Wednesday, December 31, 2014

News You Can't Use: New Laws OK Wine Shipments, Ban Tiger Selfies

There's nothing wrong with the world that can't be fixed by more laws. Consider the reverential treatment the current statutes receive by even our most debased human units and it should be obvious this statement has been literally baked in gooey wisdom. Today's bit of useless news is a salute to our hard-working morality legislators and all the goodness they have crafted over the last year. Next time you wonder "Why are things so perfect?" you'll already have the answer.

New state laws taking effect Thursday give livestock in California more living room, approve direct-to-consumer wine shipments in Massachusetts and levy the ultimate punishment on wannabe teen drivers in Nevada by denying them licenses if they skip too much school.

Now you'll pay the ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT you no-good teen punk! No, not death by slow torture. We're going to take away some of your government papieren. That should fix your total contempt for the modest demands of society.

Although it doesn't take effect until early February, a New York law captures this year's "Who knew?" prize by banning tiger selfies, which have been used by young men as profile photos on social media sites.

Yes friends, a group of semi-sane adults being paid by your tax dollars was tackling the all-important tiger selfie debate. I'm sure there will be an exemption if the young man in question is Trans-Panthera, of course.

Wine connoisseurs will be popping the cork over a new law taking effect Thursday that allows out-of-state wineries to ship bottles directly to consumers in Massachusetts.

Maybe next year they can finally fix those revolving prison doors they have in that state.

In Utah, cities and towns can no longer ban specific dog breeds within their limits. At least 10 cities now have restrictions that ban ownership of breeds such as pit bulls.

The endless L.D.S. war on keeping "Poms" out of their community ends with total defeat.

In Tennessee, ex-felons who have turned their lives around can now receive a certificate of employability, which gives businesses who hire such individuals protection from negligent hiring lawsuits.

Now to give people that have never committed serious crimes a certificate of "I'm actually a decent person" to show to potential employers.

In Michigan, buying cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making methamphetamine will be illegal under another series of measures intended to crack down on meth makers. The laws also prohibit asking someone to buy the ingredients and require state police to add meth offenders to a national database.

You must now pass a comprehensive background check and/or display your "Certificate of Actually Has a Cold" before buying that "Cofcure." Or you could just buy some vodka, which contains pretty much the same active ingredients and won't cause people to assume you're a meth cook.

In Louisiana, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to register to vote when obtaining a driver's license, though they still won't be able to vote until they turn 18.

No way this could lead to abuses. If they skip school do they have to pay the ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT and lose the franchise that they never legitimately had?

In North Carolina, individuals filing as a candidate in a party primary must have had an affiliation with that party for at least 90 days before filing a candidacy notice.

No more wildcats hijacking the Not the White Man's Bitch Party, it's about time.

In North Carolina, home sellers will have to disclose whether they know if underground oil and gas rights have been sold.

"How tha hell would ah no?" is going to be the most typical disclosure.

In New York State, consumers must begin recycling old computers, televisions and video game consoles instead of throwing them in the trash.

Well there's a slightly newer "X Box." Into the trash with the old one.

In Louisiana, smoking will be banned within 25 feet of public entrances to state office buildings, as a way to lessen exposure to secondhand smoke.

If you smoke please carry a 25 foot pole with you at all times so you can make sure you're compliant.

In California, drivers' licenses will be available for people in the country illegally.

Skip class because you're not really learning anything there anyway = no license. Violate our national sovereignty? Here's your license!

In Indiana, license plates will be required on motor scooters for the first time following complaints about unsafe driving by those who've lost their licenses because of drunken driving arrests or other offenses.

We must close the "habitually truant students on motor scooters" loophole.

Our long national nightmare is almost over.

Massachusetts will finally allow "hold open" clips on pumps at self-service gasoline stations, ending motorists' complaints — particularly in winter — about being in one of the few states where the clips weren't allowed.

Of course the metal contracts in cold weather and they barely work in the best of conditions, but I guess you have to find out about that for yourselves.

