FandomFest: My People!

FandomFest pictures!

As promised, here are a few pics from the festivities. I had not one but two cosplayers who brought Saavin Roark (from Banshee) to life. It was a little bit surreal. Both Jessica and Abby were— well, they made me wonder. Was it just me, or was I a complete idiot when I was a teenager? These two young women were knowledgeable, dedicated, and far more professional than I could have been at that age. To sum up, it was amazing. 

Here’s Jessica on day one: 

She even made that cool Whisperskin armor. Amazing. Then, on day two, Abby took over:

I learned a great deal about cosplay. It’s fascinating, and the character of Saavin will continue to evolve as time goes on. Also, let’s face it: if I could wear Whisperskin dragon combat armor to a restaurant, I would. It’s just cool.

Without further ado, a few more cosplayers:


Armed. Deadly. Purple.

The creativity– not to mention sewing skills– is remarkable.

Dangerously close to being haute couture. 

There was a sort of unbridled joy at the whole thing. I like that. You could see it in the faces of the people milling around, having a blast. These sisters, Serena and Lydia, sum that up in the way that they wandered around making friends and causing general shenanigans.

Heeeyyyyyy! Ocarina!

There were also vampire teeth, contacts, and other body mods that gave certain cosplayers an otherworldy air:

Why no officer, I haven’t been drinking. Alcohol, that is.

All in all, it was a one-of-a-kind weekend. I’ll be going back. I met a ton of new readers, learned about new books/comics/films, and discovered the wonder of Cons as a sort of social construct.

Books news: Halfway Dead is now on audio! (Erin is so good. She makes me sound like a Sooper Genius). Get it here: Come for the waffles. Stay for the magic. Halfway Dead.


Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks.

When I was a kid, it was dogmatic that geekery was something to be punished rather than celebrated. Certain events began to shift that attitude, which had permeated schools across the United States until the late 1980s. Star Wars was one such liminal moment, so was the rebirth of Star Trek, and other superhero related films as well.
Dungeons and Dragons, gaming, and the enthusiasm of table top gaming began to grow alongside the miraculous wave of computer and video gaming. Think about this: At one time, Pong was the domain of idle stoners and the curious. 

That in itself was a radical shift from the iconic activity of most teens– pinball– and Atari was born as a social force that continues to impact how we look at media and entertainment today. I’m not treading new water when I say that games have become both mainstream and hugely profitable; the culture surrounding gaming has grown from a sliver to large chunks of various age groups. Games, geekery, and all things nerdy have jumped the banks of the cultural zeitgeist and gone from outliers to mainstream. 

It would be impossible– and irresponsible— to mention gaming without the obvious connection between technology and the expansion of this market. Computers, connectivity, and the immediacy of modern social structures are rooted in a competition that can be shared by people of nearly all types. That’s no accident, and as someone who teaches history for a living, well worth my time to examine. Modernity creates a market that is unceasing in its demand for Bigger! Brighter! Faster! More!— in point of fact, we have trended more toward the world of Bladerunner than we care to admit, but this shift seems less like a tidal wave and more like a tide. It’s been steady, and it has no signs of withdrawing to the outer bay of history anytime soon.

 Millions of people game online. They’re connected. They vault seamlessly across national lines and have created their own language, mannerisms, and networks. Superheroes continue to bloom in the theater, as do comic books– a genre pronounced dead thirty years ago– and all of the impedimenta needed to support this massive section of the modern culture. Geekery is no longer anything except a constant war between the consumers and those would control that which they are offered. Due to the endless inventiveness of youth/geek/nerds/rebels, in no way would I bet on corporatism and social pressures as bringing this rabid, varied fan base to heel. More on that later–

In 48 hours, I’ll attend the largest Con(vention) I’ve ever been to. There will be multiple genres side by side, from horror, to science fiction, to anime, and fantasy. The simple fact that there is such crossover between these distinct styles tells me that geekery– once a source of ribald jokes– is now a force of such intensity that it transcends the bounds of definition. 

I’ll have my first truly surreal experience this weekend, too– two Cosplayers will be dressing as a character I created. Think about that for a moment. A guy who was a nerd thirty years ago is now writing things that people will use to enjoy themselves, a sort of artistic expression that once would have been derided as “nerd stuff”.

