Monday, October 29, 2012

Help stop Santa's reign of terror!

Okay fellow humans and other readers, I’m fed up and I’m not sure how much more I can take. I know I’m not alone, but I definitely feel that I’m in the minority on this one. It’s been going on for years, and this year it started more than a month ago.  Somebody has got to do something about it.

Can we PLEASE stop with the Christmas items on display at the stores already!!

Why does America hate Halloween and Thanksgiving so much? Do we really need to begin making our Christmas preparations in September? Are we just trying to make those people who leave their lights up year round feel better about themselves? So many questions that demand answers! But do you hear about any of this in the presidential debates? No!

In fact, if either candidate would promise to pass legislation requiring us to only promote and celebrate one holiday at a time, I would not only vote for them, I would wear a sandwich board with their face on it every day from now until voting closes. But they won’t do it. I don’t believe either candidate has the courage and fortitude to really tackle an issue this volatile.

This is ridiculous. Halloween gets what, one or two measly aisles at the store? Christmas already has an entire wing at Walmart and people are still walking around in shorts. It’s too soon! There is only so much Christmas spirit that can be generated. It should be focused into a month and a half at the most, not a third of the calendar year.

We have a rule in our house. We do not put out any fall decorations before October 1st. We do not put out any Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving has been completed. And the Christmas decorations have to come down within a couple of days of the New Year beginning. These should not just be rules for my house. These rules should be mandated for all humans everywhere, punishable by public flogging. And just to keep it festive, the administrator of said flogging will dress in a manner appropriate for the particular crime.

For example, if a person disrespected Thanksgiving by putting up Christmas lights before the appointed time, they would be flogged by a person in a Turkey or Pilgrim costume. If a person failed to take down their Christmas decorations, they would be flogged by a snowman, reindeer, elf, or the main man himself, Santa. I know what you are thinking, but baby Jesus would not be appropriate for flogging and, being a baby, could not provide the proper velocity to send a message not soon forgotten. There is always Easter.

I know this is a dangerous message to share. I know that even you, beloved reader, might soon be pulling out of your driveway to come bludgeon me with a candy cane, laughing all the way to your favorite Christmas mix CD, but someone has to stand up and declare they won’t take it anymore! Someone has to have the courage to stop Santa's reign of terror!

Join me in my efforts to save Halloween from that rotund toymaker and his army of elven miscreants!

Before it’s too late!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Country Life (part 5 of 5)

Chapter Five

Ryan never was afterward able to completely piece together the remaining hours that passed from the time he realized someone had moved his coffee table to the time when the police showed up at his front door the next morning. He knew that at some point he must have crawled along the wall to the corner of the living room and curled up behind his large green armchair since that was where he was when the police finally kicked in the front door.

His memories were somewhat fragmented and he was never confident that he could accurately ascertain what memories were real and what memories were dreams or fancies formulated by his mind as a result of being in a state of absolute panic. He remembered having had the vague notion of hearing someone moving around in the house with him, but wasn't sure if that was real or imagined. The only part that seemed solidly cemented in his mind was the part that seemed the most absurd of all. He remembered hearing a voice repeating the same phrase over and over again, with the voice coming from different rooms in the house, always moving. The voice never altered in tone or pitch as it moved all around him from the kitchen to the back bedrooms and back again. Always moving, never changing.

The phrase which Ryan heard being repeated was, "I guess I'll have to call the phone company first thing in the morning to straighten this out." Each time it was repeated it was followed by a chuckle.

The very last thing he could remember at all, fictional or otherwise, was the impression that someone had sat down in the chair he was hiding behind, and that that someone in the chair then repeated that same phrase one final time before breaking into sustained, maniacal laughter, which followed Ryan down into darkness as his consciousness slipped away.

When the police arrived, Ryan was in no fit state to even be aware of their knocking on the door or their ringing the doorbell. They eventually kicked in the door and made their way inside. They found Ryan fairly quickly, but found no evidence of anyone else in the house. He would eventually find out that his next door neighbor had been murdered the night before.

Someone had also killed the dog, but there was less fuss about that.

The neighbor's time of death had been estimated at shortly before 2:00 AM. No one had bothered to estimate the dog's time of death.

The following months found Ryan arrested, out on bail, charged with first degree murder, and then, finally, a free man again as a lack of any physical evidence linking him to the murder resulted in the charges being dropped. The whirlwind of activity kept him so busy that he had had very little time to process what was truly happening around him and even less to be able to make sense of the bizarre happenstances of the night in question. He had initially tried to explain to the police about the voice he had heard in his house and about the dog barking, but eventually his lawyer instructed him to kindly shut his trap as he was only making things worse.

In the end Ryan moved back to the city and was even able to get his very same apartment back. After what had happened, he wasn't sure he'd be able to sleep in the country house ever again. He had yet to have any luck selling the country house due to it's now less than stellar reputation. He tried to return to his prior life, but his heart wasn't in the editing game any more. His headaches had not come back with his return to the city, but he found he could not muster any energy for editing other people's work any more.

One day, about five months after he had given up on editing entirely, he picked up a notepad and a pen and began writing down a thought that had been running through his mind all morning long. This led to another thought. Then another thought. Before he knew it, Ryan had written sixteen pages and, upon review, found it to be excellently written and quite compelling.

He had found his voice at last.

When published the following year, "The Country Life" went straight to the top of the bestseller list. It was a story about a man with multiple personality disorder and the horrific results of his illness. It was a sort of a Jekyll and Hyde story, with one personality being an ordinary, mild mannered individual with a mundane, every day job. The other personality was a murderous fiend. The chilling narrative described a night when the alternate personality made its way to the surface and killed the next door neighbor.

In the story, the reader came to know that the man was about to shift to his other, darker side when he began to get a terrible headache. The main character in the book ended up in a mental institution at the end of the story, locked away for the rest of his life following his trial for the murder. No one failed to notice the resemblance to the author's own life, which only served to fuel book sales.

Ryan eventually moved out of his apartment for a second time, and went back to his still unsold country house. The man responsible for the murder of his neighbor had never been caught, but Ryan no longer thought too much about any of that. It all seemed ancient history. Part of another life, and one which he'd just as soon forget. Loyal readers even began to make pilgrimages to see the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of the now famous author.

It took more than a year after publishing "The Country Life" for Ryan's world to slow back down again. He then began trying to write a follow up novel, but was finding it increasingly difficult to do so. He would sit for hours with a pen and notepad, but nothing would come. He began to loathe the very sight of his notepad and its blank pages. He even began to feel nauseated whenever he passed the pad sitting on his desk and began avoiding the study, except for the one hour a day he would force himself to sit with the pad in his lap and try to write.

