Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fuck Off, 2012

2012 was one of the worst years of my life; a stinking cesspool of utter suckitude, punctuated by a diarrhea typhoon shooting from the assholes of a million flatulent gorillas.

2012 was a festering, bloated whale corpse washed on the beach, one whose fetid miasma causes you to violently projectile vomit Cheetos at Baby Jesus.

2012 was so utterly awful, so mind-numbingly rank and disgusting, that spending 365 days in a windowless room watching “The Human Centipede” on an endless loop while engaging in a three-way with Courtney Love and Amy Winehouse’s rotting cadaver would seem like a glorious respite in comparison.

2012, you can go fuck yourself.


Sans the lube.

This year was filled with loss, not just for me, but for my friends. It’s one thing when you’re at the end of a karmic ass-whipping, but when your friends are pulled into the vortex of misfortune, that’s something altogether different. It’s a cosmic conspiracy. A real galactic screwing, where bad things happen to good people and where Donald Trump becomes Dictator and Hierophant of Earth.

This year, my friends lost spouses, pets and parents. Some were involved in accidents and required surgery. Others found themselves out of work or still desperately searching for employment.

For me, 2012 was where I played Russian roulette with my health. I’d been feeling slightly off for months, and experienced random pains and illness. In February, I was hit with a stomach virus. March saw me tired with headaches. In April, I was stressed at work – really stressed – and my health began declining. Because of the stress, in May I developed shingles, an experience I don’t recommend. In June I began having temporary pains in my forehead. My doctor prescribed blood pressure medication and I’ve been taking that every day. It seemed to be working in the beginning, because my blood pressure registered as normal for the first time in years.

Yay! I’m a fat fuck!

Yay! I’m at death’s door!

My girlfriend tells me I’m just a hypochondriac. I might even exhibit random Munchausen syndrome if I remember to.

In July, my girlfriend developed a respiratory illness. She was sick for a month, wheezing and coughing. She even needed an inhaler to help her breathe. Rarely does she get sick, but this hit her like a ton of anvils.

My cat, Smuttynose, had fleas. The little biters got him and he was miserable in September. Poor kitty had to have a few baths, take a special pill and have ointment put on his back.

This was the year I saw a few concerts, a rarity because my financial situation doesn’t normally allow me to leave the house except to forage for food. Entertainment is quite scarce in my life, but this year I saw the Go-Go’s in concert, and went to live performances by comedians Eddie Pepitone and Louis C.K. I also saw a few movies, which is also a rarity for me.

Traveled to a few conventions this year, most notably to GenCon in Indianapolis, where I briefly spoke with Wil Wheaton about gaming, especially the games Reality Blurs published. Spoke on a panel at GenCon about the upcoming Ravaged Earth revised edition. Also spoke about the gaming industry at PhilCon, a smallish science fiction convention in Cherry Hill. This marked my eighth year attending PhilCon and my fifth GenCon.

Me and a few friends saw the film "The Room" live. "The Room" is like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" if you're a hipster and enjoy throwing spoons at the screen. It probably was one of the year's highlights, an indication as to how horrible 2012 was.

Hurricane Sandy proved to be the most significant event of 2012 for me. Losing most of my furniture, books, clothing and possessions and being forced from my apartment changed me. My life plodded along nonchalantly. I was simply existing, pouring my life into a regular routine. Yet the hurricane propelled me from that hum-drum life and set me on another course. I wasn’t merely existing anymore. Now I had to survive. I had to dig deep inside myself and let the reality suddenly sink in so I could cope with what had happened. I shifted into a grim, survivalist mode. I did what I needed to do; packed up everything, transported it into a storage facility, and relocated myself within a few days.

Everything I lost, all I had to discard, I shut off my emotions beforehand. I didn’t need sentimentality, depression or sorrow. The general feeling I had was one of annoyance. I was helpless, really, because Mother Nature’s swift hands throttled my world and set it askew. Mercilessly, the storm saturated my furnishings and some belongings. Some stuff did survive unscathed, and I’m amazed what made it and what didn’t.

After the flood waters receded, after the wreckage and debris were piled in heaps, as curious onlookers peered at the utter devastation, we slowly began to reorient ourselves and became grounded once more.

I couldn’t have packed or moved without my girlfriend’s assistance. She helped immensely with organizing and storing my belongings.

She’s the brightest spot in a year filled with strife and bullshit.

See, in June, she moved in with me. Before she walked into my life, I barely held it together. Life seemed like one arduous line at the DMV, a frustrating experience surrounded by a plethora of idiots. She moved in and has been keeping me sane ever since.

I might not be the greatest writer on the planet (nor the most successful or widely read), but I can be a good friend for her. She tells me she loves me every day, chirping it out with a smile.

She lightens my world.

I finally have a loving and caring person in my life, one who accepts me for all my foibles and other weird shit. We laugh together and hold hands. When she peers at me with her almond eyes, everything is beautiful.

2012 was a year of losses and wins. I won a second place award in the New Jersey Better Newspaper Contest for a features story I wrote on Prohibition. I’m a steadfast fan of history.

In other news, after many months of creative blockage, I wrote a short story. It's called "Return of the Crimson Sentinel" and it's about former pulp vigilantes who get back into crime fighting for one fateful night. It's poignant, funny and bittersweet. 

As the past 12 shitty months wrap up, I eagerly await 2013 for the promise it brings.

Will next year be filled with opportunity, good health, happiness and fortune, or will it be one dreadful shitfest 2012 was?

Take care, my frazzled doom-monkeys! See you in 2013, when the future actually begins.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Dear Santa Christ,

Thanks a whole bunch for everything, you jolly old fuck. This year I went from living in an apartment to crashing as a house 20 minutes away from where I work. Lost some valuable, sentimental possessions, such as books, DVDs, collectibles and kitchen appliances. 80 percent of my furniture had to be scrapped. Since Hurricane Sandy blew across New Jersey and pissed over everything, my life has been upended, my future plans urooted and I'm forced to confront this harsh new reality.

Merry Christmas, you ursine, blubbery dickface.

You really raped Shittown and tore it an asshole the size of the Licoln Tunnel. Their altruistic relief organization is helping people cope and survive, yet it's run by the same inbred high school clique that controls the town like a Russian gulag. They're putting the same lunatics in charge of the asylum. Good luck with that.

The only thing bearable about the Christmas holidays are the people close to me. My girlfriend keeps me sane, which is an unbelievably difficult task. She tells me she loves me every day, a first for me. Most women I've dated are too busy struggling to get the cap off their Vicodin to pay me a compliment, much less tell me they love me.

I've had a bad track record of dating. If they're not batshit crazy, they're dumber than a bag of dead monkeys.

All that is ancient history.

Ancient like the Etruscans.

Remember them?

