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Liberty Island

Once upon a time the mainstream culture was conservative and the so-called counterculture was left wing. Today the situation is reversed and a new counterculture has arisen, one that boldly challenges the cynicism, nihilism, and stifling political correctness of popular culture today. Our mission is to support this raw and untamed counterculture by gathering its creators in one place and providing the tools and resources they need to succeed. Here they can present their latest works, interact with colleagues, and connect with a likeminded audience. At Liberty Island, readers of a conservative or libertarian bent can find fiction, music, video and graphics that reflect their social values and political beliefs -- and readers of all persuasions can find new voices and undiscovered talent. Writers and creators you've never heard of, and won't find anywhere else, because their views have been excluded from the mainstream popular culture. Think of Liberty Island as a rallying point for a revolt against conformity and groupthink. We aim to be the missing link in a cultural feeder system that has systematically marginalized those who did not go to the right schools, attend the proper writing programs, or toe the correct ideological line. At Liberty Island, good still triumphs over evil, hope still overcomes despair, and America is still a noble experiment and a beacon to the rest of the world. What is Liberty Island? An imaginative colony. A playground for the mind. A place where your right brain is allowed to run free. Join us! Like Plymouth, Jamestown, or Ellis Island in its heyday, Liberty Island is open for business.
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‘No Woman of Mine is Going to Work! Your Job is to Stay Home, Cook My Dinner and Have my Babies!’

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

Bio:

Karina Fabian is a mild-mannered writer for Top Ten Reviews and mother of four. But in her other lives, she’s a snarky dragon detective, a nun doing dangerous rescue missions beyond Mars, a psychic driven insane by his abilities, a zombie exterminator… Her rich fantasy life has compelled her to become a writer, and she has written 9 science fiction, fantasy or horror novels and has stories in dozens of anthologies and magazines. She’s won multiple awards for her fiction, but the best reward is when an editor of fan asks her to write some more.

Because her imagination suffers from “squirrel!” syndrome even worse than the dogs in UP, she alternates her writing efforts among multiple universes. She recently submitted the last novel in the Mind Over Trilogy and wrote a novella to marry off two of the main characters. Her serial novella coming out in Liberty Island in November features zombie Exterminators Neeta Lyffe and Ted Hacker as they take on skiing zombies on the slopes of Utah. Neeta Lyffe’s first book, Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator, is now out in audiobook as well. She has two science fiction novels with publishers for consideration and is working on the next DragonEye, and maybe… SQUIRREL!

Karina also writes about the lives of the saints for a Catholic service called SaintConnection, plus homilies for FAITH Catholic. And, of course, her new full-time job is writing reviews of small-medium business services like eCommerce and social media monitoring software. In addition to writing, Karina has taught online classes on aspects of writing and marketing from worldbuilding to time management and even housekeeping for writers.

Interview:

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Wrinkle in Time is still my favorite book, and if the director from Frozen messes it up in the movie, I’ll be furious. Galaxy Quest is my favorite movie. Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Mercedes Lackey and Terry Pratchett are my favorite authors, though I enjoy an eclectic mix of small press authors who (like me) most people have never heard of. (Frank Creed, Ann Lewis, Jane Lebak, Kirk Outerbridge to name a few). Intellectual influences? I think you’re expecting too much from me here. I was a great student. I’m an excellent author and a funny satirist, but I’m no scholar.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Optimistic, faithfully Catholic, generally conservative, heavy on rational thinking and common sense – and sick to death of people who overreact to things on both sides of the spectrum. Ironically, it was all the liberal diatribe on FB and other sources that made me join some Conservative/Libertarian groups, thinking I’d find more level-headed people there. In general, I have, but there are still a few folks who make me cringe. The world ain’t going to Hell, folks – liberal or otherwise!

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Robert Fabian is a sensible guy with extreme common sense and the amazing ability to look at the pieces and see the big picture. It’s one of the reasons why I married him, and why I usually bounce things off him, whether political and social issues or what awful yet entertaining situation I can subject my protagonist to in my next book. After that, I enjoy Thomas Sowell, though I don’t read him faithfully. Of course, the great Catholic saints and thinkers, like St. Augustine, St. Hildegard von Bingen, St. Thomas Aquinas, or GK Chesterton are worth reading. I tend to be a dabbler, though, rather than a student of any particular one. (The great part of my writing for SaintConnection is I get exposed to the writings of a new saint every month.) Larry Correia is fun to read, but he can get a little over-the-top in his fisking for me. Not that he’s wrong, mind you. And let’s not forget Dave Barry, Berke Breathed, Douglas Adams and other great humorists who showed me a great way to address an issue is to poke fun at it.

4.  What are your writing goals?

My aspiration is to make enough money writing full-time fiction that I can quit my day job – or go part time. I actually love my day job. I took on a full-time writing position in November 2013 writing reviews of small and medium business services for http://toptenreviews.com. I had no idea I’d enjoy working at an office away from my house, but the people (who run the gamut of political and social beliefs) are kind, friendly and want to have fun. We have a hiking group and a D&D group. It’s been kind of a relief after having been so exposed to the polarized world of social media to find that in one-on-one contact, people do disagree and get along just fine. But to spend my days writing saint stories and homilies and two or three novels a year? That actually paid my mortgage? That would be the dream.

But a goal is not a goal unless it’s measurable and achievable by your own efforts. That’s why “being a best seller” can’t be a goal: too much else, from publisher to the reading public, influence the outcome. So my goals are to keep meeting deadlines and producing quality content for Top Ten Reviews, Saint Connection, and FAITH Catholic, and write a novel a year, with some short stories tossed in for good measure. That’s write, not necessarily publish. Within those goals:

-          Build up my DragonEye series. My next novel is the origin story of Vern, a dragon who emigrates from Faerie to our world and sets up shop as a detective and all-around problem solver when magic and technology collide. With that, I hope to reboot the series with a combination of novels and story collections. It’ll be as eclectic as Vern’s tastes: a little comedy, a little noir; novels, novellas and flash fiction.

-          Write the third Neeta Lyffe novel: Neeta Lyffe and the One Armed Bandit. Neeta and Ted go to Reno for a vacation, but people die during a slot machine tournament yet come back as zombies because they refuse to stop playing. Yep, another working vacation – what were the odds?

-          I’d also like to take a complete detour and try my hand at chick-lit/romantic comedy about a woman and a gay man who fall in love, or a more serious piece about a widower who is falling in love again but must first deal with his grief over his unfaithful wife and the tangle that was their marriage.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

http://fabianspace.com That’s another goal for the year: update that site’s look. Anyone know a good web designer?

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Most people think this is crazy, but I love moving. I enjoy clearing out a house, culling our stuff, and taking it somewhere new. I get the same excitement from an empty home that I do from a blank page waiting for me to put my stamp on it. I love figuring out where everything goes, trying new places, puzzling over how to make a kitchen work efficiently for me. I just have fun with this. Of course, after 25 years of moving, we just bought our dream home, so we’re actually hoping we can stay here a good long time if not forever.

Don’t know if this is a crazy hobby, but I play D&D. We started a family campaign when my husband was in Iraq (back before ISIS, when the worst issue was Internet connectivity). It kept the family together. Now, we play that on Saturdays, and my husband and I play with  my work group on Wednesdays. At work, I am Purch, a half-orc fighter with impulse control issues. (I tried to take on a three-headed demigod with my bare hands…as a level 3 fighter…you can guess it did not go well). At home, I’m a thief who picks my sons’ pockets when they get uppity in game.

Here’s an Excerpt from “Josie’s Last Straw” by Karina Fabian:

The moon fought to shine through the clouds, casting the dilapidated trailer in a patchwork of light and shadow. In the darkness, a tall, crooked man shambled toward it. He navigated the trip-traps of rusting car parts and garden gnomes, avoided the pitfalls dug by dogs with the ease of familiarity until his foot caught on a newly dug hole. He staggered into a plaster deer, spotted from birdshot. With an unintelligible roar, he smashed the fawn with both fists before continuing on. He paused at the steps, actually walking into them a few times, before the right foot lifted, then the left, and he ascended the rotting wood. He hardly noticed as he crashed through the screen door, leaving it hanging off one hinge.

Inside, the television blared reruns of South Park to no one. He sat down on the Lay-Z-Boy to watch.

*

Josie woke up from yet another nightmare of Jebediah having one of his “fits.” She always felt so guilty after a dream like that. Poor man, two days buried, and she had to think about him this way?

Not that the past few years had been kind, she reminded herself as she schlepped into the bathroom, one arm in her robe, only habit making her wash up and get ready to face another day as Widow Gump. She sighed. No, not easy years at all. After that Conroy had shot him in the calf trying to kill that badger, Jeb hadn’t been able to work much. He’d go out for the day, come home without a job, but always with something he’d killed for dinner. She didn’t believe those people who said he was drinking in front of the Gaslight Inn. Then she took that job–

We were going to lose the house, part of her said, and she knew it was true, but she knew that was the last straw for him.

“No woman of mine is going to work! Your job is to stay home, cook my dinner and have my babies!” he’d declare. It was so cute when they were dating, how manly he’d act. ‘Course, she’d failed him there, too.

She looked into the mirror at a face dripping with water. “You’re getting fat and ugly,” he’d warned her, more than once, sometimes with a pull on her frizzy hair or a pinch of her stomach to prove his point. “Don’t be thinking about leaving me now. There’n't a man in the world gonna take you!”

