Sunday Hymnal: Aretha’s Back

Aretha Franklin sings a medley of “Precious Lord” and “You’ve got a friend in Jesus”

The band and the choir are on point!

Got a suggestion for future editions of the Sunday Hymnal?

Submit them in the comments below!


Lessons from Harry Potter — madgeniusclub

This month marks twenty years since the publication of the first book in the Harry Potter series, which by some yardsticks is probably the most successful young adult series in literary history. All kudos and congratulations to J. K. Rowling for her success, and for her determination to persevere in the face of what must […]

via Lessons from Harry Potter — madgeniusclub

Read My Shoddy Work: “The Night Shift” Part 9

Do you work at a hospital? Are you worried about vampire infestations? Then this is the short story for you.

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Part 4 , Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7 and Part 8 here.

Last time, Maria had switched her holy water filled cleaning bottle from “stream” to “mist”. Let’s see how that worked for her.

Maria looked back to see Zoltan was locked in a sort of stalemate with Constantin. She couldn’t believe the vampire was controlling a walking corpse and fighting Zoltan simultaneously. The vampire was too fast for Zoltan to land a blow, but the space was two cramped for the vampire to get out of range entirely. Constantin avoided the silvered blade as if it was white hot. Maria turned her attention back to the former Dr. Brown, and he was nearly upon her.

She held up her spray bottle and squeezed. Nothing happened. She squeezed again, nothing. There must be something blocking the little pump inside the bottle. She squeezed the trigger several times in rapid succession without result. The corpse raised its hands to grab her. She could smell the corruption on the rotting body. Panic was taking over. She was about to call out for Zoltan. The putrid grey hands reached out, and then the holy water came.

A mighty mist hit the creature square on the face, blinding it. The skin bubbled like chicken in hot oil. The corpse’s hands went to cover its face instinctively. A ragged groan escaped its lips. Whatever the vampire had done to re-animate the body of Dr. Brown, it was at odds with God and nature. Maria hit it again with the holy water, and stepped back.

Now that she had a second to maneuver, Maria switched her grip on the silver dagger and readied herself for the final blow. She raised the blade above her head and brought it down swiftly into the crown of Dr. Brown’s skull. The skull gave way easily with a wet crunch. The body had decomposed significantly since the moment of death.

In the moments following the blow, the corpse shuddered briefly and then collapsed. As it fell to the floor, the dagger was twisted out of Maria’s hand. She looked back to the struggle in room 1213. Zoltan and Sophie were not doing well.

Zoltan had lost his sword and was holding the vampire at bay with only the threat of holy water in his right hand. There can’t be much left in that bottle, she thought. Sophie comatose except for her dreamy, tuneless humming.  Maria could see the rosary wrapped around Zoltan’s left hand. She stepped toward the doorway and turned the nozzle of her spray bottle from “mist” to “stream.”

It just got real y’all.

And Then I Popped Him One — madgeniusclub

It’s very hard to write violence, for the same reason it’s very hard to write sex. No, wait, there is one difference, most people have experienced sex, but most people have never been in a knife or fist fight. Even those of us who’ve been in fights have a tendency to blur them in our […]

via And Then I Popped Him One — madgeniusclub

The Death of Human Resources (and the Rise of the Machines)

My day job requires me to research and write about HR as an industry. It’s interesting in its way. You learn about hidden corners of the economy, enormous companies you didn’t know exist, and some genuine innovation every now and then (yes it happens even in HR). These days I’ve been wondering how long it will be till the machines consume and condemn this corporate function to obsolescence.

I assume the change has already begun. Right now someone is developing artificial intelligence capable of identifying and complying with all relevant regulations required to hire and fire puny humans.

Pretty soon, a hiring manager will just get a dashboard recommending which candidate has the mix of skills and ethno/gender/sexual qualities that best fit with the organization’s needs.

“Hmm, Candidate A is trans (both sexual and racial) so we tick a lot of boxes there, but it says that Zee has little to no experience installing and maintaining heating OR air conditioning systems.”

“The computer says that Candidate B has worked in HVAC for 15 years but has a level five patriarchy score.”

“Too bad, what if he had a gay experience in the next few days?”

“It would have to be really gay to make up for decades of white male privilege. He’s been married for 10 years to the same woman. He even saw fit to reproduce with her (thus reinforcing the white patriarchy). We’re talking level 10 gayness here. Liberace past his prime gay.”

“Ok I’ll ask him. If he’s not into that, he could blind himself. Being disabled always helps.”

Think of how productive we’ll be when Skynet is there to calculate the perfect diverse hire!

Treat it Like a Bidness

Several years ago, when I was green as lettuce and attended the Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith workshops on fiction writing — which made me a little less green, if nothing else by providing a much needed wilting — they kept saying the same puzzling phrase “Treat it like a business.” And of course, […]

via It’s Your Business — madgeniusclub

Exposition: My Secret Shame

I’m lazy by nature. I’d rather think beautiful thoughts than write them down, hone them into something intelligible, and share them with the world.  I’ve tried to make money on beautiful thoughts, but everyone simply refuses to pay me! So I’m writing.

I’m writing because, with time and effort, I can make money on the ideas that come from the old spiritus mundi. The only problem is, I hate writing exposition.

I hate coming up with excuses for characters to reveal their motivations or explain who they’re working for and why the evil cult leader needs the thingummy for world domination or how the ancient Aztec calendar is really counting down to an alignment of the stars during which (providing the proper sacrifices are made and the occult forms are observed) will prepare the way for C’thulu’s horrific awakening from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. I’d prefer to skip all that pipe-laying.

I wanna get to the part where St. George gives the Dragon a good lancing. I wanna write the part where Schwarzenegger is cutting his way through Thulsa Doom’s cannibal minions. I wanna get to the part that set the old brain box on fire.

I don’t only wanna write those action scenes though. I also wanna skip to the part where the Lady of the Wood rides swiftly through the night with only a small lantern to light her way. I’m good at the disjointed powerful images. Plotting and exposition, that’s where I have to flog myself.

I tried selling the disjointed images, but nobody will buy that unless you’re a painter or photographer. So, back to the outlining I plod. Using my meager talents and hoping I don’t confuse folks along the way.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be searching for a plausible reason for Zoltan to give a brief history of the Cult of Tanit in the Near East and Central Europe.


On Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies

So I have a semi-well thought out theory that’s been percolating in muh brain box over the past few days. Classic monsters are on some level metaphors for our collective, deep seated (seeded?) fears of various aspects of human pathology.

Here’s what I have so far:

Werewolves are Addicts: This one’s easy. They’re more or less their normal selves and able to keep it together until the full moon rises and the beast within takes over. They’re a danger to those around them in their wolfish state. Then they wake up with only a fragmented recollection of what happened the night before.

Vampires are Child Molesters: If you survive the vampire’s bite, there’s a good chance you’ll become like him. You’re consumed by an unnatural desire. You can’t fulfill it in broad daylight. Also, like with pedophilia, many modern artists are working to rehabilitate vampirism’s public image.

Zombies are Mob Violence & Plague: As best I can tell, Zombies (at least in the post represent a sociological fear of the mob and biological plagues mixed together. Fear of the mob because of how we can become this hideous meta organism that recognizes and devours individuals or groups that are not of it. The plague fear is easy enough to see. Just like the bubonic plague, you could watch anyone around you become infected and infect others.

Kind of dark, I know, but just had to get the idea down somewhere. You all are the lucky recipients.