In New York in February, it becomes illegal to pose for a photo with a lion, tiger or other big cat. The measure, which specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows, passed after self-portraits with the animals started becoming more popular online, particularly with some young men on dating sites.

I'd recommend these young men go back to posting pictures of themselves with cars, money and/or shirtless and leave nature alone. 

In Virginia, drivers can expect to see a 5 cents-per-gallon increase in the cost of gas, while Maryland's gas tax is set to rise about 3.5 cents.

Don't worry, I'm sure it's only a temporary increase (trollface.jpg).

The minimum wage goes up Thursday in several states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The new minimum wage will be a thousand dollars an hour, making us all fabulously wealthy because that's how economies work.

In Tennessee, as part of welfare eligibility, a parent or guardian with a child struggling in a school must attend two or more conferences with the teacher within a year to review the child's status.

They must also correctly state the child's name in no more than three (3) attempts.

Komment Korner  

This is a law in response to some morons falling into large cat enclosures while attempting to get them into the picture with them for the purpose of a profile picture on a dating website. Now as I sit back and examine the situation I am more inclined to encourage such behavior as a means to rid our population of morons of this specific type.

We taxpayers actually pay moronic legislators to generate this #$%$?

Refer to Title 18 Chapter 61 Section 6120 quoted here: § 6120.

I didn't know posing with tigers was an issue LOL.

As for the chickens, how much room do they seriously need?

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Why a “Kick Ass Idea” is Over-rated

I try my best to avoid them, but I still manage to run across those “Five ways to be a better writer and here’s a picture of an unrelated female torso” articles a lot more often than I’d like and sometimes even accidentally read a small amount by accident while desperately clicking the “back” button. The end result of this steady accumulation is acquiring at least a foggy awareness of what people whose only published fiction is the claim they’re an author think is important. I’m definitely worse off for it.
One suggestion that I came across that stuck with me was the importance of high concept and being way-too-clever, or as the colorful graphic put it, having a “kick ass idea.” I’m a metalhead. I watch and participate in death sports. I pick heavy objects up and put them down. I’m all for kicking ass. I don’t want you walking away from this thinking I’m against putting the shoe into it. By all means, kick ass. Just be aware that the place to put the foot into the metaphorical posterior is in the actual writing, rather than hoping some “great idea” that’s almost certainly derivative is going to carry you through even a dozen pages, let alone a few hundred.
Think about it. The “kick ass idea” in War and Peace is that there’s a war and, well, peace. Not exactly mind-blowing innovation, but in the right hands it’s unbelievably memorable. Contrast that to any randomly chosen lower tier sci-fi novel. You might find amazing originality and moments that almost approach “I seriously pondered a deep concept and I liked it,” but it all drowns under the tide of uninspired choice of language, flat imagery, forgettable characters, awful pacing and all those other little things that look so easy when someone else is doing them.

 Yup, it rocks.
Ideas have value, they are important, but in the grand scheme I think they get too much attention. “Where do you get your ideas?” people ask, when they should be asking “Where did you learn to use language like that?” or “What sort of drugs did you do before writing those descriptions?” Those are the good questions, but because the actual craft of writing is not something most readers notice when it’s actually done well, you get a fixation on one small part of the process.
Don’t let your originality end with the Big Idea. Let it start there and then grow like some sort of wonderful metastasis of the imagination. Yes, that means hard work. Yes, that means actually developing technical ability. Yes, that means failure, re-starts, crushing writer’s block, frustration, severe under-appreciation and possibly even learning a little about who you really are. It’s going to hurt, but it’s a good kind of pain. Like the exhaustion of a workout or being hooked up to a battery in a bedroom setting. That kind.
A wise man, or maybe a video game character I forget which, once said “Too clever is stupid.” That’s not a motto for us all. Don’t overreach. Start simple. Who knows where it might go, but don’t try to get there in one giant step.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

News You Can't Use: Man Hospitalized After Chugging Eggnog At Holiday Office Party

According to the television we are deep in the holiday season and close to the coming New Year. This means a time of sincere reflection on the human condition, a quickness to forgive and draw close to family and friends and inhaling massive quantities of alcohol to make all of that b.s. somewhat tolerable. Usually it works fine. Where it goes wrong is when the giggle water is phony and the "inhaling" is taken literally.