Now, as the tired, faded and old face stared back at her, she saw just how right he was. That was going to be the hardest part, too, she knew it. Living alone. She left the TV on all night and slept with the dogs, but it weren’t no substitute for a man.

Their–her–retriever Buford and her poodle Pinkie scratched at the bedroom door. They nearly bowled her down as she opened it, dashing into the living room, barking furiously.

“What is it? Another coon?” She grabbed Jeb’s shotgun and made her way down the hall.

She recognized the back of the head she’d seen resting against that chair for twenty years. The shotgun slipped through her hands and crashed to the floor.

“Jebediah?”

Jebediah grunted and stuck out his arm in a way she recognized as well, and with shaking knees and trembling hands, she hurried to the kitchen and brought him his favorite beer.

It was him! It was a miracle!

*

“This is Dave Neilson, here with Josie Gump, whose husband, Jebediah, seems to be the first confirmed case of a zombie interacting safely with other humans.”

Josie gripped her elbows and watched the camera as if the big lens might swallow her. She still didn’t know if she’d done right by letting the reporter in, but she’d asked Jeb and he’d grunted that it was okay. At least she thought that’s what he meant. He really only grunted anymore. Guess being dead takes a lot out of a guy.

Besides, after his grave had been found dug open from the inside, everyone from Momma to her preacher to the Sheriff had come calling. He was a zombie–the murderous, shambling undead, they told her. She needed to take the dogs and get away fast, they told her.

They were worried about her, they told her.

They were always worried about her. Why couldn’t they be happy for her? So she let them get a peek of him, and once they saw him drinking his beer, they were satisfied he wasn’t some murderous shambling undead that was gonna rip her to shreds. She didn’t let them talk to him, though. He wasn’t ready. Besides, Jeb always hated visitors that weren’t his friends. Not that any of them had come round to check on her after he’d died, she thought bitterly.

Anyways, she needed to let folks know everything was okay, so they’d leave them alone to get on with life.

She was worried when the cameraman filmed him, even if he did so from the safety of the kitchen. Once upon a time, Jeb would have smashed the camera into his face or, at best, flipped him off. But he sat watching his game peacefully enough. Even the dogs were behaving, snuggled together on the couch, giving their master forlorn looks. She’d been worried about that, too; Pinkie always protected her and never got along with Jeb. Things were going well.

Reporter Dave had asked her a question.

“‘Changed’? Well, he don’t talk about it much. Jeb was always the private sort. But, yeah, I think he has changed. He’s a lot gentler now. Not that there’s been any…you know. I just mean that he’s a lot more content. He’s a better listener, too.” She blushed. Had she really just told the world about their…you know? Not that there’d been any. Even alive, she could count on one hand–

But that was my fault. I let myself go. I was so tired and angry all the time. Funny how anger made a person so tired. Still, he could have–

“So how does he feel, physically? Is he stiff?”

Her eyes widened. Why had she ever brought it up? “Well, I think that’s rather personal!”

Dave blushed. “I mean, like rigor mortis? Does he have a pulse? Is he warm? Does he feel alive?”

Actually, when she’d hugged him this morning, reaching around his back and squeezing into his arm, careful as usual to avoid getting in the way of the television, he’d felt kind of squishy under his skin. She forced a grin.

Dave continued, “And what about the smell?”

Suddenly she regretted ever having let this, this reporter into her home. “Now you listen here! I have been in mourning! And now my husband is back, and he has special needs! If I’ve let the housework slip–”

“No! Wait! I just meant–”

She didn’t care what he meant. This was a bad idea after all! She blinked back angry tears as she stormed for the door and flung it open. She called for the dogs and they rose from the couch, barking and snarling.

“Please! All I meant–”

“Buford! Pinkie! Sic!”

The reporter and cameraman ran past her. The cameraman remembered the quick turn and made it down the steps, Pinkie snapping at his heels, but Dave overshot and tumbled off the low railing, Buford jumped after him, teeth bared.

She slammed the door on their screams.

Jebediah grunted with more force than usual. Josie hurried to put a fresh beer in his hand.

“I’m sorry, Jeb! I’m so sorry. I won’t ever let anyone intrude on us again!”

Jeb gave another grunt and poured beer into his mouth. Some spilled on his shirt. She wiped it off with a dish towel, then got a tissue for her eyes.

Read the Rest at Liberty Island Here.

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‘When Searching Infinity, How Fast You Do It Is Irrelevant’

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

This is the fourth of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. Check out Jamie Wilson’s, ”The Enforcement of Happiness” excerpted Monday, Robert Arrington’s  “Reunion” about ghosts at a high school reunion, Pierre Comtois’s last week on Friday, “The Future That Used To Be,” and this one from Michael Sheldon on Thursday, “‘Do You Make Your Dark’n’Stormies With the Proper Bermudian Ingredients?’” More author interviews will be coming soon too.

The girl at the desk was not so friendly anymore. She used to be, when my benefactor first set me up here on the 22nd floor. She used to be ditzy and friendly and childishly inquisitive about my work. But the pretense was gone now. Marta was Max’s spy, here only to make sure my reports were honest.

 

And why wasn’t she pretending anymore? Because it was over. I hadn’t received official notification that the project was finished, but I felt sure the decision was made. It was a matter of days at most before the power was shut off and all the equipment went into storage.

 

She was intently surfing the net, undoubtedly shopping her receptionist/spy resume around to various wealthy madmen. I silently wished her luck, but didn’t bother with conversation, having lost interest in pretense myself.

 

Past the reception area, down a hall with doors to small offices–all unoccupied–through a set of double doors and there I was: standing in front of the only gateway to alternate universes that had ever existed in human history. I built it and I should have won the Nobel Prize for it, but part of the agreement I’d made in exchange for the money to build it had been a thoroughly binding secrecy agreement. I’m pretty sure there was a clause in there somewhere about my soul.

 

There was a familiar feeling of hope as I switched on the equipment and began going through last night’s logs, but it was quickly replaced by black despair as I saw that nothing had changed.

 

My cell beeped at me, the pattern telling me it was Max, or at least Max’s office. I flipped it open and the tiny screen showed the fresh, young face of Art Samuelson, one of Max’s lawyers. He smiled a sunny smile, waiting for me to accept the call.

 

I did. “Good morning, Art,” I said. No reason to be unfriendly. Lawyers can’t help being what they are. No point in hating fungus for being fungus.

 

“David,” he said. “Good morning to you! In the lab, eh? Never say die, that’s you.”

 

“The scans are getting much wider ranging now,” I said, which was true. I was searching a bigger slice of infinity. “The results should be–”

 

“Dave,” he interrupted in that pseudo-friendly way that you unconsciously want to believe. “You know I don’t have a head for the tech stuff. Alternate universe, blah, blah, blah is all I hear when you talk about the details. No offense.”

 

“None taken,” I said. I sat down at my desk and put my phone on its stand.

 

“Davey, we’ve got a problem,” he said. Here it comes. “All your gizmos are just drawing too much juice. The building manager has asked us to knock it off for a week or so until we can get an electrical contractor in there to certify everything. Sounds like a bunch of bull crap to me, probably designed to raise our rent. You know how these bastards are, right?”

 

I really had no idea which bastards he was talking about and felt certain the us vs. them invitation was meant to make me feel like we were in this together. A team. Go, team!

 

“Anyway,” he said, “I need you to lay off the experiments until we can get this situation taken care of, okay?”

 

“Sure, Art. No problem. I can analyze the existing data for–”

 

“Excellent!” he said. “And, hey, how about lunch later this week? Max and I are doing that new Argentine place day after tomorrow at 11:30. Meet us there, okay?”

 

I nodded. He hung up.

 

I began charging the gate, planning on doing just what Art had asked me not to. There was a subtle whining sound from the equipment. Then inside the vacuum chamber a flickering light resolved into a small, silvery sphere less than a meter in diameter: the intersection between the four dimensional space-time of our universe and an infinite number of others.

 

I could never visit any of them. My still uncredited contribution to quantum mechanics had demonstrated that only massless particles like photons could pass between the universes. I swear, the moment I realized this could actually be done the first thing I thought of was selling the rights to TV shows from alternate universes. That’s why I’d located in New York, a likely location for a city no matter what culture ended up here–or so I’d assumed.

 

But of the many thousands of alternate Earths I’d examined through what I called the gate, no culture of any kind had settled here, because here was under at least ten miles of water.

 

That had never occurred to me. When I thought of alternate timelines of course I thought of worlds where the South had won the Civil War or the Roman Empire never fell. The appeal of that concept was why I’d specialized in quantum mechanics in the first place.

 

The universe didn’t see things that way. I was still convinced that timelines did exist where human history had played out differently, but they were lost among the much more common worlds where life had never made it past the microbial stage, or where life had formed but had taken a completely different path and nothing remotely human ever appeared. It turns out that the evolution of multi-cellular life is a very low probability event and the evolution of intelligence lower still.

 

Another low probability event was the collision of the proto-Earth with a stray Mars-sized planet that resulted in the formation of the moon and the stripping away of a large fraction the early Earth’s volatiles. Hence most versions of Earth were covered in vast, deep oceans.

 

“Would you like some coffee?” said Marta, startling me. She’d opened the door very quietly. Stealthily, one might say, like a spy.

 

“No,” I said. “I won’t need any help today, Marta. Why don’t you take the rest of the day off?”

