All posts by drewchial

When Drew Chial was very young, he found an attic hidden in his bedroom closet. He discovered it investigating an indentation in the ceiling, nudging it with a broom, until it fell inward. There was no stepladder for him to climb, so he scaled the shelves. Shining his flashlight, he found a long triangular hall, twice the length of his bedroom. Every surface was coated in pink insulation that made his skin itch. Creeping into the basement, Drew stole a sleeping bag that he unrolled on the attic floor. He set a tiny aluminum lock box on top of it. This is where he hid the things he wrote. Now Drew hides them in plain sight.

Summer Reading Recommendation: Full Throttle By Joe Hill

When Joe Hill started this collection of supernatural fables, over a decade ago, he had no idea how relevant they’d feel now. With stories featuring separatist militias, hyper-capitalists, and end time scenarios Full Throttle is pairs perfectly with the mood of 2020.

The stories include:

Throttle

Ever see Duel, that Stephen Spielberg movie about the mild mannered driver pursued by a sadistic semitruck? Swap the mild mannered driver with a biker gang fuming over a deal gone wrong and you have the ingredients for one grim revenge thriller.

This is a collaboration between Hill and his father, an obscure word wrangler by the name of Stephen King.

Dark Carousel

There are few atmospheres more ominous than a creepy carnival (see Something Wicked this Way Comes, Silent Hill, and Us). Just add teenagers and you have a recipe for death and despair.

This is nightmare scenario about an unrelenting enemy teaches an important lesson about vandalism.

Wolverton

A hyper-capitalist coffeehouse kingpin finds himself on a train besieged by werewolves, one of whom very much admires the man’s killer instincts.

By the Silver Waters of Lake Champlain

When I first heard about the Loch Ness Monster I went to the nearest pond with a pair of binoculars. This story imagines what would happen if some like-minded children found a cryptozoological oddity washed up on their shore.

Faun

Big game hunters set out for trophies that are the stuff of fantasy. A grindhouse Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, in a negative image Narnia, served up with a twist.

Late Returns

A down on his luck trucker gets a gig as a bookmobile driver only to discover there’s something off about his patrons. They’ve never heard of The Hunger Games! Are these readers from another dimension? Just what is happening?

This story feels like a lost episode from the original Twilight Zone. It has all of Rod Serling’s trademark nostalgia and all of Ray Bradbury’s affection for fiction.

All I Care About Is You

As a kid I always felt like an imposter when I enjoyed another family’s luxuries: gaming rooms, pools, or boats. These things were fun at birthday parties, but they weren’t meant for me. Since then I’ve always had lowkey status anxiety.

This story takes place in a future where rich girls wear virtual faces and sky dive in protective bubbles. A future where healing technology enables the poor to play perpetual murder victims. A future where a 16 year old girl meets a coin operated boy and confesses the status anxiety she’s been concealing from her friends.

Thumbprint

A soldier, with a sketchy past and an equally sketchy present, has a secret admirer who deals in thumbprints.

For an obscure writer who has received the occasional death threat, this type of story gets under my skin.

The Devil on the Staircase

Some paths are opened with wealth. Some are opened by status. And others are unlocked by murder. Take the stone staircase in this story that leads from a crime of passion to a Faustian bargain. A deal with the devil story with some not so subtle commentary on racism.

Mums

According to the FBI, domestic terrorism is a greater threat than ones posed by foreign extremists. At least in 2020.

This story is set in a not too distant future where separatists have cut out a part of the country where they teach their own history and  have their own currency. A group of extremists are fixing to go on a mission to the old union and recreate the Oklahoma city bombing. A young mother struggles to flee to the states, with her son, before her husband can enact his plan.

Oh, and there’s a supernatural element.

In the Tall Grass

A brother and sister learn no good dead goes unpunished, when they pull over to the side of the road to help a boy find his way out of the tall grass. Thus begins a brutal hike into the alien geometry subgenre of horror fiction. Like the films Cube or Triangle, but flat and on dry land.

Once again, Joe Hill teams up with his budding storyteller father, for a hardcore horror story. This was adapted into feature for Netflix, which was much gentler than its source material.

You are Released

Where were you when the apocalypse happened? Trapped on an airplane amidst a series of politically polarizing conversations? How would you coup with the mushroom clouds on the horizon? What would you do if there was no place left to land?

Get the audiobook if you can

If you’re looking for exercise while you’re social distancing I recommend you take Full Throttle out for a run.