My girlfriend and I celebrated Christmas early. We unwrapped our gifts near our pathetically puny tree and spent the day lounging around and playing with our toys. We watched the DVDs she bought me and I played a few games of Assassin's Creed.  Most of my gifts were gaming-related. She knows gaming is not really so much a hobby, but an obsession. She got me Pathfinder, which I'm looking forward to playing at my local game shop one of these days. Also, she bought Fortune and Glory, a massive boardgame with over 150 pieces and an action-packed pulp theme I've been waiting for.

We celebrated Christmas early because she has to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas. It's just one of those kooky things with her work schedule falling on the holiday.

I traveled to my parent's house and the entire place is like Christmas on steroids. There are three trees, the halls are fully decked, and Christmas carols are playing on a continuous loop. It's enough to make even you shit a bowlful of jelly, Santa.
But I like it here. It's comforting and safe. The world is a chaotic bloodbath filled with lunatics of every stripe and love is as cold and as distant as a fading star in the night's sky, or an elderly Protestant couple, if that's a better mental image for you.

I picked up my 90-year old grandmother from her place and we drove over to my parents'. The first thing they greeted me with was smiles and Armenian food. Tonight we're havingthe traditional Italian fish dishes. Then we open our presents and roast chestnuts by the fire or some other Dickensian trope one does on Christmas.

The entire thing fills me with gratitude and humility. I'm thankful my parents are still alive and everybody is reasonably healthy. We can enjoy the holidays in each other's company, a rare and significant treat we mustn't take for granted. I see my elderly parents, still together and in love, in the home they built. It's this stability, this love transpiring within these walls, is why I turned out as good as I did, and aren't shooting customers in a Costco with an M16.

Christmas is a time forbeing together and giving presents to others, even if you don't know them. It's when we temporarily forget the world is a clusterfuck of danger and corruption and revel in songs and cookies and laughter. We see the eager anticipation in a child's eyes and the smiles of the elderly. We rejoice in ourselves and our loved ones. We reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves and show compassion and peace. This one time of the year when we put down our cudgels and hatchets and just exist with our fellow human beings.

Santa Christ, as you drink spiked eggnog from your rocketship orbiting Earth and peer down through bloodshot eyes at a weary and frazzled planet, remember we're not all monsters. Humans are capble of great acts of heroism and love. We just need a little prodding from time to time to remind us how fragile our lives are. The greatest gift we can give to others is our time and our talents.

Merry Christmas, ya fat fuck.

P.S. Timmy wants a pony. Don't stiff him like you did last year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Torrid Spam Tales

Oh, Internet. Why do you toy with my emotions and test my patience? If it's not spam for male enhancements or spam for Nigerian investment scams, it's unsolicited spam from "women" who want to engage in amorous activity with me. What scrap of information did the viral marketers get their tentacles on and why would they wish to entrap me in their sordid web of imaginary sexual scenarios? How did my e-mail address fall into their possession? I surmise it must be someone I work with who wasn't too vigilant with their spam filter and a some Trojan horse virus slipped into their computer and rooted for e-mails, found mine and began spamming me.

No matter. I'm quite the Casanova with European women who are looking for "big strong man to make the love to", or however these barbarians speak.

Here's one my spam filter snagged Dec. 5:

"Eric I am glad, that the case was gave to me to write to you the letter! Whether we can get 
acquainted with you more close? I am not assured in true relations while people 
do not investigate each other more close. Today I shall not speak about me directly 
in details. I wish to receive your answer then we can investigate each other more close. 
Write to me on my personal e-mail address
 I send you my photo. Angelina"

So a hot young woman from Germany is making a love connection via some matchmaking service. Love how she mangles the English language. "the case was gave to me..." Why do these women always sound like Borat? "Today I shall not speak about me directly in details." Yeah, way to keep my interested. Be as cryptic and as enigmatic as you want. Builds the mystery, right? Couldn't you part with some detail? Like how old are you? Where are you from? How the fuck did you get my email? 

 I received this beauty in my spam filter Dec. 20:

"Hi sir!
How are you doing?
In this lonely evenings in anticipation of Xmas, we fill alone. And we want
only one thing - love. Love relationships, ,interesting dialogueand of
course passionate lovemaking, this is what we need. Are you interested? I
hope yes, then this email is for you.
A little information about me: My name is Irina, I’ 25 y.o. I'm a free
cheerful lady, sensual, kind, modest, but at the same time very passionate.
I'm looking for a serious man for a relationship. We can develop an
interesting dialogue and share photos, even erotic.
If you are ready to start a new life and enjoy the affection and
tenderness, write me!
I hope that my letter was interesting for you. Waiting for your answer!
Your passionate Irina.

I like the "Sir". Very formal. Like she's going on a job interview or something. Also think the "fill" instead of "feel" is endearing, almost like a kid writing letters backwards. By the second line, there's so much wrong with her message grammatically, with wrong punctuation and words running together, I'd say at that point during the composition, the Zoloft kicked in. 
At least Irina is more candid about herself than Angelina. I get her age and some important personality details. She is "free", "cheerful', sensual", "kind", "modest" and "passionate". I might be going out on a limb here, but isn't that what every man wants in a woman? 
Irina is looking for a "serious man" for a relationship. She's even into photo sharing and sharing "erotic". You mean sharing erotic photos? Is that it? 

Oh, and if you're acting like this is a job interview, put on some pants. You might get hired if you do. 

Here's something totally from Bizarro World. On the same day, I get another e-mail from Irina. This one was worded slightly differently:

"Hi man!
How are you?
In this lonely evenings in expectation of Christmas, we are lonely. And we
want only one thing - love. Serious relationships, ,live dialogueand of
course passionate lovemaking, this is what we need. Are you interested? I
hope yes, then this email is for you.
A little information about me: I’m Irina, I’ 25 years old. I'm a free
cheerful girl, sensual, kind, modest, but at the same time very sexy. I'm
looking for a serious man for a relationship. We can develop an interesting
dialogue and share photos, even erotic.
If you are ready to start a new life and enjoy the affection and
tenderness, write me!
I hope that my letter was interesting for you. Waiting for your answer!
Your passionate Irina.
See you soon!"

So apparently the writer got a little more relaxed and confident this time. The intro, a breezy and casual "Hi man!" makes you think of a beer commercial, or at least playing hackey-sack in the quad while scoping our babes from the Evergreen Dorm. Everyone on campus knows those Evergreen babes are bigger sluts than the Tri Delts, but they at least don't narc on you if you're carrying herb. 

Anyway, at least Irina 2.0 spelled "Christmas" instead of "Xmas". And she sent the same photo of herself...twice. 

I don't know what to make of all of this. there's a subtle art to crafting these e-mails. First, an attractive photograph of an attractive woman, early 20s, bedroom eyes, obvious Eastern European extraction. Second, a message designed to pique the interest of any man gullible enough to believe these photos weren't lifted from a Belarusian smut ring. Third, the promise of unbelievably torrid sex with said 20-something Eastern European woman and the definite possibility of a relationship. 