A Utah man says he’s fully recovered after he was hospitalized for chugging a quart of eggnog so quickly that he inhaled some of creamy holiday beverage into his lungs.

Somewhere one of those Hollywood wiz-kids who didn't have his career ruined by North Koreans is reading this and getting the idea for the hot new teen sex comedy. "Oh no, Blanket got the creamy beverage into his lungs!"

Ryan Roche from Utah County told KSL-TV that he participated in an alcohol-free eggnog chugging contest at a holiday office party earlier this month.

No booze. Nearly dying. Man, those Mormons sure know how to party. We're kicking it Romney style! Put that L.D.S. approved nog into those lungs! Woo! Woo! Woo!

“I think it was one of those spur of the moment kind of things,” Roche told KSL.

I don't know if it would be worse or better if weeks of planning went into your chugging contest.

Roche says he downed a quart of eggnog in 12 seconds without taking a breath but soon began coughing and gasping.

This is the type of story you tell your Grandchildren while absolutely glowing with pride.

“I just opened up my throat, didn’t even swallow,” he told the station. “I pretty much poured it down.”

Where to even begin with this one.

Hours later, a friend drove him to the hospital as Roche was shaking and struggling to breathe.

This is a true friend, who will be there when your G-Rated wackiness goes horribly wrong.

Doctors told him he had eggnog in his lungs.

The mean doctor told me "Quit smiling, you've got eggnog in your lungs. You're going to die." Then I went to Eggnog Treatment Centers of America. I've now been holiday-themed drink free for eight years and I own a ranch with many horses.

“They pretty much had to wheelchair me in, double IV, oxygen, and hooked me up to what they call the nuclear weapon of antibiotics,” he told KSL.

I have become death, the destroyer of bacteria.

Nearly dying in the most idiotic and humiliating ways possible rules!!!

Roche says he recovered his strength after a week.

The recovery of his dignity will be a much longer process.

“It was rough,” he said. “Eggnog: not ideal for the lungs.”

I feel we have learned a lot. Sadder, but much wiser.

Don't visit the ad-riddled source.

Komment Korner  

Why do I get the feeling this dude is on ObamaCare and we just paid for this idiocy

What a beta loser. The eggnog didn't even have alcohol.

And we're reading a story over a tool chugging egg nog?

As a Romney voter, his epiglottis flip-flopped whether to swallow or inhale.

The next time you laugh/smile or have anything close to a good time with friends I want you to feel guilty, because at that moment you aren't thinking of the starving children

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Obama's Good Book

When the going gets tough it's time for President Obama, noted Biblical scholar and master theologian, to crack open the "good book" and teach us all some valuable lessons.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Twistaplot #1 The Time Raider

After a reasonably competent submarine simulator that ended with renouncing society for the simple pleasure of island life and trying to ignore the other two people on said island doing the wild thing I figured I might as well stick with Twist-a-Plot for a little longer, especially because every time I review one of those books I'm significantly closer to the point where I never have to think about this series again. The good news is that today's offering is from R.L. Stine who, unlike other luminaries like D. Terman, would go on to have sustained success with the "Goosebumps" series, putting his embarrassing slumming in Choose Your Own Adventure's unlikable little brother completely behind him, instead of letting it define his career like The Siegels and so many others.

This is not to imply that writing for Twist-a-Plot wasn't the Big Time. It totally was. Take a moment to wrap your head around that one. There was a time when the appetite for branching dead tree narratives was so ravenous that it wasn't the path to fame and fortune, it was the destination.

The book version of "Let me tell you about the sixties, kid."