 

She smiled. “Oh, I’d love that! But I just can’t. Too much paperwork.” She shook her head in mock sadness at the mock paperwork, then left. I got up and locked the door, feeling certain that she had a key and that she was going to call Art as soon as she got to her desk. Damn it!

 

I’d gotten good at scanning universes–or at least the tiny piece of each universe I could see through the gate–very quickly. Panic made me want to just start scanning and keep doing it until they broke down the door and dragged me out, but reason reasserted itself. When searching infinity, how fast you do it is irrelevant.

Click here to continue reading at Liberty Island

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The Ghosts at the High School Reunion

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

This is the fourth of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. Check out Jamie Wilson’s, ”The Enforcement of Happiness,” excerpted Monday, Pierre Comtois’s on Friday, “The Future That Used To Be,” and this one from Michael Sheldon on Thursday, “‘Do You Make Your Dark’n’Stormies With the Proper Bermudian Ingredients?’“ More author interviews will be coming soon too.

Thunder. Then, fear in a cold wave. Bill saw thick, black smoke, squat fuel drums linked by flame, men in white running. He hefted the heavy fire hose. The heat on his face was suddenly unbearable. 

“It’s gonna BLOW,” he yelled, and it did. And then he was on fire. “Wendy. Oh, Wen–” 

Headlights. Bright, coming right at Wendy, from her side of the road. Try to swerve. Can’t. Too close 

“Bill,” she screamed. But he was far away, engulfed in flame.

Jack Melton found himself suddenly awake, sitting on the edge of his bed, the covers thrown back, breathing rapidly, blinking at the lightning that flashed outside his bedroom window.

“Wendy,” he said to no one, then, “Bill.” Jack shuddered in the air conditioning. Both dead, all these years. And tonight it was as though he had been there with each of them, when it happened, that one day, fifteen years ago. He had thought of them often through the years, had dreams about them from time to time, but…not like this.

“Not a dream,” he muttered. But it had to be. What else? Never mind he’d felt the fire in his lungs, saw the headlights in his eyes. It had to be a dream.

“Damned reunion.” He closed the drapes to the storm outside, and returned to bed alone.

Fourteen hours later, Jack carefully knotted his tie, slipped on his suit jacket, and surveyed himself in the Holiday Inn mirror.

He was rather pleased with his appearance, he had to admit. If anything, he was slimmer than fifteen years ago and the dark pinstripe, white oxford pinpoint button-down and regimental tie made him look more so. The afternoons spent walking up and down the beach a few weeks earlier had tanned him to a pale brown, and bleached his dark brown hair so that it had sandy highlights

“Well, you look healthy, and I hope you are,” he told the mirror, “and prosperous, even if you’re not.” He picked up the brown bag from the dresser and turned to the door.

Alone.

There was a time when he’d looked forward to his fifteen-year class reunion. Bringing Susan. Showing her off.

But Susan turned out to be–or became–a tight-assed, sexually suppressed Junior Leaguer who didn’t like Statesville, didn’t like the hours his law practice required, but who thought his rise through the ranks to junior partnership was much too slow, his earnings much too meager for the lifestyle she wanted.

Not the person he thought he’d married five years ago. Not someone like Wendy.

The divorce earlier that year shouldn’t have been a shock, but it was. It hit him like a tornado hits a trailer park–with complete devastation. Oh, legally, it was small potatoes. He and Susan had no children, and dividing their property was easy enough. But almost before Jack knew what was happening, the house was sold, he was living alone in an apartment, and Susan was in Charlotte, where she worked for a public relations firm. And Jack was alone.

He had planned to skip the reunion, all things considered. But a week ago, Dave and Sheila, good old friends still living in Glen Arden, phoned him, insisting.

Well, he’d planned on using this weekend to write a brief; but here he was, after all. Dave and Sheila wanted him to stay with them, but he preferred the new hotel off the interstate. He wasn’t ready, yet, for a big dose of someone else’s happy marriage.

He drove to the Elks’ Lodge with the radio at full blast. Golden oldies. Elvis was singing “Heartbreak Hotel.”

On the way, Jack noted the new restaurants, new office buildings, new subdivisions. Even Brainerd County was growing up. Glen Arden had never been more than a wide spot in the road. Now it had grown almost to the Martintown line. New development. New real estate deals. New lawsuits. Legal business. Maybe he should have come back here.

Jack shook his head. No. He would still have been Jack Melton, stuck with everyone’s high school notions of how Jack Melton should look, dress, and act. No good for him and no good for Susan. He smiled at the empty passenger’s seat. If Susan hated Statesville, she would have loathed Brainerd County.

Elks’ Lodge was just outside the Martintown city limits. It was a sprawling, one story brick building with a gravel parking lot at the rear, one of the two Brainerd County places where you could get a drink. The Country Club was the other; but Martintown Senior High School Class of ’70 was holding its 15th year reunion there. Little Glen Arden High had to make do with what it could get–and what it could afford. Same as always.

As Jack parked behind the Lodge Building, he saw a thundercloud building on the ridge to the west.

Jack frowned up at the sky. Not again. The Statesville nights had been filled with thunder and lightning all that July, and his sleep had been restless with nightmares. He shuddered, thinking of last night’s storm and last night’s dream

Someone had strung a banner across the front of the Lodge: G.A. CLASS OF ’70–LAST OF THE JOHNNY REBS. True enough; in the Fall of 1970, school consolidation had brought the opening of West Brainerd Comprehensive High School; and so Glen Arden High and Martintown Senior High, heated rivals on the gridiron, were memories.

Like my marriage, Jack thought. But I’ve pieces of paper to prove they once existed.

Inside, a folding table held nametags and booklets listing the members of the class, where they now lived, and other vital statistics like jobs, spouses’ names and hobbies. Behind it sat Laura Perkins and Trudy Smith (except their name tags said they were now “Watkins” and “Boatwright”), girls he remembered with more or less ambivalence.

“Jack Melton,” Laura gushed as she found the tag with his name emblazoned in black amateur calligraphy, “You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Uh, thanks.” Jack thought he looked a great deal more mature and self-assured. Laura, though, had changed; she was now a blonde and was a great deal fatter.

Click here to read the rest at Liberty Island…

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The Enforcement of Happiness

Monday, August 4th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Image via Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

This is the third of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. Check out this excerpt from Pierre Comtois’s on Friday, “The Future That Used To Be,” and this one from Michael Sheldon on Thursday, “‘Do You Make Your Dark’n’Stormies With the Proper Bermudian Ingredients?’“ More author interviews will be coming soon too.

“Your one o’clock is already here, Mr. Jackson.”

Marcus nodded at the intercom while brushing crumbs from his lap. “Five minutes.”

He straightened his neat red tie using his silver Toastmasters pencil holder as a mirror. Lunch remains went into the trash, the trash into his private bathroom. While there, he indulged in a quick brush with a disposable toothbrush, though he admitted to himself halfway through that part of this was just putting off the inevitable. Nobody wanted a government inquisition. And anytime you had a “council” send representatives, it would be an inquisition. He grimaced at himself and turned off the light before closing the door.

Settling himself in his chair, he buzzed Teresa back. “Send them in.”

A moment later, his door swung open, a very young face peering through. “Mr. Jackson?”

“Come in!” Marcus said heartily, rising from his desk in a show of welcome. “You are Mr. Smith?” He walked over, giving his signature well-practiced handshake. His huge dark hand neatly enveloped Smith’s smaller, limp hand.

“We’re from the Racial Relations Council? Health and Human Services?” The slight young man stepped in hesitantly, followed by a tiny Hispanic woman in a sensible black suit and an older black man wearing a pristine white lab coat. Marcus held his smile, though his forehead wrinkled a bit in confusion. What, he wondered, was up with the entourage?

“I understand you needed to talk to me about racial compliance. As you have no doubt seen for yourself, our hiring patterns are–”

Smith waved him off. “We have your records, sir. Blue Screen International has done a stellar job of racio-sexual/gender/ethno balancing.”

“I see.” Marcus glanced at the entourage. “I’m afraid I don’t understand what this is about.”

Mr. Smith motioned at the chairs near Marcus’s desk. “May I?”

“Oh, please, won’t you all have a seat?”

“Thank you.” Smith sat and opened his briefcase to remove a file, sliding on a pair of fussy-looking reading glasses. His companions remained standing, one on each side behind his chair.

“Let’s just get to business, shall we? I’m sure we’re both busy. I have a few questions for you, sir.”

Marcus sat down behind his desk, frowning at the standing agents. “Okay.”

“You’re Mr. Marcus Jackson, of 1411 Heavenly Meadow Drive in Rockport, Massachusetts.”

“Yes.”

“And your wife is Mrs. Leticia Jackson, born in Biloxi, Mississippi. You yourself were born in Harlem?”

“My parents worked hard to get me out of Harlem,” Marcus said almost reflexively. The semi-autonomous Harlem, effectively a gang state, had a very bad name these days. Mom had worked three jobs, Dad another two, to help Marcus go to a private school, then get into a good college. He’d bought them a house only last year, trying to repay what could never be repaid. He remembered there had been some HUD issue over that, something about destabilizing the youth by moving out older anchor citizens.

“I see, sir,” said Smith. He flipped a page over in the file, running a finger down it. “Your current income places you in the upper middle class tax bracket, very nearly the upper class.”

“I’ve been blessed.”

He nodded. “You are a registered gun owner.”

Marcus frowned. “Yes.”

“You have three children, ages ten, thirteen, and seventeen.”

“I keep the guns locked up. My oldest has had extensive firearms training, too, just in case.”