I don't think any naive dweeb playing 10 hours of World of Warcraft a day and who's only seen a vagina in a medical textbook would fall for this ploy. It's so over-the-top ridiculous and  should be mocked for the obvious troll/phishing/scam it is. 

What ever happened to old fashioned romance, of meeting a woman outside of the home, conversing with her and then developing mutual admiration and respect for one another, then exploring each other's bodies and minds sensually, with wild abandon, probing the deep recesses of their souls and allowing love to blossom naturally?

Well, that's also an old scam. Might not involve cheesecake photos of nubile Estonian women via e-mail, but it's basically bullshit. You want that kind of romance, watch "Bridget Jones's Diary" and cry into a pint of Haagen-Dazs. You want a woman - a real woman with no Russian mob ties - go out and meet one. Maybe you know her all ready. Make your move, then. Don't fear rejection. Just go out and tell her how you feel and what you want. Women like men who are direct and confident. 

However, don't whip out your dick on the first date. Get her good and drunk before you pull anything like that. If things progress favorably, you get lucky. If now, she'll be too drunk to remember, so if she tells the police, the testimony of a drunken woman is not reliable. 

Trust me on this, amigos. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mike Huckabee Is A Dick

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the shooting in Newtown, Conn. which left 27 people, including 20 children dead: “We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised…when all hell breaks loose.”

Yo, Huck, if you really think America is in a moral malaise because they’re not force-fed Christian prayer on the taxpayer’s dime, then how about gun violence occurring in churches?   

In October 2012, a former maintenance worker at the World Changers Church in College Park, Ga. Shot and killed a church volunteer in the church’s sanctuary during morning prayer.

In May 2009, an anti-abortion activist murdered a physician who performed late-term abortions as the doctor attended worship services at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas.

In July 2008, a man killed two and wounded seven at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church in Knoxville. The gunman was motivated by a hatred of liberals, blacks and gays.

In August 2007, a gunman entered the First Congregational Church in Neosho, Missouri and opened fire, killing three people; the pastor and two deacons.

In December 2007, a gunman killed two and wounded two at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, Colorado. The same gunman killed three and injured three at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In May 2006, a gunman killed four people at the Ministry of Jesus Christ Church in Baton Rouge, La. Before abducting his wife and killing her in a nearby apartment.

In March 2005, a gunman killed seven members of the Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wis. during a worship service.

In Sept. 1999, a gunman interrupted a teen prayer rally at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas and killed seven people, including four teenagers.

So, Huck. When you talk about ordering God from our schools and communities why have their been shootings in churches? Wasn’t God present there?

This is a tragic time for Newtown, Conn. The parents, teachers, school administration and community are reeling from such a horrible and shocking loss. Instead of comforting those in need (you know, like Jesus would do) you politicize the issue as is the agenda of the 24-hour news media’s horde of talking heads.

Let me get this straight, Huck. You’re saying because Sandy Hook Elementary School doesn’t have a religious curriculum and is one of those secularist public schools you purportedly despise, those 20 children and seven adults are dead?

So by somehow having school prayer would somehow deflect the bullets, or at best, send the victims directly to Heaven after they’re shot?

That’s cold, even for you.

Huck, you and the rest of your slimy, theocratic ilk should sit this one out. You’re totally out of your league. You’ve been giving reach-arounds to the gun lobby for years. Now that a disturbed individual commits this heinous slaughter, you’re getting all self-righteous?

We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or a violence problem?

What school shooting were you watching today?

You holy rollers are all alike. You spit fire and brimstone and are too quick with condemnation instead of compassion.

The American people are starting to come around. We’ve suffered through Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora. We’ve seen the media fall over themselves covering these mass shootings whenever a disgruntled former employee goes bonkers and takes out half the company with a semi-automatic.

Newtown is the final straw.

These were children, Huck.


20 kids who don’t get a chance to grow up and experience life.

Instead of grieving with the rest of us empathetic Americans, you go on television and blame the secular schools for not teaching kids about God, as if that would’ve stopped Adam Lanza from his deadly rampage.

How do you think the parents of those children feel about you saying there’s no gun problem or violence problem?

If you want to pray for someone’s soul tonight, Huck, pray for your own.


 Of course, you need a soul first. 

Horror in Newtown

A gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. this morning. Among the dead are 18 children. According to media reports, the shooter was Adam Lanza, 20, whose mother worked at the school.

27 people were shot to death.

20 of them were children.

This year - 2012 - has been shitty for several reasons, but the cases of gun violence are spiraling out of control. It's as if the gates of Hell flung open and every murderous psychopath from Perdition now walks the Earth and slakes their hunger on innocent blood.

Another gun massacre.

Another media clusterfuck.

Another deluded, sick individual frustrated with life, carving a violent swath through the American landscape. The act of firing a gun becomes their defiant gesture to a world which somehow let them down, betrayed them, made them feel less than human.

So they enact their vengeance. Spasm of violence. Kill 'em all.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Just like a video game. Only difference is there's no restart button. The pixelated targets in video games resurrect. Real people don't.

These were children with their whole lives ahead of them, who deserved a chance to grow up. Young lives extinguished in a hail of bullets. These children had parents who are grieving now and are experiencing every parent's worst nightmare.

I'll bet in some office in Washington, the gun lobby is doing damage control. The wheels are turning as they plot and plan how they're going to spin this tragedy into a win for their side.

"Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Right?"

Fuck you.

You don't trot out the 2nd Amendment after one of these terrible mass killings. The gun lobby doesn't get a seat at the table this time. This is about a culture glorifying gun violence and access to guns. This is about jerking off to a cinematic bloodbath and popping a boner for Smith & Wesson. Or Browning. Or Heckler & Koch. Or whatever brand, type or caliber you use.

It's about preventing this shit from happening again.

We need, as a country, to collectively stand against civilian gun violence.

We need to keep guns from the hands of those twisted, sick bastards who shoot up schools, or movie theaters or their places of work.

We need to be more cognizant of mental illness and how to reach these people before they reenact the movie "Natural Born Killers".

We also need to make getting guns difficult - not impossible - but difficult. The screening process should be thorough for every state.

To say New Jersey's gun permit law is stringent is an overstatement. I applied for a permit and had submit to a background check. Nearly five months later the local police department issued me a State of NJ Firearms Purchaser ID card. Five freakin' months for a firearms ID card? What a load of bureaucratic red tape, I thought, until I saw what was happening across the border in Pennsylvania, where access to firearms is cheap and quick. Gun violence in Philadelphia has increased in recent years. Could there be a correlation between the ease of purchasing a firearm and the rising number of shooting deaths?

If New Jerseyans have to wait nearly half a year for a gun permit, isn't that good for the rest of America?

What about stolen guns used in mass shootings or borrowed guns? How about stiffening the penalties for anyone who kills multiple people?

We shouldn't be jaded of mass shootings, even though they're about as commonplace now as Lindsay Lohan getting arrested or Kim Kardashian saying something stupid.