We kick off with an exciting time at Uncle Edgar's, noted inventor and general ball of incarnated goofiness. I've noticed we get a lot of Uncles in these books. I guess it makes sense when you think of it logically. A secondary relation distances the reader from dwelling on the possibility of inheriting hereditary wackiness syndrome in a way "Your crazy laws of thermodynamics defying Father!" wouldn't and it allows for surprises like "I built a time machine" to occur in a more organic fashion simply because you don't share the same house, an arrangement that would make secretly tampering in God's domain largely untenable. 

And yes, he made a time machine. Man, can't wait to see some metaphors for society's stratification with that bad boy! I should also point out that the first Choose Your Own Adventure book also featured a similar theme but I'm sure that's just a crazy coincidence. Anyway, there's the oddly named "Time Raider." Pack up your own weapons and get ready to go pillage the jazz age, I guess.

  The book version of "Let me tell you about Operation Paperclip, kid."

Unlike past inventions like the underwater toaster, this one promises to work. He also gives me a pendant that will somehow return me to the machine if I get into trouble. Yeah, he also developed some sort of teleportation technology, but it's dismissed as the most banal thing ever for some reason. This thing will break about ten different laws of physics, don't worry about it. Let's focus on this other thing over here that breaks about fifty of those laws.

We crank it up and it seems to be working, or at least shaking and humming not unlike a car with massive tweeters in the trunk because I'm all about that treble. Of course Uncle Dopey forgot his glasses and runs off, leaving me in charge of tearing up space and time. I can go "forward" or "backward." Since we're already going forward, if you want to get super technical, I opt to throw it in reverse.

 That feel when no glasses.

After a blink of an eye, I'm in some forest that gets a bare bones description and is even dismissed as lacking in excitement. The hidden extreme anti-environmental messages in R.L. Stine stories, friends. Let's pave this sucker and build something more stimulating, like a big box store or medium income housing. I just don't get this bizarre sylvan-hate, I really don't. Let's get out and explore.

My reward is arguably the most bleak and horrific ending I've ever gotten in one of these. I stumble out of the wooded area and there's Uncle Edgar's house. I'm not sure why I didn't immediately recognize my surroundings earlier, but we've got existential nightmare fuel to get to, so let's not dwell on it. The same conversation we had minutes ago is repeated, we get in the Time Raider, no glasses, hit the button, back in the forest. Then this repeated. Over and over. Forever. Trapped in a living hell of auto-pilot failure with no hope of ever escaping it, denied even the release of death. At some point I'd imagine my sanity will completely collapse and it will probably seem like a blessing when it does, but there will be no escape from this eternal time-loop, this non-funny version of Groundhog Day where all free will is stripped away, the futility of life is laid bare and there truly is no exit.

The end, but there is no end. Wow.

Get ready to get your despair on!

This run was too short to really fairly give a review, but even from the few pages I read it's clear R.L. Stine is a cut above your usual Twist-a-Plot author. Other plot-lines offer things like future slavery and meeting Daniel Boone of all people, so make of that what you will. I'll just take my totally wrecked by a paradox and the illusion of choice ending and move along, thanks.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

News You Can't Use: Duo's Phony Heart Attack Scheme Foiled

What happens when you want that Barbie Power Wheel to commute down the sidewalks to your honest job but lack the necessary funds and are denied financing under highly suspicious and probably discriminatory circumstances? For most people the dream of the hot pink luxury toy would simply wither on the vine, but for two pieces of total human garbage this set-back was defeated with the classic "phony medical emergency" gambit.

A Florida thief last week faked a heart attack inside a Walmart so that a male accomplice could walk out of the store with a shopping cart stuffed with toys, including a motorized Barbie Power Wheel, police report.

This is like one of those criminal mastermind plans that practically floors us law-abiding squares with its unbelievable audacity and cunning. I'll fool everyone into responding to my distress by virtue of our shared humanity. While that trick bag is being spilled out, you get that Barbie whip out the door.

While the diversion proved initially successful, the pair was arrested yesterday on grand theft charges when they were linked to the crime via surveillance footage.

Luckily we live in an age where criminals feel guilty for their crimes and want to repent the evil they've done to others and God everything is being recorded. And yes, it's a felony. Grand Theft Barbie Auto, the perfect gift for Daddy's little princess.