“Yes, we have that in our records. Do you have a normal relationship with your wife, sir?”

“I’m sorry?

“Perhaps I’m not being clear. Do you have a normal sexual relationship? Do you engage in relations together regularly, no desire for alternative partners of either sex.”

“I don’t see why I have to answer that.” Marcus saw the small Hispanic woman behind Smith put her hand on something hidden away in her coat. “But yes.” Damned intrusive busybodies.

“You listen to classical music? Not hip-hop, soul, blues or rap?”

“What difference–yes. Yes, I do.” And some jazz, he thought, but Smith continued down what was clearly an official list.

“You read business magazines and books almost exclusively.”

“I’m a businessman.”

“Just answer the question.”

“It wasn’t really a question.” At Smith’s look, he sighed. “Yes.”

“Thank you.” He cleared his throat. “According to this, you prefer German food to soul food. You refused affirmative action when it was offered to you. You can’t sing at all and dance poorly. You have never been particularly athletic. You tip well at restaurants.”

Marcus interrupted. “Hard work deserves reward.”

Smith peered over his reading glasses. “Of course. These are just questions, sir.”

“They are not. They are statements, they are increasingly rude, and I would like to know just what this is all about.”

Finish reading here at Liberty Island

 

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‘Do You Make Your Dark’n'Stormies With the Proper Bermudian Ingredients?’

Friday, August 1st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

This is the second of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. Check out this excerpt from Pierre Comtois’s yesterday: The Future That Used To Be. More author interviews will be coming soon too. Also check out some of Michael’s great articles on wine and culture at PJ Lifestyle:World’s First High 5 Discovered in Obscure French Film, 6 Things We Love and Hate about The New California Wine.

Here’s the beginning of his new story for your consideration:

They walked into my bar like they owned the place, the Major and this gangly female friend of his he calls “the Loon.”

The Major says to me, “According to the Internet, you make the best tropical drinks in the state. Do you make your Dark’n'Stormies with the proper Bermudian ingredients?”

He’s a bit formal, this guy. I didn’t know his name yet, but I already had him pegged as retired military. Too young for Vietnam, too old for Gulf War II. Hint of a southern accent, more Kentucky than Texas.

So I said to him, “Absolutely proper. Everything at Coco Rico’s is authentic. You want Mai Tais–mine are just like the Royal Hawaiian. Singapore Sling? You don’t have to go to Raffles. Dark’n'Stormy? I’m pouring Gosling’s Rum and their spicy ginger beer. Lime optional.”

“Sounds perfect.” He pulled out a stool for his friend and politely held her coat and bag while she climbed up. “We’ll have two Dark’n'Stormies,” he said. “No, make that three. Mix one up for yourself. I have a pretty good story to tell and you may want to listen in if you’re not too busy.”

I asked, “Are you one of those book clubs?” I was thinking those clubs fill a lot of seats, but with light drinkers.

Then I heard this sound, like: “Ahhhhhh-ha-ha-haa, aaahhh-ha-ha-ha, ak-ak, ak-akh, ahhhhh.” It was his lady friend laughing like she thinks my question is the funniest thing she ever heard. “We’re just here for conversation. But because he tends to do most of the talking, well, that makes it a story doesn’t it?”

I guess I must’ve looked at her funny, because he said to me, “You heard her laugh. She sounds like a lunatic. That’s why all her friends call her “the Loon,” and you should too.”

“I’ll do that,” I said, serving their drinks.

The Major said his name was Brayden Collins but I should call him the Major. I told them both they could call me Coco.

Then we lifted our glasses and toasted, “To new friends!” We’d barely had time to swallow when the Loon said to the Major, “Now for that story. You’ve been out of touch for nearly nine months, and–ahhhhhh-ha-ha-haa, aaahhh-ha-ha-ha, ak-ak, ak-akh, ahhhhh–I’m bursting with curiosity.”

The Major, always the gentleman, got right to it. “As the Loon knows, but you, Coco, certainly do not, I’ve been working on a desalination project in Bermuda for the last couple of years. That’s where I acquired my taste for Dark’n'Stormies, specifically, on the patio of the Coral Beach Club. It’s a beautiful old place. Clay tennis courts and a salt-water pool, set on a cliff above the pink sand beach and transparent water. Magical spot. The restaurant on the terrace is wonderful. Waiters in Bermuda shorts and knee socks, cheeky parrots in enormous brass cages.

“In any case, about six months ago I lunched there and then went down to the beach to relax. It’s a private beach and there are rows of turquoise chaises and yellow-and-white striped beach umbrellas, carefully lined up like an Army tent camp–except for the bright colors. It was crowded that day, hard to find a seat, and a lot of conversations going on. Children playing noisily and their parents not paying much mind as they were trying to relax themselves.

“In front of me was a nice group. Tall Indian fellow with his wife, clean-shaven and obviously brainy, talking quietly with a friend about their dinner plans. Seems they’d come to this part of the island on their yacht, over from Tucker’s Town, and were looking forward to some special event. I got the impression they were long-time members of the club.

“I was trying to nap, not successfully, when suddenly I heard this fellow–I might as well tell you his name even though I didn’t know it at the time. It’s Singh, Vinod Singh. And this Mr. Singh is looking back toward the club and saying, ‘Oh, oh, what’s going on over there? Oh-oh, this looks like trouble.’

“His wife and friend began looking too and Mr. Singh said, ‘Look at those children climbing up the cliffs. The sand is not stable and they should not be there.’

“They watched some more and talked it over. ‘Where are the parents?’ continued Mr. Singh. ‘Someone has to do something.’

“He walked across the beach and told the children to get down off the cliff.

“He might as well have assassinated an archduke, considering what happened next. The children’s mother–I assumed it was the mother because of her behavior, and of course I confirmed it later–the children’s mother was after him like a swarm of hornets. ‘How dare you talk to my children. You’ve got no right… Who do you think you are?’

“Of course it was all laced with profanity and a level of physical aggression that was surprising. This woman, Maude Rafferty-Fehr is her name, as I found out later, was young and trim. And she was wearing quite elaborate beach clothing with built-in sun and insect protection. And of course there was the Roger Federer hat…”

“The what? asked the Loon.

“The Roger Federer hat. The tennis player. Has his own logo. RF. It was pink, by the way. I found out later…’

“Ahhhhhh-ha-ha-haa, aaahhh-ha-ha-ha, ak-ak, ak-akh, ahhhhh. Ahhhhhh-ha-ha-haa,” the Loon hooted. “Nobody wears a Roger Federer hat except, ahhhhhh-ha-ha-haa, aaahhh-ha-ha-ha, his wife and, ak-ak, ak-akh, his mother.”

“Hmf. I suppose not. I’d never seen one before.” The Major continued, “I found out later she’s Swiss, or at least married to one. And they play tennis. So I suppose it’s possible she’d wear something like that. Anyway she kept after him in this manner–like a terrier or a mosquito–without letting up for quite some time. I decided to go in for a bit of snorkeling and I followed a school of angelfish around for a half-hour at least.

“I came back to my chaise and thought the stratagem had worked. Peace and quiet. Wonderful. Mr. Singh was relaxing, trying to read. I was pleased to see it was the latest Brad Thor thriller.

“Imagine my disappointment, then, as I noticed a man with his teeth and his fists clenched like worn-out disk brakes, looking down at Mr. Singh through thick lenses and struggling to breathe through a scraggly blondish moustache.

“‘I don’t like the way you were talking to my wife,’ he said, clearly trying to start a fight.

“Mr. Singh did not take the bait: ‘It isn’t safe to climb on the cliffs. It’s against the rules of the club and all I did was to ask the boys to come down. It was for their own safety.’

“Well, if Roger Federer was bad, her husband was worse by far. He was a jackal-piranha to her terrier-mosquito. ‘Damn the rules,’ he screamed. ‘You have no right to talk to my children or my wife.”

“Julius Fehr, that’s his name: Doctor Fehr was trembling with anger and still standing over Mr. Singh who remained seated and spoke in a calm and logical tone that was infuriating in its own way.

“The two went at it back and forth, until somehow Mr. Singh managed to escape. He gained a standing position without making physical contact with Dr. Fehr. And this small triumph must have somehow clouded his judgment because, at this point, he opened a new line of argument.”

“Always a mistake,” agreed the Loon. “Unless you can strike a lethal blow, the defense should always stay on defense. Otherwise you open yourself up to a new line of attack.”

Continue reading the rest at Liberty Island.

*****

image via shutterstock / DeliriumTrigger

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The Future That Used To Be

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” 

This is the first of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. More author interviews will be coming soon too. Also check out some of Pierre’s great articles on comic books for PJ Lifestyle:

The Top 10 Most Overrated Super-Heroes Of All Time

The 10 Greatest Comic Book Writers Of All Time

The 10 Lowest Points in Spider-Man’s Career

Here’s the beginning of his new story for your consideration:

Joey Ixbee lay on his stomach, his head propped in his hands, on the carpet in Steve Garabon’s TV room. At the moment, it was late on a Saturday afternoon and the two best friends were engrossed in the latest Creature Feature offering: Earth vs the Flying Saucers. Although both boys agreed that with stop motion effects by the great Ray Harryhausen the film was a science fiction classic, Joey thought the plot was on the unrealistic side.

 

Suddenly, the soundtrack swelled and over the smoking ruins of a downed alien flying saucer, the words “The End” appeared on the screen. Instantly, Steve was on his feet and snapped off the television set before Feep, the show’s host, could come on and utter a few concluding inanities in his high pitched voice.