He began to wonder if he was getting an ulcer, as the stomachaches were getting quite bad. His doctor, however, couldn't find anything physically wrong with him and, after multiple visits, suggested that Ryan might look into calling a psychiatrist based on that working for him when he had his issues with headaches.

Ryan thought about this on his way back home and decided he had nothing to lose and might as well call Dr. Copeland again. It certainly couldn't hurt to try.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Country Life (part 4 of 5)

Chapter Four

Ryan had never considered himself to be much of an automotive expert. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, his mechanical proficiency was primarily limited to adding gasoline when required and using the filling station squeegee on the window. However, despite his extremely limited knowledge of the mysteries of the internal combustion engine, he felt very confident in his opinion that cars do not normally wind up with four flat tires simultaneously.

After exiting the vehicle, he had confirmed that all four tires were indeed completely flat by use of the emergency flashlight he kept in the glove box. He was now standing beside the car and staring at it, a perplexed expression on his face, when he heard a noise he would never forget.

The dog had continued its steady stream of barking the entire time Ryan examined each of his tires. Suddenly, just after he finished his circuit of the vehicle, the barking rose in pitch and ferocity to a heretofore unheard level. The noise sounded increasingly frantic when, all of a sudden, it cut off completely with a high pitched yelp.

Then silence.

Ryan didn't even realize he was running until he was already on the front porch. He rushed inside, slammed the door behind him and stood leaning against it, his breath coming in shrill, ragged gasps and his heart beating frantically in his chest.

" just...fine. Quit...being...stupid!" he berated himself as he tried to get his breathing under control. He closed his eyes and began counting silently to himself. By the time he reached 85, his breathing had more or less returned to normal and his heart had begun to slow down again. He felt a little bit more like himself again, and he thus began the same process most adults go through following a fright. Denial. His job now was to convince himself that his fear was entirely irrational. He locked the front door behind him, muttering "Just to be on the safe side," and took two steps forward through his entrance hall before every light in his house suddenly went black at the same time.

This time Ryan had to count all the way to 337 before he could begin to think clearly again. Once he was calm enough for a semblance of rational thought, he started slowly making his way forward.

"Just a blown fuse. Nothing out of the ordinary." His voice sounded strange and hollow and far too loud in the darkness around him, and he quickly decided to stop talking as he continued on his path through the living room, towards the back bedroom where the fuse box was located.

The pain in his shin was truly remarkable, as was the octave his voice reached as he crashed suddenly and violently to the floor. With the hand not holding his throbbing shin, he felt blindly for the object that had caused him so much pain. It was his coffee table! The very same table he had so skillfully maneuvered around just a few short hours ago when the dog had first awakened him. He wondered how he could have possibly drifted so far off course and felt to his left to use the couch to pull himself to his feet, but instead his hand found the piano in the darkness. Completely disoriented, he reached to his right and found the couch where it never should have been.

His brain was struggling to process the information it was receiving and Ryan was trying desperately to come up with some way for the layout of the furniture to make sense, when suddenly the truth hit him hard, sending a feeling of icy dread through his stomach.

The coffee table had been moved.

It should have been on the other side of the couch and instead it was between the couch and the piano. This realization led him directly to the next conclusion, which would have knocked him to the floor if he had not already been there.

Someone must have moved the coffee table since coffee tables were not known for moving themselves.

Ryan found that all of his prior impressions of terror were purely intellectual in nature.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Country Life (part 3 of 5)

Chapter Three

Ryan just couldn't take it any more. Living in a remote area was one thing, but letting your dog flip out non stop for two straight hours was just going too far. He generally tried to take a 'live and let live' attitude about how other people choose to go about their business, but this kind of tomfoolery was just not acceptable.

"How the heck is that man sleeping through all of this?" he asked himself. He didn't know his neighbor, Mr. Jansen, very well, but decided that the two of them were about to get to know each other a whole heck of a lot better.

Ryan crossed the Study and picked up the handset of the antique desk phone, which he had purchased from a thrift store after cancelling his cell phone plan, and brought the receiver up to his ear.


No dial tone, static, or anything else. Ryan jiggled the cradle several times and made sure the phone cords were all fully connected, but still nothing came from the earpiece. "Great. This is just great. First time I need to make a phone call in a month and the stupid thing is dead. I guess I'll have to call the phone company first thing in the morning to straighten this out!"

Ryan laughed at his little joke and hung up the phone. He decided to give Mr. Jansen another half hour to do something about the racket his dog was making before taking any further action. If the dog didn't zip it by that time, he would just have to drive up the road and call on the good neighbor in person. He really didn't want to, but "Enough is enough!" he added vehemently.

"Can a dog lose his voice?" he asked the empty room. "I'm thinking the evidence on hand is pointing towards a 'No' verdict, but perhaps this specimen is an anomaly, or some kind of mutant dog. I've certainly never heard one go on and on like this before."

Ryan only lasted another twenty minutes before the barking finally drove him out the front door and down the sidewalk. The barking was even louder outside, and Ryan wondered again how anyone could possibly sleep through this much noise. "It's enough to wake the dead," he told the night sky. It was still so dark he couldn't see more than the vague outline of his vehicle and he had to feel his way down the car's side to find the door handle.

Ryan knew that something was wrong the second he slid into the driver's seat of the car. He could not immediately identify what it was, but he definitely felt that something was not normal. He tried adjusting his seat and checking the mirrors, but neither of those things did anything to diminish his feelings of uneasiness. He went ahead and turned the key and the engine roared to life, sounding healthy enough. Deciding that it must have been in his head, he shifted into reverse and pressed the accelerator pedal.

This was the very first moment that night when Ryan felt afraid.

It wasn't the last.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Country Life (part 2 of 5)

Chapter Two

Ryan put his red pen down on the stack of papers on his desk and looked at the grandfather clock in the corner. "Half past three and you're all ready to quit aren't you?" he asked himself with an air of mockery. "These books aren't going to edit themselves you know."

He did, in fact, know this to be a true statement. For three endless years, he himself had attempted to write a novel which he, at that time, believed would change the scope of American literature forever. In those three years of attempting to etch his name alongside Steinbeck and Hemingway, he nearly lost his grip on reality entirely. The stress and pressure associated with trying to pull together all the loose ends of his story nearly left him completely unhinged. When he finally gave up on attempting any further polishing of his prose and sent the completed manuscript to an editor, he found out just how terribly far from the great American novel he had landed. Instead of great, he was merely unpublishable.