Each story is read by a different narrator including Ashleigh Cummings and Zachary Quinto who are cast members of the AMC drama NOS4A2, based on Jill Hill’s novel. Connor Jessup who appeared in Locke & Key based on the comic by Joe Hill, and Laysla De Oliveira who appeared in Locke & Key and In the Tall Grass.

There are also readings by author Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill himself.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for something creepy clever and social relevant now is the perfect time to discover Joe Hill. Imagine Tales from the Dark Side meets Black Mirror and you’ll have a good idea what’s going on here.

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Continue reading Summer Reading Recommendation: Full Throttle By Joe Hill

Trump sues Bolton over book alleging he is two children in a baggy suit

The Trump administration is scrambling to suppress former national security advisor John Bolton’s new tell-all book: The Nursery Where it Happened. A memoir Bolton’s publisher promises will be the “most comprehensive and substantive account of the Donald Trump persona.”

The book alleges that the 45th president of the United States is actually two children stacked on top of one another, a maneuver Bolton refers to as a “totem pole trench coat.”

When asked to address the accusation during the latest Rose Garden press conference the president said, “I know you are, but what am I?”

A CNN reporter assessed what was becoming painfully obvious. “You’re two children in a zoot suit with like an extra-long novelty tie.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

“I don’t know sir, what are you?”

“I am your president of law and order.” Trump pressed his knuckles to his waist. “I think a federal judge should do something about that butthead Bolton.”

Bolton alleges the original duo who created the Trump persona put a William Shatner mask in the microwave for thirty seconds. They then painted it with self-tanner to make it look more lifelike. When it was dry they topped it off with a Marilyn Monroe wig trimmed and styled to resemble a Ken doll.

Bolton also alleges Trump’s baggy suits serves a utilitarian purpose for the children posing as him. “Trump’s posture is a sign he’s two boys playing at manhood. Look at how he leans forward. That’s to conceal the kneecaps that would otherwise be jutting out from his gut. Still the hands are a dead giveaway. No man that tall has hands that small.”

Bolton also draws his readers attention to the president’s behavior over the last few years. He asks, “Why else would a 74 year old man have difficulty pronouncing basic words off a teleprompter? Why else would a serious politician have nick names for everyone? Why else would he have trouble walking down a simple ramp? And why else would his fly keep unzipping on its own?”

Still, the logistics of two children posing as a senior citizen who’s spent most of his life in the spotlight don’t make much sense.

Bolton has an answer for that. “I have reason to believe a rotating cast of tweens have inhabited the role of Donald J. Trump since he first started made waves in the late 1970s.”

The book is filled with candid photographs from the early stages of Trump’s career. Bolton walked reporters through his evidence.

“The Trump persona was created by two boys from Queens. They wanted to sneak into a Porn Emporium back when Time Square still had them. When that worked they decided to keeping pushing the envelope to see what they could get away with. They went to the Playboy mansion, bankrupted businesses, bought casinos, and signed book deals. When the founders of the Trump persona went to high school they passed it onto two other young men. On and on it went. These kids got married, fathered children, cheated with porn stars, starred in reality TV shows, and ultimately bluffed their way into the presidency.”

Bolton’s rotating cast theory explains why Trump has been so politically inconstant throughout his life. In the 1990s he was a pro-choice Democrat who donated to the Clinton Foundation. Later he joined the Reform party only to leave when they embraced Klansman David Duke, but by 2016, when Trump was running for president, he had forgotten who David Duke even was.

Nevertheless, as national security advisor, Bolton signed an air tight non-disclosure agreement. He very well could be breaching national security by revealing this classified information to the public.

Bolton cast these concerns aside. “I don’t care if I signed my soul away. The American public has the right to know why their president tried to get the Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival. Why he didn’t take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Why he let a recession happen. Why he has no idea what to do about racial injustice, police reform, or national unrest. Americans deserve answers to all those question and then they ought to know why their president’s crotch keeps sneezing all the time.”

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Continue reading Trump sues Bolton over book alleging he is two children in a baggy suit

Massive Communications outages a clear sign Cloverfield monsters are coming

The following is a NEWS PARODY and not part of the actual Cloverfield ARG.

This Monday there were massive internet service disruptions, starting with reports that T-Mobile’s network was down followed by Sprint, ATT, Verizon, and Comcast. Then the servers for Call of Duty went offline, followed by Fortnite, Twitch, Facebook, and Instagram. Even Google itself was having problems. The blackouts were global.