According to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office report, Tarus Scott, 30, and Genard Dupree, 27, entered the Lake Wales Walmart together and filled a cart with $369.94 in merchandise.

The live action version of "Two Stupid Dogs."

As Scott moved toward the exit with the merchandise, Dupree dropped to the floor and clutched his chest. With Dupree doing his best Fred Sanford imitation, Scott walked past his sidekick.

How about a classic television reference maybe 1% of our readers will get? Perfect.

The fake heart attack, cops noted, “appeared to be done in an attempt to create a distraction long enough for Scott to exit the store, past all points of sale, without paying for the merchandise in the cart."

See, our police can demonstrate basic logic after a few days to work on it. Let's give them tanks.

Dupree’s heart trouble lasted 44 seconds before he was able to get to his feet and amble out of Walmart.

A pretty standard exit for a customer of that fine establishment.

"Was falling down in deep-fried salted snacks part of your plan?"
"Of course!"
"What's the next step in your master plan?"
"Crashing this Barbie Power Wheel with no survivors."

He met up with Scott in the parking lot and the pair drove away in an SUV.

I'm deeply saddened that the Barbie car wasn't used in the escape.

Dupree is currently on felony probation for theft, while Scott is an ex-con who was released from prison last year after serving about a decade for armed robbery.

Surprisingly, being surrounded by squalor, violence and other criminals in a for-profit institution failed to reform this criminal dream team. At least this time they can earn mad "cred" for stealing a toy intended for little girls after possuming in the China-Mart.

Komment Korner  

Where is Sharpton on this?

Thugs in Jail,"Yo,what are you guys in for"? Guys that got caught,"GTA on a Barbie car."

He was able to shake it off. Give these geniuses a break.

When you are just too lazy to riot.

You folks are just filled with hate!!!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

DotTeeVee: Cobra's Economic Recovery Plan

You would think you could safely dismiss eighties cartoons designed to sell low-quality plastic toys as a source of cutting edge political commentary, but you'd be completely in error to do so. From old episodes of "Silverhawks" that explored flat tax proposals to the questions of rule of law and human rights frequently raised by "Central Organization of Police Specialists" these cheaply animated and lazily written morality plays are an absolute gold mine of complex socio-political theorizing as opposed to our televised news programs which are little more than reheated Soviet-era Pravda with better make-up and hair styles and less "That's Vodka For You!" humorous asides.

Consider today's subject, lifted from "G.I. Joe." Even without the Big Ideas that inevitably took center stage it was a memorable cartoon, teaching a generation that war is a bloodless theme park ride where the most effective weapon is the human fist. Seriously, the laser guns that were heavily featured are completely incapable of hitting a biological target (vehicles and robots get torn to bits, oddly enough). Instead five to the face is the most effective anti-terrorism countermeasure. The only problem is there are at least a few problems that can't be defeated by punching them. Problems like fiat currency, the gold standard and how evil anthropomorphic snake monsters can turn them against us.

The clip starts in typical cartoon villain fashion, with the "whatever device" de jour being prepared for a trial run in the headquarters of the malevolent COBRA organization, a sort of non-denominational group dedicated to trolling the world with ill-conceived evil. I'm talking things like defacing the moon or shooting mind control rays into our loved ones, all too typical and banal. Well, today's psychotic prank is going to be a little more original.

Let's declare victory now, I'm sure this arrogance won't come back to bite me later.

The device is activated by a man with a metal head who still seems capable of showing the full range of facial movement despite this rather obvious disability. A stack of money, the poor innocent victim of these monsters, bursts into flames. No, anything but that! Cobra Commander celebrates in his typical over the top and more than a little effeminate fashion. Stoic and capable are two words we're not going to be using to describe this man-snake villain. 

