Search Results for Vrokthar

Vrokthar Sneers At Your Tropical Winters

Seems timely, as I dig out from another 400″ of snow.

Auston Habershaw

Once more the mewling cries of fat, indulgent southlanders have disturbed mighty Vrokthar the Skull-feaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, and compelled him to respond. Even now, the iron rails of his battle-sledge are being oiled in the liquefied fat of his vanquished enemies by the trembling hands of his many slaves. When my team of great dire wolves is ready to venture forth, the howl of my displeasure will eclipse their own, and then you fools will understand fear.

Until then, I will explain my displeasure in mighty detail, so that you shall know your weakness before you vacate your pitiful, tiny bowels at the sound of my coming.

The magic box of light in my yurt has glowed these past months with the many and varied curses you fling upon the gentle snows and mild temperatures of your pathetic southron winters. It would appear as though the prospect…

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Vrokthar Laughs at the Excuses of the Vanquished

If you want the trophies of the great chief Bell'Ichick, come and claim them!

If you want the trophies of the great chief Bell’Ichick, come and claim them!

It is I, Vrokthar, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, come once again to pass his mighty judgment upon you pale, willowy wetlanders and your incessant whining. Listen well, and heed me, for it is past time you were made aware of your bountiful and various failures so that, when Vrokthar comes for you, you may well understand the justice of his bloody rampage.

For long days now, the luminous word-slate of Vrokthar has wailed and moaned with incredible persistence, so that I assumed your decadent and diseased culture must have, at last, fallen victim to some reavers of more robust and virile stock. Vrokthar opted to investigate, for he must be aware of all worthy foes. But, lo, when Vrokthar commanded the oracle, Google, to bring him the sights of this conquest – the hills of skulls, the fat-bodied ravens tugging at the entrails of the slain, the weeping faces of women and children in chains – he saw none of this! What did he see?

Deflated footballs!

Truly, your wealking people have fallen to a new low. Footballs? What foolishness is this? Oh, Vrokthar is passingly amused by your genteel and delicate notions of “sport” – wherein the opposing bands of warriors jostle one another for no greater purpose than to manipulate a pig’s bladder from one end of a field to the other. Indeed, this “football” is perhaps the closest your culture comes to achieving a modicum of strength. Vrokthar does not understand why the losing side is permitted to live and, furthermore, why those you have crushed beneath you are permitted to rise again before being disemboweled, but it is understood that your undernourished species is ill suited to stomach such practicalities. It is much like watching puppies wrestle, or children, except more pathetic and with no encouragement to bite and gouge at eyes.

Despite this, Vrokthar has grown to appreciate the great chief Bell’Ichick and his champion, Tom-Bradoon. He enjoys their wily antics and applauds the savagery with which they vanquish their foes (though, again, why let them live? Claim your prize, Tom-Bradoon! Thy longhouse ought be decorated with the heads of the many fools who hath opposed thee – skulls worthy of song and drinking goblets! The Mannings! The bearded Luck! The ridiculous bones of that fool, Tebow!). Recently, their slaughter of the pathetic Colts made Vrokthar smile – such cruelty! It would only have been the more wondrous had the Patriots been permitted to feast upon the flesh of the vanquished, but no matter.

Yet, rather than quake and tremble at the wrath of Bell’Ichick and his nigh invulnerable champion, the many howling cowards of this “NFL” see fit to wail over the inflation of a football? Truly, these shivering rats-of-men should be ashamed of themselves. What they resent is not the ball, but the victories. Tom’Bradoon hath slain (well, ought to have slain) their champions with disdain, and they are not men enough to face death (defeat, sorry – really, this would all be easier if the Patriots killed and ate their foes). The balls are of no importance. Does Vrokthar kill his foes with axe and spear to hear his new slaves lament that his spear was too long or his axe too heavy? No! It is not the weapons that have killed their people, but Vrokthar. They know this. All know this.

If you, cowards of the NFL, wish to claim the prizes of Bell’Ichick or Tom-Bradoon, come and claim them in just battle! That they hath vanquished you time and again simply confirms you are not their equal, so why should they trouble themselves with your impotent cries? They are mighty, and shall remain so unless Chief Caroll and his champion, Sher-man, can defeat them. Until this battle, then, Vrokthar demands silence from you, the powerless and banished. Were Vrokthar your foe, you would merely be thankful for your continued life, brief and painful as it may be.