We should be angry and demand action from our so-called leaders.

America has always been a trigger-happy country. Hunting and shooting are as American as your right to wear Crocs or drink Yoo-Hoo from a Mason jar. It's only when the targets become other humans have we truly gone off the deep end. Instead of a recreational activity in the great outdoors, it's a killing spree on bath salts.

I'm not saying marginalize the gun owners or hunters. They're good, rustic people. Besides, without them, how will we ever obtain muskrat jerky and venison?

No, the clarion call must go out to those who seek to do harm to others, to turn offices into killing grounds and elementary schools into slaughterhouses. These are the crazed lone gunmen, the Travis Bickels of the world who are outcasts, pariahs and misanthropes. They trudge along life without so much as a peep until one day something snaps and they rage with whizzing bullets in a cataclysmic outburst and shatter our safety and security.

Also, don't profess this incident could have been avoided if God were in our society and schools. Plenty of Christian zealots have taken up their guns and murdered in the name of Jesus. Religion as a social control has nothing to do with stemming the tide of gun violence. I can point to several cases of religious people who kill for their beliefs. Playing Monday morning quarterback with a Bible in your hand isn't going to lessen the anguish.

It's absolutely fucking senseless, and you know it.

Repeat the words in your head over and over, until you cry, tears of rage welling up.

Today 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School were killed by a gunman.

20 of those were children.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Song of Thanksgiving

This year has been a nonstop shitfest, a series of really bad months. If it were a movie, it'd be directed by Wes Craven. We're talking colossal fucking horror show, folks.

Illness, financial misfortune and a forced eviction from our apartment.

And yet...I can't help but be thankful. It's not the Hallmark card, maudlin emotions leading me to this conclusion. Despite being treated like God's spittoon, I am extremely grateful for the people in my life. Even this shitcloud has a silver lining, and it's imbued by the good people in my life who love me.

When you're standing in an apartment ruined by floodwater and most of your stuff is waterlogged, it kind of puts things into perspective. Most of my furniture, the necessary items, are gone. However, I'd be a quivering mass of gelatinous, blubbering custard if it wasn't for my girlfriend and parents. Their presence in my life enriches my existence. So props to Elnie and mom and dad.

I'm thankful for the career I still have in this turbulent economic climate. It might not be exotic, nor bestow upon me any accolades, but it's better to be pencil-pusher than living under a bridge.

I'm thankful for living in America. The good ol' U.S. of A. presents me with the freedom and opportunity to make my dreams real. America's success is measured by our participation. So dream big, dreamers!

Before I head to the table to overdose on tryptophan-laced turkey and cranberry sauce so good it would make the Olympian gods weep, I want to extend my thanks to you, the readers of this blog.
I don't know who you are, but I know someone reads this, somewhere on Earth. Thanks for humoring me and suffering through my angst and bullshit. I appreciate your time and attention.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Settling In

It's been two weeks since the storm forced me and my girlfriend to move from our apartment. Two active, stressful weeks of orienting myself and recall rating my life. Two weeks of surviving without a permanent home and living like a gypsie nomad.

Moving the bulk of our possessions into a storage unit, throwing away damaged furniture and settling into temporary accommodations occupied most of our time. In between the laborious task of getting our collective shit together, we both had to work our daytime jobs. This blend of going to work and surviving was strange and disconcerting, however, we pulled together and handled it in a tight timetable of a few days.

Now we're moved into our home for the next few months while the landlord repairs the apartment. I've been told the floors and walls will be gutted and an "open concept" design planned. This means additional space and comfort, with new appliances ad kitchen cabinets thrown into the mix. In other news, I met with a FEMA representative and am still waiting for any financial assistance. Snowball's chance in Hell I'll get any compensation for my lost furniture, but I am hopeful.

We live 20 minutes away, lodged in my family's summer cottage, a gracious offer, by the way. I haven't had a long commute to work since 2007, so it feels good having distance separate my job from my home, as if the space acts as a barrier between the insanity of work and the comfort and tranquility privacy affords.

Things are, for the most part, normalizing and this past week saw us back into a familiar routine. We both had colds and recuperated on the same couch, taking turns making tea. My girlfriend made a delicious dinner and we watched some inane TV ("Chopped"is both riveting and terrible) and generally made the best of our situation.

It's weird writing about cleanup efforts from the storm when you're an unfortunate victim of it. Idea
I've the job demands an inordinante amount of impartiality and objectivity, yet it's tough to separate yourself from an event when it impacted you. I haven't had time to wax eloquient or offer anything insightful about the storm. Maybe I've repressed the true hurt and devastation the tempest caused.

While we're on the subject, I find it odd some news outlets are referring to the storm as "Superstorm Sandy". While Hurricane Sandy moved up the coast as a category 1 hurricane, it weakened into a sub-tropical cyclone before hitting New Jersey, so technically, it wasn't a hurricane when it made landfall. Stories recounted how the storm was downgraded from a hurricane to a cyclone ad mixed with a cold front to transform (by elfin magic) to a "Superstorm". I'm a purist here. Though it wasn't a hurricane when it hit, it started out as one before gradually losing steam and weakening before making landfall. To me, it's Hurricane Sandy, not Superstorm Sandy and definitely not a "Frankenstorm". Whoever came up with that one should be run through with an ice pick. No, Hurricane Sandy fucked my life up and caused widespread damage to the community I work and live in. Calling it a "Superstorm" makes you sound like a retarded media whore who gloms onto everything because it's trendy. National Weather Service be damned! Sandy was a hurricane, despite changing into something else. Besides, it's natural for visitors to Atlantic City to lower their standards before visiting. Sandy was just slumming it by the shore. Pennsylvanians do that every summer.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cleaning the Past

One of the most heart wrenching things a hurricane victim goes through is cleaning up after the storm, scrounging through the debris and deciding which of your possessions are salvageable and what is destined for the trash heap,

I spent a good part of the morning sifting through my water-logged things. It wasn't easy confronting those saturated possessions. Some were easily replaceable graphic novels and books, while others, like playbills from my trip to London in1994, including Patrick Stewart's remarkable performance in A Christmas Carol, were sentimental. I lost many CDs holding computer files, including ones with my writing. I dare not contemplate which short stories, novels or essays were lost within, just that I backed them up on those discs and now they're gone forever.

I ended up throwing away five plastic trash bags filled with soaked books, papers and CDs, and I feel I only scratched the surface of what's really gone. I curse myself for not storing them in a safer place and leaving them on the floor or on the lowest bookshelf. The water entered my closet, and my shoes and other clothing succumbed to flood waters as well.

The landlord is having the wet carpeting torn up today, and that is somewhat of a relief, but moving all my furniture and remaining possessions requires time and effort.