Meanwhile some of our heroes are apparently gambling while on duty (they all have their impractical and totally unique uniforms on). Apparently the stakes are pretty high based on the pile of cash in the center of the table, which I find a little hard to believe in light of the fact that even high-ranking officers in charge of our nuclear arsenal can't afford this sort of problem gambling. Anyway, we quickly check off the usual poker game cliches (Gotta pay to see 'em, too rich for my blood, who dealt this mess, where's my luck, etc) and get a chance to highlight the half-assed nature of this show in a long shot where the cards and table are the same color to save the animators several precious minutes of giving the cards actual backs. Later the cards will have red backs, but who honestly cares. We're here to learn Austrian School Economics, after all.

The pre-9-11 American military.

The purpose of this scene, of course, is so the money can explode, thus alerting our heroes to the latest menace facing the Free World. The fact that this makes them look somewhat less than pro-active and even derelict in their duty doesn't really matter since it efficiently moves the plot forward and we've got toys to sell here. Money being attacked. This is bad. Got it.

              If we gambled with matchsticks like normal soldiers this wouldn't have happened.

Democracy's last line of defense panics and then lapses into empty threats, which I have to concede is a pretty accurate depiction of what would really happen in such a crisis. Cobra Commander then appears on the big screen to drop exposition on us, essentially rendering this goofy scene meaningless. He delivers what resembles a mid-term election soft-money ad (Call Snake Eyes and tell him our children matter!) more than villainous blackmail, going on about the irresponsible fiscal policy of our leaders, economic restructuring ("This is awesome!" says eight-year-old Timmy) and "the worthless green paper your government has deceived you into thinking is valuable." Yes friends, "End the Fed" was inspired by this episode.

While the horrific serpent-man announces his Tea Party candidacy we get various wacky vignettes of an ATM machine dispensing handfuls of ash, money burning in some woman's wall safe and a used car dealership interaction where both the lemon and the money paid for it self-destruct. Anyone who says this show can't do intentional humor needs to check themselves, this stuff is top shelf.

 Home Alone Part 27: Abandoned in Assisted Living.

Justifiably outraged citizens gather around the treasury building chanting "We Want Money!" Well I think it's the treasury. It's either that or another Democratic Party Presidential Convention. Inside, the money is all ruined while some civilian that doesn't even get his own action figure talks doom and gloom. Apparently there's massive rioting and looting and the only way to restore order is to somehow revive the fiction that inked-up pieces of cloth have actual value. In summary, "printing new currency," which should always be the go-to solution for everything, is off the table. 

We need you to tell us who this "John Galt" is.

While our special forces gripe ineffectually, Cobra Commander has apparently purchased more television time. I have a feeling this episode ends with G.I. Joe proposing campaign finance reform laws. This time the terrorist leader is announcing "Cobra's Economic Recovery Plan." You know, as evil as this guy is even he wouldn't bail out bankers, so I'm willing to listen. Like any good politician he reminds us of the children (sadly no "folks," "good book," or "God's green Earth) and demands we bring all our goods to a legitimate business he apparently runs when he's not shrinking world leaders or sending "trouble bubbles" to shoot at various military hardware.

What do we get for our worldly possessions? The answer, of course, is a return to the Gold Standard via "Cobra Currency." I mean, I don't support carving the Cobra symbol into the moon or anything, but compared to 18 trillion and counting in debt this seems pretty reasonable. G.I. Joe is all "I can't believe this idiot revealed where his secret corporate base is" and with that the clip ends. Will our heroes save us from being nailed to the Cross of Gold or will the great and noble Federal Reserve fall to pure evil? Tune in next week, I guess.

 Hope and Change.

Komment Korner

I can't believe that a cartoon is actually showing what is going to happen in 2018.


It is a scary thought that the good guys had the snakes on their chest.

I would vote for cobra.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

News You Can't Use: Man Has 8 Minutes to Convince Prostitutes to Quit in New Reality Show

Are you looking for a good time? By that, of course, I mean are you interested in watching a scripted reality show where the hero must battle the clock to convince oldest profession members (No, not farmers. The other one) that they are on the wrong career track? Obviously, you are. Let's set the "Guilt Clock," prepare our best arguments and make sure we thoroughly wash our hands afterwards. It's time to save the world, learn valuable lessons about pecuniary intimacy and maybe last more than three episodes.