It’s official. I have lived long enough to see the real “good old days”, and they are now. 

I’ll share pictures and such from Fandomfest this weekend, and until then, cheers!


LibertyCon: Post Mortem

Take several hundred science fiction fans. Season with pancakes and booze. 

And wait.

LibertyCon superseded all of my expectations. I made several (doubtless) lifelong friends, met some incredibly talented people, and collected books and art that are now firmly established in my pantheon of Favorite Things. Unlike Oprah, my faves are affordable, nerdy, and probably will add something to my post-apocalyptic skill set.

Set in lovely Chattanooga, Tennessee, LibertyCon was held at the “Choo-Choo”. It’s a landmark hotel. You can tell because of the restroom:

That’s fancy.

So, had a few hours out in Author Alley. That was great. As it turns out, everyone there likes books the same way I do: like oxygen.

But this event was about artists and writers. Some specific wonders I discovered included:

A pirate death coin by Fritz Ling (Pirates? Doom? I accept)

And then my Magnum Opus Find: Martin Powell and his bride Leia Barrett Durham Powell. Lemme tell ya, Martin and I share a LOT in common. 

1) Dinosaurs
2) A passion for megafauna
3) The desire to own a Baluchitherium
4) Edgar Rice Burroughs
5) Other stuff

For your education, here is a Baluchitherium, not to be confused with a Titanothere or Indricothere, both of which we also appreciate:

Don’t act like you aren’t impressed. We also share a love of the same book from the 1930s.

His bride, Leia makes incredible stained glass art. She gave me a pteradactyl, and now she calls me Pterry.  The Pterrydactyl will now be my Official Vehicle Mascot henceforth.


This was another part of the scene. To a nerd, this looks a lot like heaven:

But the event was not without hidden stress. For example, one sadistic individual unleashed these terrifying dolls on the general populace. Not since The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has the world seen such crimes against nature:

Yeah, I’ve officially stopped breeding. And sleeping. And walking past places where there might be infants. Or dolls. Or anything wearing a onesie.

So that’s it for now. I’m still processing just how wonderful everyone was to a first time nobody from Someplace Else.

I’ve already made my reservation for next year. 

Seriously, with a chandelier like that in the bathroom, don’t tell me you wouldn’t as well.

The new series is out, by the way. 

Did you get yours?Waffles, Witches, and Wonder. Halfway Dead.

Until next time!



How To Ruin Outlander: A Primer

Let’s talk about the formula for genius. 

1) It isn’t a formula.

2) Diana Gabaldon’s genius rests in her dialogue.

3) Claire and Jamie’s relationship is deepened through dialogue.

Another bit of uncomfortable math:

There are thousands of good books. There are few great ones. The distinction between good and great can be a whisper. Removing the brilliance of an author to satisfy a creative arrogance is dangerously irresponsible.

While I’m appreciative of Ron Moore’s commitment to Outlander, he is, in my opinion, tempting fate by inserting his own personal experiences into the narrative. In lieu of Jamie and Claire, we’re getting too much Ron and Terry. I also have the suspicion that his well deserved fascination with Tobias Menzies is going to reshape the arc of the books.

The Outlander Series can be one for the ages– If Ron lets Diana be heard in her own universe.

I Dun Been Kilted: Where Erections Go To Die

Well, that was unpleasant.

Think of a stranger approaching you  and saying, “In six days, I’m going to hit you with a metaphoric train, but the train will be naked, oiled with lavender, and buggering you. But in a lovingly gross manner.”

That’s sort of what just happened. Aside from wearing a dress one Halloween (okay, maybe three, and I’ve never felt prettier), I don’t have a great deal of experience with being a feminine object of desire. Jack Randall’s obsession with the physical nature of Jamie transcends gender, and it’s even worse than I’d imagined. He wants him as a thing, not a human, and it violates every principle we hold dear in a relationship between two people.

There are additional elements to this little horror story, one of which is the brooding stench of that rat-addled shithole the English call a prison. It’s cloistered and grotesque, and it made the entire byplay of Jamie’s torture even more believable. If you don’t hate English justice after this episode, you might be into the rough stuff. Just sayin’.