 

“Great movie!” exclaimed Joey as the picture tube went dark save for a tiny dot of light at the center.

 

“I’ll say!” agreed Steve. “The story was a little too much like War of the Worlds, but those force fields and flying saucers crashing into the Capital Building and the Washington Monument were fantastic!”

 

“The effects were definitely cool, but some of the other stuff was a little too much,” said Joey.

 

“How do you mean?”

 

“Well, if the aliens were so smart, smart enough to build spaceships and travel all the way to Earth from another world, why didn’t they just open diplomatic channels to the UN or something? I mean, that’s got to be easier for them than trashing the planet. How’s that supposed to help ‘em?”

 

Steve shrugged. “Never thought about that before. I guess it would be easier to just make friends than to start a war.”

 

“Right. And those saucers…”

 

“What about ‘em?”

 

“In real life, they just wouldn’t fly…at least in Earth’s atmosphere,” insisted Joey. “They’re not aerodynamic enough. In space, their shape wouldn’t make a difference, but once in Earth’s atmosphere, they’d drop like a rock!”

 

“You think so?”

 

“Sure, I think so.”

 

“What if they had anti-gravity?”

 

“I guess that would work,” conceded Joey. “But how likely is that? After all, the laws of physics are the same no matter where you go in the universe. Shucks, Steve, I don’t think you’ve been keeping up with your science fiction reading!”

 

“Ah, gimme a break!”

 

“All right, boys,” interrupted Steve’s mother from where she stood at the entrance to the TV room. “You’ve been indoors for the last two hours and it’s a beautiful sunny day outside. Time for some fresh air before supper.”

 

The boys needed no coaxing from Mrs. Garabon to move on.

 

Outside, the sun was indeed shining and temperatures must have been hovering in the upper 80s. Across the street, they could hear the splash of water and girlish voices crying out in glee behind the Surois’ house and overhead, a plane droned somewhere in the deep blue of the sky.

 

Retreating to the front porch of Steve’s house, the two boys began what had become a ritual after viewing an SF film and reenacted to the best of their recollection the scenes they had just finished viewing on television. Notwithstanding the questionable authenticity of Earth vs the Flying Saucers, the balance of the afternoon was spent in imaginary war as Joey and Steve saved the world from the evil intentions of space invaders only they could see.

 

All too soon, however, Joey heard his mother’s call from down the street signaling the time for supper.

 

“Five o’clock already?” exclaimed Steve, finishing off an alien saucer.

 

“Must be, my stomach’s grumbling,” said Joey, tossing a Mattel issue replica of a German Luger to his friend. “See you after supper?”

 

“Over at Gil’s for kick the can,” returned Steve, heading for the house.

 

Quickly, Joey ran from behind the Garabon’s house to the front yard and hurdled the hedges ringing the property in a single bound. Landing in the street, he barely missed a step heading down tree-lined Maple Road to his own home at the far end of the neighborhood.

 

Flying through the front gate, Joey ran around the house to the back porch letting the screen door slam shut behind him in way of announcing his arrival. In the yard outside, nothing had changed since his parents bought the property when Joey was still an infant: the previous owner having been a carpentry contractor, the yard was littered with the debris of his trade from huge stacks of petrified planking to sheds and other outbuildings overrun in weeds and crawling vines. Alongside the house, a two stall garage stood, still crammed with the rusting hulks of heavy automated saws and planers. Everywhere inside the garage were mounds of old sawdust left uncollected for years.

 

Inside the porch, the air was filled with the aroma of fresh baked muffins, so Joey simply followed his nose into the kitchen. There, the table was already set and Sally, his younger sister, sat at her usual place next to the high chair that baby Cynthia would soon occupy.

 

“Don’t forget to wash up before supper, Joey,” said his mother, tossing the words over her shoulder as she mashed the potatoes.

 

“I know,” replied Joey, heading for the bathroom.

 

“Can we hold off on supper for a few minutes?” asked his father stepping into the kitchen, the late edition newspaper in his hand. “I’d like to hold a quick family meeting first.”

 

Mrs. Ixbee blew at a stray lock that had fallen across her face. “It can wait for a few minutes.”

 

“Fine. Let’s all step into the family room, shall we?”

 

A minute later, Joey had joined the others and thrown himself onto one end of the overstuffed couch that also held Sally at the opposite end and his mother holding baby Cynthia in the center. His father sat in the easy chair across the room from them.

 

“What’s this about, dad?” asked Joey.

 

“Well, your mother and I have an announcement to make,” began his father. “We’re expecting company tomorrow and we want you and Sally to be on your best behavior.”

 

“Oh, boy!” exclaimed Sally, clapping her hands. “Company! We never have guests.”

 

“Well, hardly never,” said Mrs. Ixbee. “But this one is different.”

 

“How different?” asked Joey, suddenly interested.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island…

***
image via Liberty Island

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How To Speak Truth to Power and Stick It To the Man Today

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. We’re going to continue periodically introducing new contributors but now we continue a new series featuring many of these writers talking about their upcoming books and dialoguing about this question: 

“Liberty Island has identified itself as the home of the new counterculture. In what ways does your book exemplify this?”

To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Bellow’s new cover story at National Review, is also out this month: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” Finally and importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

See Part 1 with Michael Sheldon’s answer here and Part 2 with Stephen McDonald’s answer here

The old counterculture was advertised (and subsequently mythologized) as Youth Speaking Truth to Power and Sticking it to the Man.  Forty years on, the old counterculture has become The Man and everything they hated about him: repressive (for our own good, of course), controlling (“Momma’s gonna keep you safe and warm”), and above all, determined to keep their hands on the levers of power. As the prophet Pete Townsend told us, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

How am I part of the New Counterculture? 

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What Is the New Counterculture? Part 2

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerptsClick here to see our collection of 24 so far. We’re going to continue periodically introducing new contributors but now we continue a new series featuring many of these writers talking about their upcoming books and dialoguing about this question: 

“Liberty Island has identified itself as the home of the new counterculture. In what ways does your book exemplify this?”

To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Bellow’s new cover story at National Review, is also out this month: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” Finally and importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

See Part 1 with Michael Sheldon’s answer here.

With daily examples of a once great culture circling the drain, it becomes increasingly hard to imagine that things could be different. But let’s try. What might a society that celebrated beauty, excellence, and community instead of slowly strangling those things look like? How would it feel  to live in a society whose people were worthy of one’s best efforts? And what would such people be like?

I envision such a society in Steam Pointe, a series of linked stories that Liberty Island will soon be publishing. Technology can’t hide any decline in the island nation of Steam Pointe. It’s a place that has taken 19th Century industrialism to its steampunk zenith, even as the rest of the world has forsworn airships, Tesla coils, and steam engines for airplanes, computers, and internal combustion.

When international terrorism arrives on his country’s shores and Steam Pointe’s own domestic supervillains begin staging attacks in America, detective Hiram Speer finds himself partnered with FBI agent Mackenzie Hoff. Yet chasing killers beneath Steam Pointe’s zeppelin-blotted skies, the two find their cultures in conflict: manly versus feminized, confident versus declining.

The Pointers’ manners, machines and esthetics are like something out of a Jules Verne-fever dream. Yet this is only the outward manifestation of their alienation from the contemporary United States — the nation their ancestors fled. For its part, America increasingly regards this bizarre place of technological apartheid and traditional gender roles as little better than a rogue regime.

With both their nations and their world views in opposition, will Speer and Mackenzie be able to work together to stop a common threat? Does either one of them even want to save the other’s homeland? And what are their respective nations’ agendas in this cultural cold war?

The fictional Steam Pointe is a culture counter to our own. The Steam Pointe series then is part of a growing counterculture that looks at the present order and asks, “Does it have to be like this?”

It doesn’t. And it won’t always be. As we look forward to the prospect of a re-forged society, come to Steam Pointe and get a feel for what it might be like to live someplace built on beauty, excellence, and community. Enjoy a terrific adventure while taking added pleasure in committing an act of cultural sedition.

****

See Stephen’s PJ Lifestyle post:

Comic Book Tropes That Need to Die, the First in An Occasional Series

And his political posts at the PJ Tatler:

Learning to Love Cloward-Piven

Tougher Than HYDRA

And his interview and story excerpt at PJ Lifestyle:

‘Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

 

***

image illustration via shutterstock / Kiselev Andrey Valerevich

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What Is the New Counterculture? Part 1

Monday, June 30th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerpts. Click here to see our collection of 24 so far. We’re going to continue periodically introducing new contributors but today we start a new series featuring many of these writers talking about their upcoming books and dialoguing about this question: 

“Liberty Island has identified itself as the home of the new counterculture. In what ways does your book exemplify this?”

To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Bellow’s new cover story at National Review, is also out today: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.” Finally and importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

Before completing The Violet Crow, I was having dinner with a woman who teaches English lit at a branch of University of Washington. When I told her my novel was a detective story, she dismissed it in four words: “Detective stories are normative.” I had never heard this choice bit of academic wisdom before, but, before we get to that, let me describe the premise of my normative tale.

The Violet Crow begins when the students of Gardenfield Friends School enter the Quaker Meetinghouse for their weekly half hour of silence. They find instead the lifeless body of a ten-year-old girl. Because there are no clues, and no grieving parents come forward to claim their daughter, the police are pressured into taking an unusual step: They hire a psychic detective.