Sorry, I have trouble imagining a world where the "Whore Fixer" becomes a hugely successful franchise. I know, look out the window.

A&E has greenlit a provocative new reality series in which a man tries to convince prostitutes to quit their jobs.

High-brow cable television, friends. I guess that one where they catch wild pigs was a little too sophisticated, but this one definitely looks to hit that sweet spot between banal idiocy and intelligence insulting lurid drivel.

EW has learned exclusively that the network has ordered eight episodes of 8 Minutes (working title), a series featuring cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown surprising escorts in hotel rooms and offering to rescue them from a life of trading sex for cash.

It's sort of like "Father Dowling Mysteries" except the mysteries will be things like "What do I get for ten dollars?" and "Are you aware that intimate acts carry physical and emotional consequences?" Man, can't wait.

In each episode, Brown has eight minutes to make his case.

Yeah, I got it. It really isn't as complicated as you're making it out to be. Granted, this is for the benefit of people who need the high concept of "Ow, My Balls!" explained to them, but still.

Executive producer Tom Forman (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Great Food Truck Race) says the show was inspired by a 2013 LA Times article about Brown, an Orange County vice cop turned pastor who teamed with his church to create an undercover prostitute intervention operation.

"I was swimming in drugs and money when I read this article about Super Pope or whatever. My work here as a creative genius is done."

“This is one of those great shows that was actually happening whether anybody was shooting it or not,” Forman said.

I never really considered my totally righteous day-to-day life to be a "great show that nobody is shooting" but I certainly will from now on.

“Brown told his congregation that for 20 years he’s had to arrest these women when what he’s really wanted to do is help them. It launched a drive within his church to run these undercover operations. We read that and thought somebody should put a camera on this, it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard.”

Enforcing the law doesn't help anyone. Reality television does.

He doesn’t know when he calls. But after 20 years on the job, he can decode an ad or solicitation or posting on the Internet like no one you’ve ever seen.

This guy totally knows what a "girlfriend experience" is. He's like the street walker version of a Navaho Code Talker.

No one has been angry. No one has resented him for being offered an opportunity to leave a life that’s so hard, and so violent and so dangerous.

No one got angry about being paid to talk about themselves. It's hard to believe, but there it is.

This one is certainly edgy, and it’s a loud idea, and it’s a televised thriller.

It's extreme, it's cah-razy and totally in your face!

Not a significant source of non-distorted footage.

It’s already as real as it can possibly be.

Because there are different levels of "real."

We’re just trying to not screw it up.

These are the words of a man of vision, a man that will lead us.

Komment Korner  

I hear there is no laughing in Hell. So get them in while you can.

Exclusivity is actually pretty normal among any belief system.

There's big money in the rescue industry

Who did you hear that from? Citation needed.

I heard there was no "doin' it" in heaven

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Friday, December 5, 2014


I went through a phase where I thought the World Almanac was a neat thing. As luck would have it this temporary divorce from reality occurred right around the millennial roll-over when all those two digit electronic calendars went crazy and society ended or maybe that didn’t happen, whatever. The point is, the millennial edition of the Book of Facts was packed with lists documenting the most important handful of items in diverse categories that the last thousand laps around old yeller had produced.
One of the categories was dedicated to great works of literature, specifically ones that were considered to have lasting importance and Big Ideas. It was put together by some guy named John Updike, it that is his real name. All the usual super heavyweights make the scene. Dante, Cervantes, Joyce...Gibbon? Yeah, even some non-fiction made the cut, somehow. There was one that I wasn’t familiar with, The Possessed by Dostoevsky. So I read it.
It’s a total fucking mess. I loved it.
Yes, one of a handful of books worthy of representing a four digit block of years is a disaster by just about any technical standard you want to apply. Where to even begin? Let’s just start with a relatively minor issue: a significant portion of the dialogue is in untranslated French. Sacre Bleu. Combine this with Dostoevsky’s tendency to have characters deliver conversation filibusters rather than the more realistic “back and forth” you might notice when people talk in the real world and it's hard going.
Again, that’s one of the minor, background problems.
There’s a deleted chapter. This is notable because it creates a giant hole in the narrative and because its deletion was completely and totally justified. I’m not advocating for censorship, but when you create a few dozen pages as confusing, tonally inappropriate and downright unnecessary as “Stavrogin’s Confession” I’m perfectly content to accept “he was going to see a priest, but I guess it never happened” as an alternative.
Then the center issue: the first two-thirds of this not exactly svelte novel are largely meaningless. I’m dead serious. Plot points are built up that never pay off, characters are established only to be cast aside and complex relationships that aren’t important are discussed in lavish detail. The final third is so far removed from all of this it might as well be its own novel.