My thoughts shift to a dull kind of depression, a gloomy yet begrudgingly state of melancholy. The thought of temporarily relocating and ridding myself of items which bring me comfort rattles my sense of security, yet I'm compelled to reluctantly soldier on, to put up a brave front. This entire process of digging through my stuff and realizing what I've lost is jarring, yet I can only do what I must in order to move on. I cannot wallow in sorrow or pretend fate has slighted me. I can only move forward, to rid myself of damaged property, and to remember all things, even personal treasures, are fleeting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Hurricane Sandy came and went, bringing with it destructive gusts, massive storm surges and a catastrophic doomsday screwing for the Northeast.

This was one of the worst hurricamnes on record to strike the New Jersey coast, causing untold damage and sending millions of lives into a deathspiral of total fuckitude.

Sandy made me homeless.

This she-bitch of the sky rained down a devastating blow to my tiny burgh by the ocean, eroding the beaches, flooding the streets and pissing on our parade. Beachfront houses clogged with sand, roadways choked with debris, and widespread power outages, plunging the city in the dark.

We Northeasterners aren't used to hurricanes. To us, hurricanes happen down in Florida and South Carolina, not New Jersey. We don't know where to begin dealing with the chaotic aftermath of such a storm.

And yet, as I walk these debris-strewn streets, pondering how this could have happened, the hurricane was real. A mighty hurricane did strike my town.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for Oct. 29, and anyone with a brain got out of Dodge. Those hearty few who remained faced no electricity, flooding and gale force winds. For 36 hours. Yeah, that soiunds like an enchanting evening.

To the ones like me who left, we watched the storm unfold on television, as every Philadelphia news reporter donned their L.L. Bean windbreakers and stood on the beach, bombarded by sheets of rain. If there's a mega-storm with the potential of abundant damage and misery, you can bet TV news will be all over that shit like Roman Polanski at a sweet 16 party.

The problem with these plastic people standing in the rain and reporting about overturned trees, shattered homes and flooding, is it's endless. To satiate the growing appetite for gloom and sadness, TV media's disastrer coverage seems gratuitous. It's grief porn, served up with images of wrecked neighborhoods, torrential downpours and grim-faced douchebags sloshing through hip-deep water.

And they play this over and over and over .

For many hours. Until you want to scream like a berzerker.

After seeing two days of apocalyptic storm footage and buildings that made Hiroshima after the atomic bomb look like a Midwestern planned suburban development, I headed down the shore to survey nature's wrath.

Police guarded the bridge leading into the island. The state restricted entry onto the barrier island, yet all I did was showed my identification and I was allowed to pass. What greeted me on the other side of the bridge was a town pulling its shit together after a rough night, like a woman straightening herself out after a particularly raucous and drunken date.
Except Sandy fucked the city hard, like a nuclear powered vibrator of ultimate doom.
My apartment got a foot of water inside it. The telltale signs of flooding showed; the high-water mark of grit and mucky silt from the bay washed on the door, revealing the water's depth. Once inside, I noted the awful fish smell permeating the apartment. The rugs were soaked. My DVDs stored on the bottom shelf of the entertainment center suffered damage, so did some books in my study. Water trickled down the wall of my study onto the desk. Sand and dirt were everywhere on the kitchen and living room floors. I opened the windows, mopped the kitchen floor and threw away food in the refrigerator. because when you have no electricity and the refrigerator hasn't worked for three days, that sauerbraten you got at Oktoberfest smells like patient zero at a leper colony.

The damage wasn't as bad as I anticipated, and for that, I'm grateful. I dodged a bullet here, and came out with drenched rugs, possessions and electrical sockets.

The landlord will see to it the rugs are replaced and the apartment is habitable ,but that'll take time. I've been living out of my suitcase for five days, hunkering down at my parent's place miles away. With a crappy commute in my future, a house filled with water damage and soggy DVDs and books, I'm very fortunate.

It could've been far worse. The Jersey coast is now the 9th Circle of Hell, a jumbled, wrecked and battered place wrought with miserable people digging out from the worst storm in recent memory.

A visit from Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama lifted our spirits today, because these tow political titans are working together. Both men are wise enough to place partisan politics aside and unite efforts to assist the people in their time of need.

Our once quaint shore town is beaten, but we're not down. We're stubborn and tenacious. We don't quit.

Though challenges are imminent in my future, I've got to remain focused on the clean-up. I'm determined enough to deal with this setback in a calm, rational manner and plough ahead.

It's like I'm driving along life's highway and I hit a pothole. And a deer. And a Winebego filled with explosives. After the eventual mishap I yank myself up by my bootstraps, remove the splattered blood from my lapel and continue on, this time faster and with more resolve.

Like Christie and Obama proved with their collaborative efforts, we're all in this together.

Oh, and fuck Hurricane Sandy in her wet subtropical eye.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Anyone Say Anything Stupid About Rape?

For Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, the shit hit the fan when he defended his stance on abortion, that quirky, delightful issue that causes grown people to flail their arms wildly, gaze skyward and invoke Jesus’ name, or, depending where you are, produce poster-sized images of bloody, mangled fetuses.

Mourdock, at a debate on Oct. 23, explained why he opposes abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. He said “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in the horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock later said his comment was taken out of context; “I said life is precious. I believe life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I abhor. That anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize.”

So in other words, Mourdock hates rape, but if a women is raped, it’s all part of God’s twisted divine plan?

The comments are just one example of what liberal pundits and overtly-dramatic types are calling the GOP’s “War on Women,” although I prefer the more striking moniker “Gynopocalypse.”

So what do these dorks in suits and neckties have to say about rape, and why? Why is rape the latest platter in the 24-hour news buffet?

 Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, who opposes abortion, even in cases of rape, ignited this powder keg when he said in August that pregnancies from rape were “really rare”. Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something; I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Vice Presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, sponsored the proposed “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, which qualifies victims of “forcible rape” for federal funding for abortions.
Isn’t the definition of rape forcible? It’s not exactly something you ease into.

Republican men seem to be commenting more and more on rape, and each puzzling, ear-bleeding, cringe-inducing quote is worse than the next. Either they are totally clueless regarding anatomy, physiology or how vaginas work, or they’re trying to piss off every woman on the planet.

Consider Idaho state Senator Chuck Winder’s comment in March: “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

Or former Senator and shit splooge Rick Santorum’s January statement: “I think the right approach is to accept this horrible created – in the sense of rape – but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept that God has given to you…rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.”

Cheer up, ladies! Robbing your human dignity, self worth and violating your bodies and souls isn’t all bad! You’re knocked up now!

Incidentally, Santorum was the only one of these guys to actually take home dead baby from the hospital and show it to his kids. I know it was a way for him to deal with such a tragic loss, but, ew, that’s pretty fucking macabre.

But the worst quote, the one which makes the rest of these frat boy misogynists look chivalrous and couth, comes from former Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

This callous disregard for women and the insensitivity they’ve shown regarding the most heinous act of rape makes me wonder if there’s something else at work here, under the surface.