The idea is to show the press and the politicians that the Gardenfield cops are seriously trying to find the murderer and restore order to this normally safe and self-satisfied community. However, Bruno X, aka Joey Kaplan, is a bit more than anyone bargained for. He has genuine psychic talent, but it’s inconsistent. People always assume that psychics are fakes. And when confronted with suspicions, Bruno counters with Mad-Magazine-Yiddish invectives and recycled Borsht Belt routines.

The Violet Crow offers readers a tight plot, lots of suspects, weird science, and some surprising historical connections. There are also elements of magical realism as Bruno’s psychic ability moves up and down a scale that ranges from coincidence to intuition, luck, and the occasional bit of sorcery. Finally, if you dig deep into genre categories, The Violet Crow is technically a “caper,” because it’s a crime story that’s also humorous.

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24 Counterculture Warriors Writing New Worlds Into Existence

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the seventh collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandAn index of 8 newly-released stories can be found here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” 

Most importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

4. Ray Zacek: The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

5. Keith Korman: ‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

6. Abbey Clarke: A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

7. Jamie Wilson: A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

8. Clay Waters: ‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

9. Todd Seavey: ‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

10. Stephen McDonald: ‘Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

11. Pierre V. Comtois: Golfing on the Moon

12. Aaron Smith: ‘I Spell ‘Magicks’ With a ‘K’ to Both Confound Proofreaders and to Signify It’s Not a White-Bunny-Being-Pulled-Out-of-The-Hat Kind of Magic.’

13. Ken Lizzi: A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland

14. Ted Elrick: ‘When a Guy’s Got That Kind of Control, You Gotta Admire It.’

15. Frank J. Fleming: Who Murdered the Dinosaurs?

16. R.K. Delka: ‘I’m the Constitution, Dammit!’

17. Kurt Duncan: ‘It’s All Compulsion-To-Create Via Mathematics and Engineering. Fun Stuff.’

18. Roy Griffis: ‘An Antidote to the Nihilistic Crap That Is Being Peddled’

19. David Churchill Barrow: ‘The Smoking, Dirty, Jagged Line of Rocks on that Ridge Seemed to Mock God Himself…’

20. Michael Sheldon: What Could Be Better Than Fresh Apricots?

21. Sabrina Chase: Women Can Be Mad Scientists Too

22. Paul Clayton: ‘I Think These 3 Works Should Be Required Reading For All Young Americans…’

23. Erich Forschler: The Road Might Be His Best Work, But My Favorite is No Country for Old Men.

24. Tom Weiss: In the Ashes: A War Screenplay

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In the Ashes: A War Screenplay

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the twenty fourth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first 22 can be read in this collection here, yesterday’s 23rd here, and an index of 8 newly-released stories can be found here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” 

Most importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

My father has always been a reader.  To this day my mother implores me to take some of his books home with me when I visit because there are just too damn many in her house.  I grew up with his ever increasing library in the room right next to mine and started reading Heinlein, Asimov, and Tolkien among others. I grew into Stephen King – my father was never a fan – then grew out of him again. The older I got the more I started reading non-fiction and became something of a military history buff. George Lucas made me love the movies.  Harold Ramis and Bill Murray kept me coming back. Oliver Stone helped me to realize movies can lie to us.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I grew up thinking I was a Ronald Reagan conservative, but I’m now more of a Penn Jillette Libertarian.  It’s much easier to label what I’m not, and that’s a statist or progressive of any kind.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

My formative years were spent listening to my father’s endless political arguments with friends at the dinner table. Rush Limbaugh then showed me how the newspapers can report facts and still get the story completely wrong. George Will’s intellect has always frightened and amazed me.Lately I’ve re-discovered Milton Friedman.  I listen to Russ Roberts’ podcast every week and read James Taranto and Jonah Goldberg when I can.

4.  What are your writing goals?

I want to tell a good story and write authentic characters that people care about.  If I can get that right I’m pretty sure everything else will fall into place.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

@realtomweiss on Twitter. Because, you know, there are a lot of fake me’s floating around.

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I used to play chess competitively until I found another game of skill, poker. I’d like to win a World Series of Poker bracelet one day.

An excerpt from the script “In the Ashes“:

FADE IN:

 

INT. GARAGE – NIGHT

 

TWO IRAQI MEN, early 30s, dressed in begrimed coveralls and work boots, tinker with a nondescript white 4-door sedan.

 

The garage door is shut, its interior lit harshly by bare bulbs and portable lights shining where the men are working.

 

MUSTACHE MAN, sporting a thick full growth obscuring his upper lip, is at the driver’s side door. 9-FINGER MAN, missing his left index finger and sporting a few nasty scars on both hands, works on the trunk.

 

These men are constructing a moving bomb. Concealing explosives in the car’s interior.

 

UTHMAN, 40, jet black hair slicked back and wearing a dress shirt and slacks, smokes a cigarette on a stool next to a clean, organized workbench. He pays the men no mind.

 

INT. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM – MORNING

 

MAJOR MARK THOMAS stands in front of the whiteboard, a Google Earth shot of Baghdad projected on the screen next to him.

 

Mid-30s, he is over six feet tall and casts an impressive shadow in his military uniform, his head shiny from a fresh crew-cut.

 

Animated, he enjoys talking to the thirty high-school kids in front of him.

 

MAJ THOMAS

It looks like we’re running out of time. Let me take one more question.

 

A PRETTY GIRL in the third row raises her hand and MAJ THOMAS calls on her.

 

PRETTY GIRL

So after this…surge or whatever, is over with, everyone can come home, right? We’ve been over there for years…

 

MAJ THOMAS

Counterinsurgency takes a long time.

 

PRETTY GIRL

Since I was in junior high.

 

MAJ THOMAS

But the thing to understand is that the only way for us to lose is to quit.

 

PRETTY GIRL

But why are we there in the first place?

 

MAJ THOMAS

As long as we commit ourselves to helping the Iraqi people stand on their own two feed, they’ll have a bright future.

 

MRS. WILLETTE, mid-50s and looking every bit like she’s been a high school social studies teacher for 30 years, stands up from behind her desk.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Let’s give the Major a warm round of applause.

 

Polite applause, interrupted by the bell.

 

Mrs. Willette offers her hand to MAJ THOMAS as the students file out of the room.

 

REBECCA THOMAS, mid-30s, dark brown hair framing soft features, weaves through the students to join them.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Thank you for coming in today.

 

MAJ THOMAS

I used to love it when you’d bring in a guest speaker. No homework.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

And thank you for making me feel old. When do you head back?

 

MAJ THOMAS

Tomorrow.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

And how much longer will you be in Baghdad?

 

MAJ THOMAS

A twelve month tour turned into fifteen with the surge, and I have eight left.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Be careful, please. We’re praying for you.

 

MAJ THOMAS

Thank you Mrs. Willette.

 

MAJ Thomas slides an arm around Rebecca.

 

MAJ THOMAS

We’re going to run. Lots to do before I leave.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Be safe.

 

Smiling, Mrs. Willette watches the pair out of the room.

Continue reading at Liberty Island

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The Road Might Be His Best Work, But My Favorite is No Country for Old Men.

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: This is the twenty-third in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first 22 can be read in this collection here and an index of 8 newly-released stories can be found here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” 

Most importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

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1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I’m a terrible fiction reader. Been that way since I can remember reading anything more advanced than Hop on Pop. The first book I ever read cover-to-cover (without being forced to by a teacher) was The Ox Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. I think I was 10 or so then, and I struggled to read anything larger than a novella until I discovered Cormac McCarthy’s work. The Road might be his best work, but my favorite is No Country for Old Men. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, my favorite movie is No Country for Old Men. I tend to love everything the Coens make, however. I’m also a fan of Hemingway, and my favorite Hemingway work is his first, The Sun Also Rises.

As for intellectual influences? That whole crew of modernist writers who hung out in Europe in the early 20th Century came up with some wonderfully pretentious and snobbish ideas that provide me with an objective while writing. Hemingway, Pound, and Joyce, namely. I don’t look to them for political advice, but their explorations of syllabic rhythms and imagism have had profound impacts on my writing goals.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

If I had to check a box, I’d go with “Classically Liberal.” In that sense and that sense alone I am currently “conservative.” I value the rights of the individual with highest regard. Without free individuals you cannot have a free society. And, to me, freedom is as simple as: “My freedom ends where yours begins, and your freedom ends where mine begins.” None of this “freedom from; or freedom to” dialectical nonsense. I generally use another word for “nonsense” there, but I’m trying to be good. Anyway, through individual sovereignty and mutualism we shall succeed. That’s the idealist side, anyway.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Commentators? Like John Madden? Personally, I think the Mike Tirico / Jon Gruden duo is fantastic on Monday Night Football. Absolutely wonderful. Other “commentators” – especially political pundits – get on my nerves.

Thinkers? Well, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson are two that greatly influenced my political views. Eric Hoffer, with his book, The True Believer, has had a profound impact on my views of society, and Karl Popper is continuing to wreak havoc in my mind as I work through his two-volume epic, The Open Society and its Enemies. Popper’s philosophical contributions to science are excellent. There are also countless others who are not public personas. Well, I can count them, but I don’t know if they’d appreciate the name-dropping.