Vrokthar Sneers At Your Tropical Winters

Once more the mewling cries of fat, indulgent southlanders have disturbed mighty Vrokthar the Skull-feaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, and compelled him to respond. Even now, the iron rails of his battle-sledge are being oiled in the liquefied fat of his vanquished enemies by the trembling hands of his many slaves. When my team of great dire wolves is ready to venture forth, the howl of my displeasure will eclipse their own, and then you fools will understand fear.

Until then, I will explain my displeasure in mighty detail, so that you shall know your weakness before you vacate your pitiful, tiny bowels at the sound of my coming.

The magic box of light in my yurt has glowed these past months with the many and varied curses you fling upon the gentle snows and mild temperatures of your pathetic southron winters. It would appear as though the prospect of frozen water falling quietly from the sky is enough to make you quake in terror. Vrokthar would say he was surprised at this, but no – he is well aware of how weak and impotent you so-called civilized people have become. Barely a day may pass before Vrokthar must endure the wailing of some new milksop, no doubt fresh from his mother’s fleshy teat, moaning to his non-existent gods that he must dare walk an entire twenty yards in the cold air. Are you children? Have you not beards? If you lack beards, can you not weave scarves from the beards of those you have slain? What manner of delicate creatures are you? Vrokthar has known songbirds to endure better than you have. Even for weakling southlanders, surely you must be mocked for this fragility? Were I your co-worker, I would cleave your head from your body and leave it steaming in a snowbank if only to prove how long it takes for a mammal of your puffy, indolent proportions to cool.

Here is Vrokthar off on a picinic expedition in lovely June.

Here is Vrokthar off on a picinic expedition in lovely June.

Here, in the Northern Wastes, we have but four seasons: June, July, August, and Winter. In Winter, the cold is a gift. It tests our strength as a people and weakens our enemies. As the icy arctic winds scrape across our exposed skin, we delight in the ceaseless pain it causes us. Who needs ears, a full nose, and all of one’s fingers and toes? Surely no true tribesman of Vrokthar’s people has need of such indulgences! We are strong! Those who cannot survive winter’s embrace have no need of life. We use their bodies to feed our wolves and their skins to make our capes, as it right and just.

You fools have no conception of true winter. Have you seen men drown in snow so deep it has no bottom? Have you been forced to thaw your eyeballs by dipping them in boiling water? How often have you licked the bloody blade of your sword, only to have your tongue stick in place and then been forced to fight the remainder of the battle killing men with your sword-tongue? None! You skip from your heated homes to your heated cars or trains to your heated offices, bundled in so many offensively-colored fabrics that you appear to be a pack of overweight circus performers, and yet you moan. “I’m going stir crazy from being inside,” or “I can’t stand shoveling this snow.” Bah! How can you have survived so long? How have not the squirrels and the alley cats not culled your hapless population? Cannot go outside? Are you an infant? Are you the descendant of tropical canaries?

Yes, yes – weep over your so-called hardships. Vrokthar comes for your soon. He will stride across your salted, shoveled property with ease and drag your sniveling carcass into the hot winter sun of your land. He will laugh, shirtless, and he strips you of your many layers of ‘fleece’. You will know cold then – oh yes – but not from your ‘winter.’ It will instead be the icy chill of my cold displeasure, come at last to find you.

Vrokthar Sneers At Your Pathetic Apocalypse!

This is Vrokthar's definition of a minor inconvenience.

This is Vrokthar’s definition of a minor inconvenience.

It has come to the attention of Vrokthar the Skull-Feaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes and Bane of the Help Desk Cult, that you wetlanders have grown anxious about thy impending doom. This at first pleased the might ears of Vrokthar, for he thought that the miserable wretches of those weak peoples had, at last, realized the futility of their existence and resigned themselves to glorious slaughter at the swords of Vrokthar’s mighty ravaging hordes.

But lo, Vrokthar was wrong! The outrage! The insult!

You limp-wristed fools fear the ravages of a horde of zombies? Zombies? What nonsense is this? Why should you pathetic weaklings be more menacing when infected with diseases and parasites? Vrokthar is no master of logic, but he does have considerable experience with parasites and infections and, take it from me, they do not make you stronger. Packs of diseased wetlanders would be as dangerous as an average pack of poxy swine – easily slain and a wondrous source of fine bacon. If you have not sampled man-bacon, I assure you it is delicious, and you puffy overweight un-men are a wondrous source of both plentiful bacon and the lard in which to fry it.

So, aside from providing Vrotkthar and his multitudinous progeny with unending supplies of bacon, of what consequence is your pitiful zombie apocalypse? Do you honestly think that you, fat lazy hog lounging on your plush divans and speculating upon the pelvic gyrations of your vid-trollops, are a mere infection away from dangerous weapon? I would gladly remove your zombie spine and wear it as a belt to prove your inferiority, whether dead or alive, but the spines of your people are notoriously difficult to find.

I can hear now your sniveling protestations: “But Vrokthar,” you whimper, snot dribbling from your rosy little noses, “there will be hordes of us! We will be too many?”

Think you that your numbers are of account? Bah! My blade has hungered for such an opportunity to test its edge. Your pathetic sense, so dulled by whatever infection hath corrupted your reason, will fall easy prey to me. I shall hack and slash my way through your miserable masses to utmost victory. You will have no organization, no leaders, no weapons, and no sense – thy doom will be assured.

So, speak not to me of the menaces of your ‘zombie apocalypse’. Such a worthless event, were it to come to pass, would not be frightening enough to make Vrokthar pass gas. He would simply bide his time in the bitter vastness of the north and then, when your pathetic culture had finally managed to laze itself into near collapse, I would blow my mighty horn, gather the hordes, and descend upon thee like the judgment of angry gods.

And then, the man-bacon would flow.

Answer Desk, Vrokthar Comes For You!

video%20games%20blood%20men%20weapons%20fantasy%20art%20armor%20barbarian%20axe%20artwork%20diablo%20iii%20warriors%202560x16_www_wallpapermay_com_24So it is again that I, Vrokthar the Skullfeaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, does again howl his curses into this magical word-slate, so that he might send word to his enemies that their miserable lives are to come to an end. Oh, yes, the puffy, limp-limbed wizards that rule this non-realm laugh at Vrokthar’s threats. “Ha!” sayeth the old-womanish cellar-dwelling gargoyles of the land of ‘Tech Support’, “you shall never find us, Vrokthar, for we are clever and hide behind our thick doors and send our mothers to the door when we knock.” “Also,” these pustulent web-toads cackle, “we are mostly located in the distant land of Asia, hiding among the many multitudes of our countrymen.”

These fools have no notion of Vrokthar’s wrath. Before his vengeance is sated, he shall bathe in a great cauldron of their steaming spinal fluid and use their knee-cartilage as chewing gum for many years to come.

But I get ahead of myself.

How hath these fetid, indolent mouse-goblins affronted the mighty Vrokthar? Listen then, and listen well to my grievances, so that your howls of rage might be added to mine own and so might the very stars tremble at our displeasure:

After many years of pillaging the pathetic wetlander nations, it occurred to the diseased and weakling brains of his enemies to provide the Northern Wastes with a spirit known as ‘Wifi’, so that the mighty and warlike peoples of Vrokthar’s tribe might use the magical word-tablets of the south to appease their rage. The fools even expected to sell these objects of wonder to my people. Of course we did not buy them, but took them by force after slaughtering many idiot merchants from both the tribes of Microsoft and Apple. Their wails as they awaited their deaths upon the mounds of the Inferno Ants was most pleasing as we toyed with our new spoils. For some short while we were amused by the panoply of absurd cats and busty females to be found in the deep folds of Wifi’s realm. That was, of course, until we stumbled upon the one known as ‘Beiber’, and then took it upon ourselves to stage a great crusade against the wetlanders that would produce such a foul, effeminate wretch and, still more, allow him to bombard their ears with his pointless, idiotic screeching.

But Vrokthar digresses…

Vrokthar of course secured for himself the mightiest of the ‘computers’ that they seized, and told it a great many of his mightiest secrets, so  that they might be held safe from the prying magicks of enemy witchcraft. So it was that Vrokthar came to value this prize. He sacrificed many wetlander infants for its long health, and ordered his bannermen to leave for it the finest parts of the caribou for it to feast upon. What mattered that it deigned not to eat? It was Vrokthar’s most trusted advisor, and any fool who sought to disobey it’s ‘Tweets’ was justly slain by mine own hand.

Then, one cursed morning, Vrokthar was about to consult his computer upon a matter of great import (and in no way related to that despicably buxom wetlander woman Christina Hendricks – this I swear!), his computer ceased to function. Great was Vrokthar’s wrath, but greater still his resolve to restore his lost secrets. He recalled the whimperings of a dying merchant, blubbering for his life as Vrokthar’s battle hounds tore out his entrails, that there were sages hidden deep within the ‘inter-net’ that could resurrect his advisor. So, Vrokthar quested for these men, and found them, and demanded of them their obedience. They promised to help, but their promises were the foulest of lies. They could not rescue Vrokthar’s data! They send Vrokthar not one, but two new ‘hard drives’, only for them both to not function! They asked Vrokthar stupid questions, such as whether or not his computer was switched on (OBVIOUSLY NOT, YOU INSUFFERABLE BOOB, ELSE I WOULD HAVE CUT OFF YOUR MANHOOD AND LEFT YOU TO PERISH HOURS AGO!) or whether his hard drive was hooked up to the computer (YOU SHALL WADE KNEE DEEP IN THE BLOOD OF YOUR OFFSPRING, YOU CONDESCENDING JACKAL!).

They gave Vrokthar incorrect instructions. They transferred Vrokthar to alternate sages who knew nothing. They gifted him with software that would not function. All this and more!

So it is that I swear to hunt down these fools in person, so that they might know the depth of my displeasure. They think they can hide? Know this, Sunjay of Tech Support: There is no population so large that could cushion you from the doom of Vrokthar the Skullfeaster. He will slay every Sunjay in India and fashion a shrine from their collected skulls only so he might desecrate it regularly with his mighty bowel movements. Your screams will sunder heaven and cause your gods to weep. Your family and your friends and your acquaintances and neighbors shall all be branded with Vrokthar’s mark and taken as slaves, there to sand the dead flesh of his bunions and shall be permitted to eat nothing but the sanded remnants of his mighty bunions until they waste away and die. Such is my oath. Even now, my hounds seek the scent of you and all your ilk.

Tell all who will listen: Vrokthar comes for you, and he is as pitiless as the dead clicking of a broken 360 gigabyte hard drive.

5 Things Life Would Be Better Without

This is me today.

This is me today.

Feel like complaining, but not to the level where I need to awaken Vrokthar. I’m having one of those days that isn’t bad, exactly, but it is annoying. So, after I stepped in dog poop and tripped getting onto the train and had autocorrect try very hard to make me look like a fool and so on, I’m going to tell you about 5 things the world does not need and would be better without. You may or may not agree – I don’t really care that much.

Pictured: me failing to get my touchscreen to do things.

Pictured: me failing to get my touchscreen to do things.

#5: Touchscreens

Let me start with an unpopular choice. Was there something wrong with buttons I was unaware of? Because I felt like buttons worked just fine. They reacted to your touch, they always depressed when you hit them, and they were pretty functional. But no, some jackhole had to go invent the buttonless objects that now pervade my daily existence.

Perhaps I’m a vampire, but touchscreens refuse to consistently acknowledge my touch. I find myself jabbing at a flat sheet of graphene (or whatever they’re made out of) over and over and nothing happens. At least with buttons, I could isolate the root of the problem fairly quickly – if the button was going in, the problem wasn’t with the button – but with touchscreens, who knows? Also, who knows if you’re hitting the right one? They make the damned icons so small that my enormous fingers are constantly doing the wrong thing. I legitimately have to pivot my fingers sideways so I can swipe with the narrow band of flesh alongside my fingernails to get things to work. That is assuming it agrees to acknowledge my existence, which it does not.

Additionally, there is no reason buttons couldn’t work! Put a control cross and two buttons and a scroll wheel or such on the bottom edge of a phone and bam–it would work fine! Keyboards could fold off the back, just like they did in days of old.

Either that, or somebody invent a goddamned touchscreen that reacts to my touch. Unlike now, where they just react to my screams.

#4: DVD Menu Intro Sequences



I don’t know about you, but when I put a DVD into a DVD player, I want the movie to begin. Like, right away. Sure, sure – I’m willing to tolerate the existence of previews and such (movie studios have to make their money somehow), but why in hell’s name do I have to watch a five minute sequence of Zazu flying across the damned Pridelands just to start the stupid movie? Is anybody under the illusion that this crap is entertaining? Yeah, sure, a menu ought to exist, but we shouldn’t have to see it unless we want to (by pushing the menu *button*). The idea that somebody, somewhere, spent a boatload of money and wasted hours and hours and hours of labor to create a video animation sequence that NO ONE WANTS TO SEE AT ALL makes me wonder for the sanity of the human race.

Of course, maybe all you hip folks out there haven’t watched a DVD in some years and don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. Me? I’ve got kids who like to watch DVDs, and Disney is one of the worst offenders for this nonsense.

#3: Autocorrect

This is an old one – been around since we were afflicted by smartphones – but just to reiterate: COMPUTERS SUCK AT GUESSING WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY!

Generally I disapprove of all minion-themed memes. This is an exception.

Generally I disapprove of all minion-themed memes. This is an exception.

Look, I know how to spell, dammit. And, even if I don’t, I’d rather be occasionally bad at spelling than constantly not making sense. My phone’s autocorrect feature is constantly changing the weirdest things – like, not even nouns, but adjectives and articles and stuff. And WHY? Seriously, why? What, people can’t learn to spell anymore? And even if they can’t, it isn’t like autocorrect actively improves anybody’s spelling. C’mon, we’ve all got that one relative in our social media feed who is a living reminder of how spellcheck and autocorrect do NOTHING to help you if your grasp of English is tenuous!

I’m a writer. It drives me bonkers when I make a grammatical or spelling error. The only thing, though, that drives me even more bonkers is when some stupid machine dips into my own writing and makes the mistakes on its own and then passes off such mistakes as mine! Arrrggghhh!

If you gave me a time machine and told me I had to go back in time and kill one person, the person who invented spellcheck would be it.

#2: Movies on TV with “Hosts”

Again, showing my age here a bit, but I still watch things on actual television. Sometimes I’ll catch a movie I haven’t seen yet. And sometimes, for reasons that baffle the sane mind, those movies are “hosted” by people. People who waste time before and after commercials talking to me about nonsense.




Like, this never made sense. Not ever. Not even in the 1970s. The idea that TV networks are still doing this today, 40 years later, is absolutely mind-blowing. Who the hell tunes into Thor: The Dark World on FX and wants to see two smiling, vacuous twits banter artificially on a set somewhere? I just don’t get it. I don’t understand where they find these people. I don’t understand what these people think their job entails. I don’t understand how anybody justifies paying these people money to do this. IT’S A MOVIE! IT DOES NOT NEED A HOST!

You don’t need a concierge to make you appreciate the Godfather movies. You don’t need a spirit guide to take you through the complexities of Kung Fu Panda.

Or, what, maybe people do? Maybe there’s some old lady out there who would be completely lost in the twists and turns of Roadhouse were it not for that smiling couple trying to cook “Roadhouse Hash” while the movie is on? I mean, assuming this is true, here’s my first thought: maybe this person shouldn’t be allowed to watch television unsupervised. Maybe this is the kind of person who turns on Fox News, thinks it’s all true, and votes for Trump. Maybe – just maybe – the tiny demographic who craves or needs or enjoys hosted movies on television are the reason why life is awful and everything is terrible and we’re all going to die of global climate change.

You know, maybe.

It's probably bulletproof. You know, just because.

It’s probably bulletproof. You know, just because.

#1: Hard Plastic Packaging Material

So, Vrokthar has complained about this before, and he says it much more eloquently than I. That said, who the hell thought we wanted to purchase objects so irrevocably sealed into their little plastic containers that neither man nor beast could liberate them? Why do I need to break out a knife to open these things? Seriously – not even scissors is enough. I need a sharp knife, a vice, and time to get my flash drive free. Hell, just yesterday my wife got a package of birthday invitations that were sealed in two separate layers of thick plastic so durable, it would not tear. I needed to cut them out.

I can see the rationale to prevent theft here, I guess – expensive, small objects that can be easily ripped from packaging can get stolen. But is somebody willing to tear open a cardboard box in public like some kind of rabid racoon really going to have a hard time stuffing a slightly larger plastic package into their underwear?

And then how do you explain the packages inside other packages. Like, seriously, the flavoring packages in discount Macaroni and Cheese are build to withstand the strength of five men. Ever try to gracefully open the plastic bag inside a box of Cheerios? What the fuck, Corporate America? Is this some kind of elaborate prank? Is it just funny to you?

One of the most amusing things in movies is the speed with which somebody can purchase an item at an electronics store and then open it to use it. You see this especially often with pay-as-you-go cell phones. They buy one and bam – it’s in their hand. Meanwhile, actual people are asking their friends if they have a hacksaw in their garage because they’ve got to call their mom.

Anyway, I’ve complained enough. If you’d like to add to the list, feel free to comment. Enjoy your Monday.

My Blog: Dramatis Personae

What's that? Sorry you missed that? Well, get your ass to the next one, then!

What’s that? Sorry you missed that? Well, get your ass to the next one, then!

Had a book signing last night at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge. It was a ton of fun. Turnout wasn’t exceptional, but I certainly wasn’t there by myself and I probably sold between a dozen and fifteen books, which ain’t too bad for an author nobody knows about. I totally forgot to take pictures, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. A big thanks to the folks over at Pandemonium, especially Sarah, for giving me the time and space to sit there and talk about writing and D&D and fantasy and even sing a few bars from Disney’s Tangled.

Anywho, in conversation with my friend Kevin Harrington (who is a masterful networker), I started thinking about this blog and the purpose it serves and what kinds of stuff I do here. I’m not going anywhere, don’t worry (to the extent that anybody would ever worry about the disappearance of another author blog), but I guess I kind of just want to codify and explain this weird little thing I’ve got going on.

Note: I am ever-so-slightly fatter than this now.

Note: I am ever-so-slightly fatter than this now.

Blog Voice #1: Me

Most of the time, the voice you hear on this blog is that of myself. I talk incessantly anyway, so talking here is just an extension of my chatty nature. I tend to write about fantasy and science fiction properties, kid’s shows, Disney, my own work, the art and craft of writing, and whatever happens to cross my path. As a literature professor, I analyze pop culture stuff a bit more deeply than I probably ought to, and I don’t regret it one bit. I also stray off into talking about Role Playing Games (the pen-and-paper kind) and all kinds of other gaming, too. Basically, if you’re a writer, a geek, or some combination, you and I should get along just fine. Either that or become mortal enemies. Time will tell.

These guys gotta get insured *somewhere*, right?

These guys gotta get insured *somewhere*, right?

Blog Voice #2: FOUL (Financial Operations and Underwriting Limited)

I stray into parody a fair amount here, and one of the chief avenues of this is my FOUL posts. These are essentially me imagining the kind of financial and administrative and legal apparatus that would have to exist if there really were supervillains and evil masterminds in the world. They are pretty silly – very much along the lines of the Bank of Evil in the Despicable Me movies.

If I want pictures of Vrokthar, I just google "Barbarian" and there he is.

If I want pictures of Vrokthar, I just google “Barbarian” and there he is.

Blog Voice #3: Vrokthar the Skull-Feaster

Vrokthar is a dour, bloodthirsty barbarian of the Conan type, dwelling in some fictional wasteland just north of wherever you are. He is constantly angry, and bellows his threats from his throne of skulls. I use Vrokthar sometimes to vent about things that piss me off, since him venting is ridiculous and comical, and me venting is petty and mean. As Vrokthar is an absurdist caricature of a person, he says and believes things I do not, so there is a fair amount of distance between the things he might threaten to do or the things he finds insulting and the things that *I* do, but the stuff he’s complaining about is somehow related to what’s bothering me (even if I’m using Vrokthar to be sarcastic). Anyway, it’s just nice to have an angry barbarian come in sometimes and threaten to disembowel those who defy him.

Blog Voice #4: World-building Stuff

I also use this blog to flesh out settings for my novels. There’s a pile of old documents on Tvyian’s world under the Saga of the Redeemed tab, some stuff on the Union of Stars, some stuff on Nyxos, and more, besides. I mean, assuming you’re into that kind of thing. I have no blessed idea if anybody actually enjoys reading that stuff (it tends to get the fewest hits), so I try not to do it very often.

Blog Voice #5: Guest Posts!

I know a bunch of authors, and so many of them I invite to come on the blog and share excerpts from their new works or guest posts about whatever they feel like sharing. I should note that I don’t want to deal with unsolicited offers of guest posts just yet (I’m not so huge a platform I’d be doing you many favors, anyway, and I’m about as busy as I want to be here), but perhaps one day, if I’m able to quit my day job and write full time.

(Pause here for laughter)

Anyway, that’s basically what’s going on here. Oh, and there’s a few other things, too. Like that time I wrote about One Eyed Willie from Goonies, which has been very popular, or that time I channeled HG Wells for a silly joke, which is one of my favorites.

Well, long story short (too late), I’m curious as to what you folks like to read here and what, if anything, gets you coming back. I’m not saying I’ll change my behavior, mind you, but I’m curious. How is all of this going? Let me know!

On Competition

Pictured: me playing Scrabble

Pictured: me playing Scrabble

Fair warning: if you play a game against me – a game I like and enjoy – I will come for your blood. I don’t mean it personally, but I like to compete and I particularly enjoy winning. I can get unreasonably interested in even very trivial competition. A ‘casual’ game of Trivial Pursuit is nothing of the kind to me. I will crush you. No offense.

Granted, age has taught me how to ratchet back my competitive response in certain situations. I’ve learned to do this habitually now, but I always have that moment where I need to pull back on the throttle, lower my blood pressure, and tell myself ‘it’s only a game – calm down.’ So, essentially if you play a game with me, you get two versions of myself: one who doesn’t seem that invested in the outcome, and one who is very, very invested in the outcome. No middle ground.

There is something to be said for competitiveness as a positive trait, though. It keeps me coming back for more even in the face of defeat (pretty crucial for a writer). It means I work well under pressure and that I thrive in competitive situations (which, let’s face it, are common). It means I tend to keep myself as my best self whenever I can. These are all good things. I wholly believe that competition and competitiveness is, on balance, good for everybody. It’s good for society, the economy, personal fulfillment, and so on. There’s no need to be a jerk about it (sore losers and sore winners are real louts), but testing your worth is an important part of life.

This brings me to this article by Lynn Shepherd on the Huffington Post, in which she appeals to J.K. Rowling, asking her to stop writing. Shepherd insists that Rowling “sucks the oxygen out of the room” in the publishing industry, making it hard for new novelists to get started. She adds:

By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn.

So, basically, ‘go away, Ms. Rowling, as your success is enough and you should be done now.’ To which let me now add my response:

The fuck is this?

Okay, let’s breeze past the part where she belittles an entire genre of literature because it’s for young adults and, therefore, somehow worthless: I’ve discussed this before, and I think the sentiments contained therein are as applicable here as there. What I really want to discuss is the supposition that, just because somebody is successful, they should stop doing what makes them successful so other people can have a chance. What a load of bullshit.

Look, I understand the frustration of being passed over or ignored in favor of more established authors or voices. I completely understand reading books and thinking to yourself “hey, I write way better than this! Why aren’t my books getting published and sucking up so much attention?” Believe me, I’ve been there. That, however, is no reason to demand (or even politely suggest) that an author should stop publishing just so you can get a chance.

First off, this seems to be a misunderstanding of how the publishing market works. Do you think quality has anything to do with which books sell? Like, if Rowling weren’t there, people would somehow magically gravitate to your book because they’ve heard how great it is rather than, oh, not reading anything at all! Seriously, do you know why people read The Casual Vacancy? Because JK Rowling wrote it, that’s why. It has nothing whatsoever to do with their inability to see other authors behind Rowling’s aura of popularity. It’s because the aura of popularity is the only damned thing they’re interested in. People didn’t read A Casual Vacancy because they thought it was a good book – hell no! – they read it so they could say that they read it. They wanted to be seen at the beach with it poking out of their bag. They wanted to have their nose stuck in it on the train so that other people could look at them and say to themselves “my, there goes a lady who’s got her finger on the pulse of publishing today! My, my, what a peach!” The millions of people who buy Rowling’s books are not waiting in the wings to buy other people’s books. They are waiting to buy what is cool, not what is good.

Yeah, sure, there are people who are just plain Rowling fans and read the book to support her, but a book doesn’t just sell that many copies based solely on literary merit. Perhaps it ought to be that way, but it obviously isn’t. Look at Dan Brown. Stephanie Meyer.

Dave Barry. ‘Nuff said, right?

My second point is this, and pardon me if I wax a little Klingon here: Are you a coward? What kind of meek, squeamish writer are you that you balk in the face of challenging the best sellers of the day? Do I need to dig Vrokthar out to give you a talking to? I don’t want the mega-selling authors of the day to quit their jobs just to make room for me – no fucking way. I want to beat them. I want to get my own hordes of howling fans by the merit of my own prose, not because of the absence of somebody else’s. Will I fail? Yeah, probably, but I’m going to take a swing at it anyway. I don’t want my success handed to me; I want to earn it. I want to claw it, tooth and nail, from the cold, hard clutches of the publishing industry. I want to hold it up in my blood-soaked hands and display it to the crowd – my victory, my trophy. I don’t want Rowling to go anywhere. I, rather, want to write books so unspeakably awesome that someday, when I’m at a conference somewhere on some panel or other, JK Rowling herself comes up, shakes my hand, and says “Mr. Habershaw, I’m a huge fan of your books.”

Boom. Victory.

And you know, if I fail, if I never pull it off, if JK Rowling never hears my name and no fans of any number ever congregate anywhere to discuss my work, it will still be worth it. I won’t cry about not winning; no, not me. Win or lose, though, I won’t stop trying until they nail my coffin shut. I will leave you, now, with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people of all time, the inimitable Bruce Lee:

Do not fear failure – not failure, but low aim is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.

Get out there. Fail gloriously.

And don’t you dare complain.

Bring Me the Head of Your Packaging God!

Vrokthar the Skullfeaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes, is greatly angered this holiday season. So angered that he has subdued the soft wetlander that commands this magical, glowing word-slate and has taken the time to tap out his complaints, letter by letter, so that the gods of Inter-net may hear them and tremble.

Vrokthar's Christmas list is making him angry.

Vrokthar’s Christmas list is making him angry.

So, hear me, feeble word-gods of this future world! Vrokthar commands tribute from you, for you hath offended him deeply. Listen well:

Bring me the head of the man who created modern packaging, and you and your lands may exist un-pillaged and un-razed.