The thing is, that last third is absolutely excellent and completely unforgettable. All is forgiven and then some.
You can make mistakes.
One of the best novels of an arbitrary twelve thousand month period has a four hundred page false start. It certainly puts the idea of the “sagging middle” into perspective. It was still savable. Maybe that uncooperative failed manuscript is, too.
It’s at least something to think about. Along with the fact all these millennial lists were actually in the 1998 edition, now that I went and checked. That doesn’t even make sense. Maybe the “real list” came out the next year with Crime and Punishment subbed in and no non-fiction, but by then I’d stopped reading glorified phone books in favor of cocktail guides so you’ll have to ask someone else.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Five Minute Rejection and Other Tales of Success

I’m a bit of a mess. A quick survey of the Fortress of Righteousness where my writings are painfully birthed is all that’s necessary to confirm the veracity of that statement. There’s teetering stacks of badly dog-eared books, scattered bottles labeled with double-headed eagles, crumpled papers scrawled with nearly illegible genius, an unconscious woman whose name I don’t remember, various office supplies…the usual stuff. I’d hire a maid if I thought there was even a chance that she wouldn’t judge me and/or report what’s going on to the authorities.
Despite these sloppy tendencies I also carry a strong streak of Teutonic order and efficiency in my genes, the same traits that have done so much good for the world, provided you ignore certain selected portions of the last century. That ancestral memory must have been holding the stick when it came time to sell my second novel, because I decided to make a rigorous documentation of the submission process. I know, it’s almost unbelievably exciting, but please stay calm and fully clothed while I explain.
I kept a list of all the people and institutions blessed by my unsolicited attentions, making sure to include dates of submission and rejection. I felt a little like a scientist, gathering data, lying like crazy, having bad hair, all of it. Despite this veneer, I didn’t even have a hypothesis, if you can believe it. I was confident the gathered data would prove useful, somehow, and I was totally vindicated.
Like all the best stories, it started with an e-mail. Based on hard-earned experience in the blood-soaked trenches where the “submit and wait” wars are waged and the ultimate victory is slowly creeping closer can’t you tell, I expected to have to wait at least a week before the “no.” Wrong. Try 300 seconds. I’d apparently sent a profanity-filled query letter for an anarchistic novel that also featured numerous threats directed toward the United Nations to a publisher that specializes in “cozies” for elderly ladies.

Someone less wise than your humble narrator would probably conclude that the lesson here is “actually research the people you submit to, maybe swear less and cut down on the non-sequiturial menacing.” That’s the wrong lesson. Well, all right, it maybe has a small bit of validity to it, but there’s something bigger to draw from all this.
Rejection is good. Failure is good.
If you’ve never lost you’ve never tried anything hard, if you’ve never heard “no” you should have kept asking for more until it finally happened. This is pretty radical thinking for a society that increasingly wants to insulate everyone from any and all competition, but we’re writers and dreamers and undead pornographers, so if we can’t handle it, no one can. Success is built on a thousand failures, friends. Go out and start getting those failures.
It isn’t personal, you’re still that special miracle and exact center of the universe, so don’t get discouraged. My goal for my next novel is to get rejected one hundred times. I bet I fail to reach that goal.