One of the reasons this episode made my skin crawl (emphasis on the one) is the nature of Jamie’s violation. Ask yourself this question: what is the most egregious thing that happened in that hour? Is the the psychological torture? The rape? The manner of the rape? What about the dereliction of duty by a supposed officer of the Crown? What about the other men in command at Wentworth?
There are many bad players here. The implied element of the rape scenes– such as Jamie’s bloody mouth– are layers of stink on a already vile process. I cannot fathom the effort necessary for Sam to allow himself to be treated in that manner. Tobias is, by all accounts, a nice guy. Imagine being asked to sodomize someone on camera, but, you know– just pretend. That’s a heluva way to make a paycheck. You’ve got to have some fairly stern metal in your spine to walk away from days of shooting such a scene and not be permanently altered.

There’s another issue about violation that might be even more squeamish. What is the most invasive manner of rape? I suspect that the answer is quite different for men and women. This episode, if you could actually watch it, makes one confront three or four types of terror; each act is a litmus test for what our own personal fears might be. Depending on your own personal demons, I suspect that once again, we all have a different opinion about what incident resonated as the worst. Ask your spouse/partner/bestie what made their stomach turn, and you get a window into their own strengths and weaknesses. That’s the mark of cinema that transcends torture porn, and becomes a commentary on the relationship between humans.

Now, on a lighter note, many Outmanders have reveled in our own eye candy– notably Cait and Laura ( with apologies to both actresses and their lovely genetic makeup)– but thanks to the blending of Claire’s face with Jack and his creepy ass long hair, I suspect that our appetites for Claire have been, ahh, limited, at least temporarily.

So, while the ladies of the fanbase can move on, it will be some time before Outmanders can, as we say, return to our previously scheduled programming.

My sincere apologies for milking that joke. I know both talented actresses would be stiff with rage at such a cheapening of their talent– and I say that with complete honesty. In no way should this complete be viewed as stroking their egos.

I have some other issues to address, but that will require another blog, so until next week, here is your assignment:

1) Avoid all dungeons.

2) Avoid all psychotic sadists with hair like a 1970s arena rocker.

3) Do not enter even glance at any lavender based products.

4) Don’t put stuff up your butt while someone tells you they only want what’s best for you and if you loved them it would be okay and why won’t you kiss me back, Jamie? Or something like that.

Cheers for now! 


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I Dun Been Kilted: A Hole In Juan

So, here we are at the cusp of the gruesome, raw, beautiful end. My wishes are quite simple, but my hopes are– well, there are reservations.

I am hoping for a Hole in Juan. The Juan of course being that thoroughgoing bastard  of a velveteen demon,  Jonathan Wolverton Randall. 

But Black Jack is a slippery wee bastard. I know that there will be need of more than one set o’ horns, so to speak.

But dammit if I haven’t read, listened to (God bless the golden pipes of Davina Porter) and re-read the books. Therefore, my actual hopes are somewhat more pedestrian:

Now then, a couple items of fun coming up.

1) Bangles. Jewelry. A giveaway of both. Freebies for my readers. Color themed to my new paranormal series “Halfway Dead”. What do you think? Here is the cover, and the bangles:

So, lots of purple and such. 

And a second set, with moons and waffles (really!) based on this second bit of art:

Stop by for a look, wont you? Books. Stories. Tales.


When Rape Is Okay: A Commentary on Game of Thrones and Outlander

It isn’t. Unless—

Game of Thrones is a violent, raw world. So is Outlander. The fans occupy a space near each other if not overlapping in a significant manner. However, the demographics are different, but as far as popularity and presence in the cultural zeitgeist, both are clearly positioned to be permanent entries in our social memory.

Sansa Stark Was Raped.

In this week’s Game of Thrones, the character of Sansa Stark was assaulted on her wedding night (a forced affair of its own) by a sadist named Ramsay Bolton. She lay, teary eyed as she was violated by a character who is, to be frank, superseded only by Outlander’s Black Jack Randall in terms of puerile, horrific tendencies. Both characters are torturers. Both are thrilled by blood and pain and hate. Both are men. Both are powerful.

But there is a distinct difference between these characters and their respective audiences.

Enter the Frauds.