4. What are your writing goals?

To be better than my heroes. I don’t want to sell a million formulaic books with the same bones and different skin. If I sell a million books one day, that would be cool and all, but I’d feel unfulfilled if there wasn’t at least one amongst the lot that stood out as something beautiful and moving. I know how stupid it sounds, but it’s genuine. I want to write something that’s experiential – something that leaves imprints and images in the minds of readers – something that, after they put the book down and walk away, reverberates through their thoughts as if what they had just read was real. Those modernist snobs talked a little about a fifth dimension. No one really knows what that is. To me, it’s leaving an imprint on a reader that forms as a lasting memory and feels as real as something that had actually happened to them in reality in a really real way that really happened… but didn’t.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

My books are on Amazon, and I keep a little presence (mostly poetry or short stories) on the web with my blog at

http://www.erichforschler.wordpress.com/.

I also have an author page on facebook: www.facebook.com/Erich.Forschler

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I like a lot of things, and not many of them are very “crazy.” I like random acts of kindness. Cliché, sure, but it only seems that way because I am omitting the nuance. I’ll put it this way, I like to observe my environment – sit back and watch people be. Watch them do. And there are times in life where others are in need of help – these are the “no brainers.” How often do we keep driving past the folks in the car on the side of the road? It’s not always easy to tell whether they need help or not. No, I don’t always stop either. That’s an example. Other times, random acts of kindness evince themselves after observing people in otherwise normal situations. A good group of youngsters working at the local Subway restaurant. They get along, are happy in their current time and space. Maybe a random act of kindness is as simple as dropping a $20 bill in the tip jar. Split three or four ways it barely buys them a gallon of gasoline, but how often does anyone tip those kids, and let alone to the tune of 20 bucks. Little things like that. And I’ve got a soft spot for wildlife in the road: turtles and stray dogs especially, and there was even one time when a Brown Thrasher had survived hitting a car. That little guy got a ride to the local veterinary hospital. They probably put him down, but… ya know.

Yes, I am that boring.

If I could live on the beach I would. Literally on the sand like that. Exposed. But eventually I think the wife and kids would complain about not having anywhere to put their shoes or whatever, so that wouldn’t work.

But I’d do it if I could.

An Excerpt from “Coyote Skull” at Liberty Island:

The tree trunks made black lines from where they broke the white snow and rose until the frozen needles met in one dark mass. High above, the moon held bright and full. The treetops, sealed in ice, glinted bluish white. A wind came then, carrying a distant yelp that spread and sank away in the renewed quiet.

The first shadow broke the silence, sprinting on four blurred legs and wheezing smoky breath with each push. Plumes of white followed as it sprinted past. The others pursued, their silhouetted muzzles catching the hanging plumes of white in the air. Shadows chasing shadows in the harlequin calm.

The pursued grew shorter strokes with longer wheezes. He turned at a gentle rise in the tree line and made for the stream on the other side. The pursuers gained ground with each lunge. They hacked the air with white teeth and crunched the snow in rhythm.

The stream gurgled in hidden seams between ice and rocks now covered in a blanket of exposed white. The moon held high above. When the shadow reached the stream its legs gave out and the head turned as the hips sank down. He pushed the back end up with another wheeze. The pursuers slowed and split apart, still hacking smoke as they surrounded the first.

 

They came at him separately. One to distract. Another to attack from behind. Again and again. He spun in the snow and snapped at them each time, and each time he was too late. He began to spin faster, snapping where there was nothing but empty dark. Chasing his own plumes of snow.

They backed him across the stream to the edge of the plain with snarls and flashing teeth. But when he broke off in a hobbled sprint they left him, offering only a momentary trot in pursuit before halting. Long faces hacking the air. A shadow alone across a smooth plain of white. The others lingered a while at the edge of the open land, pacing, sniffing, and marking the line.

*

Old Mr. Hall stood in his old buckskin coat with one arm hooked on the edge of his wagon and the other at his waist, holding his once-white Stetson, and stared down the snow-muddied road in the center of town. The Habersham boys stomped down the steps and hoisted the last two bags of feed up and over the edge. The heavy bags thumped into the small wooden wagon and bounced it out from under the old man’s arm. He shrank away from it and gave it a surprised look.

“You all right, Mister Hall?” asked Fred.

“Bad as ever,” the old man said with a wink.

“Well, that’s the last one,” Jack said, wiping his hands.

“I do appreciate it,” Hall said. He reached out and shook the boys’ hands. They said “Yessir” and then went back up the steps and inside. Their father stood on the porch and shook in the cold.

“Well, anyhow,” he said, “I still wish you would change your mind.”

Hall rolled his bony shoulders forward underneath the thick buckskin coat as he nodded his head. Then he looked down and patted his thigh with the hat.

Habersham smiled. “I know, I know–but…” He watched Hall and waited for him to say it.

“But I been here long before anybody else come around and whatnot.”

Habersham shivered and nodded and went on smiling. Then he took a deep breath and said, “Now I won’t impugn a man on account of his stubbornness lest I become the stubborn one myself…”

“But,” the old man said.

“But I’ll let it lie so long as I know you know you’re welcome to our empty bed upstairs.”

“Well I know it and appreciate it all the same.”

“All this with them Sioux and the Federals now. Don’t know how you can catch a wink out there, all alone like you are.”

“I get by.” Hall gave him a smile and topped his gray head with the dirty Stetson.

Habersham hugged himself and came down a step. “What I hear is that war parties are moving all over, and they don’t rightly take the time to ask if you’re a good white man or a bad one. Starting to believe all the stories about savages now. And maybe we brought it out of ‘em. I can’t say. Sometimes I wish I’d never come this far.”

Savages, he said. The old man was staring down the road.

“Been a long time,” Hall growled to himself, remembering.

He had peered through the opened window facing the creek. There along the bank were over thirty of them, painted up and walking their horses and casting long shadows in the fading sunlight. They let the horses stop and drink here and there as they mingled in the copse. One of them stayed on his horse holding a rifle across his lap. He watched the cabin. The whole party came closer, passing behind him.

Hall ducked down and eyed the Spencer rifle on the opposite wall. After about a minute of sitting there on the floor the old man stood and removed his hat. “No, they don’t want a fight,” he mumbled to himself. He dropped the hat on the bed and went to the door.

The old man opened the door and took one step out onto the porch, showing the palms of his hands. The middle of the pack walked directly in front of the cabin now, moving along the creek while the horses drank. All of them turned and stopped when he stepped out, and there they stood and stared. Then the one on his horse came by, closer than the rest, and gave the old man a long glare. They kept eye contact while the old white man walked forward to the porch steps and lowered himself down to a sit.

Hall turned his shoulders and swept one hand across his body and toward the door. “You hungry?” he asked in English.

The rider shook his head.

“Been a long time.”

The rider gave a nod. He looked away at the rest and watched them pass for a minute. A breeze came through the valley and rustled the leaves and needles on the trees that lined the creek.

“Winter’s about on us,” Hall said.

The rider looked at him and then down at the ground. Then he pointed his rifle at the ground beside him. “S’unkmanitu,” he said before he lifted his hands and looked up. “Iktomi.” Hall shook his head. He was still sitting there on the step long after they were gone

“Mr. Hall?” Habersham was saying.

“Oh?” he replied, shaking his head and waving a hand. “I was just thinking.”

“You all right?”

“Oh,” Hall started to say. Then he stopped himself, smiled and put his hand out. “Well, I do appreciate it.”

“And I appreciate your business.”

Hall pulled himself up to the seat and gathered the reins. The thick brown horse with graying eyebrows snorted and worked its jaw. “Oh hush,” Hall said. Then he gave Habersham a look and said, “Savages or not, they’ve never done me wrong. And I probably gave them plenty to hate me for over the years. But they don’t.”

“I know. I didn’t mean to offend–”

The old man waved a hand and shook his head.

Habersham nodded. “But it ain’t how it was before. Won’t ever be the same now.”

Hall gave a quick nod and looked down the muddy road. “Well, I better get back then.” He gave the reins a snap and said, “Come on, Old Brute!” and then rode off through the rutted, muddy street between the small collection of wooden buildings on his way out over the plain and eventually back to the cabin by the creek.

Continue reading at Liberty Island

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‘This Is a Sort of Anti-Miley Cyrus View of Sexuality…’

Friday, May 30th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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An Excerpt from “The Ballad of Band of Love: Nathan Harden takes his critique of Sex Culture from the Ivy League to the iPod” by Dan LeRoy:

“My first response to any musician is, ‘I don’t wanna hear about your politics. I don’t care about your politics’,” says Nathan Harden. “A lot of us, the last thing we want to hear when a musician starts to speak is a political statement consolidated into a three-and-a-half minute song.

“The idea of conservative music doesn’t sound appealing to me, or anyone,” Harden adds, breaking into a laugh. “It sounds boring, right?”

Those are unusual statements, perhaps, only to those who don’t know Harden or his day job. A 2009 graduate of Yale, Harden took his alma mater to task in the book Sex and God at Yale, which deliberately referenced William F. Buckley’s 1951 conservative classic God & Man at Yale, and made Harden a sought-after commentator on the Right.

But while his writing and blogging can be found on any number of websites,right-leaning and otherwise, Harden left New Haven for Nashville (after graduating with a Humanities degree in 2009) because he was serious about pursuing a musical career. This he has done as the frontman for Band of Love, a quartet that released its debut album last year. And while Harden shies from the term “conservative music,” there’s little doubt that the passionate, polished rock on Ballad of Dani Girl offers a clear alternative to the prevailing themes of the music industry.

“It’s inevitable,” admits Harden, “that who you are comes out.”