No empathy or remorse is a sign of a sociopath. The way some of these candidates are talking, you’d think they view women as trundling womb sockets for wee-wees instead of complete human beings.

It also makes me wonder if rape is the only way these Republicans have sex. Drink a few beers, bitch about how that uncircumcised Muslim Negroid in the White House is crapping on the constitution and their blood boils into a furious, frenzied rage before they take it out on the date they arranged on Craigslist.

Don’t these guys know every time they speak into a live microphone, the world is listening? We scrutinize politicians more than ever, ad nauseam, it seems.

Yet they want to have some good-natured back-slappin’ and joshing about rape and women’s anatomy and God’s will. 

The scary part is many of these Christians aren’t asking “What Would Jesus Do”, but taking their cues from the Old Testament, where God cheered on rape. Not once or twice, but several times.
Here are citations in the Bible where God approves rape, pillage and murder: Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 21:10-14, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Judges 5:30, Judges 21:10-24, Zechariah 14:1-2.

For politicians and political wanna-bes to bring religion into this is unconscionable and a cop-out. It’s almost as if they’re justifying the crime of rape, as if God’s invisible hand guides the rapist to bring misery upon the woman. It’s a sick, demented scenario no rational person would endorse.

But why is it happening? Because saying a woman can’t get an abortion after she’s been violated kinda makes you look like a dick. It makes voters wonder does this guy have a wife or daughters and how do they feel about it?

When you have men making laws for women without the participation of women, that’s beyond draconian. It reeks of exclusion and is just awful policy.

Maybe these guys should be forced to tour rape shelters and listen to women who’ve been raped. Maybe sit in on a group therapy session to get the full effect of rape’s psychological scars.

It’s the Republican wet dream to overturn Roe v. Wade. They’ve been plotting it for years, like the Rapture.

For every politician who wants a rape victim to carry her pregnancy to term, I think an equal treatment should be meted out on the politicians themselves, so they can experience the gut-wrenching horror of rape and it’s so-called “God-given gift of life”.

The politicians themselves should be raped, and not by a dominatrix with a strap-on. Not whimsical finger-up-the-pooper assplay. No, they should be set upon by hardcore prisoners, tattooed lifers who’d love to get their hands on frightened old white men from the rural Midwest. After an hour-long butt-pounding in the prison showers, where they’re each passed around like a joint in a college dorm room, these self-righteous women-bashers will see the light.

Maybe then they wouldn’t be so keen to philosophize on women’s issues and embarrass themselves.

Here’s hoping.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Asshole Town

Today while covering a ward meeting (which, incidentally, is about as much fun as having fire ants shoved in your urethra), one ornery old man singled me out and referred to me as a "partial newspaper person".

I might be a partial newspaper person, but he is a complete asshole.

Seriously, what's this need to publicly vent your dissatisfaction for the press when the press is sitting right in front of you? What about a curtly-worded letter sent to the newspaper's offices, a brusque phone call or an e-mail...forget about e-mail. Most people over 60 can't operate computers. Better stick to pony express, then, WIlfred Brimley.

I've known this particular grizzled prospector of a human, this furry-cheeked Methuselah, for a few years. He always attends council meetings and speaks, with a gravelly voice reminding one of a multi-decade long nicotine habit. You can imagine him belting scotch before belting the waitress. he's the old school kind of guy who felt most comfortable in a La-Z-Boy recliner watching Bill O'Reilly and cursing at the "Jew media elite".

In other words, he's an asshole.

This is the same geezer who jokingly referred to me as "Mr. Front Page" because my newspaper stories fill most of the front page.

His witticisms hath slain me.

Apparently, this guy has an enormous chip on his shoulder and doesn't get along with people.

He's a petulant old grouch, hence, his deriding me as a "partial newspaper person" wasn't unexpected.

To set the record straight for Grandpa Munster, I've been doing this journalism schtick for 19 years in Cape May County (come for the beaches, stay for the plutocratic oligarchy). I have written for four area newspapers. Before that, I interned at a newspaper in Massachusetts. In college, I majored in journalism. In my long (almost unbearably long) career in the coastal wilds of southern New Jersey, I've won six awards from the New Jersey Press Association. I received a journalism fellowship, and was tasked to write editorials for the newspaper by the editor himself.

I dare characterize that as "partial" anything.

In my entire profession, I've labored to retain a creed and a trust of neutrality, of presenting both sides of the story and delving deeper. Sometimes I succeed in mission, while other times I fall short.

Regardless of how the stories manifest themselves, how the interviews go and whether I secure the right documents, the story always comes out.

Reporters have to grab multitudes of information, synthesize said information in our addled caffeinated brains, and organize the information into readable, digestible text.

Writing isn't easy; it's a time-consuming, grueling and unforgiving mistress with black leather stiletto heels digging into your frontal cortex, grinding the words out of you.

I do this job because I enjoy a good political scrum, tete-a-tete conversations with people from varied professions and a chance to write for publication. It's not a novel, but it's got my name on it.

Mostly, it's something I excel at and have familiarity with.

I don't claim to be a journalistic maven or virtuoso wordsmith, but I can write during a deadline. That's a valuable skill, writing in a crunch.

In this conservative city, journalism is viewed with a jaundiced, bloodshot eye and and reporters are merrily scoffed at, except for ones with connections to the real estate industry.

They're viewed as "serious journalists" and not "partial newspaper people."

No matter how many words you write in a feeble attempt to explain or enlighten, someone will inevitably turn that shotgun against you and blast a hole through your gut. They are greedy, ignorant men with money who persuade their creepy friends that anyone adopting a different viewpoint should be shunned or ridiculed.

Problems plague this delightful city by the sea, yet I can't fix assholes. There are several assholes in this city, embittered, raving men who deride anyone who makes them feel inferior. They get a jolly kick out of chastising reporters, not because of who we are, but because of what we do.

To them, the profession defines the personal character.

They have the luxury of sitting on their Depends-sheathed asses and complaining about the sorry state of the community, and point to the media and blame us for the town's shortcomings. Like I'm staying up nights flooding the roads and causing beach erosion.

What other explanation could it be for this guy to speak pejoratively of me in a room full of people?
Was it to shame me, to make me see the error of my ways and repent, to abandon a life of writing in favor of a career in chartered accountancy?

Or was it because he was just an asshole, lobbing stones at the class nerd?

He's not alone, because this city takes pride in its assholes. Influential people with money and power, vie for control, forge alliances and push through their own greedy agendas. It's like "Game of Thrones" without the nudity and the dwarf.

I don't know what causes this peculiar affliction. Perhaps you get up one day and instead of greeting the world with a carefree smile and spring in your step, you guzzle your prune juice and yell at a reporter.

Thing is, people here like me. Not all of the country club fuckers, but some of them. My reputation countywide is fairly positive. People with the county government, political and civic groups know I give them a fair shake. They've complimented me on my articles and even-handedness in reporting.
I might falter, but I climb right back up on the horse and spur the nag in its gizzards before galloping on.

