they want because they're just going "inside for a minute." It's always someone else who is at fault. 

How do we know these cameras don't snap random pictures along with real violators to pad the coffers? And don't tell me it couldn't happen with our open and transparent governments.

I work in a city that has red light cameras and will slowly and carefully proceed to the city limits before purchasing anything. I urge everyone else to do the same if they find themselves in such a place.

Just another example of big brother and how they manage to fowl up this country

Obey Big Brother..nuf said. bye

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wizards, Warriors & You #17 Conquest of the Barbarians

Last time out attempts to contact extraterrestrial intelligences led to wa-wa-wacky highjinks that would not have been out of place in a pile of deleted scenes that were cut from "Benny Hill" for failing to live up to the high intellectual and moral standards of that series. Fortunately, the painful space invader nonsense is over, at least for now. With eighties gamebooks it's just a matter of time before another encounter with a brilliant race that mastered interstellar travel but can't even zip up their pants without massive assistance. Some day, yes. Today, no. It's back to swords, sorcery and screwjobs.

Yes, screwjobs. The magic in this series is more along the lines of unpredictable mayhem than the sterile science by another name that it usually is in today's lame fantasy novels. For example the spell "Command Animals" will make animals that are already friendly hostile, while the magical Rejuvenating Battle Sword will repair itself if broken but the new blade might turn on you! You're probably thinking "I bet this leads to lots of pathetic, unheroic bad endings where your own spells and weapons create friendly fire situations" and you could not be more right. An ordinary person with no special powers fresh off the turnip truck would probably fare far better than the mighty "Warrior" and the mystical, inscrutable "Wizard."

Of course, if an ordinary Joe was an option these authors would probably describe his powers like this: Punching Fists! By balling up his hands Mr. Normal can deliver devastating unarmed blows similar to a mace or flail! But beware! The skin and bone of your fingers and knuckles can actually be damaged by these mighty strikes, possibly rendering you helpless! 

"Conan and his co-dependent fox herd."

We kick things off with Wizard and Warrior just maxin' and relaxin' all "I bet my own weapons don't kill me." Wizard is reading cards to tell the future, while Warrior is coming up with further embellishments for the already ridiculous legend of his worthless Sword of the Golden Lion. Seriously, it's garbage. If these books ever give you a choice between the "Immortal Blade" and any other weapon, including improvised weapons like rocks and chairs, pick the latter. This thing is like an instant lose button. The book claims it was forged along with Excalibur, is indestructible and was claimed after a three day battle with a sorcerer. In truth it's probably a piece of battered and rusted rebar that the Warrior fished out of a shallow pond in a quarry, only less effective.

 I won this magical blade after beating about a dozen dragons and maybe some sort of hydra.

An obviously doomed squire named "Blym" wants to know his future, but Wizard responds by tossing the cards in the fire and being all mysterious, as is his way. We go to some festival, but when we get there everyone is dead and we even get a lovingly crafted illustration of the carnage. The King is all "what's with all the death?" Wizard admits he saw all this coming, but couldn't prevent it because of "fate."

Wizards are kind of dicks. I'm just sayin'. When they mess up or are too lazy to solve problems they just hide behind the usual excuses. Except Merlin from Gauntlet. That's my bro, right there. Dude was so chill with his "Yeotch!" and "Yum!" He hardly ever shot the food and his potions were like tactical nukes. Yeah, Merlin was the exception that proves the rule.

This spell kills animals dead, hostile or not.

The bottom line is the same Barbarians who committed this massacre (including women and children, the book is quick to assure us) have now seized our own castle. Wizard and Warrior, of course, will have to take it back, using a "secret entrance." Yeah. "Game of Thrones" this isn't.

 I can see how the enemy missed this.

At this point I can choose my character. Obviously, I go with "Warrior" who is really a Knight with a golf bag full of weapons of dubious usefulness. Or at least he would be, but the armory is currently in the hands of the Barbarians so I'm stuck with the Sword of the Bad Ending and this Aegis shield knock-off that "reverses personalities." I'm paranoid about our enemies getting at my other weapons, but honestly it would probably help my cause if they did. Consider another example: "The Flying Spear." It can be thrown "five times" further than a normal spear, but it might "fly back at you with disastrous results!" 

I imagine opening the armory, finding all the weapons strewn about and lots of dead Barbarians. 

Inside: the worst gun control argument you'll ever hear!

Like the big fudging heroes that we are Wizard and I sneak through the darkness to try to find the hidden door. While generally bungling around, a Barbarian leaps out of a tree! Time to use my awesome shield to turn him good and then pump him for information!

Of course this is the one member of their Army of Evil and Child-Killing who is actually "gentle" and only goes along with the rapine out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to cultural norms. The mirror shield makes him evil! Who could have foreseen this obvious weakness leading to disaster? Wa-wa-wah.