This began the long and arduous process of attempting to resuscitate what would have been better left for dead. This attempt to breathe life into his manuscript lasted three and a half months, during which time he became more and more fascinated with the little red marks all over the pages of his would be masterpiece. Had there been fewer of them, he might have simply taken their direction and moved on with the rewriting. However, the exorbitant proliferation, the veritable sea of red swimming on every page, became more and more captivating as he made his way through the novel. Ryan began to see his writing in a whole new light. He began to clearly see the problems inherent in his writing, and even began to discern the solutions to those problems. Had his material been remotely worth saving, this newfound knowledge might have indeed been the beginning of his ascendency to literary greatness. As it was, he instead found his new calling.

Ryan had spent the last six years of his life becoming one of the most sought after editors in the business. He had edited fourteen New York Times best sellers and a great many more books that had turned a tidy profit for several major publishing houses. He had reached that wonderful point in his professional career where he could afford to be selective about what work he chose to edit. He had reached the pinnacle, and it was everything he could have hoped for it to be.

Then the headaches had begun.

They were small at first, just a nagging pain behind his eyes, and he initially thought that he might just need a new pair of glasses. He then proceeded to place the blame on the glare on his computer screen. Eventually, he came to a point where he would start feeling his head throb the second he flipped on his computer monitor in the morning and he started to wonder if he had a brain tumor or something along those lines. His doctor couldn't find anything wrong with him, and neither could any one else in the long string of specialists he went to see. His head was scanned and scrutinized from every possible angle, always with the same results. No one could find anything physically wrong with him.

The headaches continued to worsen over the subsequent months, and when they finally reached the point that he could no longer work at all, he concluded that it was time to take drastic action. He decided he had no other recourse remaining but to follow up on the one and only recommendation made by one of the specialists which he had not yet pursued.

Ryan went to see a psychiatrist.

He visited the psychiatrist once a week for three months, during which time he continued to be unable to work on his computer. In fact, he had stopped even going into his study at all, as the very sight of the monitor on the desk caused him to begin feeling the prickling sensation behind his eyes that always foreshadowed the coming of a monstrous headache.

Dr. Copeland, the aforementioned psychiatrist, eventually made a recommendation that would change Ryan's life forever. He recommended that Ryan try an experiment to see if it would help alleviate his symptoms. He suggested that Ryan leave the city for an afternoon and take a printed copy of a manuscript with him. He was to leave his cell phone and laptop at home, drive well outside the city limits to a park the doctor told him about, and take the manuscript and a red pen with him.

Ryan followed the directions exactly, and the results were truly extraordinary. It was only when it began to grow so dark he could not make out the words on the page that he looked up and realized how much time had passed while he had been sitting at a picnic table, happily editing away without the faintest trace of a headache.

The decision was one of the easiest Ryan had ever made. He took his entire savings and bought a house in the country. He allowed a realtor to do most of the work, with the explicit instructions that he was looking for a house the furthest from any city as could be found, but it had to be one that still had electricity and plumbing. He cancelled his cell phone plan, threw out his computer and television, packed his remaining possessions, and left the city with no plan to ever return.

That was all now six months in the past and, other than the occasional dog interrupted sleepless night, Ryan had found the country life immensely to his liking. He had worked steadily the entire time and seldom missed any of the conveniences he had left behind. He had not felt even the faintest symptoms of a headache since he began his new life, and he was excited to see what the world outside his windows would look like when winter came. He imagined it would be much more picturesque than the dirty slush he was used to seeing outside his apartment in winter time.

Ryan was perhaps a bit lonely, but he had made his peace with that a long time ago. At least in the country he could pretend that the reason he was lonely was because no one else was around. He found this to be far preferable to the loneliness a person could feel in a crowded city.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Country Life (part 1 of 5)

The Country Life

a short story by Andrew Shane Autry.

Chapter One

The dog next door was barking again.

Ryan sat up, seeking to free himself from a tangle of bedclothes, and stared blearily at the clock on the dresser opposite his bed. He fell back with a groan, while outside the sounds of barking ceased. It was five past two in the morning and he was now wide awake. With no real hope, he flipped his pillow to the cool side and burrowed deeper into the blankets, shutting his eyes tightly. He began counting softly to himself.

The silence lasted approximately twelve seconds before a sudden, fresh eruption of barking drove all thoughts of going back to sleep from his mind. The deep baritone bellowing cut through the silence like gunfire, rendering any chance for further slumber highly improbable.

Ryan sighed deeply, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, then rolled out of bed and slipped his feet into his house shoes. He stumbled through the bedroom and took his robe from the hook on his closet door, slipping it over his pajamas as he stepped into the hallway. He didn't turn on any lights as he made his way through the living room and weaved around the piano and between the sofa and the coffee table. "Radar," he said softly to himself as he slid through the blackness, amazed at how familiar this place already was to him. It was as if he had been living here all his life.

He continued through the kitchen and into the laundry room, reaching blindly for the doorknob he knew would be there. He found it on his first try, and smiled to himself as he turned the handle. He shivered as he opened the back door and felt the crisp, cold night air blow his hair from his forehead and the last remnants of sleep from his brain.

He couldn't see a blessed thing out there. It was one of those chilly autumn nights with absolutely no moon to speak of. The sky was entirely overcast, cutting off any starlight that might have otherwise provided at least a hint of visibility. Ryan thought about his apartment back in the city and wondered again if he had made the right decision. There were no streetlights out here anywhere.

"And that's one of the reasons you moved here," he reminded himself, with a condescending tone. "You always complained about the streetlights and how you couldn't see the stars. And besides, you really need to quit talking to yourself out loud."

Talking to himself out loud was one of the many eccentricities that were gradually becoming standard operating procedure for Ryan since he had left the aforementioned city and moved to the middle of nowhere. "Cause if nowhere has a definable middle, this is at least somewhere in its neighborhood," he added wryly to the darkness, pulling his robe more tightly around him.

Ryan stared into the emptiness in the direction of his neighbor's house. Neighbor was a word that meant something very different out here in the country, especially when compared to its former association to people with whom he had shared a wall back in his city apartment. The neighbor currently in question lived about two hundred yards away, and the next closest house beyond that was over three miles further down the road. "At least I know for sure they can't hear my toilet flush anymore."

The dog was still barking, but Ryan quickly gave up any hope of being able to see what it was that had drawn its noisome ire. The beast was likely barking at a raccoon or a skunk or some other nocturnal intruder. Quite possibly it was barking its fool head off for no good reason at all whatsoever. "Dogs are like that sometimes," he added for the benefit of no one in particular.

It was amazing though, how the sound carried, considering it was coming from about two football field lengths away. The funny thing was that Ryan knew that life in the city had been exponentially louder than the sound of a single dog barking, but back then he had never been bothered by the noise. He knew that he had previously slept right through the night to a symphony of car horns, noisy neighbors, and televisions blaring at all hours. Nonetheless, the solitary dog next door had cost him many a night's sleep during the half a year since he decided to try his luck at the country life.

Ryan's eyes had now adjusted to the darkness somewhat, and he could vaguely make out a slightly different shade of charcoal which was caused by the line of trees standing about fifty feet from his back door. "Good evening woods," he said cordially, then turned around and stepped back inside.

"Stupid mutt," he grumbled as he closed the door and re-entered his kitchen. He flipped on the light and turned on his coffee maker. "Might as well get some work done since I'm up anyway."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So I'm pretty much famous now.

Here's how it happened.

I was looking on Craig's List a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across an opportunity to expand my horizons a bit.

Side note #1 - The "Talent" section under "Gigs" in Craig's List is a sordid and creepy place, and should generally be avoided.

But back to the main point...

I have long held the lofty ambition to someday be used as an extra in a movie.  I understand that I have clearly set the hopes and dreams bar pretty high on that one, but we can't all wish as hard as Rudy.  I have always been amused by the thought of watching a movie and seeing myself walk by in the background.  I was particularly interested in trying to shemp my way into being an extra in some sort of zombie or indie horror movie, preferably one which will eventually become a cult classic. 

With this dream in mind and hope in my heart, I was perusing ads which were looking for extras, then there it was.  The ad was casting for a Zombie 48 Hour Film Project.  I wasn't sure what that was, but they were looking for people interested in being involved, and it had Zombie in the title, so I knew I wanted to find out more.

I sent an email with my credentials and photos and I shortly received a positive response.  They wanted me to come in for an audition of sorts.  The aforementioned credentials included my having acted in two silent indie films.  This is in point of fact, true.  I did do this.  I even have a VHS Copy of one of the films.  The other project I have never actually seen a completed version of.  I was on screen for about 12 or 13 seconds in the one I have.  The films were made by a man named Todd Morten and were shot with a Super 8 camera.  The time frame of this acting experience was around 1996 or thereabouts.  I might not have mentioned these particular details in the email.  It's entirely possible I just mentioned that I had acted in two Indie Films.  Regardless, I was on my way to fame and fortune.

Side Note #2 - I was also in a promotional video for a rock and roll band called Spin 490.  I played a character loosely based on myself, but did not include this in my credentials.  Perhaps I might have been able to skip even having to audition if they knew I had been in three film projects.  I also own a VHS copy of this rockumentary.  If anyone knows how to convert VHS to something I can put on youtube, great adventure might be ahead for all of us.

So I went in for the audition.  I was a little nervous because I wondered if perhaps the people involved might actually be cannibals who lure the careless in with fake ads and then eat them.  Perhaps even while filming the whole thing, thus creating something of a reality zombie type film, just without the whole undead thing.  It turned out they did not plan to kill me.  So that was good.  I answered some questions about what I loved about Zombie movies and what a Zombie Purist is, and then I had to read a part.  This was difficult for me, mainly because in my head I was hearing the part read in 1920's reporter guy voice.  I knew using this voice would be the most sure fire way imaginable to not get the green light, so I suppressed the scat man in my soul and read the part in my normal voice.  I guess it was good enough.

I was offered some role in the film, though I do not as yet know what that role will be.  It turns out that a 48 hour film project is a rather interesting and marvelous thing.  This particular one can be examined in greater detail here, but the basic gist is that the filmmaker will get their topic on Friday and have that evening to write the script.  They then have all day Saturday to shoot the movie and have to do all the editing, etc on Sunday.  So it's film making at warp speed.

I don't know if I'll be talking in the film or if I'll just be eating people.  Or perhaps being eaten by other people.  Or standing in the background watching other people be eaten.  I won't know until late Friday night sometime before showing up Saturday morning.  As I said, interesting and marvelous.

All of this will take place at the beginning of September.  So I'd recommend getting in good with me now, because in about a month I'll be far too big time for all you little people.


Friday, June 8, 2012

A Sunday Drive

A Sunday Drive
    a short story by andrew shane autry

There's nothing quite like feeling the wind blowing through your hair and the sun shining brightly on your face as you drive down the highway on a Sunday afternoon in early Spring. I can't remember ever feeling this alive in my entire life before today. The very atmosphere itself feels absolutely charged with some special electricity, never there before today. Even the air feels different in my lungs. It tastes sweeter too, like I've never really breathed before. Who knows? Maybe I haven't.

I can tell that Cole feels the same way. He's usually so grim and stoic, but not today. Not now, with the sun in the sky and scenery blurring past on either side. I look at him behind the wheel and he's even smiling! He's so handsome when he smiles and his eyes catch the light in that way that is so uniquely him. And that dimple! I don't know why it's so hard for him to smile most of the time. I guess he is who he is and I should just be glad for this moment in time. I guess one moment is all we can ever feel at any particular point in time anyway, so I should just plan to enjoy the now that we're driving through and not worry about any yesterdays. I certainly don't plan to worry about any more tomorrows either. I don't plan to ever worry about any more tomorrows ever again.

Cole's hair is too short for him to really enjoy the whole "blowing in the wind" effect of riding in a convertible, but that might be for the best. With how fast we're driving, it certainly wouldn't be advisable for him to have his vision obstructed by flying hair. I wonder if it detracts from the whole convertible experience when you have short hair. I've never had short hair. My mom always said boys prefer girls with long hair, but then she said a lot of things. I stopped really listening a long time ago. I wonder if Cole would like me with short hair.

I've never driven this fast before. I'm sure I'd be entirely terrified if every nerve in my body wasn't absolutely screaming with delight as we fly past car after car. It's like what that song says about passing cars like they're standing still. Now I get it.

I never really noticed before, but there seem to be more white cars on the road than any other color. I wonder why that is? It's strange what your mind will fix on sometimes. You're just drifting along and all of a sudden you notice something you weren't even paying attention to. White! What a boring color for a car. What's fun about white? I like yellow cars, like the one we're in now. Red is fun too.

This is actually my first time riding in a convertible. Cole usually drives his mom's minivan, but it broke down and here we are. This is such a rush! I wonder what he's thinking about right now, this very second. I guess you never really can know that sort of thing about another person. Every time you ask someone what they're thinking about it changes what they're thinking so you get, at best, some sort of filtered, watered down version of their thoughts. And most people aren't even that honest with what they say back to you anyway when you ask them that question. I think Cole is honest. At least I think he's honest with me, and that's all that really matters.

I really love him, you know? He's not like other guys. I know a lot of girls say that. In fact, I think every girl who ever had a boyfriend or even just wanted to have one said that very thing about the guy she liked, but Cole really is truly different. He does things for me that no other guys would ever even think about doing. He is so considerate. Take my parents for example. Cole handled them so differently than any other guy I ever went out with. Completely different. No one could say otherwise.

I think he really loves me too. I mean, he's never just come right out and said, "Steph, I love you," or anything like that. That's not his way, but I believe he says it with his actions much louder than he could ever say it with only his words. Some people say that actions speak louder than words and I believe that those people are right to say so. Cole isn't much of a talker, but I feel like he's making himself clear to me all the time regardless. Of course, it would be really nice to hear it. Maybe just once. Right now would be the perfect time. Maybe that's what he's thinking about, but I won't ask.

Cole is such a good driver. I can't believe he can so calmly maneuver through traffic at this speed with just his left hand on the wheel. He always drives with just his left hand on the wheel, at the very top, in the center. "High Noon," he calls it. I like it that way cause then his right hand is free to hold my hand or sneak its way around my shoulders. Sometimes he even strokes my hair while he's driving. I love it when he strokes my hair. I've always liked movies where the guy reaches over and strokes a girl's hair. There's something so intimate about it. Something so calm. So right.

Looking at the dashboard, we still have about half a tank of gas left. I wonder just how far that will get us. I never paid much attention to gas mileage or things like that, so I don't have a clue what kind this car might get. I'd ask Cole but I don't want to trouble him. He looks so happy right now and I want him to stay that way for as long as possible. We both know we'll have to stop eventually when the gas is all gone. I wonder where we'll be when we finally have to stop. What state we'll be in. In fact, I wonder what state we're in now?

"Louisiana," Cole answers when I ask him. He actually had to shout it twice before I could hear him over all the racket. Everything is so loud with the top down at this speed.

Louisiana sure seems far from home to me. Before today I'd never even been out of Virginia. Of course today was a day for a lot of things I've never done before. I wish we had time to stop for some dinner. I haven't eaten anything since dinner last night and I've always heard that the food in Louisiana is spectacular.

On a personal note, I've always been an adventurous eater. I despise those girls who only eat salads on a date and turn down dessert. Cole found out very quickly what to expect when he took me to dinner for the first time. I always find something on the menu I've never eaten before, and that's just what I order. I've heard all about interesting Louisiana food like Cajun fried alligator tail, gumbo, fried crawfish, and all sorts of other things I'd like to try now, but there's no time.

We just passed a sign welcoming us to Texas. Cole smiled at me as we passed the sign. We've talked about Texas before since Cole used to live here. I met him right after he moved from his old home in San Antonio. He says Texas is nothing like what you see in the movies. He says it's just like anywhere else except it gets really hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. I couldn't really say since I've never really been anywhere, but I wonder if maybe every place is pretty much the same as every other place, except for the weather. Maybe that's stupid.

"We might just make it," he calls out, still with that same dimpled smile on his face. I wonder if he really believes it. I smile back for him, big and bright and I know my eyes are dancing, but I'm starting to fade a little. It's been a very long day and some of the exhilaration is finally starting to wear off. Maybe it's the hunger. I never should have thought about food. Thinking about it only makes it so much worse.

We had a near miss about ten minutes after we crossed the border to Texas. We saw the sea of brake lights and flashing red and blue ahead just in time to whip the car off the road, drive across a field, and merge back onto a smaller blacktop road heading south. It happened so fast it took my breath away!

"It's a good thing everything is so flat in Texas!" Cole shouted gleefully across the car when he finally stopped laughing. I smiled back, trying to hide the fact that my blood was pounding so hard in my head I could barely see. Cole was amazing! He never even hesitated or took his foot off the gas! Looking behind us, I saw that a few of the cars had followed his lead, albeit much more slowly, and were on the same alternate route we were now on. "Monkey see, monkey do," I thought, and that's when the laughing started for me.

Cole was no longer smiling as he watched me out of the corner of his eye. "You okay kid?" he warily inquired. I waved him off, gulping in air and trying to stifle the waves of laughter threatening to choke off my air supply. I'm not even sure why I'm laughing. I just can't seem to stop. I finally get everything back under control, and glance over at the gas gauge again. I think that maybe its time to say something, but looking at the now stern face beside me, I think better of it. It's not like he doesn't already know anyway. He's probably known all along.

The funny thing is that we were almost out of gas anyway when it happened. If it had lasted even five minutes longer, it probably would have ended so differently. But it didn't last five minutes longer.

We hit the road spikes going well over 100 miles per hour and were airborne almost immediately. I'd like to believe that they didn't know that might happen, but I don't know. I think they were pretty mad about the near escape at the Texas border and were pulling out all the stops before we could make it to Mexico. I guess they thought all of this had gone on more than long enough and it was time for extreme measures.

We rolled over in the air so that we were flying upside down through open space. It was so surreal and so like a scene in a movie. Everything slowed down just like it would on screen and every detail became crystal clear. Cole turning to look at me, smiling a strange half smile, shrugging his shoulders and taking his one hand off the steering wheel. I see my own hand reaching towards his face all by itself, moving slowly through the small space between us, almost getting there.

Then we hit the ground and the flashing lights close in all around us. Cole was killed instantly. I knew he must have been or he would have said something to reassure me as we lay there surrounded by darkness inside the crushed cockpit of the upside down convertible, pulsing red and blue lights creeping in under the edges.

I'm not sure how I managed to survive, even for just a little while, but I did. I lay broken, with glass, metal, and upholstery pressing close on every side, watching my own blood begin to pool around me. I can hear them shouting, but their words mean nothing to me. I grope around in the dark for Cole, but find nothing. Maybe he isn't even in here with me. Maybe he landed somewhere else. Suddenly I find that I don't really care so much anymore. I feel too tired and know that, where ever he is, I'll probably be joining him soon enough.

It had been such a long day.

My parents telling us no.

The fight.

The yelling.

The push.

The knife.

The blood.

The blood.

The running.

The mini van.

The smoke.

The break down.

The gas station.

The yellow car.

The man.

The knife again.

More blood.

The driving, driving, driving, driving, driving, driving. The sirens.

The chase.

And finally, the crash.

So tired now.

I guess I never really believed we could escape after what we did, but it would have been nice to have had more time. I always thought there would be more time. Seventeen is just too soon. Too fast.

So tired.

Is this really all my blood? How much blood does one person have in them anyway? Not this much. There can't be.

So tired.

Cole? How...

So tired.

I always meant to visit Texas sometime. There's that at least. At least that happened for me, when so many other things didn't and never will.

So tired.

Mom? Dad? I guess maybe you were right after all. It kills me to admit it. Get it?

So tired.

What is wrong with you, Stephanie? You really should be praying right about now, not joking. I don't think you're gonna make it kid. I love it when you call me kid, Cole.

So tired.

I'll never get to try that gumbo now. Do they really eat alligator tail?

So tired.

Focus Steph! Running out of time. Running out of blood. Must be. So much blood.

So tired.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

What I've been reading lately


I do not anticipate that this will be one of my more popular blog postings.  In it, I will not be arrogantly declaring the top five somethings of all time or taking a cynical/humorous view of the dangers of the modern world.  Instead, I thought I would take a moment to share what I've been reading lately.

Why should you care?

That is an excellent question.  You shouldn't.

And yet, here are some of the most recent books I have read over the last couple of months.  I believe that reading is important and that it fundamentally shapes how we think and view the world.  Turn off your computer and go to the library!

"Night of the Living Trekkies" by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall.  I think the name pretty much speaks for itself.  I couldn't put it down.

"The Torrents of Spring" by Ernest Hemingway.  Reading this book was a very strange experience.  I've read most of Hemingway's work and there is a pretty definitive style and pattern to his writing which this work deviates from drastically.  As I understand it, the book was his way of mocking another writer. 

The Traci Ganner trilogy of Science Fiction books by Brian Jeffreys.  I have completed "The Fall of the Terran Empire" and "The Orion Gambit" and am now starting the final book, "Glory and Empire."  I don't regularly dive into the Science Fiction end of the pool, but this has been a pretty enjoyable swim so far.  I'm also going to name drop and let you know that I know Mr. Jeffreys in person.  Indeed.  I might even be able to introduce you to him.  Come to my church with me sometime.  Anything is possible.

"God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian" by Kurt Vonnegut.  Mr. Vonnegut can really do no wrong when he puts words on paper.  Or could do no wrong that is.  Since he's in heaven now and all.  This last statement is a joke for the Vonnegut fans.  Though with my personal views on the Spiritual world, it is decidedly less humorous and makes me rather sad.  Be that as it may, another delightful read from one of the greatest authors of the 20th Century.

"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahntuk.  I really don't know what to think about this one.  I wanted to like it so bad because it had so many moments of extraordinarily great writing in it.  I just couldn't bring myself to love it though.  Almost.  It was so close.  I will purchase another Palahntuk sometime soon to see if those glimpses of genius can come together for a full picture.

So there you go.  I have quite a few books on my radar for the remainder of the year, and I hope you do to.  Maybe something on here will give you a starting point.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Of Books and Covers and Pakistani Taxi Drivers

One of the extraordinarily great men of wisdom and true philosophers of the 21st century drives a taxi cab in Chicago.

It's true. I met him.

I travelled to Chicago on business this week, and I providentially found myself in the backseat of a taxi driven by a man of Middle Eastern descent. Let me first state that I do not have a tremendous amount of taxi experience and am hardly the world traveler that might come to mind when I refer to travelling "on business." In fact, I have ridden in a taxi less than 10 times in my entire life. I will say though, that the majority of taxi drivers I have encountered have likewise been of Middle Eastern descent, and most have driven in such a manner that my automatic chicken brake foot ends up utterly exhausted by the time we reach our destination.

But this man was different.

I got the hint of something different when I mentioned the hotel I was going to and he referred to its architecture. Incidentally, I stayed at the Radisson Blue Aqua, which was built in 2011 and is known for its flowing water-like architecture. I then asked him how long he had been in Chicago. I confess I did this mainly to try to figure out how fluent he was in English, in order to determine what level of conversation we could possibly have. It turned out that he had lived in Chicago for 25 years, and I later found out he had lived on the West coast for another 10 years prior to that. So this man who it turned out was initially from Pakistan had actually been in America longer than I have, and had seen much more of the country during that time. How about that?

Thus began one of the 10 greatest conversations I have ever had. If only I could have somehow recorded the conversation to transcribe it verbatim here, each and every one of you would be better for having read it. The conversation took about 45 minutes to an hour as we travelled from O'Hare to downtown Chicago. I could have happily tripled the drive and am sure there would have been no lull along the way.

We talked about Education and advanced degrees and the divergence of those degrees from the eventual occupations we live out.

We talked about Social Media and the ongoing isolationism of our youth and the continual disconnect from reality.

We talked about Theology and the history of Christianity, including the origins of the 12 tribes of Israel.

We talked about Ecology and the potential results of our fossil fuel addiction, along with the natural purposes of oil and the potentially catastrophic direction our abuse will take us.

We talked about Religion and the place of the mind in the healing process.

We talked about Science and how it interacts with faith.

We talked about Philosophy and the perspectives we prejudicially hold.

We talked about pornography and it's ramifications on the marital state, the objectification of humans, and the damage it is causing to the youth of today due to its unlimited accessibility.

We talked about Science Fiction with a particular focus on the pessimistic future casters like Huxley, Orwell, and Toffler.

We talked about the changing face of America and our fears for the future generations.

It was amazing.

I asked him how often he had conversations like the one we were having and discovered that they were extremely rare. I did not find this surprising since I found them equally rare in my sphere of influence. He said that the majority of people take one look, assume he just got off the boat, give him their destination and go straight to their Smart phones.

Those poor slobs. Their lives could be so much richer.

His name was Osmund, and he gave me a card on which he wrote the name of two authors I should read. I directed him towards a few of my favorites as well. I tipped him a solid 20% and we shook hands in parting. I got the impression that the handshaking was at least as unusual as the conversation had been. He let me know that I was one of the great conversationalists he had met, even rating me at a similar level of a Neurologist who taught corporations how to practice humility, which he had the fortune of having driven a few months earlier. What great company we are sometimes blessed to keep.

I suppose the moral is to not judge a book by its cover. Or perhaps to look beyond the race or the profession of a fellow human. Or maybe even that we should count our blessings because our professions do not always align with our intelligence. But then the next day I was driven back to the airport as though the very hounds of hell were close behind by a man who frankly frightened me a little bit. Our conversation didn't get past where I was going and what time my flight was.

So there might not be a moral at all.

Tip your drivers.

You just don't know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monsters. Oh my.

Good Day to you.

I initially set out to write a blog about our cultural obsession with image and beauty. I even typed a few profoundly thoughtful and deeply insightful sentences before deciding I’m really not up for that level of deep insight or profound thoughtfulness today. It’s just too depressing as a topic to wade into very far. The water is cold and full of giant squids. We humans are a severely damaged life form indeed.

But speaking of giant squids, instead of the aforementioned topic, today we’ll be discussing my favorite kinds of monsters.  

Almost as profound and a lot more fun!

Brace yourselves!

1. Zombies

I love zombies in almost every manifestation they appear in. I love fast zombies. I love slow zombies. I love zombies created by viruses and zombies created by toxic waste. I love zombies who only eat the brains of the living and zombies who eat all the available parts of the human. I love Deadites. I love them all. I know that of late our society has been completely inundated by zombie movies and zombie humor, but I have not hit my limit yet. I have a great capacity to appreciate the carnivorous undead.

Recommended Films: Fido. Zombieland. My Boyfriend’s Back. Shaun of the Dead. Dance of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead. Braindead (aka Dead Alive).

For further info on good Zombie Movies, Click Here!

Recommended Life Changing YouTube Video: Click Here!

Recommended Reading: Night of the Living Trekkies.

2. Werewolves

I have long been a big fan of the werewolf in both film and reality. I am a little more restrictive in my wolf-man affection, and gravitate towards the traditional werewolf. I’m not so much a fan of just the shape shifter who becomes a wolf in order to fend off vampires. My personal preference is for the lycanthrope that is controlled by the lunar cycle and which can only be killed one way. Silver bullet. That’s it. That is the only way to kill a werewolf. See the epicly great film “Monster Squad” for further discussion on how you kill werewolves and to see Uncle Rico as a werewolf. And stay inside during the full moon. Trust no one.

Recommended Films: Monster Squad. Teen Wolf. Underworld.

Recommended Reading: Samantha Slade: Monster Sitter.

3. Swamp / Lagoon creatures

Swamp Thing. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Cajuns. Giant Gators. Leeches. The Swamps and Lagoons of the world are indeed frightening places. Wear hip waders and bring your boomstick.

Recommended Films: Swamp Thing. Monster Squad.

Recommended Lifestyle Choice: Try fried Alligator Tail. It’s tasty.

4. Mythological Monsters as a whole

There are far too many great mythological monsters to list each of them individually, but I do greatly enjoy them and couldn’t leave them unmentioned. Sirens, Hydra, Minatours, Medusa, Cyclopses, Krakens, and so many more. Those Argonauts had a tough ride.

Recommended Reading: Till We Have Faces

5. Squirrels

These modern day monstrosities have never received their due as the true population menaces that they are. John Hodgman has tried to warn us. Heed the warning and be wary around these wicked beasts. They are after more than your acorns. Don’t be fooled by their froofy tails and never let them inside your homes. These carnivorous rodents are never to be fed.

Recommended Reading: An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by myself, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink & Cheese (a Kind of Food), Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most Other Subjects.

6. Vampires

Again, I’m more of a traditionalist in this realm. I prefer the sunlight killing, garlic hating, bat shape shifting, blood sucking, coffin sleeping, stake-through-the-heart fearing undead fiends of yesteryear over the sparkly marble-skinned heartthrobs of more modern acclaim. Don’t mistake me as a Twilight hater since those people tend to annoy me just as much as extreme Twi-harders do. Obviously I’m not an extreme traditionalist since much of what I prefer is post Stoker, so I guess you could say I prefer the vampires as they were still popularly depicted in the 1980’s.

Recommended Reading: Dracula, by Bram Stoker.

Recommended Films: Monster Squad. The Lost Boys. Once Bitten.

Recommended Lifestyle Choice: Don’t invite handsome strangers into your home if you haven’t seen them mow their lawn during the day.

Honorable Mentions:

Trolls, Mummies, Mer-people, Jellyfish, Frankenstein’s monster, Giants, Orcs, Ghosts, Gremlins, Ghoulies, Cookie Monster, Banshees, Critters, and Giant Insects.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Top Five Dead People I Would Like to Have Dinner With

Having now discussed the top 5 living humans that I would love to have over for dinner (see my last blog post), I would like to now turn my attention to the top 5 dead humans to dine with.
The idea here is that each of these 5 individuals would return from the grave (in a decent, non-zombie, no hunger for the flesh / brains of the living kind of way) in order to spend the evening dining with me.  This is as good of a reason as any to return from the grave, and better than some.  The pool of candidates was much larger amongst the dead than it was for the living, and I had to skip quite a few noteworthy names that would have been fascinating to invite. In the end, these are the final invitees to the dinner party.
Dead Dinner Guest #1    
Judas Iscariot
Okay.  So I’m guessing the reaction at this point is mixed, so let me explain my reasons for inviting one of the most despised individuals of all time.  Mr. Iscariot is not being invited out of veneration of any kind on my part, but rather because I’d really love to hear his thoughts on what happened, leading up to his betrayal of Jesus.  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding his motivation for taking the 30 pieces of silver, and I’d like to get his point of view.  Obviously it wasn’t all he had hoped for, what with the subsequent suicide and all.  He would also be able to give a firsthand account of some of the other life and times moments in the life of Jesus, assuming of course you can trust anything this guy has to say.  Depending on his retrospective points of view, he might be asked to leave the table, particularly as he might make my third guest a little uncomfortable.
Dead Dinner Guest #2
John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck is my personal favorite author, and I would greatly enjoy listening to him talk about just about anything and everything.  I certainly enjoyed his writing about anything and everything.  I’d like to know what would be the central crisis of his writing if he were alive today.  I would love to ask what he considered to be his finest work.  Does he regret any of his work?  Who is his favorite character?  The curiosity around this guest alone could take up the entire meal.  Maybe he’ll stay for coffee afterwards.
Dead Dinner Guest #3
Mary the mother of Jesus