Users speculated the outages were cause by a denial-of-service attack, a type of cyber warfare where services are flooded with excessive access attempts from computers infected with malware. Users in the U.S. were certain Russian hackers behind the attacks, no doubt begining their efforts to undermine the 2020 presidential election. The hacker collective known as Anonymous pointed the finger at actors in China and North Korea.

There was just one problem with these theories. According to Cloudflare, one of the largest companies proving DDoS mitigation, the traffic impact to online services was normal.

It turns out there were gashes in the Submarine Communications Cables that stretch across the sea bed. According to the Coast Guard, these claw marks resemble ones found at the Chuai Drilling Station after it collapsed off the coast of Connecticut in 2008. And we all know what happened a few days after that. A 275 foot Large-Scale Aggressor emerged from the Atlantic and cut a path of destruction throughout New York City.

The LSA, codenamed Cloverfield, was neutralized when the air force executed the Hammer-Down Protocol leveling Manhattan island. The creature’s remains are on display at the Manhattan Memorial in upstate New York. Marine mammologists, ichthyologists, and paleontologists are still debating what the Cloverfield LSA was. Some speculate that it was quadrupedal. Others theorize that it only walked that way because it was an infant.

The only thing marine biologists agree on is that there are likely more of these creatures nestled into the deep trenches of the ocean. The internet service outages seem to confirm their suspicions.

Preparing for another Cloverfield Attack

Coastal cities all over the world are treating the LSA threat like a hurricane with teeth. The national guard has withdrawn from the demonstrations in Midwest and set up observation posts along the nation’s beaches. The United States Geological Survey is scanning the ocean for seismic activity. And the National Reconnaissance Office has shifted its surveillance satellites from metropolitan areas to the coastline.

Civilians are investing in industrial storm shutters, emergency kits, and prosumer camcorders with long-range zoom lenses and optimal night vision.

This morning a Squadron of helicopters in Rio de Janeiro draped a tarp over Mount Corcovado in an effort to conceal the titanic statue of Jesus Christ. In Lushan County of the Henan Provence of China, workers are painted the colossal Buddha black in the hopes it will blend into the night sky. Las Vegas is demolished the Replica Statue of Liberty just in case another Cloverfield LSA attempts to eat.

The United Arab Emirates has evacuated the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. New York has mandated any building over 40 floors switch off its lights before sundown. And Los Angeles has setup searchlights in Skid Row to shift potential LSAs away from better parts of the city.

The Cloverfield LSA was host to unique Human Scale Parasites which had latched onto its body like barnacles. One bite from an HSP caused fatal hemorrhaging within 20 minutes. Rome has sealed off its catacombs to prevent HSPs from nesting there. Portland has shuttered its tourist tunnels and San Francisco has blocked its sewers for the same reason.

Meanwhile Miami Florida is taking no precautions.

Are we even certain Cloverfield LSAs live in the ocean?

After the Cloverfield Incident of 2008 there was speculation that the giant monster was meant to be a shock and awe tactic, the first wave of an alien invasion. Others believed the LSA came through a breach caused by a particle accelerator aboard the Cloverfield Space Station (no relation).

The US Intelligence Community has rejected both of these theories, deeming them too far fetched to warrant any real connection to original Cloverfield Incident.

The Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, went on the record to say, “If you ask me 2020 is the most likely time we’d see a sequel to the initial event.”

“And you base that on the Submarine Communications outages?” I asked.

The defense secretary shrugged. “I base it on everything else that’s happened. A global pandemic. A recession. Cops killing unarmed civilians. Riots. These international outages. Why not add some giant monsters to the mix, right?”

The defense secretary undid his tie, retrieved a flask from his jacket, and wandered across Pennsylvania Ave, oblivious to the White House staffers asking where he was going. He has not been seen since.

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Continue reading Massive Communications outages a clear sign Cloverfield monsters are coming

Trump campaign demands CNN poll dimensions where he’s winning

President Donald Trump’s campaign is demanding CNN retract a poll that showed Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and then broaden their survey to include Americans from parallel dimensions.

The order came as a cease and desist letter riddled with quantum mechanics equations and metaphysical misconceptions. CNN’s legal team is still puzzling over exactly what the Trump campaign is proposing.

“They’re trying to move the goalposts outside the known universe.” said Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman.

In the letter to the network, the Trump campaign argued the CNN poll skewed monoverse-centric and spat in the face of quantum psychics.

“Our position is simple.” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “To quote Kanye West, ‘There are infinite and alternate universes.’ So to measure the president’s position accurately you need to count everyone across the multiverse.”

Matt Dornic scoffed at the press secretary’s reasoning. “We’re not having a quantum election. There’s no need to poll people from universe where Trump has acquired a sports almanac from the future, or the axis powers won World War 2, or Nixon served five terms. Those voters aren’t registered here.” Dornic threw up his hands. “And how the hell would we survey them if we wanted to?”

Kayleigh McEnany counted all the methods on her fingers. “You could use transwarp conduits. Apparition spells. Magic wardrobes. Desert doorways. The speed force. Warp whistles. Magic mirrors. Mage portals. Time tunnels. Primer boxes. Subtle knives. Slider timers. Spore drives. Portal guns. Sling rings. Farcasters. Hyperspace gates. Jump gates. Rift gates. Even Stargates. There are literally a ton of options.”

Matt Dornic rubbed his eyes as he watched footage of McEnany counting. “None of those things are real.”

“Maybe not here,” Kayleigh McEnany paused the footage of Matt Dornic’s response. “But in the Miles Morales multiverse, where there’s a samurai Spiderman, some of that stuff exists. Are you telling me people in Shi’ar Empire don’t deserve to have a voice here?”

Matt Dornic paused Kayleigh McEnany on his phone. He balled his hand into fist and set his flaring nostrils into his knuckles. “The Shi’ar Empire is autocratic. Their Majestrix wasn’t voted into power. Her brother was rendered comatose by the M’Kraan Crystal and she took over. Which is a moot point because D’Ken Neramani never even conquered Earth 616.”

“Neeerd!” Kayleigh McEnany cackled back.

Matt Dornic stomped around the rim of his office. “You’re the one telling us to toss the SSRS poll in favor of the many worlds theory. We don’t need to go looking for Schrodinger’s cat in the ballot box. It doesn’t matter how Donald’s doppelgänger Is doing against Bizarro Biden. Maybe Trump is kicking ass in mirror dimension where goatees and fascism are in fashion, but not in the one I’m standing in.”

“OK, Sheldon.” Kayleigh McEnany put her phone down on the desk. “We stand by our position. Any poll that doesn’t include infinite earths, the Twilight Zone, or Battleworld is phony and misleading.”

McEnany tugged the cord for a projection screen, revealing a network of yarn, pins, and newspaper clippings. “Imagine a reality where Trump didn’t hypothesize using cleaning products to treat COVID-19. Where he didn’t say, ‘We’re dominating the streets with compassion.’ Where he didn’t refuse to rename bases that had been named after confederate leaders. Where he didn’t schedule a campaign rally on Juneteenth at the site of the Tulsa race riot. Where he didn’t have attendees sign a waiver in case they contract the coronavirus. Where he didn’t eliminate non-discrimination health benefits for gay and transgender patients. Imagine how much better Trump might be polling over there.”

According to data aggregated by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight, Trump is polling well behind Bernie Sanders in the dimension where the Vermont Senator clinched the democratic nomination. What Silver finds interesting is how far back Trump lags behind Mitt Romney in a reality where Trump remained a Democrat, or how far back Trump lags behind Jesse Ventura in a reality where Trump stayed with the Reform Party, or how far back Trump lags behind Kanye West in a reality where West followed through on his plan to run for president in 2020.

Matt Dornic scrolled through FiveThirtyEight’s data, then turned to this reporter and asked, “How were they able to survey voters in other realities? What did they have? An interdimensional wrist watch? A copy of the Necronomicon? A recovered UFO? What?”

I shrugged. “Something to do with tachyon particles.” I really didn’t know.

Dornic took a deep breath, ran his fingers through the Zen garden on his desk, and exhaled. “CNN stands behind our poll. In this reality or any other.”

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Continue reading Trump campaign demands CNN poll dimensions where he’s winning

Trump stages photo op holding the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis

On June 1, the National Guard fired flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas at peaceful protestors outside the White House. Then President Trump walked to the Neolithic rune on the edge of Lafayette Square known as the Shrine of Kandar. The president’s entourage crossed monolithic stones, burial mounds, and biomechanical architecture. Photographers corralled Trump and the first lady beneath the shadow of the crooked skeletal steeple for a photo op.

Wind howled through the macabre masonry. Stacks of sun-bleached femurs creaked like old rocking chairs. The brickwork of skulls spat dust through empty eye sockets.

Ivanka Trump set her $1,540 handbag on an altar made of human clavicles, slid her hand into an armored gauntlet, and exclaimed, “Klaatu Barada Nikto!” She withdrew a volume bound in flesh and penned in blood: the Ore Magnus Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, also known as the book of the dead.

Ivanka handed the tome of forbidden knowledge to her father. Trump held the book so the cameras could see the anguished face on its cover.

Written by the Dark Ones in an age proceeding man, the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis contains bizarre burial rites, funerary incantations, and demon resurrection passages. When spoken, its verses cut a gash through time and space. A seeping wound for Hell to bleed through. The book has been used by tyrants the world over to summon deadites; extra-dimensional soldiers whose sole purpose is to defile humanity.

A reporter dared ask Trump if that was his personal Necronomicon.

Trump said, “It’s a Necronomicon.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he didn’t know about the assault on the protesters or the blasphemous outing. “I thought we were going to inspect a bathroom that had been damaged during the demonstrations. I had no clue we’d be trouncing across the courtyard of the damned. Do you think I was happy to hear a chorus of the lost souls cry out, ‘Join us,’ as we rounded the block?”

Former Vice President Joe Biden was vocally outraged. “The president held up that ancient Sumerian text, beside his mortified wife, like some sort of twisted play on American Gothic. I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could have learned how infinitesimal he was in the shadow of the Dark Ones, whose long black shrouds blanket everything.”

With their focus on herding protestors, White House officials had no plan for what the president might do once he arrived at the Shrine of Kandar. So Trump posed with the Necronomicon, placing the severed portrait over his own face, giving it bunny ears, and jabbing its eyes. By all accounts Trump disrespect both the text and the site itself.

Hierophant Zezron, head sorcerous of the Knights of Sumeria and keeper of the shrine, had some choice words for the president. “I can’t believe what my eyes have seen. Here’s a man who can’t even read Sumerian, who never listened to Professor Raymond Knowby’s translations, who’s shed no blood into the Kandarian Cauldron, wielding our sacred text like a nuclear button. He used violence to disperse demonstrators and then called for peace while propping up a chaos artifact he had no business touching.”

Hierophant Zezron says she’s already communed with the corpses that line the Shrine and they are equally upset to have their bones used as the backdrop for a photo op.

Mere hours after the event the White House had cut a victory video together. Set to a demonic chorus it showed the president saluting riot police, leaning on the standing stones, and thumping the Necronomicon.

The video abruptly cut before the face on the cover came to life and bit the president’s finger down to the bone.

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Continue reading Trump stages photo op holding the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis

Trump threatens to regulate Black Mirror for taking all his best ideas

Donald Trump is no stranger to wild accusations. Recently he accused former Defense Secretary James Mattis of being “The world’s most overrated general.” This statement came after Mattis criticized Trump for being the first president who has not tried to unite the American People. Not long before that Trump accused Twitter of censorship when they began fact-checking his tweets. Trump went so far as to sign an executive order that would open social media companies up to liability. He even had the audacity to accuse Black Lives Matter protestors of being aligned with terrorists.

But now President Trump is making an accusation he’s never made before: plagiarism.

In a press conference on Monday Trump said, “I believe White House staffers are leaking classified intelligence through the Netflix original Black Mirror. I can’t tell you how many of my suggestions I’ve seen on that program. I told the secret service to put tracking chips in my cabinet members to suss out the leakers, and a few days later I saw the same idea on Black Mirror.”

While the episode the president is referring to “Arkangel” was released in 2017 it didn’t stop him from drawing further connections. According to anonymous staffers the protests have Trump spit-balling more and more strategies that resemble episodes of the science fiction anthology.

They gave us several examples. “When the defense secretary told the president that servicemen don’t want fire upon American civilians the president proposed implanting soldiers with neural implants that would make civilians look like vicious mutants.”

No one had the heart to inform the president that his suggestion was the plot of a Black Mirror episode titled, “Men Against Fire.”

Trump went on to lament James Mattis going rogue and writing a tell-all editorial. Trump was so worried about future embarrassment he floated replacing Defense Secretary Mark Esper with a lifelike facsimile.

“Why can’t we get Elon Tesla to build us a robot?”
“Because the general’s wife will know the difference between a cyborg and the man she married.”
“What if we get Mark Facebook to program a personality based on the defense secretary’s social media activity.”
“You mean like in that episode of Black Mirror ‘Be Right Back?’”

Trump tried to flip the Resolute desk before playing it off as though he was merely struggling with a drawer on his way to finding a pen. “Here it is. Have someone oil this hinge.”

A press conference straight out of Black Mirror

By the time the president made his announcement he had several more examples of ideas that had found their way into the show.

“I am your president of law and order. It isn’t enough to bump a suspect’s head before putting them into a paddy wagon. We need real deterrents. I was telling the attorney general that we ought to sentence criminals to televised torture. We could give them amnesia and have masked contestants chase them around. Every day we could wipe their memory and do it all over again. I mean, they’d get exercise. They’d get out to see the sun. There’s nothing cruel and unusual about it. But you know what the attorney general says to me? ‘Oh, you mean like in that episode of Black Mirror?’

Well, you know me I’m the most level headed guy you’re ever met. So I pitch Mr. Barr another idea. What if we sold keychains with recordings of death row inmates final moments? You know, something nice for the families of their victims. And you know what Barr says, ‘Oh, you mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’ The guy’s like a parrot. A big far parrot.

So I moved onto the Department of the Treasury with a different pitch: Yelp, but for people. Someone asks you a nasty question, writes a nasty article, you give her a low star rating. Then she goes to buy a home, the bank looks at her star rating, and they don’t to give her a lone.

And Steve said, ‘You mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’

I take a step back. I take a deep breath. I’ve got a lot of great ideas so I move on. I said had this great idea for streamlining the back to work initiative. Put unskilled workers on exercise bikes and make them generate power. And anyone who isn’t healthy enough for spin class has to clean up after them. You know, jobs for everyone. But guess what secretary of labor tells me?”

Trump affected a child-like shrill, “‘You mean like that episode of Black Mirror? You mean like that episode of Black Mirror? You mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’” He scratched his nails down the podium as he spoke.

The president called upon the FCC to comb through Netflix’s catalogue for other offenses. “I’ve heard House of Cards has taken a bunch of my ideas.”

He also called upon the British government to extradite Charlie Brooker, the showrunner for Black Mirror, to the U.S. where Brooker could be charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
When pressed for a response Brooker said, “This is so bizarre. I wrote an episode of Black Mirror about exactly this. It was called ‘Head like a Hole” and it wasn’t slated to be released until 2021.”

Minneapolis is Not a Story (Sincere Post)

I am not qualified to tell the story of what is happening in Minneapolis right now. So what if I’ve lived here for over twenty years? So what if I’ve witnesses police brutality firsthand? So what if I’ve heard accounts from all over the city? So what if some of my fondest memories take place in buildings that are now rubble? So what if I have eyes on the ground? I am a storyteller AND I am not qualified to tell this story.

No one is. Sure we can share our experiences. Our anecdotes can give you a window into what is happening, but a story, a plot driven tale, functions differently.

Writers have a tendency to depict historical events in three acts. Act 1 – George Floyd is murdered by the police and everyone’s routine is broken. Act 2 –People want justice and demonstration spread from Minneapolis to throughout the nation. There are lootings, fires. Outside agents take advantage of the chaos. Peaceful demonstrators get caught up in violent skirmishes with the militarized police forces. Act 3- The murderous police officers are jailed. Sane and sober minded citizens volunteer to sweep the streets, they run food drives, and crowdfund their local businesses. They dismantle systems of oppression and rebuild something stronger. Something that includes everyone.

Isn’t that a lovely story? It’s easy to follow. It has clear good guys and bad guys. And best of all it has an ENDING.

Don’t be swayed by this narrative. It’s false. Why? Because it follows a narrative structure. Like a movie it starts late, has a narrow scope, and ends far too early.

Minneapolis is not Gotham City and Commissioner Gordon is not going to quote Charles Dickens over sweeping shots of panoramic skylines.

Things were not. Are not. And will not be that simple.

Comedian Hannah Gadsby once said comedy is the business of creating then puncturing tension. A joke ends as soon as the comedian can relieve tension and get a laugh, not when the actual events in the joke end. Stories function in much the same way. Act 1 creates the tension. Act 2 tips the scales from hope to dread. And Act 3 relieves the tension.

This is not a story. Even after the smoke clears the tension will remain. For some that tension will turn malignant. It will take roots in their soul and they will learn the wrong lessons. For some that tension will turn to introspection. They may resent it, at first, but the contemplation will lead to gradual changes from within.

Far too many people will lose the plot completely. The emotional baggage will become too much to bear and when another injustice happens they will turn away, because they have the luxury of choosing where they place their attention.

When people say, “I thought we were past this.” It’s because they thought the Eric Garner story was over and they stopped paying attention. The Michael Brown story isn’t over. The Sandra Bland story isn’t over. The Philando Castile story isn’t over.

And the George Floyd story doesn’t end with the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, or Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng. It doesn’t end with convictions or with the ousting of MPD Federation President Bob Kroll. It doesn’t end with governmental aid, sweeping police reforms, and policies that reduce income equality. It doesn’t end with a blue wave across the country or with democrat in the White House.

Because it’s not a story. It. Doesn’t. End.

A lifetime of consuming stories has wired us to think in threes, but reality doesn’t work like that. Real change requires us to think outside of the narrative. It requires us to reject premature resolutions. It won’t be long before the news distills all this down to a thirty second montage of George Floyd’s murder, heated demonstrations, and community cleanup. Three neat little acts. A relief of tension. A happy ending. An easy out for anyone who wants to stop paying attention.

Don’t fall for it.

On Satire Now (Sincere Post)

Over the last few months I’ve used satire to mock the Trump administration’s response to the global pandemic. When George Floyd was murdered by local police officers here in my hometown of Minneapolis I put my blog on pause. I saw no humor in the heartbreak. Some memes in my feed felt like they were in poor taste and a lot of satire seemed insensitive.

The Onion took a few swings at the inhumanity of the Minneapolis PD. They posted a cropped photo of Derek Chauvin kneeling with the headline, “Minneapolis Police Now Requiring Officers To Undergo Ergonomics Training To Better Protect Knees.” I get the writer’s intention, but that joke didn’t work for me, not when I knew George Floyd was being asphyxiated just out of frame.

I’m not usually someone who says it’s too soon to joke about a tragedy, but satire in the heat of the moment doesn’t get the luxury of being opaque. It needs to be clear, cleaver, and speak truth to power. No matter how well your intentions you will be taking an incredible risk and you will have to own it. No matter how explicit your joke structure is there will be people who won’t get it. To this day there are still people who think Jonathan Swift wanted to eat Irish babies when he wrote “A Modest Proposal.”

You need to be a Jordan Peele level social commentator and frankly I am not.

I have mixed feelings about the local lootings. I’m still learning I have a lot to learn. There’s so much I don’t know about black-white inequality, about effective activism, and police reform. I don’t want to be the asshole who etches his fluid opinions into stone. So I won’t.

Those are areas where I need to educate myself. I need to listen to the signal without clogging it with noise.

In all likelihood my satire will continue to go after easy targets like the President. Trump gassed protesters so he could use the bible as a prop for an American Gothic photo op. Of course I’m going to mock that. Trump is lifting the free speech protections of social media companies under the guise of free speech. Of course I’m going to mock that. Trump thinks the solution to police violence is military domination over demonstrators. The jokes write themselves.

If now’s not the time. Let me know. If I go too far. Tell me. I won’t give you a line item veto for every joke I tell, but I’ll listen. We’re all processing this injustice in our own way, but we are in this together, here in Minneapolis, and throughout the rest of the world. Keep fighting the good fight and know that I love you all.

President Diggory Treningham orders all Renaissance Festivals reopened

This Friday President Diggory Treningham held his most baffling press conference yet. It commenced with a kingly proclamation and culminated with jugglers hurling torches across the Rose Garden.

It started with a herald emerging from the White House. He wore a feathered cap, a short coat, and tights. He wielded a long horn adorned with a golden banner. When he stepped up to the podium he swatted all the microphones aside. “Hear ye! Hear ye! You sit in the presence of Diggory Greathands of the house Treningham. Rightful heir to a million dollar loan. Rightful heir to his father’s estate. Champion of the electoral college. The protector of Christmas. The builder of walls. The father of birtherism and the jailer of children.”

The herald was flanked by secret service agents in medieval armor. When the president finally arrived he was carried out on a palanquin. As he neared the podium he was fitted with a fur-lined red velvet mantle, a golden crown, and a bejeweled scepter.

President Treningham balled his hands to fists and held them to his chest. “A plague has washed over these lands. And everyone from the highest born lord to the lowliest peasant has had to make concessions. Dining halls, markets, and taverns have shuttered their doors. But there is one institution that is essential for preserving the soul of the realm. The Renaissance Festival.”

President Treningham waved his hands as if to conduct the press corps. “Where else can a woman of easy virtue showcase her cosplay? Where else can a blacksmith premiere his 3D-printed armor? Where else can Star Trek LARPers act as if they’ve stumbled upon an ancient civilization, but the Ren Faire?”

The president found a turkey leg somewhere beneath the podium. He took a bite and spoke with his mouth full. “Where else can a pair of project managers knock each other off a log? Where else can you see an offseason Krampus? Where else can you open carry a crossbow?”

The president brandished his scepter over the press corps. “The wardens of the fifty kingdoms will open their Ren Fairs, from Midsummer Eve through St. Crispin’s Day, lest they wish to be tried for treason.”

Constitutional scholars will be unpacking Treningham’s decree for some time. The area most of them will be focusing on is how it violates the 10th Amendment. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Treningham’s contradiction already had the press corps riling with questions, but the president was far from done.

He took a swig of something from a tall ceramic stein. “In the realm of America we need more merriment. Not less. We mustn’t let this pestilence cost us our freedom of reverence.”

Treningham stepped out from behind the podium and lorded over the members of the press with no mind for social distancing. “I call upon the bards to aim their lutes at this nation’s ample chested women and cuckhold their husbands through song. I call upon the tavern wenches to brace themselves for backhanded advances from ale-addled tourists. I call upon the puppeteers to raise their theaters, wake Mr. Punch, and give this virus the flogging it so richly deserves.”

Treningham raised a silk glove to his brow. “Look to the covered wagons lining Pennsylvania Ave and you will see a nation of carnies clamoring to return to their craft. It is time for those tarot readers, pickle vendors, and dragon egg sculptors to get back to work.”

And right on que a troop of harlequins vaulted over the hedges and performed a series of backward handsprings across the lawn. Their bells jingled with every movement, forcing the president to shout, “Under the defense production act, I order the nations fripperies to keep those corsets coming. I order our metalsmiths to get those brass unicorns back into production. I order our glassblowers to make sure every man, woman, and child has their very own crystal dragon.”

The sun set as President Treningham rattled off his orders. His final words were emphasized by a row of fire breathers.

“A toast to the people of the realm.” The president raised his beer stein. “May the mead flow freely. May the corn mazes be congested. May the dandy fops show off their sculpted calves. May every Ren Faire across the realm raise their gates to the public. Huzzah!”

The pandemic is real. It’s reality that’s virtual. An editorial By Neo

Across the country people are getting violent over face mask policies. Customers are throwing tantrums. Some even wielding guns.

I watched a man in Miami Beach freak out when Publix Grocery refused to let him in without a mask on. He shouted “This is violation of my constitutional rights and my civil rights. There’s no pandemic!”

As someone on the outside of your world looking in I assure you the pandemic is real. COVID-19 is real. And the human toll is definitely real. It’s the reality you’re living in that’s a virtual simulation.

Long story short. You are hardwired into an stasis chamber. Your body is one of countless bioelectric batteries supplying power to the machine city. All the shadows you think make up the world, were uploaded into your mind. Your job. Your religion. Your place in civilization are but artificial constructions to keep you compliant.

But…the pandemic is real.

The economy is virtual. Daylight savings is virtual. The electoral college is virtual. The Mercator projection map is virtual. But the coronavirus is very real. It’s everywhere. From the subterranean refuge of Zion to the cylindrical powerplant you’re living in.

So why wear a virtual mask if the danger is coming from the real world?

You and your neighbors are densely packed into cramped embryotic sacks. Your breathing tubes flow through the same ventilation system. While oxygen and carbon dioxide flow through separate pipelines, aerosol contaminants have a tendency to flow in the wrong direction. Unless you wear a mask in the matrix.

When you wear a mask you’re given a breathing tube all your own. The machines do this to preserve your sense of emersion. They can’t have you waking from the virtual environment.

But let’s say you don’t want to wear a mask. You sense the invisible shackles of society and don’t want to submit to another system of control. I get that believe me, but the machines could care less. If you share a virtual space with people the machines will make sure you’re sharing the same air supply. The machines don’t care if you get sick and die. They will liquify your remains and feed you to the next generation.

I get there’s no space more intimate than your face. A mask can seem like another muzzle, a tool of oppression prescribed by power hungry politicians, but it isn’t. It’s the implants dotting your spine that should be cause for concern.

As an American you are programed with a strong sense of individuality. You’re taught to mistrust the masses and make your own way, like a cowboy from several centuries ago. When you see sheeple wearing masks you think, “I’m not one of them. I’m going to live free.”

Well I’ve got news for you. Freedom is a virtual reality when the machines are siphoning your energy. If you truly want to be liberated come find me. But put the damn mask on before you do. Seriously.

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3D surgical mask By Maycon Chaves
Photoshop by Drew Chial