The result is what the book also described as a "peaceable being" clinging to my back like a possum baby and battering at my helmeted melon. Not the finest hour for a heavily armed and armored soldier with a magical shield and sword. I'm getting my ass kicked by an unarmed, nearly naked former pacifist. Wizard is just standing there, perhaps sensing his spells, many of which could stop this farce, are too dangerous for the situation or more likely taking sick pleasure in my ineptitude and the resultant misery.

"Chaper Six: How Appeasement Would Have Eventually Defeated Hitler."

Then the book, which is already on my bad side, makes me throw a coin to determine what happens next. Not this shit again. Lucky Maryland quarter, deploy!


I die. 

Before you die you see the capital building or whatever that thing is.

I'm almost tempted to leaving it at that because the final page is so ridiculous, insulting and awful it barely deserves to be preserved for future generations in this online answer to the Great Library of Alexandria. All right, for the sake of those unborn here it is: I try to use the shield on this guy again because that makes more sense than stabbing him or waiting for him to realize that slapping a man in a suit of metal is going to hurt him more than me. No, use the magical shield that already failed once. Brilliant.

Naturally, more shenanigans occur. I look into the mirror myself and instead of becoming evil I become a coward and wimp! Wizard, of course, watches this happen with disinterest. Then I'm killed with my own sword while begging and cowering. It's hard to imagine a more ignominious end. Murdered with your own weapon by a guy that didn't even want to fight. Please make up some lies to make me seem more heroic or at least less pathetic at my funeral, Wizard.

Yeah, this one sucked hard. I'm not going to use "it was just a bad run-through!" as an excuse any more. The fact that the book would allow this sort of run to happen is enough of a condemnation. It reminds me of playing Dungeons & Dragons and getting the "you never said you put your armor on!" or "the magic sword you spent all the loot on isn't actually magical, haw haw!" treatment. I mean, it's bad enough being a dateless wonder geek doing an activity that both marks you as socially marginalized and ensures that state will continue, but then you get deprotaganized at every turn on top of that. 

This was like the book version of that experience. I mean, now I'm like a more muscular version of James Bond, but playing through this book put me right back in junior high, back in that basement, listening with disbelief as another brilliant plan fails via fiat. Roll to save vs. bad writing. A lousy two! Arrgghhh!!!!

On the plus side there was this awesome illustration of a massacre and I didn't get any paper-cuts.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

News You Can't Use: Lewinsky Negligee, Other 'Evidence' in Clinton Case, to be Auctioned

Remember 1998? Various massacres were going on in Algeria to massive indifference from the global community. Russia found closure from that whole "communism" thing by finally burying Nicolas II. Something called "Windows 98" came out. And who could forget wacky Pakistan and their medium-range missiles capable of hitting India? We ended the year with the first ever "leap second" and gazed confidently into a future so bright it was capable of causing damage to unprotected eyes.

Yup, those were the big events. Algeria, that sort of thing. Oh, and there was this little scandal involving the President of the United States, a woman who had an "average" body type by American standards and lies on top of lies. But it can't be that important, since it isn't even mentioned on a Wikipedia page that meticulously details every little bad thing that happened in North Africa that year.

Still, some people care, apparently. Even today. All right there's basically no evidence to support this statement, save an ill-conceived "auction."

It's not her famous blue dress, but a box-load of other mementos and clothing from Monica Lewinsky examined as potential evidence in Kenneth Starr's case against former President Clinton--including a black negligee--are hitting the auction block.

If there's some sort of specialized pervert who is actually willing to pay for that my remaining sliver of faith in humanity will officially be destroyed worse than the parts of Pakistan used for medium-range missile testing.

Lot #375 of the online auction at Nate D. Sanders Fine Autographs & Memorabilia has an opening bid of $2,500 and is expected to surge between now and June 27 when the bidding concludes.

Own a piece of history that everyone just wants to forget!

"Items owned by Monica Lewinsky, especially relating to the Clinton scandal and Ken Starr investigation are exceedingly rare," said Sanders.

Cuneiform tablets from ancient Sumeria are exceedingly rare. Plus-size underwear? No.

The ravages of age and poor decisions.

In the collection are a Clinton typed letter signed on White House stationery and addressed to Bleiler per Lewinsky's request, the negligee and some White House M&Ms.

How they managed to go uneaten is perhaps the biggest mystery of all.

It also includes a handwritten letter from Lewinsky during the sex scandal in which she wrote, " I good at lying through my teeth or what..."

You know, I'm not even going to make the obvious jokes. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this journey back to a simpler time. If they're selling any underwear or candy from the riots directed against Chinese Indonesians that broke out in Indonesia I'll let you know.

Komment Korner  

A "Cigar" box full of stuff?

Size 33, slightly soiled............I'll pass.............

Well wash my shirt! I was hoping to see an autographed copy of Monica's in depthed "Comprehensive Guide for White House Interns". I was also disappointed not to see any cigars among the auction mementos.

.......will any of the proceeds be donated, for tax reasons, to hillarys campaign for president?

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble.