Famous Bullshit Stories, Part One: Marrying a Billionaire is a really good idea!

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II

Patriarchal Fiction Narratives must be one of the “Famous Bullshit Stories” form George Carlin’s Book of the Month Club.

I was a teen when I got the cassette, and my family and I listened to comedy tapes on long car trips. I remember this sketch well because mom had to stop on the side of the road because she — grandma, and I were laughing out loud with tears in our eyes. We couldn’t stop or catch our breath.

But “Famous Bullshit Stories”, got the biggest howling from us all.

While we laughed at other sketches and tapes, nothing beat Book of the Month for us. We were uncontrollable.

But back to Famous Bullshit Stories.

That is a classic.

I actually wanted to call my first book, Don’t Believe It!” How lies become news, Famous Bullshit Stories, but didn’t. That’s Carlin’s gem.

But fiction is nothing but famous bullshit stories.

Like indoctrinating women into thinking that marrying a rich guy is a good idea. He is a hoarder and a bully by default. He has to be on top of a pecking order.

I know this to be true in too many instances. I have known women who married rich men, and they are not allowed to have money on them. They cannot do chores when they want. Their husbands determined every aspect of their lives, and are abusive.

But I also knew it from other places — such as high-end boutiques where husbands doled out money for both the wife — and his slew of mistresses. Many women hid what they bought and owed money to those boutiques, terrified that their husbands would find out she spent more than he decreed. She would buy it on store credit, then tremble in her boots.

I knew as a journalist just how horrific a wealthy husband could be.

Lately, it seems that more women are speaking out about that kind of abuse, from being forced into degrading sex acts with their mates for basic food money, to being starved while the husband buys himself whatever toy he wants.

And let’s not pretend these women didn’t earn that money. Often, the men need the woman to sell all her assets for seed money. She often came up with the idea. She did work in the business. She often financially supported him and his dreams.

And then he repays her by imprisoning her.

I have always said do not waste your time and money playing king-maker. Don’t mom your husband. That takes away from your focus, and while you are too busy making him a Great Man, he has free time to procure mistresses to prove to his business buddies that he is capable of getting women into making bad personal deals where he gets more out of them than they get out from him.

And then the wife and the mistresses must make appointments to clothing stores so they don’t run into each other and have a catfight in the evening gown section.

I am not making this up.

A lot of gender inequality comes from women spending more time on their husband’s careers than their own. I used to make mental notes to myself: Memo to Alexandra Kitty: It’s all about you. Adult male can look after his own ass, and can rely on his Mommy should he be deficient.

I am not married. Footloose and fancy-free. I have had men try to control me, and the odd part was some of them I wasn’t even dating. I have had my own labour of loves and eccentric endeavours, and had men bring me to task that I wasn’t making money, I should do this instead, why I am spending money, literally priming me and grooming me to curb my indulgences and experiments.

I wasn’t hitting them up for cash. They didn’t pay my bills. It was none of their business. Yet they saw nothing wrong with their indulgences and experiments, even if they were losing more money in the bargain.

Correction: losing their wife’s money.

When I started A Dangerous Woman Story Studio, I made certain none of those famous bullshit stories were in there. Sometimes a man was unequal to the female, but she never supported him or used her connections to help him — dude was capable and he equalized himself without his wife having to appease an ego. She had her career and freedom just as he did. If I am writing about a rich man falling in love with a woman, you better believe that she’s a tycoon in her own right. I like ultimate sexy power-couples, but they will be running their own empires, thank you very much.

And I skewer the they billionaire-is-a-good-husband trope every chance I get — always using real-life cases in my stories. The World’s Most Dangerous Woman stories have a lot of billionaires who are wicked husbands. The Detective stories also have bad husbands who think money will control everyone. Those who have power didn’t get it by being nice or generous.

And then there is the Doyenne Assassin.

Not only does she whack the Dreadful who often are rich and powerful, she is also the author of ridiculous books of women sleazing it up the sex ladder to marry billionaires who rescue them — except these trashy books are coded reports of her success hits.

After all, she is the best hitwoman who ever lived. The steamy novelist is just a cover for her.

You don’t mess with the Doyenne Assassin.

Wealth is a nice thing to have. Morals are even better. Our world is one where we reward the tyrants and willingly so. We teach young boys how to be competitive and win at any cost. That’s on society.

If you want a better world, then the story you tell children has to radically change.

Don’t teach little girls to invest in their husbands. Don’t teach little boys to see their families as their means to an end.

Teach both to be self-reliant and confident. Show them how not to get on a hamster wheel. Don’t compete with your neighbours because when you die, no one will bother remembering the big mansion you had.

People have lives and better things to do than be impressed by you or your mate.

If they are like me, they have their indulgences and experiments, and prefer their own eccentric creativities over your gaudy trinkets any day...

Piaget, Pandas, and why there is absolutely no "war" on men or boys. As usual, the National Post is afraid of women with self-respect.

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III

When I was in my early twenties, I had a rabbit named Trixie, given that name because I got her on Halloween (trick or treat), not because of Beatrix Potter.

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Trixie Pixie weighted 900 grams.

She was a tiny little thing, but had a heart of a lioness. I also had a red canary Ben who was free and the two were inseparable. When Ben passed away because the vet gave the wrong antibiotic twice instead of once, Trixie was very sad. I rescued another rabbit Susie, and the two also became inseparable.

Trixie had numerous operations because her jaw was too small for her teeth. She went to the University of Guelph constantly, but she lived about six years. She was loving, bossy, nosy, and very brave.

Particularly when it came to standing up to humans that rubbed her the wrong way.

There was one man who was a family friend who was not the most sensitive person in the world. He thought it was funny to make loud nonsensical noises when he saw Trixie, and tried to twist her nose repeatedly. She’d run away, I would tell him that wasn’t acceptable, he’d dismiss me as some sort of snowflake, and do it again.

But Trixie always got her revenge.

Because she knew which pair of shoes he wore and then promptly pissed in them. Only his. Never anyone else’s.

Then he’d put them on, complain they were wet, but never quite hit upon the fact that he was mucking around in rabbit urine.

And then he’d come for the next visit, where the cycle went on without deviation. I never went to hide his shoes from Trixie.

That’s what you get for intimidating a 900 gram herbivore.

Trixie was a smart little bunny. I had to euthanize her when she developed a brain tumour. I think her passing hurt me the most in the fuzzy kid division.

She had an unbelievable sense of fairness. I had been dealt a serious blow in my professional life, and one that would have been a breakthrough. I can count on one hand the number of times I have cried in my life, and that was one. I was blowing off steam on my sofa in the living room with my mother on the love seat that was in front of a ledge with potted plants on it. Trixie ran to the ledge, and promptly knocked flower pots right on my mother’s head by pushing them with her own little noggin.

What can I say? She thought mom was responsible for me getting upset and was going to level the playing field. She was a righteous little mini-lop.

She was protective of me, and I always returned the favour. I did not take kindly to people trying to abuse her, but it seemed every time I told a male — and it was always an adult male — to knock it off, they would fly off the handle, and keep doing it. I had a male relative do the same thing, and neither one of those people are in my life anymore.

They were both ill-behaved and unteachable. When someone tells you not to make loud and stupid noises and try to twist their pet’s nose, stop doing it. You are being a swine. There is no benefit in frightening a small animal. There is no benefit in bad manners that net you no rewards, but impede your social standing as you alienate people who just want you to stop annoying them and their pets.

It is not a “war” if someone tells you to stop being uncivilized. It is the inevitable byproduct of feral behaviour. I never went to these men’s houses to molest and disturb their animals.

But it wasn’t just my pets. These were the same people who belittled every one of my achievements, called me names, tried to gaslight me as they patronized me, telling me what to think regardless if I had expertise and they never heard of the subject before in their lives, and thought they had every right to tell me how to dress, dye my hair, put on my make-up, and that I should stop having a career, and do something of value, like get married and have children.

I never stood for it. I told them off, even as a kid, and then they got upset with me, calling me rude.

Excuse me, I just said, “Hello.” You made lengthy comments about a pimple on my chin. That is a deliberate attempt at establishing a pecking order by making me feel inferior to you and be too consumed with my alleged deficiencies to see what you are doing.

I am not a moron. The fact that I push back doesn’t mean there is a “war” against snowflake you.

Instead of getting your knickers in a knot, you can sign up for some etiquette lessons.

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They really are miracle workers. Bless the Brits for their centuries-long dedication to sensitivity to other people’s feelings.

They didn’t write a silly column in the National Post whining about some non-existent war on boys and men, and then try to impose a narrative about it being “ideology versus science” because it isn’t.

So what’s really going on here?

Simple: communications technology finally caught up to reality, and what was always happening suddenly could no longer be suppressed by a patriarchal news media.

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In Canada, men are a minority, and have been for at least thirty years. 50.4% of the population are women, and yet men are vastly over-represented in positions of power in both business and government. We have always had rigs that favoured men, and biology has zero to do with it. White men, who are even a smaller piece of that demographic pie, are even more over-represented based on the population make-up.

So here is a single minority group among a mosaic of minority groups, who are upset because the Internet finally allows us to hear what everyone around us is thinking. Stop mansplaining is not throwing a grenade; it’s feedback that the individual does not need to be treated like she is in kindergarten when she has a graduate degree and has expertise in the field under discussion.

Before, the press would either ignore the complaints, or worse, spin them to make it sound as if some lunatic fringe was spewing insanity. That is a crying shame. If people understood that in a planet of 7.4 billion people, you will have a sea of disagreement, outrage, support, and differing opinions decades ago, they wouldn’t take the peculiar stance that they are.

Fox News exploits this demographic: they target frustrated white men and then tell them nothing in their lives is their fault, which is ridiculous. Sometimes you are the architect of your own misery, and the sooner you see it, the sooner you can do something about it and get yourself out of your slump.

A big problem for men is the fairytales they have been told where there can only be The One, and if someone opposes you, that they are the Villain to be vanquished and women are just there to be saved because they are inferior to you and are made to drool all over you.

That is a fantasy.

And a horrible lie. If we reversed the gender roles, it would be no less horrific. No one should be following this destructive rigged script.

A more sensible map is that we all have hopes, dreams, and goals. We all have different life requirements. We are all flawed and make mistakes. We have rights, but also responsibilities. Life isn’t always looking for an entourage to drool all over you, nor find an inferior ditz to relieve your crude urges. People who have different ideas have the same rights as you do.

Cooperation and negotiation to coordinate our competing interests is far more profitable and liberating than some competition where it is all-or-none. A shrewd person makes alliances, and ensures that there is a balance for everyone in terms of work, risk, responsibilities, and payoffs. Jealousy, greed, laziness, and ego are very destructive forces, but they are not some static force that chains us forever to ruin our lives. We have to face our worst traits, acknowledge them, realize they manipulate our perceptions of reality, and then do something about them.

Men shouldn’t feel threatened if a woman is a visionary who is ambitious. She has every right as does he to aim high, but the second a woman does break through as a man is called on the carpet for trying to sabotage her, other men get scared and then make up a propaganda tale of there being a war on men.

No, there isn’t. There is a man person who is prime minister, just as the other two political parties have man people in charge of their party. The only party to have a woman person is the Greens and they have one seat.  The world’s most powerful players are men. That hasn’t changed. And those men have their fans and many are seen as visionaries.

There is no war just because someone calls you an asshole. You are an asshole.

That Fox News can tell bedtime stories to men who are silly enough to believe them is not a surprise. The sad thing is that those men don’t realize that the FNC gets rich by keeping them running on a hamster wheel of hate, and keeps them in a very unhappy holding pattern because that’s how they create audiences. MSNBC plays the same propaganda for losers on the left. Both sides would be wise to look inward, get off the fucking wheel, and break old habits and modify their behaviours to make them prosper.

But the National Post is playing a similar game, recruiting Jordan Peterson into their web, which I find utterly fascinating. Peterson is a psychologist by trade, and this pop psych narrative has many of his detractors unnecessarily stymied. Their counterarguments are too cerebral. They are over-thinking things and not addressing the audience that has had a spell cast on them as they have been primed by the FNC into thinking they are victims.

What’s interesting is that Peterson’s pop psych arguments do not go anywhere near the logic of Jean Piaget’s Stage Four of Cognitive Development (Piaget is Person #31 on the List of People Everyone Should Know). The Formal Operational Stage is one that many adults never attain, but you cannot be an experimental psychologist and not be in that very stage because that’s the very stage where experimental psychology depends on for its very purpose and methods.

So Peterson isn’t someone who could possibly be devoid of a Stage Four mind, yet his pop psych is clearly at Level Two and Three.

That’s quite a feat.

Journalism was never in Stage Four, and I have said that is the reason it collapsed, but Peterson made a career of intellectual regression. It is a cagey move: for one, your detractors will never reach the people who are being beguiled because they will use Stage Four Arguments, and those under the spell have been stymied by their Stage Three prison, and can’t see it.

They very well may be capable of making the leap to the Fourth Stage — but they were led to believe that they didn’t need that leap because the narratives they were told are of lower stages, and they cling on to those stories, thinking it is the answer for Winning At Life.

It is a recipe for self-destruction.

So if there is no “war” on men, why are they stuck in a slump that distorts their perceptions of reality?

The answer lies in pandas.

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Many ambitious white collar types — and even the entire profession of journalism — have the same problem, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, or age. They make it so far, and then they can no longer move upward in a company or career. They have the right education and experience. They are smart and even social.

Are they victims of outside forces?

No, but they are a victim of their own panda.

A panda is a term for a seemingly benign personality trait or mindset that is more destructive to you than you realize.

Such as indulging in aggressive behaviours and ignoring repeated requests to knock it off. You may feel as if you have power to thwart and emotionally upset people, but if they push back, they aren’t going to give you another inch. They can retaliate.

Do you want short-term thrills — or do you want long-term viability?

In business, being passive-aggressive can get you up so far, but then when you hit a certain level, the rules change and what what worked for you begins to work against you.

Adherence to The One Rule That Explains Everything is a losing gamble.

And if your rule is that you can bully other people and they’ll just sit and take it, you are in for the surprise of your life. There are people like me who don’t care about your gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, wealth, education, nationality, connections, fame, or political affiliation.

You pull some bullshit stunt on me, and I will unleash my righteousness on you. Fuck you.

Treat me with kindness and respect, and I will go out of my way to help you if you should ever be in need or want of it.

No war.

And we in an era right now where we have arrogance and temper tantrums where everyone is accusing everyone else of waging some “war” on them.

No, what you are experiencing is the technology that lets you hear the world’s thoughts at once.

People have agendas. They bully. They try to get things they did not earn. They try to impress people with some image. They hedge their bets on a side they think will reward them.

The fuel of arrogance is messing with a lot of minds, but that’s easily remedied with a good dose of humility.

The only problem is when you chose the medicine, it goes down very easy — but when life rams it down your throat, the cure is often more traumatic than the disease.

And it’s coming a lot sooner than people think.

It’s not a war, but reality people need to worry about.

After all, if we just give in to “biology”, remember, people sure did love to kill, rape, and pillage, and enslave other people.

And they went to watch the slaughter of gladiators, imprison foreigners to serve as their slaves, and spark wars for pure financial profit.

Eventually, people started to become civilized and learned something called empathy.

And they sublimated those biological drives into something creative and productive.

So the biology excuse is pure nincompoopity, and it’s time to go up a rung in evolution — not down…

The Art of War, 2019.

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I feel sympathy for John McCallum. When I was a kid, we had a class trip to watch a play of Robin Hood, and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham told the audience he was going to trap Robin by putting a note on the tree, and when he read the note, he’d catch him.

I took this so very seriously.

So when the actor who played Robin went to read the notes, I screamed, “Don’t read the note, Robin!” from the top of my little lungs.

And then so did the other kids.

I am sure the actor was used to it and was either amused or annoyed, but he was a good sport, pretending he couldn’t hear us — and the play went by the script, pissing me off no end, and after that, I just didn’t care what happened to Robin. You don’t take advise, you deserve to be caught by the bad guy. So there.

I am certain McCallum, who is an accomplished politician and academic, is not a stupid man. Watching the political buffoonery must be maddening. I feel the same way about journalism.

So here is a former cabinet minister, professor, economist who is privy to far more of the current federal regime than most people are, and he had become unleashed for a reason.

He wouldn’t risk it just because he is a silly man. He managed to have a long and impressive career all on his own with incident. That is not something to ignore or dismiss to fit a narrative. Something else is going on to the point where a seasoned politician makes an assessment and lobs two grenades in a guerrilla attack.

Welcome to the new Art of War, 2019.

III

The Art of War is an interesting text that has held up so well because people who fight wars tend to follow scripts. It works because we have relied on patriarchal structures and have never once truly challenged them — and even when critics think they are, they always present another patriarchal structure with the lone difference that is it s rigged to their own favour.

Like how the American Left have been pretending to be enlightened with their “socialism” to go up against capitalism on the account that it is rigged to favour the privileged white boys…except socialism was created by privileged white boys, too.

If you want equality, then you better provide tangible evidence that you, too, can come up with your own model to replace the Gold Standard. Otherwise, shut up and go back to the drawing board — this time without cribbing from the very people you condemn.

Current ideological warfare has been reduced to an infantile joke: the point is not to take money from other people to fund your fantasies. Fight for the opportunity to make your own on your own terms.

And I practice what I preach: I created my own writing structures. I created A Dangerous Woman that is nothing like what’s out there. I was influenced and inspired by others because I do not believe everyone before me is horrible, but when I started to write, I did my own thing.

And when I started Chaser News before that, guess what? I took an epistolary style. No other journalism outfit was doing it, and they still don’t get it.

I have come up with an alternative to journalism — F.R.E.E.D. defies conventions of the old guard.

That is what true equality means: having a diversity of visionaries and creators who create something different. We have people howling about “cultural appropriation” even if their own culture appropriated it from someone else — but have no trouble ideologically or structurally appropriating things from others.

So in 2019, the Art of War is not about just deception, but a specific kind of deception: hypocrisy.

This is the reason everything is upside down. You have Right-leaning publications decrying sexual harassment and Establishment meddling in ways they never did before. You have Leftist politicians cribbing from those on the Right, except the Left miss the nuances that will ultimately trip them.

Because in this new ideological war, the misdirection is Left-Right. They are both the same. One is not superior to the other in any way, shape, or form.

And both are hypocrites.

War is hypocrisy. War is preventing your opponent from doing the very things that you do or want to do. Never in modern history has Saul Alinsky been more critical.

Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

That’s the starting point to this current ideological war. Both sides are now forced to present a narrative that they are, in fact, doing it, when they, in fact, are not.

This is their fatal weakness, and this is the precise place where it will all break loose. Both the Left and the Right have the same problem that compels them to have the same strategy. They cancel each other out.

Because they are cribbing from each other, but as they are in the Zero-Risk Society, they have to be careful how they do it.

You see it in Canada. The Liberals won in the last election with a leader who is a bland and unremarkable middle manager; so the other two parties got their own version of a bland and unremarkable middle manager. It’s as if these three parties are begging for a minority government and a three-way tie.

The battleground now has a single rule: fight with Zero-Risk, but that is inversely proportional to the amount you gamble.

So here we are in a Zero-Risk War Zone, meaning it is a 100%-Gamble Zone. There are huge differences.

A risk is when you plan, research, practice, and test before trying something different in a trying circumstance, with a back-up plan if the first try fails to produce the desired results. You are confident in your abilities, but realistic as you rely on facts, logic and emotional literacy.

A gamble is when you do not plan, research, practice, or test but have an idea and go into something unprepared with no strategy or expectation of something going wrong. You are overconfident in your luck, and rely on gossip, sophistry and fantasy.

That is the war being waged right now. We have people who think opinion-shaming will force people to surrender.

No, that just makes your enemies look closer at you and see that you aren’t living to your own rulebook.

Because the Internet took away that one rig.

And is turning the Art of War on its head…

Journalism's Covington Fiasco: They know they screwed up. And they are still in denial. But I called it out before.

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That book is an inconvenient truth.

It scares book journalists and those on the Left right out of their wits.

It is not as if I give the Right a free pass. I wrote OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism, and my latest book goes into detail about partisan outlets on the Right. I am not on the Left or Right. I am a Radical Centrist, meaning you are not going to manipulate me to join your little clubhouse as some sort of true believer.

That requires scripts and passivity, and that is not who I am.

But journalists pick sides and then pretend they don’t. That makes them inauthentic, and then they waste time and energy trying to prove lie after lie about how they are important and always perfect, which is honestly, a stupid thing that destroyed their profession.

And when evidence of their manipulative gaslighting is exposed, they spend time trying to spin yet another manipulative piece trying to save their worthless asses.

The Atlantic is one of the worst offenders. It is pure garbage, and their attempt at spinning Covington is no different:

The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story

And the damage to their credibility will be lasting.

Oh, you more than just botched it.

You created the non-story.

There was no story there in the first place.

What you had was two attention-seekers get free press at a canned spectacle. This wasn’t news, but it was filler that the press could pretend was news.

As usual, reporters picked sides and them went into overdrive with some melodramatic narrative ganging up on some high school ditz in a red baseball cap doing what teenaged boys do: think they know everything and then smirk their way through life.

Yeah, how brave of you. Time magazine needs to put you intrepid souls on their cover again.

And then the press demonized a teenager who committed no crime and deified a man base don his skin colour without verifying anything about him, and employing that cloying Native American stereotype that is patronizing and dehumanizing pretending it’s the opposite.

And then in a world of social media where everyone can put out information, journalists got busted.

Idiots: you could pull that garbage off when people had no access to a global audience, the way you did to Serbs during the Civil War. You could plaster Serbian mass graves and then accuse them of slaughtering the other side.

From their graves? Are Serbs some sort of ghosts with machine guns?

Covington blew up in the news media’s faces, and it was a serious explosion.

And entirely avoidable. If the press was as perfect as they always claim to be, it wouldn’t have happened at all.

The article still doesn’t get it. It paints the New York Times as being something other than a propaganda rag for limousine liberals.

You are not fooling anyone except yourselves.

You damaged your credibility long before Covington.

As I keep mentioning this morning, I have three books that document how you have already done it — the how and the why…

Method Research, Part Seven: Can we finally admit that narrative and journalism are incompatible?

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If only reality was as simple as a comic book. Good guys are flawless. The bad guys cannot do anything right.

There is only one right answer. Everything is patriarchal with a Chosen One hero, and a horrific villain with no redeeming qualities.

This has been more than just comic book fodder in another time and place because those lines were erased a long time ago.

Reality is not simple. You may think you are always right, but the people you have harmed and wronged think otherwise.

Journalists have alienated groups and people with this game, however. They have a knee-jerk reflex that compels them to decree one side the Good Guy and the other the Bad Guy.

This narrative tick alienated audiences over time.

And now Covington happened.

At first, it was all simple, and now journalists are forced to backtrack and explain away bad information because it wasn’t simple. They did not ask the hard questions because that would have spoiled the narrative.

And from a snippet video, one narrative came out. Then a longer version made it more ambiguous…but then other things came out, but then some of those “other things” were not relevant, and so on and so forth.

All this mud-slinging on what? Why don’t we see journalists dig that hard when it comes to exposing child molesters or con men fleecing people of their life savings?

Here is a group of adults using their resources to go after a teenaged boy who may be a knucklehead, but he didn’t break any laws or pose a threat.

This is the very definition of insanity.

Do you notice that the press is going after Nick Sandmann, digging up things that do not have anything direct to do with him….but Jake Patterson who has been arrested for murdering two innocent people, and kidnapping their 13-year-old daughter as he kept a prisoner for almost three months, well, who care about him!

Think about that for a moment: I taught kids like Sandmann: smug, cocky, what have you, but not harmful.

Jake Patterson, on the other hand, is very harmful.

But in the drive to virtue-signal, the press ignores a threat and goes after the non-threat.

How brave of you all.

It would be one thing if Sandmann did harm, but a protest is a canned event. People are there to get media attention.

And why are we obsessing over a kid when there are lobbyists who are managing to persuade lawmakers to change the structure of society? Why isn’t the press going after them?

I wonder how many lobbyists, political operatives, and PR firms got what they wanted at the same time as this protest?

Simple: they want a narrative. Not facts, not information, not reality.

A story. A fable. A fairytale and morality play.

Nothing more.

When I went into journalism in order to study it, narrative was an obsession.

I had editors who got angry with me because I would not use narrative. I got in trouble for it.

Facts, I was told, were “dry” and “boring.” Make the pre-set narrative, I was told, regardless of the information I had.

That is why we have journalists tell people to dismiss critics: those are the people who break the narrative spell.

For example, the National Post decreed that a whistleblower was making himself over to be some sort of “spy.”

Memo to the National Post: All whistleblower are self-appointed, you morons. Every person who calls the police to report on witnessing a crime is self-appointed.

Every person who speaks out — whether or not they once engaged in the practice — is self-appointed.

We don’t have a government-sanctioned committee who decides who gets to speak out on stuff.

And every single reporter is self-appointed. They decide what stories to cover and who to interview. Their editors are self-appointed, too.

You verify claims. That’s the job. Was there a dark business going on or not?

The nincompoopity of the National Post is cringeworthy, but not surprising.

I saw the extent of rot and hubris up close.

It’s all about narrative, not facts.

Heaven forbid we educate the public with the real stuff going on around them.

It’s worse than bullies on a playground.

The story of Covington is that there was no story. It was over-covered with a pre-set narrative that had no basis in reality.

There aren’t any good guys or bad guys. Just flawed human beings muddling about being angry at something.

Because they don’t have facts or context so they have the information they can use to deal with the frustration that’s drowning them in order to get themselves to better places in a kinder and more productive way…

Memo to the Conversation: The Gillette ad is not a sign of a "cultural shift". It is a sign that corporate pandering is as deceptive as ever.

I

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II

Boy, are some people gullible rubes.

You can fool all of the people some of the time, but it is the ones who can fool all of the time who can babble and puke sophistry thinking they know something.

Look at this piece of propaganda from the Conversation:

Gillette’s #MeToo-inspired Super Bowl ad represents a cultural shift

No, it doesn’t. It represents patriarchal misogyny repackaged to appease pseudo-feminist followers of the Middle Class who want hasty solutions to inconveniences by having some They do all the work to sweep it under the rug, and that has been going on for decades.

The Middle Class love to fly under the radar. They detest work, independent though, or real change. Just give the crib notes of what is acceptable thinking and cocktail party chatter and they will take those marching orders and march straight off a cliff.

The Gillette ad is pure bullshit and typical corporate propaganda. It doesn’t actually do anything but co-opt palatable feminism. Their sales were declining, mostly thanks to lazy men ditching shaving or basic hygiene because that is too hard compared to app swiping. Those men aren’t thinking about the women; they are thinking about their own lethargic asses and then trying to spin a narrative of individuality and self-expression by doing what everyone else is doing.

So Gillette is trying to sweet talk women into buying their junk.

The end.

No cultural shift. The difference is before their ads were targeting men and now they are targeting women to buy a product by providing their dream men who puke what these women want to hear.

No cultural shift. This is how advertising rolls.

The core message hasn’t deviated. It reminds me of a Han Hoogerbrugge print I have hanging in my bedroom called Hey Boy Hey Girl.

I love that picture, but apparently, I am in the minority. My mother always cursed and made horrid comments when I had it in my office. People look at it and wonder what the hell do I see in it.

Simple: A satiric take on typical Western thinking.

The girl is just the guy wearing a girly wig. If you watch the animation on his old site NAILS, it is animation #12. Click the “girl”, then the “boy”, then click the boy again to get the girl’s giggling.

This is how Western thinking is built: everything is patriarchal and male-centred, even when it purports to be enlightened by more feminist thinking.

It is an epic bullshit story.

It is no different than when when a kid asks dad for money and he rejects the request, and then the kid remembers there is mom and then goes appeals to her, hoping she’ll oblige.

Acting like a kid is not a cultural shift. That is knocking on doors until someone lets you in.

Gillette’s problem isn’t that men have gotten more “sensitive”: they (a) have more artisan options so they can be snooty and express their specialness with the brand of razor they use, and (b) have a more rugged option that trumps Gillette’s schtick by chucking their razors in the first place.

Whoop di do.

This isn’t a watershed moment.

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So don’t overthink the corporate press release…

From the Dangerous Woman Vault: The Whimsy's Monster Show!

The Whimsy’s Monster Show

I

When your lucky socks are under your bed,

But the monsters there scare you right out of your head;

Don’t scream, don’t faint, and you better not run

Because your fun has only just begun!

Invite those monsters to chase you ‘round your room,

And you’ll make them your friends as you chase away the gloom!

Get ready, kids, because the laughter is near

Because the Whimsy’s here to bring new cheer!

So hey diddle diddle, here is our cat with her fiddle

To tell you the story as she works out her riddle!

Let’s begin our tale so you’ll all be in the know

Because it’s time for the Whimsy’s Monster Show!

II

Katriel Pepper was the perkiest and hardest working person he ever met, thought Theodore Nathaniel as he sat back in his office chair. As kids, she literally was the girl next door, with her bedroom window directly facing his own and they would talk all night to each other in the summer when they were supposed to be asleep. They would play catch that way, too, even after he once fumbled a water balloon and accidentally beaned his dolled up mother with it square on her head. They were fourteen years old at the time and both got what for over it.

The only downside was Kat played the violin and practiced it as much as she could – and she was horrible at it. She was the best worst violin player Theo had ever heard in his life, and many of his boyhood memories consisted of trying to study amid a stream of tears as Kat tortured her violin with her diligence. She would make amends by buying him Double Crown Candy from the Candy Shoppe and throwing him a bag over from her bedroom window so he wouldn’t act like such a big baby as she was trying to attain her dream of becoming a professional violinist.

Unfortunately, she never could learn to play, but she did become a first-rate carpenter. She was spry and tiny, but full of sunny energy and did her job well. Theo had a brain for technology like his famous descendent Dr. Darda Hoffding, but he also had a knack for business and founded Dreaminate computers which quickly became a multi-billion dollar phenomenon, though he never left his town of Queen’s Heights and remained close friends with Kat. When he tired of the rigors of keeping his company on the cutting edge, she encouraged him to sell and he took his hefty profits and bought the town’s entertainment district called Carnivalia, shocking everyone who ever knew him.

It would prove to be a fortuitous move for him and Kat when she confided in him that carpentry bored her and she wanted to go on a different track. They talked about old times at the Greatest Show Diner over coffee one rainy spring night and recalled her abysmal violin playing. She cracked a joke that she not only terrified Theo and her pet cats, but all of the monsters that hid from children under her bed and they both realized Kat had the makings of a boffo new children’s show for Carnivalia.

They brainstormed until morning when the Whimsy’s Monster Show was born. Kat left her old job and her live children’s show became Carnivalia’s biggest attraction for kids.

The show kept changing, but the premise was simple: Kat played the Whimsy, a kitten who practiced her violin in her room as she pondered a problem in her life, but her scratchy and squealing sounds would scare a monster from under her bed. The monster would chase her until she turned the tables and caught the monster, who would reveal monsters hid under the bed because they had an uncontrollable fear of children. After the Whimsy consoled the monster, it would reveal he or she had another problem that needed solving – one very similar to the one the Whimsy was pondering. The two would join forces and think up a solution and would become friends with the monster dancing as the Whimsy played her violin or both agreeing to have a tea party in celebration of their new friendship. Children would interact with the show, shouting comments and questions which both the monster and the Whimsy answered and incorporated into the act.

The Monster Show was a monster hit, filling the theatre to full capacity with every performance. It didn’t hurt that Kat was cute, agile, comedic, and insisted the show didn’t use a script. She had the gift of improvisation, making each show personalized to each crowd. Kids all wanted Whimsy cat-ear hats and whiskers, ensuring word of mouth kept Carnivalia a must-see destination for tourists from around the world.

Theo looked at the time from his laptop and then got up from his office chair in the former haunted house that now served as Carnivalia’s headquarters. He had a lunch date with Kat and he never liked to keep a lady waiting – and the lunch date was in the house she built for herself on her own – in a tree.

III

“Theo!” Kat said as she gave her oldest and dearest friend a big, warm hug as he left the elevator to reach her living room. Theo picked up his petite companion and twirled her around as she giggled. As he placed her back down, she grabbed him by the arm and brought him to the living room where lunch was ready.

“Redley’s Garden Café?” he asked as he sat down.

“I’m not like you – you’re the one who knows how to cook like a chef.”

“I’m all right…”

“You are not allowed to fake modesty in that department, Theo. You can cook, you can dance, you can make a truckload of money, and you can build anything you can think up and there isn’t very much you can’t think up.”

“You are wasting your time as a children’s performer. You ought to be writing up my press releases or set me up on a blind date.”

“You don’t need any help in that department.”

“I don’t know. I can’t seem to find the right one.”

“I know what you mean.”

“What about Brad Stoney? You seem to like him.”

“I think he already has a girlfriend.”

“Only one?” guffawed Theo boyishly as Kat playfully slapped his shoulder.

“Yeah, I think he said he is going out with Magnus Lyme.”

“Annie’s friend? Doesn’t she travel all over the world as a consultant or something?”

“You think they aren’t serious?”

“How would I know? I only see him around preparing for his debut at the Magician’s Roar. It’s a guess since you said you only think they are dating.”

“He sometimes subs in as one of my monsters when one of the regulars can’t make it. He always fills out that monster suit so nicely,” sighed Kat dreamily as she poured the salad for her and Theo.

“Then ask him out.”

“I can’t do that – he talks about Magnus. Besides, I have a strict rule never to date a co-worker.”

“So he just talks about her, besides, he is not a co-worker, he is a colleague. I know you like him – you get all blushy when he talks.”

“I do? Oh no! I don’t want to get all blushy! I can’t get all blushy! Maybe he talks about Magnus because I’m making him uncomfortable with my blushing!”

“I’m sure a guy that attractive and rugged is used to a certain degree of blushy – he used to be a television journalist, you know. He would have to be used it, and if he is like any red-blooded guy, he would have to like it.”

“But I still don’t want to be blushy!”

“Why? What’s wrong with that?”

“You don’t want someone to know you get blushy!”

“But how else would they know you genuinely like them unless you do? Don’t you think it’s rude when someone thinks you are attractive and nice to be around and they keep it to themselves?”

“Is that why you are always so forward?”

“I’m not that forward, but if I like a woman, I let her know. I like to take the guesswork out of romance. I figure if she knows how I feel about her, she can decide if she feels the same way about me. I ask her out, if she likes me, she’ll say yes and we go from there, and if she says no, I know where I stand and then I can move on. She sees I’m blushy and then the next move is up to her, but then she can’t say I didn’t let her know what I feel.”

Kat rolled her eyes. “You were always completely silly.”

“It’s what I’m made of, Kat. We’re all kind of silly when we’re being perfectly honest.”

“I like that,” mused Kat as she smirked.

“A monster act?”

“Oh yeah. The fun never ends when you get my creative juices flowing.”

IV

After the theme song played, the tiny roars and cheers from the pint-sized crowd signalled that the star of the show was about to walk across the stage. She turned to the audience and curtsied before telling the children she wanted to go to the school’s cool cat dance, but could not ask the tom cat she liked to come along as her date. The Whimsy sighed, then jumped and hopped on cue with her violin in hand, noting to the audience that she had ate her supper and did all her science homework and now it was time to practice her violin.

“Yay!” cheered the children as the Whimsy made her instrument screech in a completely horrible, yet comical manner. After a few seconds of the unnatural sound, a monster popped out from under the Whimsy’s bed and screamed, “Grrrr! I will eat you up, you noisy, no-good kitten!”

“Don’t eat the Whimsy!” screamed countless voices who yelled in protest, although they laughed and clapped their hands.

“Watch out, Whimsy!” other children shouted, some even telling the Whimsy where to hide. She ran around the room as she dropped her bow and violin, jumping on top of her bed, and then leaping to her dresser.

“Meow! That is cat for ‘enough’!” she shouted as she turned around and chased the large monster, leaping on him, before tackling him to the ground and then started chewing on his ear.

“Mercy!” shouted the monster. “I am afraid of children! Mercy!”

The Whimsy jumped up. “Is that why all you monsters hide under the bed?”

“Yes! We can never get away from those scary creatures! It is bad enough I have a bigger problem, already!”

“What problem?”

“There is a monster dance coming up next week, and I cannot ask the girl of my dreams out!”

“Why not?”

“She has the prettiest monster drool I have ever seen and all the other monsters think she is the most wonderful monster ever! Every monster will ask her out to the dance and I don’t have a chance. And, oh! When she growls, her eyes light up such a scary shade of red – you just want to run away with her to terrorize the whole neighbourhood!”

“Does she terrorize this neighbourhood?” asked the Whimsy. “I’ve never seen her and I walk on the fence every day!”

“Well no,” conceded the monster. “She would rather study or read a book at the library than scare little children. She wants to be a fang and claw doctor when she grows up to help sick monsters in need.”

“Do you like science, too?”

“I like to scare scientists because what they do always seems so scary! I like giving them a taste of their own medicine!”

The Whimsy took out her science textbook and gave it to the monster. “Maybe you think what they do is scary because you haven’t been studying your science. If you understood science, maybe scientists wouldn’t be so scary to you, either.”

“It’s hard to read anything under your bed when it is dark and you keep all your toy mice under there.” The monster sat down and read the book. “Wow, I never knew all these things! I ought to ask Redzilla to come to the library with me first so we can take out some science books and read them together! Maybe if we are friends first, she will start to like me more.”

After more silly antics on stage, the Whimsy and the monster had their tea party amid more cheers and applause from the crowd. When the curtain fell, the monster took off his mask as the Whimsy took off her cat ears.

“Thanks for the assist, Brad,” said Kat as they walked off the stage.

“No, thank you, Kat,” said Brad as he began to remove the rest of his costume. “I really need to practice my improv skills. Thanks for letting me do this more regularly with you.”

“No prob,” blushed Kat as she smiled. “Considering your ancestor Asa Quigley was a theatre actress and a school teacher, you’re a natural. Besides, it’s always a pleasure to have you around.”

From the Dangerous Woman Vault: The Sparrow: Dream Detective.

The Sparrow: Dream Detective

“…And my company’s profits have been in slow decline over the last year and I cannot figure out why. I heard you were one of the best detectives in the world and I want to hire you to find out whether someone is sabotaging my shoe repair empire and if they are, to stop it.”

The detective looked deep in thought, making the man rephrase his last sentence.

“Well, Sparrow, do you think you can take my case?” asked the burly man with the animated unibrow as he looked intensely at the tall, voluptuous doe-eyed blonde sitting in a chair beside his bed as he straightened his lucky pajama top. It was his lucky one because he was not sure if he would be free of his woes without it.

“In your dreams, yes,” Lexine Lark said with the chipper air of a confident heroine. “I can look into your case, but you must promise not to try to kiss me while I have a look about in your dreams or I will be forced to slap you awake from the inside of your head and that is even less pleasant than it sounds.”

The man frowned sadly. “But you do look like such a beautiful dream girl.”

“Woman,” she corrected politely. “I am not as young as I look. I merely gave my birthdays away to a greedy little boy over two hundred years ago who thought more birthdays meant more presents and I have not aged a day since. Now, do you need me to read you a bedtime story or will you fall asleep on your own?”

“What sort of bedtime stories do you have?”

“I can read you one about a benevolent and dainty tyrannosaurus rex who is best friends with a tough and brave beetle or a story about a Queen of Hearts who became God because the magician who kept that card close to his chest wished it so.”

“But won’t those stories give me strange dreams?”

“The stranger the dream, the better I can help solve your mystery.”

“Read me the one about the dinosaur lest I get a lusty dream from the other story and then get slapped from the inside of my head whilst trying to give you a kiss.”

“A wise choice, sir.” The Sparrow obliged and soon after, her client fell fast asleep. At the moment he began to dream, the Sparrow fluttered into his mind and began to walk inside the very essence of his soul, which was mostly intact save for one small piece he had sold in exchange for a television set that would make his obnoxious elder brother green with envy.

This was her first telling clue since it meant her client was not all there to begin with.

The Sparrow then entered the dream where her client was in his childhood home that, in fact, had been merged with his current home, taking the most traumatic parts of both. The living room looked harsh for it was the place where he had been bullied in front of a mirror and it was bigger and colder than either place had been in the waking world.

The man’s childhood fears had come out to torment him tonight to give strength to the fears he had harbored as a lonely adult. This was a house with no love for him and even the empty sofa made his loveless status known.

Yet it was the man’s wailing that was the loudest of all the belligerent cacophony: he was holding a shoe as he was pleading to a beautiful, but conceited woman standing angrily before him.

“Gunda!” said the Sparrow’s client to the cold woman in the long black gown. “Gunda, I would fix a thousand broken shoes in a dungeon just to spend a night with you!”

But Gunda snorted haughtily. “You are so repulsive, that my toes and heels quiver with disgust! You couldn’t even repair my favorite pair of shoes!” The man then crumpled to the floor and began to cry into the broken black stiletto shoe he was clutching.

“Ah!” said the Sparrow as she approached the woman who suddenly looked afraid. “I can see by your vibrant and detailed features that you have been living in his head for about a year! Around the same time my client’s company started to stumble!”

“Get away from me!” yelled Gunda. “I heard about you! You’re the Sparrow! You can make trouble for figments!”

“I am the Sparrow, but it is only the naughty figments that have something to fear. Now, why are you vexing this desperate man?”

Gunda vanished without a trace and the Sparrow looked around the room for some clue, but could find none.

“The trail cannot be this cold if this were a case of true love! My client’s self-deception may be a clue, but it makes my job so difficult!”

“Maybe I can help!” a cheery female voice said. The Sparrow turned around and saw a statuesque Spanish beauty she knew well who was known to those in their realm as the Heart Collector. The Heart Collector smiled and waved to her friend. “Yoo hoo! Lexy! Fancy meeting you here!”

“Madreselva! What a pleasant surprise! What are you doing here?”

“I am processing a return.”

“You only deal with pieces of hearts that people give to another. You either give them to an intended recipient or return them to the sender.”

“That’s right. Last night I had a backlog of deliveries and tonight I have a backlog of returns.”

“Oh, dear. May I see that package, please?”

“Of course. You always ask very nicely.”

“Thank you.” The Sparrow took the tiny package from the Heart Collector and opened it to reveal a single dancing grain of light. It was a piece of her client’s heart that he had given to Gunda. There was also a note from Gunda so ill-mannered and crass regarding what her client could do with that piece of his heart that the Sparrow blushed as she placed both the note and the grain back in the box and returned it to her good friend.

“Is that a clue?” asked the Heart Collector.

“Yes, a very vital one. I know Gunda’s ego grew stronger with the idea of being seen as desirable, but she was not the one who encouraged my client to pursue her, meaning someone else caused my client’s distractions and planted the idea that he loved this despicable woman in his head.”

“I wrote my dissertation on such cases when I was studying to be a Heart Collector. It is very, very sad, and very, very silly all at the same time. So many people are very promiscuous when it comes to giving pieces of their hearts to the undeserving. They think they have infinite love to give, not realizing that the rest of the heart becomes so distressed for that one missing piece that the whole heart goes to pieces!”

“I have seen it too many times in too many nightmares. Pity, if you weren’t so busy, I would invite you on this adventure.”

“I would love to join you, but tonight are the vehement returns so I must deliver these horrid and nasty rejections as quickly and gently as I can. Next week I will invite you over to my house and we will have a lovely lunch on my terrace.”

“Oh, Maddie, how thoughtful! The view of Eden from there is just breath-taking! I will accept your gracious invitation and let you get back to work.”

The Heart Collector then gave the package to the weeping man who was so distressed that he did not see her or the Sparrow. The Detective then took another look around the house and began to separate the client’s current residence from his boyhood home and examined each piece very carefully until she came to the mirror.

“I see this mirror distorts the truth!” she said excitedly. “And I think I know who made this mirror and why!”

She returned to her weeping client and whispered in his ear. He stopped crying, perked up and nodded. She took a pen and a form which he eagerly signed before leaving the house to find something more pleasant to dream about.

The Sparrow then returned to the mirror and shook it until a tiny seed fell out of it and then suddenly turned into an angry man who seemed shocked that he was discovered so quickly.

“Ah, there is the culprit! A wicked seed of my client’s obnoxious elder brother! You have been sabotaging his company!”

“How dare you interfere with my plans? I want to be the favorite brother! I have rights! I wanted to be an only child and my parents had him!”

“You should have gotten over your jealousy by now – you are a sixty year old man with grandchildren of your own.”

“My parents were fools! I am the cute one! They should have put all their resources with my dreams! I could have been a famous opera singer if they had more money to give me the proper schooling!”

“But your brother proved to be the successful one and now you must destroy his self-confidence to prove he was not worthy of any attention.”

“I own his mind! You’ll see! I am a weed and a weed is nearly impossible to destroy! Every move he ever makes is controlled by me!”

The Sparrow took out the signed paper from her pocket and handed it over to the surly brother. “But he has signed this form, giving me permission to get rid of you.”

The man snatched the paper and read it. “What? You cannot do this to me!”

“Yes, I can and will. It is against the rules to invade another person’s dreams for the express purpose of causing them psychic harm.”

“It cannot be!”

“That paper is an eviction notice. Your brother finally realizes you are not worth the trouble you are causing him. He told me he would rather dream of dinosaurs who are friendly to bugs than be plagued by your naughtiness. Now that I have found your root, you will have to go back to the rest of you and sulk.”

“But his bumbling caused the floundering of his own company!”

“But you pushed him into believing he is in love with a woman he does not even like, but since you also manipulated him into selling a piece of his soul for a television set, he is blind to this fact. Since you made the trouble, you have to leave so that he has a clear mind and heart to clean up this mess.”

The brother cursed before disappearing with a loud bang, causing the Sparrow’s client to awaken from his dream, gasping for air. “Is it over? My troubles, I mean.”

“Yes, you are free of your delusions of unrequited love and now have that piece of your heart that my friend the Heart Collector returned to you. Next time, be careful where you throw pieces of your heart and do not fantasize about Gunda anymore because I will help a client only once.”

“But how did you know about Gunda when I kept my feelings about her hidden from even myself?”

“Because you avoided the story of the Queen of Hearts because you were afraid of love, opting for a story you thought was just about friendship, when it was also a love story. The bedtime story you avoid is the one that is the key to unlocking the mystery, but the one you choose helps your heart heal.”

“So I will be able to save my company?”

“Yes, but only if you give your fancy television to your older brother and then find yourself before finding love once more. A real love, this time, not the fake kind because fake love is really hate in a clever disguise.”

“Do you think a burly man with a unibrow can find true love, gentle Sparrow?”

“He already found the fake kind. If he looks in the opposite direction, he will find a lady who finds his ways heart-warming.”

“But giving away my television set to my rotten brother? Will that cure my ills?”

“Yes, don’t try to make him jealous and you will be able to save your shoe repair empire and your love life. Now I must be going. I have to visit a client in Antwerp who is frozen in fear because he suspects his girlfriend and his best friend are having a torrid affair as they laugh behind his back and I must find out if it is all in his head. Good night and pleasant dreams.”

The Sparrow got up from the chair, opened the window and leaped out before the man could say goodbye. He was saddened that he could not thank her, but now knew his dreams would be sweeter and his soul would feel whole again once more. He rested his head on the pillow, hoping to meet that lovely dinosaur he had chatted with in his dreams for she was such a nice and gracious tyrannosaurus who knew many good jokes that made him laugh. Before he fell back asleep he truly wondered if all dinosaurs were so kind back in the day or was she the only one who saw something that all the others like her missed all those years ago.

 

The Benevolent and Dainty Tyrannosaurus Rex and her Best Friend the Tough and Brave Beetle

There once was a vast garden of paradise and inside the paradise lived its ruler, a very dainty dinosaur named Ansuz the Adventurer.

Ansuz was no ordinary Tyrannosaurus Rex for she had battled even larger dinosaurs than she and won with her strength and agility.

She won them all fair and square and she won them alone. It did not matter if its size was larger, its numbers were greater, or its strength surpassed her own, somehow, she would see the job through for her job was to rid the world of its evil so that the seeds of goodness could flourish unimpeded.

But there came a day where she looked up in the sky and saw a star dancing about and though she knew nothing about it, she was moved by its gentle light and decided to become a friend and protector to all the good things in the world.

So she found a tiny and lonely tree where a single scrawny flower struggled to grow and made the tree her home.

One day, as Ansuz sat pondering about all the good and right things in the world, a tiny beetle fluttered to her nose and began to chortle, remarking that her nostril was so big, he could make a home inside of it.

The remark stunned the tree and the flower, who thought the mighty dinosaur would eat the beetle or crush it with her breath.

But the dinosaur giggled girlishly, making the beetle blush. The flower and tree thought the beetle was brave to face the gravest of danger with laughter, but the dinosaur thought the beetle cute and charming and asked him to tell her more silly musings he had gleaned on his many travels.

The beetle had nearly fainted for no one had ever asked him about his musings on anything, let alone a dinosaur as mighty as Ansuz.

So the beetle told the dinosaur stories, but since she had never lived life as a beetle, Ansuz was at first confused, but was polite enough to decide she would do her best to see the world as a beetle, and the beetle, who realized the dinosaur was too large to understand him, was determined to retell his fables in such a way even a mighty and dainty dinosaur could follow his beetle logic.

At this first sign of friendship, the flower became inspired and told the tree its many fables of wisdom, causing both the tree and the flower to grow stronger, all while a beetle and a dinosaur forged a powerful friendship as the dinosaur learned to listen and understand the ways of the beetle and the beetle learned to become an equal to a mighty dinosaur.

 

The Queen of Hearts who Became God Because the Magician Who Kept that Card Close to His Chest Wished It So

There once was a magician who performed card tricks with an ordinary deck of cards. He was no better nor worse than any other magician who did so, but he had a single magic trick he loved the most – a mundane trick called Find the Lady.

He would take the Queen of Hearts, throw her to the bottom of his deck, but at the end of the trick, she would appear at the top of the deck for she was always an ambitious card, and then when the show was over, he would put the deck back into his breast pocket, always taking care that the Queen of Hearts was the card closest to his chest.

One day, the magician became bored of the tricks and the stage, and angrily threw all of his cards at the audience, save for one card.

The Queen of Hearts.

He loved this card above the rest for while all his friends and family had left him, she was the only one who stayed by him no matter if the crowd cheered or jeered at him.

He kept the card and gave it a kiss, wishing she were a person rather than a card for whenever he looked at her face, she seemed as if she looked at him with kindness and understanding, unlike any of the other cards he dealt with over the years.

The magician retired from performing, becoming lonely and broken, but he always kept his favorite card close to his chest, even placing her under his pillow when he went to bed at night.

As time went on, he began to feel helpless for she was his one constant companion, yet he felt he had failed her for he wanted her to be the real star of his show, yet his shows were failures and he never managed to do the one thing he wished in his heart he could do for her.

If he could only bring her to life, perhaps she would be free from being a mere card in a deck.

Worse, he knew she was the quiet and understanding sort who only wished for him to be happy.

She may have been only a silly little card, but she was one who was all heart.

Then one late summer day he felt it was his time to go, but before he did, he made one final wish – that his favourite card, who never left his side, be given a worthy gift, even if it meant she reached a higher plane than he.

When he reached Heaven, he was shocked to see the Queen of Hearts waiting with a smile and bowed roaring, “Ta da!”

Because of his wish, she became God for even God could not refuse such a benevolent wish.

And Her first act as God was to give the magician a kiss and a hug and then gave him the gift of a mighty stage where he would finally learn all the tricks of a true magician and when it was his time to start a new act, he would take the world by storm and by calm.

Only this time, his favourite card would be more than just a card he kept close to his chest – but a loving companion who brought magic with a single, loving look as She made a new world of wonder for every good and gentle magician to play.

From the Dangerous Woman Vault: The World's Most Dangerous Woman: The Manifest Destiny.

The World’s Most Dangerous Woman: The Manifest Destiny

I

“Gracious, what a tintinnabulation,” said the comely red-haired woman as she took a sip of Irish Breakfast tea from her Clarice Cliff cup. “Divulging state secrets is a dangerous game when you overestimate your cunning and the moral fortitude of the people you proclaim to be arming with knowledge, Mr. Quicksilver.” She primly adjusted the collar of her black turtleneck sweater.

“I thought if people knew how they are being controlled and manipulated that they would rise up and demand change, Miss Lyme.” The lanky young American man sitting in the chair seemed agitated and upset, completely taken aback by the predicament he found himself now. He had barely escape arrest and came across the border that evening to make his way to Niagara-on-the-Lake to the farmhouse he now found himself seeking asylum of sorts. The cozy office where the conversation was now taking place hardly seemed like the hub of international intrigue. The consultant he was now speaking with was known to the most powerful players as the world’s most dangerous woman, yet Miss Magnus Lyme seemed dainty and whimsical; her gracious, calming demeanour gave no hint of her secret role in world affairs.

“It took them hundreds of years to set things up just the way they like them, why would they want to rock the boat now?”

“Are you serious?”

“Completely.”

“But they are being oppressed, degraded, stalked – enslaved!”

“Yes, but they have cultivated an identifiable group of people they can blame for their personal failures, and thus do not have to make the effort to create true progress and can settle for the status quo. It is a dreadful way to live one’s life, but obtaining paradise is a terrifying idea to most. As long as everything seems functional and they have their trinkets, amusements, and elixirs, people will forgive almost any sort of abuse. Some will even go so far as to justify it and declare it to be the best way to live one’s life and do everything in their power to enforce it on future generations.”

“I find that hard to believe. You wrote two exposés when you were a journalist.”

“I do sympathize with you, but you still have not grasped what has happened. You gave it your absolute best and most clever effort to expose corruption to the corrupt and they turned on you from both sides of the equation. They will not thank you for exposing their deficiencies to the world and pointing out that people are allowed to wear worthless paper crowns by rigging the game and not because they are special and superior.”

“Did they turn on you?”

“Of course, they are impossible people, but it did not stop me from doing things from a more sensible angle. You are up against two of the world’s most powerful organizations – the Circle in the Sky and their sworn enemies La Nuit du bas, both that have been in existence since the late eighteen hundreds and have weathered numerous whistle-blowers before you and survived. They become more powerful no matter if they are naked emperors strutting proudly down the street. You managed to inoculate them from further harm by getting the populace to become adjusted to the tyranny.”

“I’m a wanted man, Miss Lyme. I can spend the rest of my life in prison, or worse, they could kill me. I need you to help me.”

“Then tell me how you fell into this quagmire in the first place.”

The man fell back in his chair and sighed. “I was hired at Hildebrandt International Security Corporation right out of university. It was a lowly, contract position.”

“They are a front for the Circle.”

“I did not know that at the time. They had a government contract to overhaul their security systems so that hackers wouldn’t steal classified information.”

“But you somehow did just that.”

“Not at first. I was let go shortly after I was hired because I wouldn’t join the ranks. I landed on my feet, getting a job at the Intelligence Agency.”

“I am listening.”

“I was hired on my expertise in securing their systems.” The man paused.

“Go on.”

“It didn’t take long for me to see what was going on. The Agency was encouraging young naïve kids to ‘live out loud’ on social media sites so they could not only start gathering information about every move these kids made, but also began a program to encourage them to do certain risky things so they could shame them or keep them in check later on. They were controlling their behaviour as they were following their every move, turning average kids into raging narcissists who had no idea they were being built up to be humbled, willing to do anything to stay alive when their delusions all came crashing down on them.”

“When did you get the idea to gather information on the information-gatherers?”

“You know the underground anarchist group the Manifest Destiny?”

“I do. They proclaim to be a subversive group who gather classified information from various governments and disseminate it publicly on various sites with high traffic.”

“Right. I gathered what I could and put out feelers. Their leader Harrison Jones contacted me personally and encouraged me to give them what I had.”

“Mr. Jones’ family has deep ties to La Nuit and they are the second most prominent members of African-American descent in the organization, and were, in fact, the first black American members to join. The Destiny is a front that is neither underground nor anarchist. You were fooled to infiltrate the Circle’s operations.”

The man’s eyes widened in fear as his hands trembled. “I had no clue.”

“The organization is a sham and a front for La Nuit to remove the Circle members so that they can replace them with their own men. Did you keep any proof of your dealings with them?”

“I did. I have a memory stick of everything right here.” The man reached into his plaid shirt pocket and gave the stick to Miss Lyme.

“I will have a look at this later. Are you absolutely certain that the idea of leaking documents was your idea and not Mr. Jones'?”

“Now that you mention it, one of my colleagues, Hayley Barnes is the one who nudged me to do the right thing.”

“Did you do so to impress her?”

“She is a pretty good-looking woman who told me how much she finds rebels attractive.”

“She is one of Mr. Jones’ operatives. She knew of your affiliation with Hildebrandt and assumed you were a Circle minion. I know the rest of your story.”

“I was assured complete anonymity by Harrison. I thought my name was leaked by accident, but I guess it was all part of the plan once I outlived my usefulness. I don’t know what to do. The government will throw me in jail and the Destiny will vilify me and torment me with their anonymous terrorist campaigns.”

“The latter’s campaign hinges on you caring about their mud-slinging, which can be turned around and be used to your advantage. As for the former, you will stay here tonight and tomorrow we face the problem directly. I must play with my dog Helmut and my mule Orson or they will become sulky and throw a tantrum. I will make enquiries and proceed from there. Good night, Mr. Quicksilver.”

II

The following morning, Miss Lyme wore her white silk shirt and matching skirt and flew on her private plane to Washington, DC where her client was once an employee. Her enquiries were most telling, and it would not take long for her to resolve the matter efficiently.

When she arrived, she took a cab to Mr. Quicksilver’s former place of work and headed for his superior’s office, walking past the secretary and knocked on the door.

“Red Queen!” spluttered the man as he jumped up from his office chair.

“There is no need to call me that, Mr. Harlow. Miss Lyme will do.” The woman sat down in a chair and opened her briefcase as the man sat back in his chair, looking more relieved, but still uncertain. “I will be brief and to the point: I am here because Mr. Davies Quicksilver is my client…”

“You know where he is?”

“I have come to ask you not to have him arrested or killed.”

“He has to pay for what he has done, Miss Lyme.”

“He has inside information on the Manifest Destiny, Mr. Harlow.”

The man looked up intensely. “What are you offering?”

“Did you know Mr. Harrison Jones funds the Destiny with his father’s wealth?”

“La Nuit has been trying to gain a foothold here for the last year and expand their espionage division.”

“They already have a mole here by the name of Hayley Barnes. She was the one who hatched the scheme in the first place.”

“In other words, we have someone less sympathetic who can fall for this leak publicly?”

“Precisely. What say you?”

“Deal. We’ll handle the optics. We can say she tried to frame Davies Quicksilver for treason.”

Miss Lyme handed over a memory stick. “All the information you need is right here. You can take a look…”

“No, no, I trust you. You never lie.” The man frowned in disgust. “That little trollop slept her way to the top here.”

“Only to find the top floor of the tower was a prison. Good day, Mr. Harlow.”

As Miss Lyme walked out of Mr. Harlow’s office, the man gave a faint smile in spite of the trouble and the visitor who thankfully did not wear her red dress. That smug little Barnes woman was about to get her comeuppance albeit temporarily and for that, he relished what he was about to do. Though he could never tell his superiors openly, he owed the Red Queen a big favour.

III

After leaving the Agency’s office, Miss Lyme made a quick stop to the Jones’ sprawling mansion where one of her maids had been an employee as were dozens of others who secretly gave her information on the world’s most elite players. She knocked on the back door, where a pretty and voluptuous maid with a Russian accent appeared.

“Maggie! How nice to see you. They are not home, come inside. I will make you some tea.”

“No need, Katerina. This visit shall be a short one. I need to know how are the Jones’ finances. Their son Harrison tricked a client of mine to reveal some rather sensitive information without considering how he would manage to go up against the Circle and La Nuit.”

“Yes, you are referring to the Quicksilver man. The finances of the Jones’ are not as plentiful right now and they cannot keep up with the charade for long.”

“What has happened? I thought they were on solid footing.”

“Wife made a foolish choice in lovers and he demanded millions to keep quiet because she told him too much about their illegal activities to stay rich. They hired private investigator to find his weak spot, but she could not find anything anywhere.”

“Is he still giving them trouble?”

“Yes, he is back demanding more. He is a careful man. They have tried to assassinate him four times, but he is like ghost.”

“Their son Harrison has his phony group called the Manifest Destiny…”

“Yes, his father has been insistent he use it to full capacity now.”

“That is telling.”

“He said to him to stop an enemy, you must take away what makes them powerful and then take over them.”

“Yes, I see what he means. I would suggest you resign from this post immediately as they will have more financial burdens by the end of the day.”

“Excellent. I must get back to Moscow soon. I have a study I am about to conduct on the effects of teaching children how to think for themselves and what happens when parents do it for them. This assignment has given me much insight.”

“Thank you for all of your help, Dr. Chekov. Don’t forget to come over to my house before you leave for home.”

After bidding her friend good-bye, Miss Lyme returned to her plane, changed her outfit to a vibrant yellow knee-length sleeveless dress and after making a few enquiries, headed for the maximum security prison where Miss Hayley Barnes was now being kept. Miss Lyme was known to those inside the penitentiary as a consultant, and they had agreed to let her see Miss Barnes in an interrogation room within minutes. Miss Lyme sat down across from the surly young woman and looked at her serenely.

“Miss Barnes, you are now in serious trouble.”

“Thanks to you!”

“I did not tell you to goad a smitten and suggestible idealist to divulge state secrets on behest of La Nuit. That you managed to do all on your own without any prodding.”

“Harrison promised me a promotion in La Nuit! I have been toiling there ever since I was a frosh. They paid for my education so I didn’t have to work as a stripper anymore.”

“At a very steep price since what you were expected to do is far more degrading. I am here to negotiate with you.”

“What can you do for me? I’m up the creek!”

“The way Mr. Quicksilver was up the creek and he is now a free man, yet he is still in great danger. The Circle may have decided to look the other way, but La Nuit is still a threat to him.”

“What are you offering?”

“You are but a mere expendable foot soldier, but the Jones’ have more to lose. Tell me what Mr. Jones told you to do.”

“What’s in it for me?”

“At the very least, La Nuit will not kill you. I have called my lawyer Athena Tallman to represent you on the condition you cooperate with me and very few people terrify La Nuit and the Circle more than she. If you have something of value, both she and I can spare you.”

The woman considered before she spoke. “Harrison’s family made some mistake. I don’t know what, though. His father's business rival Joseph Hildebrandt was wiping the floor with whatever mistake they made. Harrison needed to do something to pull the company out from ruin.”

“Just what I expected. Thank you.” Miss Lyme got up from the chair. “Ms. Tallman should be here within the hour. Good day.”

IV

That evening, Miss Lyme put on her long red gown and made her way to the posh night club where Mr. Harrison Jones was known to frequent. She made her way inside and walked up to the table where Mr. Harrison looked up, trying to hide his surprise and rage. It was known to the elites of the world that when the Red Queen wore her iconic dress, the game was over.

He remembered what his father told him about striking at an enemy before they had a chance to strike at you. “Do you think you can stop me? My followers will hound you at every waking moment, calling you, posting every piece of information about you until you break,” he sneered.

The Red Queen was not rattled. “Your army of empty shadows can do so much to keep your father’s company alive after your mother had her foolish affair with your father’s sworn enemy. Every second they obsess over me is a second they hand to me on a silver platter, Mr. Jones. They become consumed with me as I go about my life. I am used to dealing with angry hordes. I have calmed them and I have incited them in my life.”

“That’s what you say now!”

“Your father tried to destroy Hildebrandt by proxy. The Destiny would have hacked into the computers of his company and planted evidence that Mr. Hildebrandt was the mastermind of the leak, destroying his company and the threat to your father. The government and Mr. Hildebrandt have been informed of the plot and Miss Barnes has revealed as much. It is over.”

“I can still strike at you with the Destiny.”

“Anger from impossible people means nothing to a sensible woman like me. I have my garden and animals and I have inoculated myself from the taunts of the powerful bullies in suits who could not destroy me despite their best resources and cunning. A mob needs direction from a leader who assures them they can remove any threat to their flawed ideology, and they pick on easy prey such as emotionally weak and naive little girls with no protectors. When the target has no respect for their games, they become fearful that their fantasies of owning and controlling the thoughts of others have no effect. I go on, but they will waste their lives searching for my every word and fact, never realizing it all adds up to them ignoring the real problems in their own lives that destroy them with nothing to show for their misplaced rage, while I enjoy my paradise to the fullest without giving them a second thought because I know who they are without ever having to know their names or faces and they will never know me with the vast data at their disposal.”

“I will get you for this, Lyme.”

“I told your superiors at La Nuit of your games.”

“They’ll cut off my funding!”

“La Nuit no longer has use for you, and the Manifest Destiny is out of business. Let them bravely go after the government as they go after them and you for treason. Good evening, Mr. Jones.”

With her client safe from harm, Miss Lyme left the building so she could return to her animals and garden to enjoy all the blessings of her quiet, peaceful life.

Matriarchal Storytelling builds on the personal.

I

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II

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III

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IV

The first two pictures are of me when I was sixteen and seventeen, several months apart. Glamour shots were all the rage and that second picture was my birthday present. I had colour and black and white, and truth be told, I prefer my black and white pictures.

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That era of my life I represent in my fiction writing with my Sparrow: Dream Detective stories.

The Sparrow is a little older than that — she is about nineteen when she gave away her birthdays, and she stays at the age when people do fall in love and feel strongly about true love and soulmates. Much of the logic for those surrealist stories comes from what was popping in my head way back then.

And I was an active fiction writer even back then. I just discovered Salvador Dali and was an avid reader of Agatha Christie and Dick Francis. When I started to write The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, there was no Sparrow, Doyenne Assassin, or Women of Orchid.

There was a Phil Lipton and Marigold Wesley kicking around because I had written an unpublished book that I was never happy with. It was clever, outrageous, and witty, but it was too harsh. I abandoned it, but re-read it because I could never figure out how to fix it. Sometimes the story actually works, but you know it’s not your best because while it is polished, the core isn’t what you want it to be.

Magnus is a character I have had kicking around a lot longer. In a way, since my teenage years. She originally was a concept for a superhero, except her name was Francesca Magnus Lyme. You didn’t mess with her, but I eventually dropped the idea. I had sketches of the character — with a black turtleneck top, but while I liked the look of her, she was too harsh.

Eventually, Magnus was reborn as Magnus Demeter Lyme, and I had a book called Chaser — she had her friends, but she was a smart-ass. I wrote one manuscript, it didn’t thrill me. I wrote another in the present tense — the mystery was great, but she wasn’t.

I scrapped that, too.

Then she appeared in a short story that did get published in 2008 in my short story anthology from bluechrome. She came off as a cunning jerk, but as she wasn’t the main character and the story was told from the perspective of a rival, it is up for interpretation.

Then I wrote a new manuscript with her — but while I was trying to soften her, she still wasn’t working out for me.

But I remembered Phil and Marigold, and it was time I revisited the characters with the same base, but with Phil and Magnus being former colleagues. Phil transmuted, became kinder and more secure, and I had fun with the character, not worrying about snark and crafting an immaculate plot.

Suddenly, Phil worked out, but Magnus didn’t; however, I started developing the characters of Queen’s Heights, including Holly Lake — her mysteries were a story-within-a-story, and the purpose was to give Magnus perspective — and each chapter was a self-contained story of her cases.

And then I scrapped it.

But not entirely.

Parts worked, but the mysteries were perfect for Phil and Marigold, so I tweaked them.

Magnus would go through a final transformation.

And then I found my Magnus.

The prim and proper punk.

The World’s Most Dangerous Woman.

I wrote two short stories that were published in an online literary journal. The Queen’s Heights angle was expanded and kept. So were Phil and Marigold. The short story angle was also kept.

But Magnus was still ahead of her time. No publisher wanted to touch her because she wasn’t slutty, nor was she insecure. That was the feedback I got. One publisher didn’t like the fact that she didn’t fall for one of the cabals and got burned.

That was in 2011 or so.

But it was just as well.

I suddenly wanted to tell stories of other characters, and I couldn’t do it with a traditional publisher.

So came A Dangerous Woman Story Studio.

So why didn’t Magnus work for about twenty years?

Simple: she wasn’t personal. She was my idea of what I thought a tough female character would be, but she wasn’t me.

She wasn’t personal.

As soon as I started to open up and base her on my essence, it was easier to explore the character. There was no mask or fortress between my character and me — or one between me and the audience.

Then suddenly, it wasn’t just Magnus, but a world of characters with a Matriarchal structure. The third picture was taken right after I finished my magnum opus Dr. Verity Lake’s Journey of a Thousand Revelations. It clocks in at almost 1600 pages. I have had people who read it tell me they didn’t think they could endure a book that big, but had no problem doing so because it feels like four books, not one.

That I could write 1600 pages in a few short months during a very trying time in my life happened strictly because what I was writing was personal.

Because Matriarchal builds on the personal. It is intimate in its design. You cannot nurture from a distance. It is up close to the heart or it is nothing.

I could write about characters from different times and places. Once you connect with one character, the spread of activation happens, and you become connected to them all.

What part do I wish to explore today? That’s the joy of the Matriarchal. You are putting your cards on the table. Not everyone will appreciate it, and there will be people who will do everything to try to silence you, but that’s not your problem.

I solved that problem, and now I am thinking how to take A Dangerous Woman on a different platform. I don’t know what, however.

But whatever it is, it will be personal…

Tales of La Nuit: Birken

In this debut instalment of Tales of La Nuit, Felix Garrison is about to discover what happens when his younger brother Dwennon has revenge on his mind…

I

Felix Garrison looked in the mirror as he got ready for work. His routine was always the same. He trimmed his moustache the same way. He put on an Armani suit the same way. He timed his routine perfectly, ensuring he was neatly dressed and pressed in every imaginable way.

It made being a slave in La Nuit du bas barely tolerable.

If he had one secret regret, it was joining that cabal as a terrified freshman at university. It was not as if he wanted to join a band of literate thugs, but he had a younger brother to look after with not a single relative to help him.

He and Dwennon were orphaned when Felix was fifteen and Dwennon was eight. A serial killer picked on their parents, raping their mother, torturing their father, and videotaping the entire horrifying episode.

And it was Felix’s fault they were on Severin’s radar.

He was a nerdy teen desperate to be with the popular kids, and that meant bragging about what their dentist parents could afford to buy. It meant going to a local drug dealer’s house to smoke dope, and then blab.

Unfortunately, the drug dealer was the girlfriend of the serial killer who told him where to find the next couple to kill.

Felix never let on the extent of his shame. He had a baby brother to raise, and one who had no interest in Felix who did his best to try to toughen him up.

Except Felix was a klutz who had a knack for stepping in every cow flap in the field.

Dwennon never bonded with him. He resented Felix. He resented everything his older brother stood for.

Felix was determined to go to university and get educated. Dwennon sulked with mediocre grades, and it kept Felix up at night. The original plan was for the two to get a university degree in business or commerce, and then work toward starting a business together. Dwennon merely gave Felix stink eye and stated he wanted to go to college to get a diploma in journalism, breaking Felix’s heart in a million pieces, but he couldn’t stop him.

Felix was in serious debt trying to support him, his brother, and his university aspirations.

That’s when La Nuit du bas came calling.

It was his sociology professor Dr. Amy Parrington who recruited him into the Night, and told him to get his brother in there for protection, too. When Felix said Dwennon would never go for something Felix suggested, she told him not to tell him until he was admitted.

That was Felix’s biggest regret, and bigger than bragging his way into becoming an orphan.

Dwennon never forgave him.

Dwennon was on the bottom run in La Nuit, working as a reporter at a Toronto tabloid, and Felix had to pull favours and grovel to get his brother that job. Dwennon never knew what Felix had to do to give him his dream job in a desperate bid to get his brother’s forgiveness.

It never came.

But then Dwennon began to date another journalist at another newspaper. She was the most beautiful woman Felix ever knew. She was the smartest and the bravest. Had she been just a reporter, Felix would have been overjoyed that Dwennon finally found someone who made him happy.

Except Magnus Demeter Lyme was also in La Nuit as their top-ranking in-house detective.

She outranked them both, and Felix trembled at what she could do to them if the relationship soured.

Worse, Dwennon began to cut off Felix from his life, and Felix panicked.

He was jealous of Magnus. She had a cat that Dwennon loved more than Felix. He was jealous of the cat, too.

He should have been happy his brother became a star reporter. He should have been happy that he found happiness and a woman he obviously wanted to marry.

When the serial killer that destroyed their lives escaped from prison, Dwennon and Magnus tracked him down, and terrorized him into suicide.

Then Felix could no longer function. She was too proficient. If she could break a hardened serial killer in less than an hour, then what chance did Dwennon and Felix have?

And it was during the course of their manhunt that Dwennon discovered why their parents were targeted in the first place.

He said he didn’t take it against Felix, but by then, Felix was out of his mind.

And then began to do things he wasn’t very proud of.

Like force Dwennon into breaking off with Magnus in order for them not to be destroyed by La Nuit.

Like pushing a woman on Dwennon who repulsed him, and then pushing him into a loveless marriage with her.

But then he took one step too far, and tried to push Magnus into La Nuit’s secret prison called the Reds.

She wasn’t a real member. She was infiltrating the Night to write an exposé on them. It was easy to corner her, and tease her with the false promise of playing a game to escape their clutches.

One called Birken.

For good measure, Felix cheated to ensure she lost.

Except she won.

She walked away unscathed.

But then Dwennon walked away from his own marriage, and left Toronto for a newspaper job in Chicago, and had almost nothing to do with Felix. Worse, Dwennon decided to climb up the ranks of La Nuit by becoming an in-house detective himself.

And now Felix was alone in a cabal he cursed under his breath every waking moment of his adult life.

It couldn’t get worse, and yet, he could do nothing about it, let alone admit he was wrong and was defeated.

But he could look good in an Armani suit. He could have an organized and precise life with an enviable job and title as he pretended he was successful.

It was the way he coped with many things in his tortured life.

He took his briefcase and went to work in his expensive car. It was leased, but it was a respectable one. He went to work at precisely the same time every day.

Today would be no different. Off to work, do La Nuit’s vile bidding, think about how much he missed his brother, and work as late as possible because he did not want to come home to an empty house.

If he knew then what he knew now, he would have gotten a life insurance policy on himself, wait two years, and ended it all.

He had no direction and the one relative who he longed would look up to him was perpetually disgusted with him, calling him an expletive every chance he could.

Felix cursed the gods as he snootily walked into his office and began his daily servitude to his masters of the Night.

II

After another long and degrading day at work, Felix walked to his car, but when he came to his parking spot, the car was gone. Before he could react, someone grabbed him from behind, threw him in a limo and shut the door.

“What’s happening? Who are you?” shouted Felix as he remembered that La Nuit had a penchant for throwing disgraced members in limos to be sent for punishment. It was referred to as The Ride.

Yet those who got the Ride usually did something serious, like kill someone, and Felix never did.

He shouted and pleaded, but no one said a word until the limo stopped, the door opened, and he was grabbed and dragged out and thrown in a small room with paintings on the walls.

“Sit,” the man spat before leaving, and shutting the door. A few minutes later, another older man sauntered in and stared down at Felix.

“What’s going on?” asked Felix nervously.

“Garrison, you should know this one,” the man in the expensive suit said coolly, “Considering you were there when you went after Magnus Lyme.”

“I don’t understand why I am here. She was infiltrating the Night and using my brother…”

Before Felix could say another word, a familiar man walked in with purpose, and his presence made Felix want to vomit.

It was his brother Dwennon who looked old and hardened. Felix didn’t know what happened to Dwennon, but his decay made him want to weep and scream.

Dwennon sauntered in carrying a briefcase. Felix had never seen his brother in such a state and it was terrifying. Dwennon may have been smirking, but he had never seen his brother have insanity and rage in his eyes.

“Dwennon what are you doing here? What’s happened? Why are you here? I don’t understand.”

“Felix,” Dwennon said coolly as he opened his briefcase slowly, “I had to babysit you your entire miserable life to keep you out of trouble, and when I go to Chicago, what do you do?” Dwennon took out several files and threw them on the table in front of Felix. “You turn into a very bad boy.”

Felix shut his eyes as he began to rock in his chair.

“Look, at this, Felix – double-crossing your superior? That won’t do.

“Dwennon, don’t turn on me like this – please. What did they do to you. I never betrayed you. Never! Dwennon, please…”

“I called it, Felix.”

Felix moaned. “You called Birken on me, didn’t you?”

“Why not? You called it on my ex-girlfriend…do you know how painful that is for me to say ex-girlfriend? The second I saw her, I wanted to call her my wife. That’s all I ever wanted, Felix. One good thing. Just one. Just one good thing that made me happy. Is that too much to ask? One person who actually loved me. Just one.”

“She wasn’t there for any other reason but to…”

“Shut up! I wanted one thing. Our parents were slaughtered by a serial killer because your big, worthless mouth put them on his radar. I forgave you that, Felix. I never once threw that in your face. I never took it against you. You owed me. You owed me. That should have been how you paid me back. I wasn’t a lady’s man. I wasn’t a player or a social climber. I just wanted peace with one person who loved me. Someone who loved me back and I could make a nice, quiet life with somewhere far away. One thing…”

“Dwennon, I don’t know what’s gotten in to you, but that was years ago. She went on with her life. Why are you doing this to me? Why?”

His brother ignored him. “How do you think I feel about you? You knew I had one thing I cherished more than my own life…”

“She was infiltrating the Night to expose it! She never told you!”

“She didn’t have to tell me because I knew what she was doing! I knew from the beginning she was in it to expose it! I knew how she breathed. I knew she hated them as much as I did! You just couldn’t leave it alone, and now you are going to see what happens when you double-cross an in-house detective, Felix. You cost me a life with Magsybelle, and I will never get her back, but you know something?”

Dwennon grabbed his suitcase and dug out a stack of photographs before throwing his briefcase to the ground and faced his brother with fire in his eyes.

“Remember these pictures, Felix? This is Norton A. Dunlop – the guy who got sent up to the Reds and had the longest punishment and the worst torture. He holds the record. That’s his mug shot and the poor sucker thought that was the worst day of his life.” He then slapped the first photograph on the table as Felix began to weep.

Dwennon slapped a second picture on the table.

“That’s him one week after getting thrown in the Reds. Look at him – I said look at him, Felix! That’s right after they gang raped him for hours before beating him black and blue because he declared his undying love to a woman who was their sworn enemy. You said that to Magsybelle. You showed her these pictures! You told her in graphic detail every single thing!”

“Did she tell you? She…”

Dwennon snapped his fingers as a television screen was brought to the room. “No, but the Night records things for posterity. Play the video…”

“I already know what happened!”

“Fine,” said Dwennon as he slapped another photograph on the table. “And this is Dunlop three months after he was in their captivity. Do you remember what they did to him then, Felix?”

Felix looked away.

“What did you tell Magsybelle?”

“I said they whipped him, shocked him, and burned him…”

“That’s right. That picture was taken after the whipping he got where he had to thank his torturer for teaching him how worthless he was. Didn’t you say you were going to do the same thing to her and make her thank you? Did you?

“Yes, I did!”

“You gang up on her, threaten her with rape and torture. Just like Severin did to mom. What do you think Mama would say to that?”

Felix began to weep uncontrollably.

“You threaten the only woman I ever loved. Did you know Severin threaten to do me what he did to mom after the jury found him guilty? That’s who you are. You threaten Magsybelle – reneging a promise to me that you’d leave her alone if I broke up with her. She was no threat to you, and you aid and abet kidnapping, and were all out to have her raped, tortured, confined, and murdered. And you use this poor man’s torture – exploit it for your own selfish ends. Well, Felix, let’s see how much you like it happening to you. For real.”

Dwennon slapped another picture on the table.

“That’s the last picture of him. Look at the insanity, Felix. That’s what is going to happen to you, and I am going to make sure your stay in the Reds is longer and in a more painful condition than the reigning champ’s.”

“Dwennon! You can’t do this to me!”

“I already did. I called it, and unlike you weasel who got some superior to do it for you because you didn’t have the rank, I don’t need a proxy to call it. I called it, I voted for it, and I volunteered to throw you in the Reds myself because that’s your punishment for taking the only thing I ever wanted. You knew how much I loved her. You knew. You knew how much she loved me. I had two years of happiness. Just two. You should have just left us alone. She never said a single bad word about you. She kept encouraging me to have things to do with you because she thought we shouldn’t be torn apart. That’s how you thank her.”

“What do you want from me? I panicked…”

Dwennon walked around slowly as he looked at Felix with disgust. “You cheated. You knew the game was already rigged for her to lose, but you just had to make sure of it.”

“She won it!”

“Yes, she did. No thanks to you. She won it even though I never even heard of the Reds or Birken because if I had known, I would have given myself in her place. But someone should go in there, and it might as well be you.”

“But I’m in the Top Tier!”

“But the top in-house detective out-ranks the lowest member of the Top Tier, and I am the best in-house detective they got with a ninety-eight percent success rate. Only one had a higher average of one hundred percent – Magsybelle…”

Dwennon threw an envelope on the table.

“What’s this?”

“The same thing you gave Magsybelle. The red envelope, Felix. It makes it official. That’s the parameters of the game. That’s who is going to replace you in the Top Tier unless you can win Birken. You pissed off Nils Hansen when you vetoed his pet project, and he was hoping I would be angry enough to put the screws to you. The timing was perfect, and Vincent Amari was all gung ho…”

“Amari? He’s involved?”

“Scary, isn’t it? He has your replacement all lined up. Look at the walls, Felix: it’s his gallery, and see the space on the wall? That’s where the painting representing your downfall will be placed for posterity. You don’t have much time. Let’s see what you’re made of, Felix. Go.”

As Felix jumped out his chair, grabbed the envelope, and ran, he could hear the twisted and angry roar of Dwennon as he bellowed, “I hate you, Felix! I hate you!”

His brother wasn’t bluffing. The hatred in his eyes said it all.

III

Birken was a game of false hope, and even though Felix saw that game once before, somehow, he thought he could beat it on his own, yet everything he was doing was making things worse for him. He was being replaced with a teenaged girl who was touted as being some sort of genius, and if Amari was salivating at her brilliance, Felix could not hope to best her. He wasn’t cunning. Just conniving, and the game was rigged to backfire on average intellects.

He had been so distracted as his time was running out, he failed to see a car tailing him as he was walking in the financial district of Toronto. He didn’t know where he ought to go next, and if there were any cards he could play or deal he could make to form some sort of alliance.

But everything was going wrong.

Dwennon was making certain of it. He was cutting Felix off at the pass at every turn. He knew how Felix thought, and beat him to the punch. He was showing his older brother who was the strategist in the family, and who was the deluded loser.

He really should have noticed the car, and the goons coming out to beat Felix up as they threw him in the way he was thrown into the limo.

They were going to save Felix the trouble of playing Birken, they told him, because Amari was someone to appease because he had clout. They could always make up a story about Felix plotting to kill him, and they play heroes at Felix’s expense.

Felix pleaded to no avail.

They were going to take him to some motel room in Niagara Falls, so that they had time to set things up. The story would be that Felix was meeting a hitman in Niagara Falls who was coming from the US, but they got into a fight, and the hitman whacked Felix instead.

But as they drove, Felix saw a farmhouse that he knew could save him if he could only get away.

He jumped from the backseat and wrestled for control of the steering wheel biting the driver who swerved and skidded into a ditch. Felix climbed over him, unlocked the driver’s door and ran as fast as he could toward the farmhouse.

He remembered that there was one person in the area who could possibly save his life and turn the tables for him to win.

He ran toward the farmhouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Path to Paradise was his last and only hope. He jumped over a fence and ran to the front door as he banged don it furiously.

The door opened with the one face Felix hadn’t seen in years.

The redhaired woman in the black turtleneck sweater immediately recognized Felix, and then tried to close the door as she angrily shouted, “Mr. Garrison, you tried to have me murdered and you relished my demise as you said straight to my face and you have the nerve to show up on my front step!”

Felix pushed back as he desperately tried to keep it open.

“Miss Lyme...Magnus, please, whatever you do, do not close this door!”

“The only reason I am alive is that I outwitted you. Now, give me one good reason why I should not be sensible and shut this door on an impossibly devious man.”

“Because I am in over my head. You are the Red Queen and I need you to read a trick Hanafuda deck in order to prevent my murder. I fully admit I horribly wronged you for absolutely no good reason and I will not try to harm you and will do everything you tell me to do without question. This is no trick or ruse, Magnus. La Nuit is going to kill me. Please.”

She studied Felix carefully before opening the door, sighed, and shook her head. “Come on in. Let us see what has put you in such a precarious position.”

IV

Magnus worked fast. No wonder she was the greatest detective La Nuit ever had. Felix had been in awe of her speed and efficiency. She uncovered the rigs and had a plan, but part of the plan involved Felix having to call Dwennon to grovel and beg to vote in Felix’s favour as it would buy her just enough time to keep the Garrison Brothers safe from retaliation.

Felix excused himself to call Dwennon from Magnus’s bedroom as he did not know how he would react and he didn’t want to weep in her presence, and the bedroom was the most secluded room in the house. His hands shook as he dialed from her landline.

“Hello?” a deadened voice replied, disturbing Felix. He was hoping there was some life left in his baby brother.

“Dwennon, it’s me…”

“What the hell are you calling me for? I said I don’t want to…”

“Dwennon, please! I know you hate me and have every right and reason in the world, but I always loved you!”

“Loved me?”

“I was wrong, all right! I was stupid and jealous and evil. I won’t justify a single thing. I was the big villain in your life, and I will regret everything I ever did until the day I die. Please, Dwennon. Magnus is trying to save me. She took my side completely. She’s not angry at me, anymore. Please.”

There was a long pause that made Felix’s heart sink. “Fine. I’ll vote to keep you out of the Reds, but that’s the last thing I ever do for you and only because Magsybelle decided you are worth saving. I never want to hear from you ever again. I never want to see your ugly face for as long as I live. You are not my brother. Do you understand?”

Felix felt his lower lip quiver as he held back his tears. His worst nightmare just became his reality. “I understand.”

Dwennon hung up. Felix pulled himself together. At least Magnus wasn’t abusing him. He felt something buck his shin. He looked down and saw a fat, grumpy cat staring intensely at him.

With a shaky hand, he crouched down to pet the animal, fully expecting it to hiss or scratch him the way Magnus’s old cat did, but it merely purred as it nestled on the floor.

He looked at the cat dish across the room. The cat’s name was Ludwig.

“Thank you, Ludwig,” Felix said as he sat on the floor next to the feline. “I’m sure you do this with all of the guests here, but thank you. Thank you for being kind even though I never did a thing to deserve it.”

Felix sighed shakily. It was almost over, and he knew Magnus would negotiate his safe release from La Nuit – and of Dwennon’s who never wanted to be a member in the first place. It was a matter of a few hours at the most, but he was feeling terrified and alone. If it wasn’t for the cat’s reassuring purring, Felix would have completely lost it even though victory was coming to rescue him to save him from the Night.

V

Magnus left Felix near his house after the order. He immediately wired her outrageous fee, and sat down alone in his house. He had one piece of news he needed to tell Dwennon, who would most likely hang up on him. It was a silly piece of trivial news, yet Felix had to tell his baby brother about it all the same.

His hands shook as he picked up his phone and dialed, trembling at each ring until an angry voice assaulted him.

“What did I tell you?” Dwennon roared.

Felix stammered. “I am only calling you once to tell you that she lost her quilt that you gave her for her birthday,” Felix began to cry as he continued to speak, “Her animals tore it up. I thought you should know she was heartbroken that she lost it, and it happened recently. That’s all. She had it all those years because she loved you, too. She never stopped loving you, either. She’d take you back in a heartbeat. I know she would. Goodbye, Dwennon. I’m so sorry I was a lousy fath…brother to you. I’m sorry we ever got involved in the Night. I always hated them as much as you did. I love you.”

Felix hung up as he could feel his entire body tremble. He was truly alone. He and Dwennon were finally free of La Nuit, and yet while it was in the best possible way, it was also the worst, yet Magnus had done her absolute best to ensure it was as kind as it could be.

But the Night fell on them all as it tore the three of them to shreds. Magnus was a magician and pulled herself together because she knew it was part of her great magic act and was prepared. Dwennon was broken and the odds of him ever being whole again were grim, and it was then that Felix finally realized what he had done to his younger brother.

Felix looked at the broken pieces of his own soul and for the first time realized that there was nothing inside.

In all the years of grooming and preening, he did it to hide the fact that he was an empty man. The Night could hide it, but he was no longer in the Night.

And the only thing he could see was a void where his soul should have been.

He had no idea where his own soul was. He had no job or idea of where to start. He got up and stormed out of his house. Tomorrow, he sell it. He couldn’t live in it. He didn’t even want to sleep there. The place always repulsed him. It was cold and impersonal and Felix had enough.

He briskly walked around, looking for a diner that was open. He felt lost and heartbroken.

He leaned against a wall and sighed. He wondered if he should call Magnus and ask her for guidance. He didn’t want to bother her, but he needed an idea and she was always sensible. She managed to make the miserable Dwennon blissful for two wonderful years.

He took out his phone and as he was about to dial, looked down and saw a small black cat staring at him.

He sighed, placed the phone in his blazer pocket, and crouched down, petting the cat who seemed to take to him.

“Great,” he sighed to himself, “All this time I was a cat whisperer.” He picked up the cat and began to carry it home.

“I was in a cabal once,” he began to tell the placid cat, “They promised me the moon, and it was nothing but a lie. I dragged my baby brother into it thinking it would save us. He got a job as a reporter, and he broke a lot of news stories about murderers. I used to think I was jealous of him, but I looked up to him. He was my hero, you know. I lost him forever because I was a moron, but you found me, and I am taking you home with me. I’m taking it as a sign from above that I am not as worthless as I am feeling right now. I’ll take good care of you. I know how. I saw my brother take care of a cat his girlfriend owned.”

He came to the front of his house and frowned. “I don’t want to go in there. It’s so creepy. No wonder Dwennon never came for a visit. I have my weekend car. Let’s find a motel that takes pets. My treat.”

He took his keys and pressed the button to unlock it as he continued to speak to the cat.

“I don’t know what kind of job I’ll get, but, it will be on a farm or some animal sanctuary. My brother always wanted to run one with his girlfriend. She doesn’t hate me anymore, for what it’s worth. I hope you don’t end up hating me.”

He looked at the cat and sighed.

“Norton,” said Felix, “I think I will call you Norton. That was the name of poor man who died and everyone exploited for decades, me included. I hope you don’t mind.” The cat never stopped purring as Felix placed it in the car and closed the door. When he came inside, the cat sat up regally and looked at him. “Mom and dad never let us have a cat. Or any pet. You’ll be my first one.”

No wonder Dwennon adored the cat his girlfriend had, Felix thought as he sadly smiled at his new and only friend. They were endearing, despite so many people throwing them away in the cruel and cold world to fend for themselves all alone.

He then prayed to God to look after Dwennon whom he horribly wronged. Somehow, everything came into full view the moment he lost everything but his life.

But that was La Nuit du bas: a horrible place that stole souls that it used to fuel its evil ways before selling them or discarding them entirely. As empty as he felt, Felix knew he was one of the lucky ones. He would live to see another day. He could start over. At the very least, he lived through the Night and lived to tell its tale as he made peace with the woman he so horribly wronged.

It was a start, and a victory.

VI

Felix and Nortie were near Felix’s new farmhouse in Beamsville, Ontario where he was in the midst of opening a cat sanctuary. He had the necessary paperwork and was in the process of getting donations, which had become his own labour of love as Nortie regal demeanour and photogenic poise made him a natural mascot. The catio was done, and so was the house that was filled with toys, mazes, posts, and everything to make rescues feel at home. He already had several cats living with him, and more would be coming in the coming days. It was less than a year, but he was already getting ready for a new chapter of his life.

He went to the community mailbox to get his mail with Nortie walking on a lead beside him. The two were now a familiar sight: the man with the ponytail, t-shirt, jeans, and red sneakers along with the black cat who walked like an emperor. Children in the neighbourhood would come running to pet Nortie who always obliged them and was as patient with children as he was with the new rescues that were beginning to arrive.

Nortie had a natural talent of working potential donors on the spot. He was Felix’s secret weapon, and as it was all for a good cause, Felix indulged it.

There was the usual ads and fan mail for Nortie who was a hit with children. There was one letter with no return address, and Felix took it before locking the box and walking leisurely back to his house that was about twenty minutes away.

When they came inside, Felix took off the harness before taking the letter and opening it as Nortie jumped on a side table to have a look. It was a check for a princely sum for the shelter. The donor was anonymous, but made it in the name of Miranda and Stephen Garrison. The amount was the same as the fee Magnus charged to rescue him. He smiled as he became teary-eyed. He had no doubt it was Magnus who donated the sum to his new cat sanctuary. He also knew without a doubt that she had forgiven him, and knew exactly why he veered so far off the course in his life: he was orphaned by a serial killer, and lost all perspective. Her donation said it all.

It gave Felix hope. He turned to his cat and showed him the check.

“See that, Nortie? Sometimes you can be in the wrong, and someone lets you know they are going to look past it and are rooting for you. And you know what that means? If she and Dwennon get back together, she’ll nudge him to forgive me, too. I hope they do for more than just reason. Sometimes your life can be nothing but heartache and pain, and then one turn makes it happy. You know that one, don’t you, pussycat? Yes, you do.” He scratched Norton behind his ear as the Bombay cat purred loudly. “One day, Nortie, you’ll meet my brother. He is a big, whiny pain in the ass with no manners or sense of humour, and we don’t have anything in common, but he’s my baby brother, and I love him. He’s not as mature or good-looking as we are, but if he comes, it’ll be alright because his badass girlfriend always knew how to keep him in check. She’s sensible, you know, and she always puts family and animals first.”

He sat on his sofa as Nortie sat on his lap and began to massage his chest. He looked at the cat and smirked. It would take his bratty baby brother a few months to see the obvious, but Felix had no doubt a reconciliation was in the cards. He could easily forgive Dwennon in a heartbeat. He never had children because Dwennon was it. Until then, he had a sanctuary to run and get ready, as he patiently waited for that fateful knock on the door.

La Nuit wasn’t going to win in destroying the Garrison Brothers: not individually, and not collectively. He wouldn’t allow it. They fooled him once when he was a desperate university student drowning in debt with no protectors, and they weren’t going to fool him again.

He put his feet on his coffee table and looked around the room contentedly before looking at the generous check once again, nodding in approval as Nortie continued his massaging of his chest with reckless abandon.

Life wasn’t perfect, but it nearly was save for the one hole in his heart that he prayed that providence would fill with light when the time was just right.

The Gospel According to Belle Eve: Re-writing the book of rules.

I

“What’s the problem, Mick?” I asked as the Archangel Michael and I were sitting in my office having a chat over espresso and biscotti.

“While you were away in Washington, DC watching all those politicians behaving like war-mongers, I was wondering about something important.”

“And was that, peaches?”

He took out Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals, and turned to the rule that was vexing him, and showed it to me.”

1.     Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.

“I always thought there was a typo,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“Ridicule is the poor man’s most potent weapon.” I said as Mick gasped.

I giggled at his adorable response. “That makes much more sense. When a rich man makes fun of a poor man, it is cruel and often provokes others to turn on the rich man, but why didn’t Alinsky spell it out?”

“It was the failsafe should someone who was once poor misuse the rule to keep others from breaking out of their own poverty.”

“Or to ensure if the rich thought they could use the rule, it would backfire on them. We ought to test the rule. I am due for a story from you, and what better way to get one.”

“Well, we can always find someone who gained from the rule and now is misusing it.”

“As a card-carrying member of the Fiat Lux Society, I am all on board for this assignment,” said Mick before his smartphone rang, and he answered it, talked for a few minutes, and then hung up.

“Who was that?”

“Murphy.”

“Oh, Elohai, what did He want?”

“He asked me for advice.”

“Over a war?”

“No, on whether He should call the Goditor.”

“Motherlight? Whatever for?”

“Well, some bloke named Art made it up to Heaven, but then it went all to his head, and he declared himself a god, because you know…”

“Our father who is Art in heaven, yes, I can figure it out. It was the same when some cat named Harold thought angels had to sing for him every time someone said, ‘Hark.’”

“They do oblige that one because he does tell them some good stories. Murphy thought He should let the Goditor handle this one. I said she’s very busy, and perhaps He should let this Art fellow try to exercise his power and see how far it gets him.”

“He probably thought he found a loophole for turning water into wine. It’ll work itself out. At least Murphy’s got a good story to tell later on.”

“And a few jokes.”

“As long as it’s not that whole thing about Adam’s Rib. That’s not funny. Yah made Adam first, and then thought I’d be that man’s dream woman. There was just one teensy weensy problem…”

Mick nodded knowingly. “He wasn’t your dream man.”

“Blech! I’ll say he wasn’t, Peaches.”

“I suppose you have to have some sympathy for the second Eve being saddled with the likes of him.”

“She wanted him. She can have him. As for me, let’s get a good story going by proving that humour is the poor man’s most potent weapon.”

“You know I can never resist a good story. Let’s find some rich person try that strategy, and see what we can do to set things right.”

II

We decided to go to New York City where many wealthy and deluded people who lived to make poor people suffer made their home. I wore my black clam-digger pants and white dress shirt, while Mick wore jeans and a t-shirt that showed how strappingly gorgeous he was. His long blonde dreads looked striking with his dark and handsome face, and we decided to walk down on Broadway to get inspired.

But just as we began to look around for deluded rich New Yorkers, we heard groaning, and turned around to see who wasn’t too thrilled to see us there.

It was Lu.

“Oh, Elohai, not him,” groused Mick, “The only thing that could be worse would be for Lilith to be here with him.”

And right on cue, there was Lilith being her snooty and detestable self.

“You were saying, Peaches?”

“Never mind.”

Lu walked over to looked me over in disapproval, “You may be beautiful, Evie, but still look like a hippie. Women don’t wear their hair to their ankles anymore.”

“I do.”

“It’s not fashionable.”

“Neither are jabots and you wear them…”

“Because they are dashing. And you, Mick, wear is your style?”

“If you are referring to my sword that I used to win a war against you…”

“Bah! Lucky aim, is all…”

“Lu! Stop indulging those two weirdos!” Lilith shouted as she stomped over.

“Eve, you look like a peasant girl.”

“And you look jealous, peaches.”

“What do you know about anything when you just couldn’t hack it as a wife?” sneered Lilith.

“No, playing second banana to a big ham wasn’t my style, but if you want to audition for it, I am sure the second Eve may let you do it.”

Mick smirked as Lilith frowned, especially when she noticed Lu smirking.

She turned to him angrily. “What has she got that I haven’t got?”

Lu sighed. “Raw animal magnetism to drive everyone wild. She’s the original woman, after all. When she’s around, everyone wants what she’s got…”

“But I want I want is answers, and we have to go solve another war mystery. Toodles, you two!” I said as I Mick and I walked away.

“It is bad when Lu shows up, but when Lilith’s hanging around, it is serious trouble.”

“We can follow their scent to see what trouble they made, and see if there isn’t something we can use to test Alinsky’s theory.”

“You can smell them?”

“Peaches, you heard Lu: I have raw animal instincts, and I know how to use them.”

“So where is the scent?”

I pointed to a large theatre. “We are on Broadway, Mick. If anyone is trying to use humour as a weapon, it would be someone who had a stage to do it.”

III

“So,” Mick said as we looked at the curtains in the empty theatre, “This does look like a place where someone could get some ideas on using humour to make someone look bad.”

“And not likely someone who is broke to begin with – that would be for some very off-Broadway venue. This is the place you get the spotlight when you arrive.

“But what is being delivered?”

“That’s for us to find out…”

“Her! I want her!” a raspy male voice shouted as Mick and I turned around. It was a man in his thirties with thick black glasses and a black turtleneck as a young man ran behind him.

“You have star quality!” the older man said as the younger man’s wide-eyes and gaping mouth revealed this was not typical behaviour, “I have to put you in my new play!”

“But I don’t have any acting experience,” I said.

“Who cares? You’re gorgeous! Bigger than big!”

“Bigger than big…?” spluttered the young man.

“Shut up, Barnaby, you’re just a moron – but you, young woman, you’ve got what it takes!”

“For what?” I asked.

“My brand-new play!” He turned to Barnaby. “Fire Mitzie Donner – she’s being replaced with an upgrade as of this second!”

“But...” stammered Barnaby.

“But nothing! This is the real star!”

“But the play goes on tomorrow night! We can’t replace the lead actress just like that!”

“I already have! Do you have a good memory, Miss…Miss…”

“My name is Belle Eve, and I have an impeccable memory.”

“See that, Barnaby? Her memory is perfect!” He threw a script at me which I caught. “Can you memorize this in an hour?”

“Piece of cake,” I replied.

“Get the others here! We have a dress rehearsal! I have found my new muse! Change the posters!”

“Change the posters?” squealed Barnaby.

“Yes! The press will eat this up! Quick! We have work to be done!”

The man walked away as Mick and I read the script.

The young man looked confused. “This is insane! That’s not how it usually goes around here. You have agents, auditions…”

“But Evie has raw animal magnetism and people find her irresistible,” Mick replied matter-of-factly.

“I hope it works for opening night.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Peaches, it will,” I said as a smirked and leaned on Mick who gave me a kiss on my temple.

IV

“Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said you had an impeccable memory,” said Mick as we sat in my new dressing room, “You had the script memorized in no time, and pulled that dress rehearsal without a hitch.”

“Who could forget that dreadful play? It was nothing but insults about how stupid and crude poor people were.”

“It made a lot of fun of those living in poverty. It took everything in me not to object. I teach underprivileged children fencing in my spare time, and none of them remotely resemble anything in that pretentious play disguised as a political comedy.”

“That’s why I have invited all of your students and their parents to come here for opening night.”

Mick gasped. “How did you manage that?”

“I have my ways. They’ll all be flown down, spend a night at a nice hotel, have wonderful meals and a shopping trip free of charge.”

“I didn’t think you had money, Evie.”

“I don’t – but the investors of this play do, and I made a few phone calls.”

Mick raised an eyebrow. “Do they even know what they are spending lavishly on?”

“I told them the critics are coming from all over.”

“They will be big critics of a play that makes light of their hardships.”

“And as all of the press will be there as well as people recording everything on that thing they call social media…”

“We’ll see just how potent humour can be. It won’t be those wealthy snobs who watch tomorrow…”

“It will be those who the playwright and director know could never afford a seat here. Let’s see how well he can handle a misfired performance.”

V

Opening night would not be easily forgotten. I got ready backstage as Mick got the kids and their parents prepared form the other side of the curtain. When the curtain rose, I began to say my lines before I turned to the crowd. “Do we like the play so far?” I shouted.

“No!” the crowd yelled back.

“It’s mean!”

“It makes fun of poor people!”

“Poor people aren’t stupid!”

“Why is it so cruel?”

“I shrugged my shoulders. “Because that is how people with money see people who do not have it.”

The crowd jeered as the director stormed on the stage.

“You cannot improvise!” he shouted.

I pointed to the crowd as I spoke loudly. “And you cannot fool them, either.”

“What are these fools doing here, anyway!”

“Boo!” hissed the crowd as they began to throws things at the director.

“Meany!”

“Jerk!”

“Snot!”

“You made fun of the poor with this play,” I said, “How powerful a weapon is it when it backfires?”

The crowd continued their booing and shouting as the actors looked shocked. I jumped off the stage as  Mick joined me and shook his head. “You’re right, Evie, when a rich man uses humour to try to take down a poor one, the weapon turns on him.”

“Humour is supposed to show truths, not blow them away.”

“That’s what Alinsky meant. He thought humour would show the absurdity of what we accept without question.”

“The earth is a story machine, Mick. It is supposed to be comedy and Silliosity, but when people are corrupted by greed and have to have everything their own way, they become the punchline and not the poor soul they are targeting.”

“That suspiciously sound like a moral to a story that you haven’t even told yet.”

“There is more than one moral to this story; so, let’s get back and I’ll tell it to you.”

“That’s more like it. I always love a good story – it keeps the mind sharp and the heart strong.”

VI

Money can’t buy you the weapon of humour!

They say that money is the root of all evil, but it isn’t the root of all blindness. When your mind and heart are closed to the world, money are not the glasses to help you see where you are, or what you have become.

Money cannot buy you happiness or the good sense to see that you cannot have everything no matter how much money you have.

They say that humour is a person’s most potent weapon, but it is not a weapon money can buy you.

When you are rich and using humour as a weapon against the poor, that weapon recoils in disgust and fires right back on you, showing who is the butt of the joke – and those you tried to hurt with humour end up getting the last laugh!

Because there once was a stage where those who had every blessing except a kind heart thought they would bury the poor with their comedy, never thinking those they meant to harm would come and see the weapon for themselves.

And when the rich fired the weapon on the poor, the tables turned because humour has a mind and heart of its own. It is not meant to be a weapon, but a medicine that heals wounds and lifts hearts.

And when money thinks it can bribe humour to harm the poor, humour rises up and shows money is no match for it!

Matriarchal Storytelling is the reality of sound.

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When I began A Dangerous Woman, I had more than just a vision, but also a plan: to reflect the structure of reality in my stories. Much of my life is in those works, but not always in obvious places: Verity Lake’s area of study was my undergraduate thesis, and her stage “act” in the beginning of the novel Dr. Verity Lake’s Journey of a Thousand Revelations is something that happened to me in real life that served as more than just a personal revelation about the nature of reality, but became the backbone for Matriarchal Storytelling.

When I was fifteen, I had my ears tucked. They stuck out just enough for my mother to make comments for me not to wear a ponytail, and then I took the dramatic route and went for cosmetic surgery. I had to wear a huge bandage on my head for a few weeks, but when they came off, something strange happened.

Sound didn’t sound normal. Voices sounded staccato, broken, bouncing off the walls, tinny, and filled with echoes.

For about a minute.

And then suddenly all these disjointed chords pulled together and it sounded normal again.

This shocked me. I never thought about it before.

What if “normal” sound wasn’t reality? What if that abnormal sound was the reality — and the real thing, and our brains “trick” us into pulling them together?

It stayed with me. My undergraduate thesis was in psychoacoustics, and eventually, Dr. Lake’s signature act to prove that how we perceive reality isn’t the actual reality.

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After I became a journalist, I realized that revelation extended to my chosen profession. You read a novel and it is smooth, like the sound you perceive, but that smooth flow is something you read in a newspaper article, too.

But that is not unfiltered and raw reality. That is constructed reality.

When I write a news story, for instance, that’s not what I am given.

I have to interview people. I have to corroborate what they say. I have to find evidence, research, context, and a bunch of other things that I have to dig for, such as court transcripts, high school yearbooks, eyewitnesses, memos, transcripts, and social media feeds.

And then after piecing things together, you get that nice, easy, and smooth story.

But if I were to replace the writing with the information I got in order to write it, it wouldn’t be so smooth and obvious. There would tangents and other things mixed in. There would be irrelevant information, and even contradictory information.

When I did Chaser Investigative News over a decade ago, I included the raw information — and told readers what I was doing and going with it.

In other words, I presented the raw reality of the story as I showed the process of harmonizing things.

Like sound. Your brain filters out the extraneous and irrelevant parts and harmonizes it so you don’t get too distracted.

But people take that process for granted, and then become stupid little motherfuckers who think the reality is the smooth, not the fragmented.

And when you do that, you are lying to yourself. Unless you are aware of the harmonization, you get lost because all of your calculations will be off, and you always miss the mark and not solve the problems because you take off the table the one thing that has to be on the table: that there are things that you are overlooking or taking for granted.

You have to account for the differences between reality and the perception of reality.

Before I launched the original Chaser, I wrote an anthology of short stories called Consumer-isms in 12 Easy Steps.

And many of those stories were told in an epistolary style — no narrative, but through voice mails, emails, memos, and raw data where the reader had to piece together the story.

They way I had to do it as a journalist.

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That book and my web site would eventually inspire A Dangerous Woman Story Studio where I would have both the smooth perceptions of individual stories, but with the raw reality of having intersecting stories. Supporting characters in one series were main characters in another. Passing references in one novel where the focus on a short story elsewhere.

Just like real life.

It mimicked the reality of sound as well as our perceptions of it.

The chords can be fragmented or sing in harmony, depending on what you listen to and how you pull those chords together.

Magnus Lyme is the root note, while Holly Lake is the melody note, and third character is the third note. It all depends on what you hear, and what notes you happen to catch.

And we see Magnus through different eras of her life that come in waves. These stories do not have to be read in order, and there are advantages to not reading them in any particular order. You are putting together a literary jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces come from all over the place.

It doesn’t matter which piece you pick up first: sooner or later the big picture emerges.

That is the advantage of the Matriarchal: you don’t have to be a slave to linearity or order. Chaos will get you there just the same, with greater advantages that teach you how to break the shackles that serve as blinders by learning to develop other senses.

That is the triumph of the Matriarchal, and that is the reason I write my stories in any order my heart feels a need and want to express…

2019 brings a shift in focus.

As I have mentioned before, what is popular on this site and what happens to be my focus are two different things. If I talk about journalism — which is critical — then I don’t get that much traffic.

If I talk about strategy — which is also critical, but not what I am known for — then I get more traffic and more people coming here and staying.

To those of you, thank you.

We can see the in-fighting in journalism. The Wall Street Journal bringing the Washington Post to task for their propaganda.

And it is propaganda. There was a war against journalism, but journalism is no better with their war against democracy. Media stocks are not seeing a lift from their little raging wars, but a tumble, yet it isn’t stopping them in the slightest.

So what does that mean for this website?

Chaser is going to re-invent information dissemination.

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A Dangerous Woman is going to continue to do storytelling differently.

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But those aren’t the kinds of content I can produce every single day.

I’m bootstrapping, remember?

I am an army of one woman. No staff. No fabulously wealthy benefactors I have to appease.

So as I shift away from the old journalism, I am going to focus on strategy.

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And how propaganda and manipulation are misdirecting collective thought away from critical thinking and free will with hate, fear-mongering, and ruses.

I will mention how certain articles are trying to rig thinking.

But also how to expand your options and outcomes with considering options that are hidden and suppressed.

I will be running down various war strategies, and recommend books and articles.

You know mine, but as I have ten Ikea shelves worth of books — and counting — filled with all sorts of reading, this will be your go-to place for it. It will be your reality check when you are tempted to let others do your thinking for you.

With anarchy coming because the Establishment failed to manipulate enough people to vote the way they wanted in 2016, the big guns are all over the place, this is the place that gives you sensibility in an impossibly ill-behaved world.

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I already know who is reading me. I might as well give them something to talk about…

When you have those cock-sucking motherfuckers thinking they can bomb people into submission, they should realize not everyone rolls that way.

So, for all the gaslighting, puritanical shaming, and the like, let’s not fall for that bullshit in 2019.

Let those lazy Establishment fuckers earn their keep for once.

xoxo!

The Chaser Solution: Epilogue: おもいやり, baby!

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IX

Omoiyari. What a quaint notion. The idea of altruism. It is a not a notion taught in j-schools, but it is one I abide by because if you are in the business to teach and/or inform, that has to be your guiding motive.

Because knowledge is one of those things you give without losing it yourself.

So long as you understand that it is something without strings attached.

Too bad journalists never learned that lesson.

The Toronto Star never did, judging by this article with the link stating this:

Donald Trump has made at least 3,924 false claims so far in his presidency. The Star's Daniel Dale counted

How many lies did the Canadian PM make? How many did the Star?

How many secrets did the federal regime keep from the public? How many did the Star?

They both had a mutual secret that got exposed recently.

And it is a very treacherous one that is, in fact, scandalous.

But both the Star and the federal Grits are in serious trouble. That magic weed isn’t doing its trick, and the gullible rubes at the Globe and Mail think they know something, but they are morons.

Journalists failure to understand おもいやり has cost them their clout.

A profession thrives and progresses so long as it has innocence and idealism, from education to medicine to journalism.

When you allow psychopaths to infiltrate a noble profession and use sophistry and logical fallacies to cover up their wickedness, the profession becomes corrupt, rotten, and eventually FUBAR.

X

Canadian journalism is the best example of that rot that turned them into propaganda tools. The CBC doesn’t get it. They are speculating about Trump’s government shut down and how it could backfire. They do not understand military strategy, and hence, don’t see the big picture.

When I wrote OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism, I studied The O’Reilly Factor very carefully. I drew maps all over the place. I read every single transcript of the program from the first to the very last one before I could no longer update my book. I broke down his methods and strategies and treated them like military operation plans.

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For good measure, I used my Britain’s toy soldiers to recreate five of his most effective gambits, with each soldier representing his arguments.

There was no wonder why he held full control for almost every debate save for one, which I wrote about at length that pretty much came off like this:

But Trump has a natural instinct that surpasses O’Reilly. You cannot interview a couple of “experts” and think you have figured him out.

Because journalists are so isolated from the world, that they have no idea who they are covering. They live in a psychic bubble and have less and less connect with the public.

Why?

No おもいやり.

おもいやり requires you to give, not to take.

It requires you to have respect for the past, nurture the present, and be a guardian for the future.

That’s not journalism.

Not anymore.

おもいやり guides me. I feel おもいやり and am grateful that I do.

I see things from the heart. I have emotions that give me as much information as my mind. It gives me the courage to face reality in order to find the truth.

Journalism could have been reinvented and stronger than ever. Instead of seeing problems as puzzles to solve, they decided they were going to brainwash 7.4 billion people and trick them into giving up their free will and liberties. Enough already.

Deal with your own rot first. Write exposés about the wickedness of your own profession. Once you see how far you have sunk, then you’ll understand how you got there and why people walked away from you.

Instead of scaring people, you should be making them brave.

That’s おもいやり.

That’s what is at heart of everything I do in my life, including a little resurrected site called…

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The Chaser Solution: Chapter Twelve: Months in a year, hours on a clock, it all comes up to a dozen. We mark time, but never make the most of it.

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IV

Petty shits.

Who was worse this week?

The New York Times for publishing family gossip that was unsubstantiated, or NBC for not correcting the record when they knew they were wrong?

Even the Washington Post is cautioning them to be careful of not spreading fake news.

Should anyone care about the Times’ story? I don’t recall too many modern presidents being soldiers or enlisting. They still got voted in. Canadian universities still have those Left-wing American draft dodgers as professors, and no one is getting upset about that.

The same people who were marching in anti-war protests are bitching about someone who didn’t fight a war? You assholes didn’t, either; so just shut the fuck up.

The middle class don’t care about much.

Not even if the news has no connect to reality.

Take CBC here in Canada. They puke bullshit how the Canadian economy was “resilient” in 2018, but for whom? We had a lot of stores closing. We had factories closing.

We have a homeless crisis, and in traditionally middle class safe havens such as the Golden Horseshoe. Real estate is rapidly cooling off, and household debt is at very bad levels. We have an opioid crisis, and that’s not a sign of prosperity.

Yet like a dubbed foreign film, the voice over doesn’t ever match up with the moving lips.

V

So what’s going on?

On the one hand, it is a confirmation bias: choose a self-serving narrative, and look for evidence that supports your narrative as you ignore evidence that refutes it. In the US, the press is anti-Trump all the time. It is pure insanity because they had power to be kingmakers until the day they weren’t. They are mad at him for showing them the reality of their situation.

They should have been grateful.

They should have seen what happened and how to re-invent their profession. Instead, they veered into rank propaganda and haven’t stopped as their fortunes go further down.

They hate Trump. They also hate Facebook for the same reason. They hate “populism” — again, for the same reason. They got mad at poor people for expressing themselves, using social media to do it, and voting for the only candidate that spoke to them during the election.

Once upon a time, journalists wouldn’t be hating those people: they would be writing about them and speaking to them, but then they got full of themselves and got lost in narcissistic fantasy.

You used to inform these same people. You used to publish their letters to the editor. You used to get outraged when they got hurt in life, and the Establishment tried to screw them over.

What happened to those people? Where did you go wrong?

In Canada, the press betrayed the people, but in a different way: they lied to them, but are lulling them into thinking things are better than they actually are. They mimic Soviet-style propaganda where the news told citizens how great the economy was, and it was in the toilet. People laughed at the news because it was bullshit and they knew it.

They believed it for a while, until they imploded. Regions broke away, and the fragmentation spelled the end of that system of governance.

It happened to the Soviet Union. It happened to Yugoslavia.

Would it happen to Canada? It depends how badly things go. Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta would leave. Toronto would, too. The US would greatly benefit because they could gain access to natural resources easily and quietly. It is not as if Canada would be a match for the US, but why do it loudly, when you can do the same thing silently without fuss?

But Canada was always an impossible country: it is too big with too few people spread out too far apart.

What holds them together? Fairy tales.

The kicker is that if this country could face reality, it would leave other countries in the dust.

VI

The US is in the same position. There is nothing wrong with their president. He is no worse than his predecessor. You cannot fault Donald Trump for seeing reality that you can win a presidency by stumping and going directly to the people in person — and by using Twitter. Kudos to him.

He exposed that the media has no teeth. They have been gumming at him for so long that you’d think they’d get tired of their own temper tantrum.

The press should have just stood back and saw their own arrogant and oblivious childishness.

I remember talking to one US reporter about Trump before November 2016. He thought Clinton would win it. I said no way. He was absolutely certain, citing polls. I said look at the polls for Brexit, and even for Toronto’s mayoralty race where Rob Ford handily won. He said it was an apples to oranges comparison. I said it was apples to apples.

Trump won.

I could see what Trump saw: a dead media. The model was no longer aligned with reality. If the strongest of the media — the US — couldn’t do it, then neither could anyone else. People can get offended all they want, but no other country had the journalistic muscle saved for the UK. They are having the same problems, and there is no relief in sight.

And what you have is a hamster wheel that marks nothing.

What you don’t have is news anymore. North, East, West, South.

No one minding the times. No one minding the place.

For example, child exploitation is a serious problem in Canada. So is human trafficking. We have a serious problem with First Nations women vanishing and being murdered. Lots of child pornography and prostitution going on here.

And the laws here are a joke.

With a press that aids and abets these people.

And in the US, the hate on Trump is so out of control that the US will pay for it for decades to come because no one is paying attention at the things that are actually important.

How many people can live well? How many people die needlessly?

What are the dangers?

That’s news.

It is not a fairytale. It is not campfire story.

It is a clock. It is a compass.

You know where you are right now and where things are going?

When you know, you are F.R.E.E.D.

What should you be going after?

That’s Chaser.

The strength isn’t in the One.

It is in the Infinite.

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And, darlings, that is your message to ponder very carefully, courtesy of…

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The Chaser Solution: Preface: The world is my playground.

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I bet you were starting to wonder when I was going to write something.

X

The world is my playground. That’s my motto for 2019.

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The rage puking on the Troll Scroll and dead journalism products is boring me. So is all of the garbage the various governments are dumping on people in their never-ending bullshit strategy of using fear-mongering and moral masturbation to get compliance for lunatic ideas that are unworkable, but are just greed and pity scams to make loser politicians rich. Nice try, motherfuckers, I am not buying the bullshit the you assholes are selling.

I am not playing by rules. The world is my playground, and I am going to be playing.

I am watching towers burning and emperors wearing no clothes. If people were in a rational and skeptical frame of mind, they would be pissing their pants laughing at all of this insanity. People fighting on Facebook about stuff they know nothing about, making grifters rich and powerful. What the fuck is wrong with people?

They jumped on a hamster wheel and now do not know how to get off.

You know, I had a very bad year for most of it, but the last couple of months were a huge turnaround. Not everything is where it should be, but it isn’t where it was in April when everything just took a turn for the worst (no, not worse). It is not as if I had some easy time of it before. The last few years were terrible for me, having to look full-time after someone so sick and helpless, with those responsible for that trauma getting unchallenged praise on the front page of a newspaper — but those same praisers also had wonderful words for criminals as well.

So we know how much their praise is worth. I believe that currency is called bupkes.

Yes, I noticed, and yes, it is on the record here as well.

But I survived the last few years that most people don’t go through in a single lifetime.

So now that the wheel of fortune is spinning differently for me, at least I know it isn’t a hamster wheel I am riding on because I am getting somewhere.

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I am not in a flock, nor I am following a script. I am not going in circles or looking downwards or behind me, let alone getting moved as a pawn by others on some rigged board. Fuck that shit.

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You know, during the lowest part of it, I still wrote. I wrote fiction and nonfiction. I still maintained a sense of humour. Ted Kord would be proud of me.

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Because the world is my playground. It is not my prison. It will become my paradise.

So you petty little motherfuckers have been warned.

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This world was not made for hurting, but helping.

It was not made for competition, but cooperation.

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And if I can crawl out of a place worse than Hell and be that energetic and perky, you know what I am made of.

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My dreams will not be delayed or put on hold for another second. Nuh-huh, forget it. The world is my playground, my laboratory, my stage, my classroom, my muse, my paradise, my friend, my family, my home, and my blessing and miracle.

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But mostly my playground.

And the game is a version of Find the Lady.

It has its own name, too…

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The Promises of Theodore Nathanial: Knock, Knock

In this debut installment of The Promises of Theodore Nathanial, Theo decides to keep his word to his mother Bunny as she has a most unusual client for her latest masterpiece...

I

Theodore Nathanial was a great guy, thought Katriel Pepper as she looked at her childhood friend. He was the founder of Dreaminate computers and made a truckload of billions before selling his company and then buying Queen’s Heights’ entertainment district Carnivalia, where Kat now worked as a children’s performer in the wildly popular The Whimsy’s Monster Show.

Theo was sensitive, sweet, funny, brave, wise, daring, innocent, smart, talented, strong, creative, and an amazing dancer. No one wanted to miss a step when he went on the dancefloor. He was a natural, and had no inhibitions when he busted a move.

He was cute in other ways too. For one, he was an unrepentant eccentric. He would be hanging upside down fixing something in his pajama bottoms while he was singing, just as he was doing at the moment. With Theo, you never could tell.

But there was one thing you could take to the bank: if he made a promise to you, he’d keep it. His word was his bond. If you were in trouble, and he promised to get you through it, the problem was as good as solved.

Everyone in Queen’s Heights loved Theo Nathanial to pieces for infinite reasons, but his honesty and honour made him the great friend and guardian that you could trust with your life – and be grateful to do so.

It was the reason he was hanging upside down from the ceiling of Kat’s house she built in a tree: her electrical wiring was acting up, and he promised he’d take a look at it and fix it the first chance he got, which happened to be three o’clock in the morning.

“Gotcha!” he said triumphantly as he signalled to Kat to turn the power back on. The second she did, the lights in the living room returned to normal.

“Thanks, Theo! Can you get down from there?”

“Sure,” he said cheerily as he grabbed a rafter from above, took out each leg from the rafter he hung from, and then hand-over-hand, moved close enough to a bannister, carefully placed himself on it, and then slid down as he shouted before landing on his feet, shouting, “Ta da!”

Kat laughed as she jumped up and down, clapping her hands, “Bravo!”

“My pleasure.”

“Thanks, Theo. I mean it. You didn’t have to do that.”

“I promised that I would. I have to get back home. Mom has some big shot client for her art who is flying on from Tokyo; so, I want to help her get ready for that.”

“Do you ever sleep?”

“I get my rest, just not today or tomorrow.”

Kat ran over to give him a hug. “You’re the best, you know that? There isn’t a single thing wrong with you. Don’t ever change.”

II

“Theodore Nathanial, what’s wrong with you?” his mother Bunny scolded him the next morning when he told her of his previous night’s excursion at his loft condo in Carnivalia while they were having breakfast. “A gorgeous woman like Kat Pepper throws her arms around you as she’s wearing a nightie in the middle of the night, and you just leave it at that?”

“We’re just friends, Mama. I’ve known her since we were toddlers. She’s like a sister to me.”

“Are you sure you’re not gay?”

He rolled his eyes as he was accustomed to the question. “Absolutely certain. I’m not gay. How many times do I have to tell you? Why would I hide it or keep it a secret when I come from the place that had gay marriage legal since the day it was founded in the late 1800s? There are no closets in Queen’s Heights. If I were gay, I would be out, proud, unrepentant, and you’d be the second person to know.”

“And who’d be the first?”

“The guy who I asked out on a date.”

She gasped. “Your own mother wouldn’t be the first person you told?”

“My hormones come first.”

“When they work on occasion.”

“They work all the time…”

“Still single after all of these years…”

“I don’t want to get married.”

“What’s wrong with getting married?”

“Mama, I ran a company I founded from scratch. Dreaminate was my wife, and it would have been profoundly unfair to have neglected a person wife when I put my heart and soul into my company that thrived beyond all my wildest expectations…”

“First of all, you’re smart, and a Hoffding, of course it would be that successful…”

Theo rolled his eyes at the Hoffding mention. He and his mother were descendants of Dr. Darda Hoffding, one of the seventeen young women who founded the city-state of Queen’s Heights. Dr. Hoffding was a brilliant scientist who came up with countless inventions, founded the local renowned university Queen’s Heights College that refused to call itself a university as it would ruin a great motto, and came up with the Hoffding Equation: one plus one equals a bigger one, and all equations equal infinity. Whenever he retained any modesty about his intelligence, his artist mother flipped her lid.

“…And second of all, you divorced your wife Dreaminate when you sold your company.”

“I bought Carnivalia. That also needs my focus, love, and devotion. This place is what brings in tourists and makes the arts community here profitable.”

“Oh, so you are denying me grandchildren so I can make a buck?”

“Yes, and every other artist here. Besides, since when did you want to be a grandmother? You throw a fit if someone asks if I am your son and not your brother.”

“You know how much Sassy Goddess Night Cream costs for a jar? It had better make me look like your younger sister…”

“Ma…”

“Look, I don’t want to leave you alone in the world…”

“Alone in the world? You’re not old. You could pass off for a thirty-five-year-old with the way you dress.”

“Distracting me with accurate compliments won’t make me change the topic…”

“I’m content with my life, all right? I don’t need a wife to make me happy.”

“But you were made to be one half of an adorable power couple…”

“Do not set me up on a blind date again, all right? Because if you do, I promise not to go…”

“That’s playing dirty…”

“Besides, why don’t you get married? You’ve been a widow since I was a kid. I don’t see you rushing to the alter again.”

“Your father Joel was all I ever wanted or needed. You can’t have an encore like that.”

“I wouldn’t object…”

“Look, I’m in demand, and my art career keeps me…” Bunny made a face as her only child’s triumphant smirk told her she had made a fatal tactical mistake in her argument with him. Just as she was about to forbid him from holding her to the same standards, her smart phone rang. She looked at the screen and groaned.

“Damn, it’s Bingo Bailey…”

“I thought she was your bestie…”

“She is! And I forgot we were supposed to design the new studio for her children’s show before going to Toronto to go shopping…”

“Go then…”

“But I have a…”

“Tell her you’re going. I’ll handle it.”

“But…”

Theo grabbed the phone from his mother, and swiped it. “Hi, Auntie Bingo! How are you? Great. Mom’s right here…” he said cheerily as he gently fended off his mother trying to grab the phone from him. “What did you say? Of course, she’ll be there. She wouldn’t miss it for the world. Say hi to Annie for me, and remind her of our own lunch date on Friday. I will. Love you, too. Bye.”

He hung up the phone as his mother smacked the back of his head as he guffawed.

“Theodore Nathanial!”

“What?”

“Have you forgotten?”

“No, I know about Mr. Yanaihara coming here to pick up the statue he commissioned from you, and you hoping he picks up a few more pieces for his collection.”

“I have to be there!”

“No, you don’t. I’ll do it.”

“You have a job running this place, young man.”

“No biggie. I have a big staff, and I delegate. Mama comes first.”

Bunny looked concerned.

“Mama, don’t worry, okay? I promise I’ll be around when Mr. Yanaihara comes by to pick up your sculpture, and perhaps a few other pieces of yours. Go have fun with Auntie Bingo.”

“Are you sure? I know you’re busy…”

“Absolutely. I’m never too busy for my mom. I promise I’ll get him to buy you out. Now go and live it up – even if you aren’t married because your career takes precedence over wedded bliss.”

“Oh, hush up, smarty pants,” his mother groused as his infectious laugh made her smile in spite herself. She got up, gave him a kiss on top of his head before wrapping her arms around his shoulders and giving him a big hug. Of all of her creations, he was, by far, the best one she ever created, and her favourite masterpiece by far.

III

Theo had an hour to form a plan, and he didn’t waste a second. He made his various calls, and was furiously typing on his Dreaminate laptop when he his thoughts were interrupted.

“Knock, knock,” a sultry voice said as a familiar beaming face popped her head inside and winked with an equally sultry air.

Dr. Cleo Hughes was a world-renowned experimental psychologist, brunette glamour puss fashion plate and one of Theo’s childhood friends that made his mother question his sanity for not slobbering all over her, “I’ve arrived for our latest little top-secret mission.”

“You don’t mind?”

“For you, Theo, anything.”

“I just don’t want you to have any regrets.”

Cleo smiled. “My only regret in life was when I was a kid and I went with my sister and cousins to Somerset, Pennsylvania when you and Elah Ganet founded the Birch Tree Science League, and I missed all the fun of sliming your entire backyard with some strange goo that turned your mother’s birch tree looking kind of wonky. My niece is devastated that our family wasn’t one of the founding members of that years-long tradition around here...”

“Knock, knock,” said another female voice.

When Theo looked up, two other gorgeous women and childhood friends sauntered in: Alma Montgomery, the owner of the local newspaper and former investigative journalist, and Victoria Darling, owner and captain of the town’s cruise boat. “So, what’s the mission, if we choose to accept it this time?” asked Alma as she gave Cleo a hug and sat down with Victoria following suit.

“Here’s the deal,” said Theo, “My mother sold one of her sculptures to some loaded businessman who is flying in from Tokyo to pick it up. She had a work and play date with Bingo at the same time, and I thought she shouldn’t wait around, but then I got carried away and I said I’d get him to buy a lot more.”

“You promised? That’s so sweet,” said Alma.

“No problem,” said Cleo, “Just tell me about the guy, and I can tell you how to approach him…”

“Knock, knock!”

When everyone looked toward the door, two more voluptuous women popped in: it was Lucky and Mia Eckhart, the town’s resident business tycoons who always made their own powerhouse corporations from scratch.

“Theo!” they chirped in unison, “Sorry we’re late!”

“We just started,” said Victoria, “Grab a chair.”

“So, where are we?” asked Lucky.

“Cleo’s devising the strategy,” said Alma, “I’m going to do research on the man who is going to be buying every one of Bunny Nathanial’s works of art.”

The Eckhart Twins perked up. “Oh, I just love a good business strategy,” said Mia, “Remember when Cleo devised our first one, Lucky?”

“How could I forget? Our lemonade stand turned into a lucrative franchise chain and we were barely six-years-old.”

“Yeah,” smirked Alma, “And, you took your money and invested in my little newsletter I put together in my bedroom.”

“It was a great investment,” said Lucky, “We tripled our profit, and then things really took off from there.”

“So, what’s the plan?” asked Mia.

“Alma is going to find something about my mother’s client that can help Cleo,” said Theo as he passed around a dossier, “You two can consult with Cleo, while Victoria takes our strategy and helps me set up her ship for the lunch I throwing together for him when he arrives.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Alma.

“Anything for Bunny,” said Lucky.

“She’s such a doll,” agreed Mia.

“After that’s all over, I owe you ladies a big one.”

“Nonsense,” said Cleo, “I owe you for your ideas for renovating my labs at Queen’s Heights College and the Bonhomme School in Somerset.”

“Don’t worry, Theo,” said Alma, “We’re always doing things for each other. We’ve always been more like family than friends. Let’s get to work.”

IV

When Mr. Yanaihara arrived to the Queen’s Heights airport, Theo was there to greet the stern-looking and forlorn man. He introduced himself and explained his mother’s absence, but as the man immediately recognized Theo from his Dreaminate days, he was anxious to talk shop as he himself own a thriving social media company in Japan.

The man was young, while exuded confidence in his business acumen, his demeanour betrayed that there were other areas weighing heavily on him.

Theo promised the man a whirlwind tour of the best places in the city-state, and they immediately boarded Victoria Darling’s finest boat where a feast from the Magician’s Roar was waiting for them – but used the recipes of the once iconic restaurant Viand that was no longer in business as the family who owned it no longer had anyone who were chefs. Mr. Yanaihara had mentioned that he had heard of the fabled Viand from his girlfriend who was a fan of the Heights, and immediately sent her photographs through his smart phone to show her everything she was missing. He guffawed at her jealous responses as he happily translated to Theo who merely smiled cherubically and said that merely meant he should bring her here the next time, and would shortly give him the perfect pretence to come again.

They had their lunch and chatted animatedly, but as they left the boat and entered a limo, Theo quickly excused himself to make a quick call to another gorgeous childhood friend Miranda Tenney who laughed at his request. “Nana Jolene will kill me if I said no to this, and she missed a great story. She adores you. She says you’ve got spunk.”

“The adoration is mutual.”

“Don’t I know it. I think I am the only person in the world who runs a nightclub where her granny is one of the regulars. She’s always crowing how she taught you all of your dance moves. No worries, Theo, I’ll get everyone ready when you arrive. Twenty minutes is all I need. Too bad she can’t be here when this goes down.”

“Yeah, but it’s her poker night at the Greatest Show. Thanks, Randi.”

After he hung up and got in the car, they drove around several iconic places where Theo explained the history, including the iconic hammer and nail clock tower at the still in business Weavers and Tenney Tool Emporium that was still owned by the original families. Mr. Yanaihara was familiar with the Weavers and Tenney line of tools as they were popular in Japan and they had a factory in Hiroshima, and he mentioned this his current girlfriend’s love for Queen’s Heights began when she was a little girl and her mother worked for the Weavers and Tenney factory as a single mother. He looked down sadly, and confessed that he was beginning to feel as if he was losing her to someone else, and the statue was his way of trying to understand her and connect to her.

Theo smirked boyishly. “Then you have come to the right place, and the right person. We have one more stop before you pick up your statue.”

“Which is?”

“Carnivalia’s best-kept little secret that has been in my family for generations – from the days of one of its founders, Dr. Darda Hoffding.”

“You are her descendent?”

“Since the day I was born. We’re going to her old science lab.”

“Sounds intriguing.”

“And all top secret. Darda had her own ideas about the place, but then her grandson – my great-grandfather – Dieter Menzel changed a couple of things.”

The limo stopped in the middle of a secluded area of Carnivalia.

“In four…three…two…” Theo said to a confused Mr. Yanaihara until the car suddenly seemed to fall into the ground, causing Mr. Yanaihara to scream and Theo to roar with boisterous laughter. “I never get tired of that,” he chuckled as the car landed safely in complete darkness before lights came on one by one from all sides and the chauffeur left the car nonchalantly and opened the door for Theo and his guest to exit.

Mr. Yanaihara seemed duly impressed. “Now, I am more than intrigued, Theo. What secret scientific experiments you have stored here has piqued my curiosity.”

“Science? Oh, that ship sailed decades ago.”

“Knock, knock,” Theo shouted through the door as soon as they reached it.

“Come on in, Theo!” a group of excited voices shouted back.

He opened the door to a wide-eyed, but very pleased Mr. Yanaihara who saw his statue in the middle of a very busy dancefloor as there was music, dancing, and cheering as there was a large banner greeting him.

“Mr. Yanaihara, let me introduce you to the Nethersphere, the hottest nightclub of the Heights.”

“I may never wish to leave. It is a technological wonder I have never seen before.”

“You can tell your girlfriend all about it.”

“Your mother’s statue is stunning up close.”

“It’s not as swanky as some of her other work.”

Mr. Yanaihara made an intense face as he was already furiously plotting his next moves right after he busted a few himself on the dancefloor. Now he had more than a fighting chance to secure his relationship as he suddenly began to understand the enigmatic ways of the Heights that until that moment, he always assumed was a staid and girly place that played it safe.

V

When Bunny returned to her studio, she gasped at the sight. There was not a single piece of her work in the now empty room.

“Theo!” she shouted as he nonchalantly sauntered in.

“Hey, Ma, back from Toronto?”

“Where is all my work?”

“Being packed and crated out in the back,” he shrugged.

“Why?”

“Because Mr. Yanaihara bought them all.”

“Everything?”
“You no longer have any stock.”

“But how did you…?”

“A promise is a promise.”

“That’s all you’re going to tell me?”

“He likes your work.”

“That much?”

“He likes your work, he has money to burn, and has a hip and good-looking girlfriend who wants to open a feminist art museum in Tokyo, and he didn’t want to lose her to a rival. He thought buying a token statue was enough, but I convinced him she’d see right through that, and then when he called her to tell to run his revised plan, she was so happy, that he bought you out, and not only are they tight, they’re opening a gallery together. She knows her art, and he knows his business, and now they’re opening a feminist art gallery that turns into a secret night club in the evening. They’re both so excited that they can’t see straight. Oh, they’ve invited the both of us for opening night.”

Bunny began to laugh. “You’re kidding. You found all of that out about him, and got that far on it?”

“Ma, I ran a multi-billion-dollar company all by myself without compromising, joining some horrific cabal, or offering potential clients illegal favours, substances, or hookers to grease them over. I promised I’d do things the honest way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to get what I want some other way. He had a problem; I had a goal, and we worked it out in a mutually beneficial way where we both came out with equal gain.”

“You’re something else.”

“What can I say? I got to be me. I had a couple of long days. I am going to check myself in at the Verity Lake suite at the Grand Empress for a couple of days to get some undisturbed rest.”

His mother nodded in approval. “Good for you. You earned it. Don’t worry about things at Carnivalia. I’ll look after it while you veg out. It gives me a chance to get inspired for all the work I will have to make now. In all my years, I never just sold out. I need to think things through.”

“You sure?”

“I promise. That you got from me, young man.”

He smiled as he nodded. “If anyone needs me…”

“They’ll wait until you get back. Go, you earned it. I love you, Theo.”

“I love you, too, Mama.”

He gave his mother a kiss on the cheek, and walked out of his office and made it across the street to the marquee hotel The Grand Empress hotel where his reserved penthouse suite was waiting for him. It had the most beautiful view of the place he called home, and nothing gave him peace the way the little haven did when he came there to unwind. His life may have been hectic, unpredictable, and one that had no rules, but it was one he was grateful for as he lived it to the fullest with no shortage of those to share it with.

But tonight, there was also the Nethersphere where he could kick back, flirt, mingle, let loose, and dance to his heart’s content. He had it all, whether he chose to be peaceful or wild. It was his call, his life, and it was just the way he liked it.

The Goditor: The Hellrigs

I

I was editing the latest manuscript from the publisher I worked for from my home in Milton late one night as Opie and Strahinja were playing a game they made up on the floor in the living room by my feet. I had asked what they game was about, and what were the rules, but neither seemed to or even care.

“Well then, how do you know who wins?” I asked.

“If we are both laughing and having fun, we both are winning,” said Strahinja, “We double the victory and the celebration afterward. I do not know why those scummy humans haven’t come up with such a brilliant idea.”

“That’s so true,” agreed Opie, “People are always trying to win something so that other people have to lose.”

“Gods do that, too,” I reminded them, “And when that happens, I have to audit them, and often take away their powers; so the end up losing everything even if they win a false victory.”

“But mostly scummy humans,” said Strahinja, “They are so dumb. I wish I could audit them, and then give them a few lessons in learning to share winning with others.”

“Remember the Wood Kicker?” asked Opie as Strahinja nodded. “That was one of the strangest audit’s Mommy ever had to do.”

“I do, remember because it did involve a scummy human. The level of arrogance of that person who thought they were more powerful than a god, but then kicks wood, injuring innocents and then blaming them was enough to get one of the victims to plea for you to audit the kicker in question.”

I sighed. “She was right to call me to audit the Wood Kicker, who then tried to kick wood at me, then blamed me.”

“Boy, were Love and Truth angry,” said Opie.

Strahinja nodded. “So enraged that they made gratuitous wood kicking forbidden among anyone who wishes to be a god or equivalent.”

“They also made it up to the last victim with unprecedented good fortune and few other gifts of consolation. Standing up for your rights even when you’re limping is always the best action to take.” I looked at the clock. “It’s a school day, Opie. It is time to go to bed, and you two can play your winning game tomorrow. I am sure by then you’ll think of a few new twists and turns. As for me, I have had a long day, and I need to sleep.”

“You don’t usually sleep, Mommy.”

“I know, but some reason I feel the need to do it, and that may be some sort of way for Hypnos or Morpheus to come to me with something I need to see.”

II

Not all who are in the Otherworldly sleep or need their slumber. I was one who need not usually need rest, but on the rare occasions that I felt the need to sleep, there was either a god in distress in need of my assistance, or one that had tried to distract me. In either case, I would listen to my instincts and rest.

As soon as I closed my eyes, I began to sleep, but though I was aware that I was lying in bed in the darkness, no dreams came to me.

I moved in my bed and heard a creek, and then a voice whispering something.

“Strahinja? Are you in here?” I asked, but there was no reply. I could feel my feet on the ground, became disoriented. “Strahinja? Opie? What’s going…”

I tripped on something hard that began to vibrate and yell, jolting me awake.

I opened my eyes and looked around my room, and gasped when I saw a familiar figure standing forlornly holding a book in my room. He was no enemy, but an ally who had fallen on hard times, but his presence signaled what I had experienced was a dream, and one of the utmost importance.

It was Doros, once known to the Otherworldly as the Keeper of the Seeds, but was now the current Dream Detective.

III

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“You summoned me.”

“I did? I don’t remember doing so.”

“Dream Detectives always know.”

“You’re right. I don’t usually dream, but I had a compulsion to do so, thinking it was either a trap or a deity asking for my assistance, but tonight something else, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.”

“What happened?” he asked as he sat down at the foot of my bed holding his book of bed time stories.

“I wouldn’t even say I was dreaming, just sleeping, but then I heard a whisper, and then bumped into something that felt like a stone that yelped as it vibrated. Then I woke up.”

“I have never heard of such a thing, and I know I never heard Lexy mention anything like it…” He trailed off looking devastated. It was not that long ago when he was dating Lexine Lark, known as the Sparrow who was the original Dream Detective. Just as he proposed to her on the Ninth Cloud, they were torn apart, and he had become the current Dream Detective as she had other new duties to occupy her time. While she remained in Eden, he was banished to live in the Dangerous Realm until he was summoned to solve dreams. I could see this case was most likely over his head, but he was the only one who could be of any assistance to me. Yet his sorrow came from losing his true love and not the treacherous nature of his latest case. Usually, he dealt with mortals in the waking world and not powerful entities from the Otherworldly.

“Well, we might as well face it tonight. If I can get myself back to sleep you can enter my dreams with me.”

He nodded. “All right. Do you need a bedtime story to get back to sleep, Cinnamon?”

“No, but do you sing? Lexine also sang lullabies besides telling bedtime stories. Somehow I think a story might take me away from whatever is hidden in my dreams.”

He sighed. “I never tried. Here goes something.” He began to sing a forlorn song about lost love, though seemed surprised at his own deep and rich melodic voice that betrayed his every pain and sorrow.

I fell asleep quickly and within moments, I was still standing in the dark until I heard Doros speak.

“This is very interesting. I cannot believe this.”

“What is it?”

“This is the Place Below Hell. I’ve never been, but I know it. It speaks to me.”

“But I have been here because Strahinja used to live here. We barely got out alive with all the souls buried here.”

“There is no soul in here left.”

“What do you sense?”

“We have gone back in time to this place’s beginnings.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I wish I were. This is the foundation of Hell, Cinnamon.”

“I don’t sense anything.”

“Because you can sense gods. I sense fortune.”

“Fortune?”

“I used to plant seeds of good fortune before my afterlife was torn to shreds in the Otherworldly. I was struck on the Ninth Cloud at the happiest point of my existence, and I now I am wondering if something here was summoning me.”

“But why did I end up here?”

“I don’t know, but it is time for us to find out.”

IV

“So how do we see anything in here?”

“I don’t know because God had his fiat lux everywhere else.”

“We are that far back in time?”

“If I am not mistaken, we are at the point where Lu peeked and saw the original Eve, and snuck away…”

“And then she flew the coop when she saw Adam, left Eden to become Belle Eve right before the understudy took over, and then the floor above all broke loose.”

“This place exists, but doesn’t.”

“That yelping stone exists; so if we can hear each other, there must be a way to see each other.”

“Sound came here already. So did touch.”

I crouched down and felt the rough ground beneath us, touching the stones that yelped as I ran my fingers over them. “You’re right. I can’t smell anything. Taste I am not willing to try.”

“You must have some powers, Cinnamon that can be of use. They do call you Motherlight.”

“That’s right,” I smirked, “They do. Here goes something.” I sprang up, steeled myself and willed myself to be true to my name. After all, whatever was hiding here at the beginning of time could harm my son and the reason that I became the Goditor in the first.

My form became of light, and I could immediately see an impressed Doros, and a place that looked like a cave with the most peculiar bumps around us wiggling.

Doros ran to one and touched it as it yelped. “This is serious business.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“I can feel its thoughts and intents. They are crude and unsophisticated, and, and…they are seeds of some sort.”

“You used to plant seeds of good fortune in people’s dreams.”

“These are not those kinds of seeds. Mine always giggled and were happy to thrive in the hearts of kind dreamers, chattering about all their hopes and dreams for the world and those in it. These are angry and hateful seeds that want to cause harm to the waking world, the Otherworldly, and just about any place they can find. These have a mission. They’re soldier seeds!”

“General Rem’s doing?”

“No, but they have his essence. He must have begun as one of these things. They are made to be planted and then grow like weeds with one specific purpose.”

“You can tell all that by touching it?”

“I know my seeds, Cinnamon. When I was a young man alive in the waking world, I was the son of a farmer.”

“I never knew that.”

“My father was cruel and callous man, and my only refuge were the animals and plants that loved me as he hated me. I looked after them all until the day I died, and it was their kindness that brought me wisdom about the beauty of flora and fauna, and both come from very different kinds of seeds. These are some sort of hybrid of it.”

“And you said they had a single purpose?”

“They are meant to infect the mind of an Otherworldly to rig a place for evil without the sleeper agent being aware of it so that no matter how strong or powerful the goodness is, somehow, evil takes those good intentions and brings its defeat by any cheat possible.”

“Are you serious? Are you saying I am a carrier?”

“Yes. These can only survive in the soul of an Otherworldly, but is meant to infest the waking world.”

“That explains everything about General Rem. He has been trying to break through to the waking world.”

“And Lexy always stops him, but until now, I would have never known his origins. I wish she was here.” He paused sadly before he had look of determination and reached into his satchel opening it as what seemed like countless glittering grains of gold touched everything around us, causing the stones to scream before they vanished, leaving a tiny creek of clear water amid the ground.

“Good thinking, Doros. That has to take care of all the bad seeds here.”

“In you, Cinnamon. These were the chords of this time and place that were meant to infect you.”

“I am free of this disease?”

“Yes, completely.”

“What about my son and Strahinja?”

“If they dream, I can enter their dreams and do the same thing for them, but for what it’s worth, I don’t think these are in everyone’s dreams. Just the most powerful of beings.”

“I won’t be spreading things rigged to harm goodness?”

“No, these Hellrigs are gone from your system.”

“Hellrigs? That’s what they call themselves?”

“Yes. They are meant to rig the universe in order for evil to win over good.”

“One infestation gone, and by the looks of things, it was a serious one. Who knows how long I have been a carrier, and how many more of these there are to clean.”

“That’s another mission. You are coming out of your dream. My job for now is done, and I can honestly say this has been the happiest case of my career. It gives me hope.”

V

After I thanked Doros, he vanished as I got up and opened the door to my bedroom to see Opie in his pajamas looking at me as wide-eyed as Strahinja who was wagging his tail and wiggling his ears and whiskers.

“So, what is it, Mommy?” asked Opie.

“Yes,” said Strahinja, “We heard a voice from your room.”

“Do you mean to tell me you two were eavesdropping this whole time?”

“Of course,” said Strahinja, “As you never sleep, the services of a demon Dachshund and an Otherworldly boy may be needed at any moment; so, we were readying for any deific or demonic emergency.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Really,” said Opie with an air of an emperor, “We’re always ready for any adventure.”

“Well, it was a strange adventure. I just found out why so many bad things happen to good people. There are Hellrigs hidden in the dreams of those who are in the Otherworldly.”

“I have never heard of them, and I lived Below Hell,” said Strahinja.

“They exist in the dreams in those of the Otherworldly. There is no way to see them when you are awake.”

“Sounds like a very horrific cheat.”

“That’s the reason they were set up that way.”

“What does it mean?” asked Opie.

“That every person in the Otherworldly may be a carrier of Hellrigs.”

“How do we get rid of them, Cinnamon?”

“The Keeper of the Seeds can find them and replace them with seeds of good fortune. I don’t want to take any chances with the two of you. Both of you will have to dream for him to be able to get rid of them if you are carriers.”

“He cannot do all of it alone. He is the only one.”

“There is the original Dream Detective Lexine Lark.”

“But I thought they broke up,” said Opie.

“And maybe it is time they found a mutual reason to get back together, first as friends working toward a common good.”

Strahinja looked excited. “I bet that’s how they got torn apart in the first place! Hellrigs!”

“We’ll explain it to her,” I said, “Right now, she is away on a mission. At least Doros has finally found a way to heal his broken heart, and he can gain some experience before we find Lexy. Once that happens, we just might change the essence of not just reality of the waking world – but of the Otherworldly itself.”

“It may be a dangerous mission,” said Strahinja, “But well worth the risk.”

“But not for tonight. Get back to bed, the both of you. When the time comes, we’ll all be ready.”

BONUS

From the Case Files of the Goditor:

Wood Kicker

 

Deity Name: Wood Kicker.

Status: Removed from Deific Power with a single kick to the backside.

Initial Cause for Audit: Wood Kicker is an unnamed person who believed they were more powerful and intelligent than gods, though they had caused many problems and were unrepentant for their harmful actions, particularly kicking heavy pieces of wood that often resulted in serious injury to innocent parties, whom the Wood Kicker not only refused to apologize, but would find convoluted reasons why it was the victim who was at fault.

Facts of the Case: The Wood Kicker kicked a thick piece of wood toward an unsuspecting individual, and the air born plank landed on their foot, causing bruising and pain. When the injured party was blamed for the incident because “they moved their foot”, the individual summoned the Goditor to audit the Wood Kicker as they suspected Wood Kicker saw themselves as beyond reproach, and hence, a “god.”

Respondent’s Account: Blamed others for being injured by flying wood that was gratuitously kicked, and kicked a piece of wood in defiance, narrowly missing the Goditor, and then blaming the Goditor for the incident, infuriating both Love and Truth who made their decision an unprecedented one: that all gratuitous wood kicking would be reason enough for severe punishment.

Results: Removed from both the deific power and forbidden from kicking wood for eternity.

The State of this Website, 2018.

The number of hits here is much higher than I was when I was using WordPress.

The readership is modest, but steady, and growing. It is a step in the right direction.

So in the beginning of the year, the domain name was DangerousWoman.Org.

Now it is AlexandraKitty.com, a domain name I had over a decade ago, but let it lapse, lost it, and recently got it back.

I had a very bad year.

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I mean, just terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.

It is getting better, but yesterday was a real bitch, and today is not that much better.

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Yes, I am a saint.

And it drives my enemies crazy.

But even though the last two days were nasty, I had great news, too.

And it is the first time in a long time where there was great news at all.

Even by random chance, there should have been some good with the bad, but it was bad, bad, bad, and then horrific.

And then even worse.

Saint Alexandra, indeed.

But enough about those cryptic comments, let's discuss this site, and what how it has evolved.

The most popular posts, strangely enough, have no or little mention of journalism, which may surprise you.

Or not, since journalism is off the rails.

It is all the ones about war strategy.

From Sun Tzu to Saul Alinsky, the bulk of hits comes from those entries, but by a ridiculously wide margin, and it surprises me because I am known for writing about journalism, and not war strategy.

Then the Who is She? section, The List of People Everyone Should Know, and then A Dangerous Woman’s Manifesto.

If I were to switch course, drop the journalism talk altogether, and stuck to war strategy, I would probably see the numbers I had in my Chaser heyday, if not better. It is that much of a difference. It certainly gives me something to think about.

I put all of my current short fiction here as well as Ello, but my Ello numbers are far more robust in that category.

I do have people who come here just for the fiction; so I will continue to post them here as well as well as offer them in ePub format through Amazon and Kindle, which has other offerings as well.

So as I am weaving in Chaser and A Dangerous Woman, I have to come to grips with the fact that talking about journalism isn’t working as well. I should just flat-out do F.R.E.E.D. and show, not tell.

That just leaves my artistic endeavours. I want to bring back Cavewoman Graffiti. I used to draw it with a Sharpie (no sketching), scan it on the computer, upload it to my tablet or phone, and then tweak it with software before posting it.

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I used to post them to Ello, but I am thinking of bringing it here — hairy legs and all.

I want to get back to my other arts and my music — yes, I do music, but as you might guess, my music is eccentric as I love the theremin.

I used to play the lefthander’s tuba, but so far, I am having a hard-time finding a tuba for lefties.

I want a snazzy one, too.

I would like to resume podcasting and start videos here.

But that needs to be rolled out, and done so with a firm plan. I want this site to be an entire experience.

When I did Chaser a decade ago, I tried to team-up with European researchers who were experimenting with AI, and I wanted to have a blog run on AI and not be a linear scroll. It didn’t work out, but now I can see that I don’t actually need to do it because there is another way to achieve it without it.

So 2018 brought many elements. I gathered all of the elements I want and need. It is now just a matter of putting them together.

I have been distracted, and some of that is on me. If 2018 had standout lessons for me, it is that you can be too responsible and honourable. Sometimes, the answer isn’t “no”, but an eloquent, “Fuck you.”

So I doubt that the 2019 version will have any resemblance to what I have going right now.

This entry is one of my proudest moments, and the writing, subject, analysis and content have nothing to do with it, and then this one for the same reasons.

So there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Chaser used to be a cocktail party for the intellectual badasses with great taste in music.

AlexandraKitty.com is the culmination of a lot of deep and relentless soul-searching.

And I am lit about that, darlings…more tea to spill about it all later!