A major culture blog (not worth naming here) who purports to be the voice for women in geek culture suddenly decided that they could not, in good conscience, promote Game of Thrones due to the issue of rape. Their breathless determination created a hue and cry from both sides of the fandom, to which the show runners and writers have been forced to comment from atop their giant,well-earned pile of money. But the response by these bloggers, who hold the delicate flower of womanhood in their collective hands, is a lie. They’re frauds, and here’s why.

Where Were You When. . . ?

Ramsay Bolton tortured and maimed another character, Theon Greyjoy, in a brutal, long-lasting physical and psychological assault that culminated in cutting off Theon’s penis. The member in question was only removed after two women were– shamed? Forced? Raped?– by Ramsay Bolton himself, who encouraged them by whatever means to engage in sex with Theon, excite him, and then have the offending penis (which was noted to be large— no symbolism there, eh?) cut off in a savage act of terror. Theon is now a broken, stinking shamble of a human, but more on that in a moment– he’s not important right now. My suspicion? To the bloggers who “defend women”, he never was.

Outlander Fans: Made of Sterner Stuff?

 In the show Outlander, Black Jack Randall is in the process of breaking Jamie Fraser’s character into shards, and then proceeding to sodomize each and every one of those fragments. Ramsay Bolton and Black Jack Randall are, at the least, spiritually kindred, and enthusiasts of blood, rape, and fear. Their tastes deviates somewhat in flavor, but ultimately, they’re drinking from the same trough of pain.
The Outlander fandom is fiercely defensive of the characters, and they accept the brutal transgressions that are happening– not enthusiastically, true, but the writer Diana Gabaldon ( a female, in case you were wondering) wrote these events not to fetishize violence or engage in “rape culture” as the Blog That Shall Not Be Named has implied.
No. This is fiction and world building, and there’s also one other small detail that we’ve overlooked which clearly brands the originators of this furor as frauds, and possibly highly specialized misanthropes.
What ever could it be?

That’s Right. The Victims Are Men.

If the Blog That Shall Not Be Named was consistent, then they would be burning down the offices of Tall Ship productions (who handle Outlander) and they would have long since attacked HBO. But no. They didn’t. That leaves me with two possibilities:
1) The bloggers are blissfully unaware of the millions of Outlander fans, in which case they’re both inept and amateur.
2) As long as the sodomy, mutilation, and horror is directed at men, it’s cool.

To reiterate: Theon had his penis cut off. He had fingers removed. He participated in forced rapes. Jamie Fraser actually utters a line in one of the Outlander books (to paraphrase) that Black Jack Randall smeared Jamie’s own blood on his penis and raped his mouth.

Are you fucking kidding me? These events are front and center in both narratives (Game of Thrones and Outlander), but The Blog That Shall Not Be Named can only now get around to mustering some righteous indignation? Spare me.

Additional fun fact, with apologies to the talented actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark– there were quite a few brown women raped and killed in imaginative ways on Game of Thrones, but it took a lily-white redhead to really get your collective dander up? So you’re not only frauds, and soft-core man haters, but you’re bigots as well?

Well done. I’ve always said I prefer my enemies to be open about their prejudices, and this event has illuminated the beliefs of a great many bloggers/media geeks/ talking heads.

Thanks for unintentionally revealing your inner demons. They’re disgusting, and now you can live with them in the open. As for me, I’ll remain a fan of both franchises, and your future outrage will be duly noted, but not by me.

How could I understand? I’m a man, and I know what you think that’s worth.


I Dun Been Kilted: Why I Don’t Act

For one reason, no one asked me to. And that’s fine.

I’m only going to comment briefly on last night’s episode of Outlander. There isn’t any humor to be found, and I write the blog posts with the hope of making you laugh.

I know some actors, and they’re really good– experts, in fact. I like to watch people do things well. It can be almost anything– a pastry chef, or a leather worker, or a dancer, or a nurse. Whatever their calling is, if they’re an expert, it’s interesting to watch.

With that in mind, actors are among the only people who understand the difference between pretending and acting.

Pretending is what you do on a first date to seem less nuts and unlikely to belch at the table or call your friend a douchebag out of habit. Acting is inhabiting a different, wholly unknown person, adopting their traits, and then filling the role they serve in that moment. For the case of all the actors in Outlander last night, they were essentially re-living a vile rape and torture scene again and again until they got it “right” on camera.