Surely this is among the most reasonable of requests, as Vrokthar cannot imagine that you would protect such a miserable and aggravating weakling as he who decided to encase all of Vrokthar’s new memory cards in plastic so impenetrable that Mook’ta, the God of Mindless Hatred, would have difficulty opening them. Vrokthar had need to smite these thin, clear plastic boxes with his greatest axe to free them, and this has damaged the treasures within. It has also, Vrokthar is informed, voided his ‘Warranty’, which sounds bad. If the purposeless meddling of this fat, mewling inventor has exposed Vrokthar to evil curses, long shall his screams echo across the tundra.

Vrokthar, however, is as generous as he is mighty. Though he cursed the heavens with many bloody oaths after smashing his memory card, it occurred to him, in calmer moments, that perhaps this impenetrable force-field of plastic was needed to protect valuable objects from raiders. This is a weakling thing – Vrokthar fears no thieves, and keeps his things in sacks, preferably carried by his harem of female slaves – but Vrokthar must remember that you wetlanders are entirely populated by puffy weaklings. Very well then, reed-thin un-men, protect your valuable electronics with your womanish technological arts. This makes sense for you, sons of lambs that you are.

But packages of Macaroni and Cheese? What the flying fuck?!

Why must Vrokthar track down a pair of scissors to open up his cheesy powder-flavoring to enjoy a box of pillaged food products? Such sustenance is less than worthless – there is no market to sell such objects and one must travel about with a great pallet of such sub-foods in order to be traded for a simple slave-wench. Yet, here am I, Vrokthar, Mighty of the Mighty, straining his cable-like muscles to open a simple plastic bag full of noodles. Then, when the foolish bag is sundered by my great power, the fucking noodles fly everywhere! ARRRGHHHH!

Vrokthar demands satisfaction. Bring me the foolish engineer’s head. BRING HIM TO ME! Let me feast on his blood! Let him be dipped in a boiling cauldron of his own fiendish plastic and have his screams be encased forever, so that his seared corpse may be left standing as a monument on the Wastes to all who would annoy the Skullfeaster.

So it shall be!

Rebuttal: I Will Cut Off Your Head and Steal Your Women

Disturbing news reaches the ears of Vrokthar the Skullfeaster, Scourge of the Northern Wastes. As I brood upon my throne of desiccated entrails, I am told of a soft wetlander praising the virtues of strapping armor across one’s body.

This angers me. How typical of soft, womanly wetlanders to cower behind their technologically sophisticated weapons technology. Here, in the Wastes, true men face death with their chest bare and their great axe held high, to show their contempt for the weakness of their opponent. When Vrokthar goes to battle, he wears nothing but the blood of a holy bull, slaughtered as a sacrifice to Mook’ta, the God of Mindless Hatred. Never has Vrokthar died in battle, and this is proof of the effectiveness of his holy protection. The warriors that die when thusly blessed were not true believers, and so it is that the tribe of the Meaty Fists is the most pious of all the great tribes.

Only those who wet themselves with fear would cover themselves with articulated, battle-tested protection harness. Those who fear are not men, but women. So it is that Vrokthar makes a point to plant his seed in all armored wetlanders he captures, as they are clearly women. That they have failed to bear Vrokthar sons is little surprise – the soft, wetlander womb is poor soil for his harsh northern seed. Indeed, Vrokthar is so virile that he has yet to discover even a Northern woman capable of bearing him a son. All he has is useless daughters, whom he sells to buy mead for his tribesmen, for he is a great and noble man.

If the well-disciplined, well-equipped armies of the weakling civilizations of the south come to battle and it does not please Vrokthar to offer them battle, this must not be interpreted as cowardice. Vrokthar has no need to prove his naked flesh and mighty battle-cries against the womanly ranks of an organized army. What would such battle prove? There is no honor in killing limp-dicked men who have made themselves into a walking wall of steel. How could Vrokthar even determine which of their skinny, fruit-slurping number is the chief and challenge him to single combat? If Vrokthar cannot engage his enemy in single combat, then Vrokthar has better things to do. He will pack up his entire tribe and vanish into the steppe, making the so-called invicible legions of the south appear foolish as they occupy our worthless territory and find nothing but goats and scrub-grass. My, the laughs we have at their wretched expense.

Vrokthar wishes to speak no more of such foolishness as ‘armor’ and ‘discipline’. It is time to drink mead and take pleasure among the sheep. We will do this naked, as the God of Mindless Hatred intends. He smiles upon us, and laughs at your foolish wetlander ways in your soft, warm, prosperous cities. We are mightier than you, and will die a glorious death in battle long before any of your own soldiers.

That or dysentery. Very many of us die of dysentery.