My quest is to inform the people here, to give them balanced, accurate information.

I'm trying to make this a better place.

Newspapers create an organic, ever-changing dialog between citizens. It's healthy, it's needed and it's what the Constitution protects.

But I can only do so much.

Some days, you feel good about writing stories under deadline and producing a graphically-pleasing newspaper with a variety of articles, and other days a decrepit old fart coldcocks your ego.

Forget about it, Jake. It's Asshole Town.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Santiaga for Senate

Colleen Lachowicz plays the popular online fantasy game World of Warcraft, where she assumes the guise of an orc rouge assassin named “Santiaga”.

Nothing wrong with that, as millions of Americans play WoW and battle monsters in an online pixilated realm.

Lachowicz is also a Democratic State Senate candidate in Waterville, Maine, and her opponent, State Senator Tom Martin, believes playing fantasy roleplaying games disqualifies one from elected office.

So much so that the Maine GOP gathered Lachowicz’s online comments and put them in a blog.

Most of these comments are many years old and casually refer to stabbing online foes and real-world politics and characterizes the GOP as "selfish". 

Yet the stabbing references make the GOP go apeshit.

Before I go any further, I must confess I’ve never played WoW, or any MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) before. I primarily design and play pen and paper RPGs (Role-Playing Games) and have for many years. Reality Blurs, a game company in Memphis, Tenn., published my game, Ravaged Earth, in 2008. The second revised edition of Ravaged Earth will be released in the next few months. The closest I’ve come to playing WoW is Skyrim, a sprawling, epic fantasy adventure from Bethesda Softworks. Even though I don’t reside in Maine or know anything about Lachowicz’s campaign or where she stands on the issues, I’ll venture to say we both enjoy gaming.

Gamers, regardless of their political leanings, should unite and stand up for each other.

The Maine GOP prepared a mailer showing a photo of Lachowicz and her online doppelganger, the green-skinned, mohawked orc.

“Colleen Lachowicz spends hundreds of hours playing in her online world Azeroth, as an orc assassination (sic) rogue named Santiaga.”

Seriously? You can’t even get the character class “assassin” right?

“What’s worse, in Colleen’s World she gets away with crude, vicious and violent online comments”, the mailer continues.

What? On a private online server between fellow gamers, she can let her hair down, relax and vent?

It almost makes you wonder if the intended demographic for this mailer includes little blue-haired elderly dowagers with fainting couches.

So what are these scandalous comments which doth maketh baby Jesus cry?

“I love poisoning and stabbing! It is fun. I never thought I would love it so much either. I did not start out WoW with a rougue…” Lachowicz wrote Feb. 11, 2010.

“I used EJ to re-spec my rogue (the lovely and talented orc rogue Santiaga here. Thank you for noticing my totally hot purple Mohawk!) I got heavier into the assassination tree for more mutilate skill. I did lose some speed and ability in stealth as a result, to my dismay. But my dps (Deaths Per Second) increased quite a bit…” she wrote June 11, 2009.

“I play a rogue…I like to stab things and I’m originally from NJ…what’s your fucking point?! lol” she wrote Feb. 11, 2010.

I’m from New Jersey, too and I attest we don’t fuck around.

“Oh…and I can kill stuff without going to jail. There are some days when this is more necessary than others,” she wrote on Dec. 17, 2009.

“That is the joy of the VM [Vagina Monologues] traditional or trans! Yelling “CUNT” onstage always cracks me up.” She wrote Nov. 12, 2009.

Wait, what?

What does her quote about the Vagina Monologues have to do with online fantasy roleplaying? Oh, I get it. It’s because she used the pejorative word “cunt”, one of the foulest words in the English language, and if you don’t believe me, call a woman this and see what happens. I guess this quote was selected to make Lachowicz seem like a Tourettes-addled potty-mouth.

You know how Republicans hate using obscene words in public. In private, it’s a whole other matter.

So how does the ad consolidate its message?

“We need a Senator who lives in OUR world, not Colleen’s World. Vote NO on Colleen Lachowicz.”

What this attack ad tries to accomplish is portray Colleen Lachowicz as a lazy, deluded woman-child wholly divorced from reality. It tries (unsuccessfully) to paint her as someone who prefers enacting violent fantasies in an imaginary place, and a videogame, of all things.

Delusional, fanciful, and pitiful, Lachowicz should be ignored because she’s not a member of “our” world, of the “real world”, where she’s running for political office, according to the Maine GOP.

There’s a certain segment of the population, older, more conservative and curmudgeonly, who will never understand the concept of RPGs and online gaming. To them, it’s just a child’s toy, a pastime for geeks, dweebs and dorks too socially awkward and uncoordinated to man-up and play sports.

It’s the old high school rivalry of jocks versus nerds. It’s the same level of bullying and cajoling you see in 17-year olds confronted with something they don’t understand, so by ridiculing it, they gain instantaneous satisfaction.

WoW is a hobby. It’s a way for Lachowicz and others to unwind.

When imagination is frowned upon with a condescending eye, what’s that say about us as a culture?

Gamers transcend political party, race, economic and social barriers. They are a zany yet intelligent bunch who love being entertained and socializing with each other.

A political flap over Dungeons & Dragons surfaced in 2008 when then-Republican candidate Senator John McCain’s staffer Michael Goldfarb wrote, “It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement.”

Translation: “Shut up, nerds! Let the grown-ups take control for once!”

Viewed through the conventional lens, games like WoW and D&D are strange, weird and bizarre, and so are the players. The geeks who attend conventions dressed as anime or Nintendo characters or wear chainmail bikinis or…actually, the chainmail bikinis are pretty cool.

Until the media portrays geek culture and gaming culture with dignity and realism, we're just going to be labeled as pariahs and annoying stereotypes.

So how batshit loopy is Colleen Lachowicz? If she’s a hardcore gamer, she’s got to be a slob with a sub-par IQ who works part-time at Kinko’s, right?

According to her website, Lachowicz graduated with college and spent a year in Eastern Europe providing counseling services to international students before attending graduate school at Boston College for a Masters in Social Work. She worked at Kennebec Behavioral Health since 1997 and was the Program Director of School-Based Services since 2005. She’s a wife and stepmom and has been working since she was 15 years old.

From reading her website, she seems like a down-to-earth, nurturing person, one bereft of pretenses and snobbery.

But somehow because she plays WoW, she shouldn’t be taken seriously as a candidate and dwells in a fantasy world?

Let’s talk violence, because that seems to be a major concern with the Maine GOP’s criticisms. Lachowicz’s comments indicated she enjoys stabbing and killing in the game.

Yes, combat and violence are a part of MMORPGs and RPGs. Fighting enemies, taking their loot and upgrading weapons is standard.