I feel a bit like a voyeur, and a bit unwashed after even seeing them go about their jobs in such a convincing manner. Who didn’t flinch at both the hammer blows and the closeness of Black Jack as he cooed to Jamie? Fuck me, that was brutal.

So yeah, no one ever asked me to act. And I’m cool with that. I’ll write instead.

One other thing: Is it just me, or are you wondering, like I am, why the Scots haven’t just crossed the border and burned England to the ground? After the shit that the Red Coats visited upon Scotland for centuries? If I had a neighbor like that, I’d have razed their house, plowed salt in the fields, and buried every last one of them in an open field. Good God.

What do you all think? Drop a comment if you’re feeling up to it.

Cheers (Sorta)

I Dun Been Kilted: Post Partum Aggression!

She’s A Lactating Badass.

If you’d explained that this season I would see a woman milking herself like a Jersey cow, my first reaction would have been. . . .
I dunno. Yay, boobies!?! Maybe? I mean, I’m wired to appreciate breasts, sooo. . . .I’m conflicted. But in truth, Jenny is my new favorite character, and that’s saying something given the warmth and amiability of Ian. 
It’s partly her attitude, persona, and that eighteenth-century-fertility-goddess-hotness. It’s working for me, and the fact that she carries twin pistols and has a penchant for violence is just icing on the cake. Anyone else wince when she got on the horse?  I mean, didn’t she just have a kid?
*Reason 994 Why I’m Glad To A Dude*
Where’s Jamie?

You don’t want to know. I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I teach history, and my focus is military history. What Jamie is enduring at the hands of Black Jack Randall is a sort of “greatest hits” of all the shitty things that humans do to each other in military and religious history,with the exception of outright murder. I’m sure everyone in Outlander fandom is braced for impact, so to speak. But back to Jenny and Claire for the moment, because:

One Hour Episode. One Common Theme.

We know Jenny has giant balls (metaphorically speaking), and Claire’s sensibilities, while modern, are no less badass.
Now, allow me to digress. Is it just me, or are the British just uniformly horrible to the Scots?
Yeah. They are.
Now fast forward to Jenny, and Claire, and some unfortunate redcoat messenger who is dealing with a woman who may or may not have:
1) Post-partum Aggression
2) A sore hooha
3) Boobs that jiggle like winesacks.
4) All of this on horseback
5) You’ve just stolen her brother, on whom the sun rises and sets.

Yeah, Redcoat. You really fucked up. Jenny is gonna bring a special kind of crazy to this party.

Let’s start a cheerful campfire, shall we?

But Redcoats Are Sassy.

I give credit to the messenger. He’s got some courage. . . until Jenny and Claire play “good cop, bad cop”.  They also truss him up in a rather awkward position, more suitable for a corrupt cop looking for drugs.
Up your bum, that is.

So Jenny is obviously the bad cop– actually, upon second thought, she’s the worst cop in what will be a scene of complete karmic overload. Claire, the healer, tries to alleviate what is quickly becoming an outright murder, even though it turns out that she’s okay with that.

Stop. What Have We Learned?

1) Jenny is like a mother bear.
2) Claire is like a mannerly bear.
3) And–

Yeahhhhh. . . .soo, Murtagh isn’t just handy with a knife. And a gun. And his hands. It turns out, that in that codger lurks the heart of–


A sword dancer, but still. Oh, and by the way, Claire is going to dress like a pirate (sorta) and travel the highlands while hoping to rouse Jamie’s curiosity. It’s an excellent ploy, and leads to one of the strangest transformations we could imagine for Claire. Performing as “The Sassenach”, they only succeed in getting Jamie captured, but that was inevitable. What wasn’t unavoidable was the, ah, costume that Claire is forced to adopt.

So, a few more shots of Scottish vistas, and here we are: holding and waiting to be stomped like a grape in a barrel next week thanks to the depravity of Black Jack Randall. He’s like a bladder infection rolled up into a visit from unwelcome relatives, topped off with papercuts.
But, you know, more into leather.

Until next week, then, friends. Gird your loins.


Stalk me:

Ep 1.14