As mentioned, Judas might have to leave the table when this guest arrives.  At the very least, these two aren’t sitting next to each other and all sharp knives will be removed from the table.  Mary is being invited because I would be very keen on obtaining some insight into this most intimate of perspectives on the life of Jesus and what it was like to grow in the realization of his divine nature.  I’d like to know how he was perceived by his brothers and by Joseph.  This perspective on the life of Jesus is one that I find utterly fascinating, and having her attend would help provide some balance and reference to the portrayal from Judas.  It would also be interesting to find out her thoughts on the practice of prayer being focused on her in some religious circles.  A lot of fascinating rabbit trails could be followed with this guest.
Dead Dinner Guest #4
Eleanor Dare
Who is Eleanor Dare?  I completely understand your confusion.  Who was this woman, and what happened to her?  Ever since I first heard of the lost colony of Roanoke in Elementary school, I’ve been fascinated with the mystery and want to know what happened to the people.  For the unfamiliar, Roanoke Colony was one of the first colonies in America.  They were facing some hard times and their leader went back to England for supplies.  Due to a series of circumstances, he was unable to return for three years.  When he came back, everyone was gone and no trace of the colonists was ever found.  Which brings us back to the question, Who was Eleanor Dare?  Eleanor Dare was the mother of Virginia Dare, the first European child born in the colonies (that was recorded anyway, who knows about those crazy Vikings).  I’ve chosen her to be the one to tell me what happened to the colony.  With my luck, she probably got eaten by a bear while the colony was still in Roanoke and she won’t be able to tell me anything about what happened, but I had to pick someone.  I’m greatly looking forward to finding out the secret to this centuries old mystery.
Dead Dinner Guest #5
C. S. Lewis
Another favorite author, particularly for his works of Fiction.  Clive Staples Lewis barely made the cut because I feel like I already know his perspectives on so many things due to his works of non-fiction.  But then I think about books like, Till We Have FacesorPerelandraand I can’t imagine not inviting him to the dinner party.  Plus I’m sure he would enjoy meeting Mary and Judas as well, so I’d be doing him a favor, which might get me an in with the Inklings in the event they are still meeting in the afterlife.  I’d also be interested in getting Mr. Lewis’s thoughts on the recent movie adaptions to his Narnia stories and whether he ever noticed that his name is a complete sentence.
Guests held in Reserve
Any good host knows to require an RSVP.  Nothing could be more embarrassing than to have someone return from the grave to come to your dinner party only to find that they are the only guest to show up. 
With that in mind, one needs backup guests prepared to invite in the event one of the primary guests is unable to make it due to some other pressing obligation on their time. 
Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #1
Kurt Vonnegut
No explanation needed.  True greatness and one of my top 5 authors.  God Bless you Mr. Vonnegut.

Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #2
Marilyn Monroe
Why so sad?  Was it murder?  Who did it?  JFK?  Do you know about that ridiculous statue in Chicago?  Biggest regret?

Reserve Dead Dinner Party Guest #3
Assuming that he has learned English in the afterlife, I’d have quite a few questions concerning the night of his death.  As a history minor in college, I wrote an upper level paper on Rasputin’s death and it was one bizarre unexplainable event after another.  The guy just wouldn’t die.  Perhaps the mad priest could help separate fact from fantasy for me.  Plus we could share a chuckle about his portrayal in the Disney film, Anastasia, which I’m sure he finds quite amusing.  I’m pretty sure, based on pictures like the one above, that this is a guy who knows how to party.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The five living people I’d like to have over for dinner.

I’ve heard the question before, and perhaps you have too.

"If you could choose five people to have dinner with, who would they be?"

I’ve heard the question posed as 5 living people, 5 dead people, or 5 people, living or dead. Since I have found the dead to be terrible conversationalists (not to mention their unfortunate impact on the desirability of the cuisine) I am going to look exclusively at the world of the living when compiling my perfect dinner party.

A few rules are needed going into this sort of thing, since without rules we’d all be running around in chicken suits, eating baby kangaroos.

  • Rule #1 The undead are not considered truly living, so no vampires, zombies, etc are eligible to attend, regardless of their otherwise charming nature and conversational aptitude. Sorry twi-hards.
  •  Rule #2 The invitees have to be humans. Animal celebrities need not apply, and since after rising from the dead Jesus dropped the carnal aspect of his nature, He would also be deemed ineligible since he is no longer human. On a side note to this rule, since the Christian deity is omnipresent, He will already be in attendance anyway without requiring you to use up one of the five slots, and could thus be considered a “bonus guest” at any event.
  •  Rule #3 Members of your immediate family can attend without requiring you to use one of the five available slots, so you need feel no remorse for leaving out those dearest to you.

So.  The expectations are clear. The five living humans I would invite to my dream dinner are listed below.

Guest #1
Bruce Campbell

The single greatest actor of all time would guarantee the conversation kept moving and that everyone had an amazing time. I have already read his autobiography, “If Chins could kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor” twice and will likely read it again soon. Furthermore, in the event any of the aforementioned undead (being furious at not being allowed to attend the dinner party) show up to wreak havoc, I want Bruce Campbell at my side.

Guest #2

 The greatest skateboarder of all time at my dinner table?! I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mr. Hosoi briefly a year ago at a Vans promotional event, and he was every bit as amazing as I hoped he would be. The documentary, “Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi” changed my life, and Christian Hosoi is truly one of the few heroes in my world. I need his help to convince my wife that I am not too old to buy a skateboard. Of course it will be a Rising Sun Hammerhead.

 Guest #3
Terry Scott Taylor
I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Who?" Of course it is possible you thought this on the previous two guests as well, and, if so, you really need to expand your horizons. Terry Scott Taylor is one of the greatest living song writers walking the earth today. I was privileged to meet him briefly at two shows in the last decade, and both times he blew me away, while I was unable to do much more than tell him my name. Terry has been the front man / primary song writer for about a billion bands since the 1970’s, brilliantly transitioning from genre to genre over the last 40 years while never flagging in writing profoundly meaningful lyrics to make the world a better place to live in. Camarillo Eddy is welcome at my dinner table anytime, including this ultimate night of feasting.

Guest #4
Peyton Manning

I love Peyton Manning. Last year was hard for me, when number 18 wasn’t continuing his march through the record books. This guy is everything a professional athlete should be. He’s been in my heart ever since he called Vanderjagt his "idiot kicker." I’m holding out hope he can stay healthy another four years and break every record currently held by Brett "open fly Jeans" Favre.

 Guest #5
Stephen King

I really struggled with this one. Most of the people I have a significant amount of admiration for are writers, but most of those I adore are no longer above ground. When considering the living authors available, I considered J. K. Rowling and Yann Martel, along with Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood. In the end I decided the best compliment to the existing dinner party would be Stephen King. While not for everyone, and I certainly haven’t read each of the 5,000 books Mr. King has written, he is a true living legend in the literary field. He’s someone who can really write, but chose a genre generally populated by pulp hacks. He has dominated that genre for more than three decades now and has shown no signs of slowing down. Inviting Stephen to dinner would really cover two bases for me. I love literature and I love all things frightening. In addition, Stephen King is a huge baseball fan and a musician. I think we’d get good sports cross talk, good movie cross talk, and good music cross talk. Chemistry is vital in this kind of dinner party, and I think Stephen would round out the party nicely.

So there you have it. The perfect dinner party for living humans. Sorry I couldn’t fit you in, but which of these people could I truly bump to make room for you?

Please feel free to share your personal five.

Next up, I will likely focus on a dinner party from beyond the grave and choose the five dead people I would have chosen, were they still alive.