What about a hunter who, as part of his hobby, goes into the woods with a rifle or shotgun and shoots a deer in the face or stabs a peasant in the gut? A sportsman can kill animals in the real world and be celebrated, but someone killing things in an imaginary online world is a psychopath?

Not that I’m against hunting, or firearms ownership, but if you’re implying someone’s dangerous because they say they like stabbing targets in an online universe, while hunters kill real animals and nobody blinks, it’s a little disingenuous.

Also, this notion that assuming another persona is somehow creepy and unsettling should be put into context, especially with the popularity of Civil War reenactments. So portraying an orc rogue in a computer game is weird, but actually dressing up in 19th century military gear and fighting the Battle of Gettysburg is normal? Camping out, marching and eating hardtack while cleaning your scattergun is completely acceptable, but the nerds at the Renaissance Fair in leggings and ruffled shirts are just freaks.

Fantasy versus reality.

What world are you living in?

Remember Rich Iott, the Republican who ran for Congress in 2010? Iott was known for dressing as a Nazi in World War II reenactments. Say what you will about Lachowicz and her kooky green orc, but she never donned a Waffen SS uniform and pretended to be the very epitome of evil.

Yet not all people who participate in historical reenactments are reactionary throwbacks longing to re-live past conflicts, but then again, not everyone who plays computer games are dangerous, nutty loners.

The problem with such an attack against a woman and her WoW hobby is it’s desperate.

Attacking a candidate on their positions, their records and proposals is fair game. Yet the game the Maine GOP wants to play is dirty. It’s the worst kind of mud-slinging, the implication that someone in mentally unbalanced because they enjoy RPGs and MMORPGs.

Lachowicz’s orc character is level 85, according to the Maine GOP. That takes dedication and skill, but in the jaundiced eyes of non-gaming haters and scoffers, it means she’s lazy. Out of touch. An overgrown child.

Yet it’s the Maine GOP who are acting like children for pointing this out in the first place.

WoW is Lachowicz’s hobby, and a very benign and harmless one.

When a state political party savages a woman because of her online postings in a game forum and doesn’t use the opportunity to discuss policy, the voters ultimately lose. This lack of substance and rise of superficiality in political discourse frankly disgusts me. This is what’s important to us? Someone’s online fantasy character?

The real difference between the two candidates in this race is simple; one candidate has a childlike enthusiasm for living in a fantasy world of barbarians, monsters and mythology, and the other candidate has a World of Warcraft account.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Other Human Living With Me

It's been over three months since my girlfriend moved in with me. I consider myself a solitary hermit, a true lone wolf, unshakable in the face of relationships.

Being a total pariah and outcast, I grew painfully accustomed to living alone.

Before my girlfriend moved in, if you opened my refrigerator, you'd confront a box of Chinese food, plastic water bottles and a nondescript brown lumpy thing with a sheen of green fuzz that used to be a casserole. Or maybe a piece of fruit.

The laundry hamper smelled like a stinky tropical rainforest. It reeked so bad, and flies who landed on it immediately started gagging from the stench.

All of those miserable trappings of a single male dissipated rapidly when She moved in.

I'm in a comfortable, healthy place now. She makes sure of it. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fight On, Oldsters!

City, we need to talk. Stop antagonizing each other and try behaving like halfway decent people without grudges. I get it. Most of you are incredibly old and frightened at the way this country is progressing toward anarchy. Things are happening at an alarmingly fast rate and you feel helpless. 

Your ability to affect change is severely muted by infirmity, muddled reason or stubbornness.

And the music the kids are listening to these days!

If it’s not a blood-drinking Goth vampire, it’s a half-naked slut belching incomprehensible lyrics to a house beat sounding like a whooping crane farting “The Star Spangled Banner”.

You can’t relate to anyone younger than you. You think the Democrats are socialist hippies who want to turn America into a clothing optional commune where Jane Fonda reads excerpts from “The Communist Manifesto” while Che Guevara look-alikes with goatees rape your daughters with rolled up issues of Mother Jones magazine.

Those loud-mouth liberal teachers are indoctrinating our children by teaching evolution, science and critical thinking skills. God forbid they should force children to write the entire Bible out longhand while flagellating themselves with a cat o’ nine tails.

You know: just like when you were kids.

City, you’re just a throwback to a dark, ugly chapter in this country’s history when ignorance was bliss and oppression of minorities was business as usual.

You eke out your remaining days in Florida condos, clutching your pain medication and howling at television, grousing about arthritis, angina and senility.

City, you’re broken.

But it’s not your fault. It’s your defense mechanism because you’re growing old.

It’s scary what’s happening to you. You wish to rage against the dying of the light, to turn back the clock to a time when America was the clean-shaven good guy with a firm handshake and can-do smile. When America was decent, and just and moral. When the fiction crammed into your head by Golden Age Hollywood filled you with promise and passion.

Where are the Humphrey Bogarts, Carey Grants and Jimmy Stewarts now?

Moldering in tombs and winking at us from their preserved black and white cells where they eternally remind us of the days when we fought Nazis, fed the poor and rolled up our sleeves because we could.

Because it was the right thing to do.

Back when we didn’t view differences, but found similarities.

A time of generous millionaires and glorified public service.

When the government wasn’t looked upon as a plague of locusts.

When industry moved America and our skyscrapers touched the heavens as our ideas touched the minds and hearts of many around the world.

Back when you fell in love.

But now, as the years fell away, you’re left old and broken, flustered at society’s lightspeed pace, at the edges fraying and coming apart, of entropy and vice breaking everything apart.

Everything you built is unraveling and you’re angry.

So you direct your rage toward those you view as agents of America’s destruction:








You hate them with a nuclear explosion-sized rage ball of hot white fire. If only they would go away, you’d know America would be taken back. Control seized from the boogeymen destroying this land.

Know what?

I don’t blame you, city.

You’re too old to remember what it meant to stumble, to fail. You view failure as weakness, but it’s an integral part of the human condition, for without the occasional screw up, we wouldn’t learn.

Learning brings wisdom, and that leads to making the correct decisions.

Nothing wimpy about that, city.

So if you continue to bleat and prattle on about phantom threats to your liberty, of perceived secularists vying to remove God from your life and country, I don’t mind.

You’re a cantankerous fogey who lost the ability for compassion and social niceties, a gaggle of bitter old mahjong-playing biddies, a flock of geriatric grumblers who despise what you can’t comprehend.

You’re set in your ways, and that’s cool. Nostalgia is your panacea, your miracle elixir.

So rave on, liver spots dappling your pasty flesh, bony fists shaking at an indifferent God. Froth and jibber at the dirty thugs running the government, the media, the entertainment industry. Blather like Clint Eastwood in a furniture store filled with empty chairs. 

You're a bunch of Custers and this is your last stand. Fight your good fight despite change being an inevitable juggernaut. Push those boulders, Sysiphus. Push those boulders.

Of course I’ll get off your lawn, city.

Don’t want any footprints marring your Astroturf.