*

Who Nathan Harden is has something to do with why he wrote the book he wrote, and why he makes the music he makes. Self-described in the former work as “a home-school dropout with a G.E.D.” who had twice been rejected for admission to Yale, Harden found himself appalled that his long-awaited introduction to the Ivy League was during the hijinks of Sex Week, which offered porn stars as guest professors, and graphic demonstrations of sex toys and techniques.

If it goes against the grain to claim that women are the true victims of the sexual revolution, then Harden has nonetheless made the claim in both his writing and his music. Ballad of Dani Girl is a concept album of sorts (“I’ve always been a huge fan of concept albums,” Harden enthuses, citing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as a personal favorite) that traces the troubled path of the title character, through the very “liberated” American landscape that has now become the norm.

……

This is a sort of anti-Miley Cyrus view of sexuality. It’s sort of taking what we all know, as red-blooded males, that there’s something alluring about a woman who…doesn’t show everything in the first three seconds you meet her,” he says. “It’s modesty and restraint…the erotic charge of what a woman withholds from you.”

Sex, he adds, “has always been a big part of what rock n’ roll’s about. But it’s gone from treating it with metaphor and subtlety and allusion…to a kind of tediously literal approach to sex.

“The power of restraint and even, to use a kind of literary term, the elliptical–what you don’t say, and what you don’t show,” Harden says, “is something that’s been lost in modern pop music.”

Read the Rest at Liberty Island

Other releases to check out:

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4 Must-Read Memorial Day War Stories

Monday, May 26th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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“I often hear tour guides telling their customers that the flag is never displayed at half mast at the Marine Corps Memorial. Oh yes it is.” – Mark Baird

Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

1. That In Those Times We Will Remember by David Churchill Barrow

2. Point Man by Ted Galacci

3. Shadows: A Danse Macabre in the African Desert by Roy Griffis

4. Even the Pilgrims Needed a Few Good Men: ‘By the Sword Seek Peace’ by David Churchill Barrow

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Even the Pilgrims Needed a Few Good Men: ‘By the Sword Seek Peace’

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

An Excerpt from “Ense Petit Placidam - “By the Sword Seek Peace”:

“Tarry awhile with me, Captain?”

The governor’s assistant, Isaac Allerton, and the native Hobamock had just unlatched the door and stepped outside, leaving the two leaders to their own counsel.

The governor put a hand on his old friend’s shoulder and inclined his head towards the ladder leading to the gun deck of the fortified meetinghouse. As they climbed, the afternoon sun of a late March day shone through the observation and gun ports, in contrast to the dark room below. The light reflected off the little soldier’s shiny metal cuirass, causing the governor to blink and look away until his eyes adjusted. The captain removed his morion helmet and leaned back upon the brass five-pounder, stroking the barrel with his gauntleted hand as if it were his favorite hound.

“Doth Hobamock lie?” the governor asked.

“He doth not,” the captain answered.

“Doth the great sachem, the Massasoit lie?” The captain shook his head.

“How is it that you trust Hobamock to report to us in truth what the Massasoit told him? How do you know that the old fox has not laid a snare for us or his enemies? Both men despise the Massachusett.”

“We both know who lights these evil fires among the Massachusett, and it is not their sachem, Obtakiest. It is Wituwamat…He is a pniese, one of their magic warriors whom they say are invincible. I have seen the knives he and other pniese wear about their necks, taken from the French–knives that have killed French traders, English fishermen, and Massasoit’s people.”

“What course do you recommend?”

“Render unto me a commission to place Wituwamat’s head upon this parapet before the last frost melts, that it might be a warning and a terror to all of that disposition.”

“The yearly public court day is nigh. I will lay out the threat for the men of the plantation, but seek only a general authority for me, Allerton and yourself to do as we think fit. If blood be shed it will be upon our hands.”

The governor paused, and brought both hands to his temples, as if his head had begun to throb. “It is the Wessagussett men that have brought this down upon us. They steal victuals from the Massachusett, and treat with them duplicitously.”

“Far worse, there are some who have debased themselves to be servants among the Massachusett, selling their birthright as free Englishmen for handfuls of parched corn not worth even Esau’s pottage,” the captain added.

“Then why not send emissaries to the Massachusett, and make ourselves distinct from the men of Wessagussett?”

“That will waste time and endanger the emissaries. To them we are all Yengeese, as weak and dissolute as the men of Wessagussett. As we speak, they make canoes to attack us by both land and water.”

“Perhaps we can quickly gather up those of the Wessagussett men that are willing within the safety of these impalements,” the Governor suggested.

The captain waved his hand over the fenced-in village below them. “I designed these fortifications to withstand attack from a single tribe or a French raiding party. They will not stand against the combined nations of the Massachusett, the Narragansett, the Nauset and perhaps even some of the Massasoit’s Wampanoag. We will all perish, just as the three hundred did last year in Jamestown. Yet if I slay Wituwamat and a goodly portion of his band, their sachem may see the bad magic. If the sachem himself comes forth, I will slay him also as an example. But our purpose will be met in either case.”

“It is shameful that such blood must be shed for sheer want of Godliness among the Wessagussett men,” the governor lamented.

“They lack more than Godliness–they lack God-given wisdom, which instructs how to arrange our affairs so as to account for man’s fallen state, even here in the wilderness.”

“Seeking to replace Elder Brewster in his exhortations, are you?” The governor smiled, as if to welcome a different conversation.

“No. Let him preach the truth of scripture whilst you and I preach–and act–upon the interaction of the holy with the profane,” the captain answered. “You have strangers to your faith among you, yet there be good order in general. Why? What did you do when some expressed a desire for the unfettered freedom of the savage over well-ordered liberty, before we even set foot on this shore?”

“The Compact…” The governor began to see the captain’s point.

“Indeed…wherein we covenanted to ‘combine ourselves into a civil Body Politick’ and pledged submission and obedience to ‘just and equal laws.’ By such means were we saved from both the tyrant and the mob.”

The sun was sinking lower, and both men sensed it was time to conclude their business and return to their homes.

“How many men do you propose to take?”

“Eight…Good and stout of heart, and Hobamock, of course.”

“Eight?”

“I had considered two or three, but such a small number might presume too much upon Providence. Do you not agree?” The captain grinned from ear to ear.

“I do see that taking a multitude would leave this place defenseless. But what can eight men do in this circumstance?”

“More than a multitude, for my purposes. We are not opposing a regular army of Frenchmen, or the Spaniards I fought in the Low Countries. Did not the LORD winnow down Gideon’s host from 32,000 to 300 so the Midianites were confounded? A few good men–employing ruse, improvising and adapting to the tactics of the foe–will overcome and destroy as few of the natives as will suffice.”

“Will you go by land or water?” the governor asked, as they descended to the meeting house below.

“We will take the shallop. This will be good training for those chosen. There are entirely too many whose physick doth appear soft and womanly. We should remedy that by and by. I have been considering more drill for all of them. We are in a new land, wherein we must preserve a force in readiness to act at a moment’s notice. By land or sea. We know not whence the next danger may come, be it from savages, Frenchmen, Spaniards, or rogue Englishmen under no flag or law.”

Dusk was beginning to fall as the two men exited the meetinghouse.

“Go with God to your hearth, William.”

“The peace of God go also with you,” the governor answered, as they parted for the evening–each to his own supper.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island

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Shadows: A Danse Macabre in the African Desert

Saturday, May 24th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

An Excerpt from “Shadows“:

It is the third day. Today, I am assigned to the western, or forward, antiaircraft battery. Hans has the eastern gun. Almost every third day the British have sent a reconnaissance plane toward us: our lives have become patterned around that fact. But we look ready each day.

At least, we are told it is a recon plane. Before he died, Herr Dietrich told us, “If it is a recon plane, we must do our best to knock them out of the skies. Our appearance of bloodthirsty determination will help the Britishers’ report of us.” So we wait.

The land here is mostly flat, unlike the steep hills and valleys of home, and it is also dead, unlike home when I was last there. I do not like to think of the green and slate colors all black, burnt and scarred by the Allied bombs. When the sun rises here, it sends the light running ahead of it, like pouring golden water on a dark tabletop. The nights are cold, the sunrise cool, and the largest part of the day is hot.

I wear an old Luftwaffe jacket, gloves on my hands as I sit at the controls. The leather jacket has ragged holes down one side. Within hours of the sun’s rise, I’ll be stripped to my undershirt.

Stretching night-stiffened limbs, I catch my leg against the metal frame. It is only a glancing blow, but the pain flies up through me like the red streaks radiating from my wound.

“Scheisse!” I mutter.

Gingerly, I move my leg aside. The seat of the gun is rough, better used on a farm tractor than for a weapon. Even so, to recline invites sleep. Instead, I look back over my shoulder at the camp.

The 10 or more cooking fires are lit, and Johann’s most important duty for the day has been performed. Prometheus–I call him that for the fire he brings to the British–huddles inside what would be the kitchen tent. He is wearing his cook’s uniform, easily seen from the air. He waits, as we all do, for the sound of the aeroplane. The serving tables are set; the containers half full of something like food. The wind shifts the smaller pots a bit. The occasional tinny clank carries across the empty field between us.

The massed trucks, the personnel carriers. All of this is for them alone. The tents, the fires, even the camouflage thrown over our weapon emplacements. It is for them.

I can hear it. Almost all of the noise from the engine, I was told, so little from the propeller. Sound travels as quickly as dawn sunlight in the desert, but deceives about the direction.

There it is…too distant to make out the details. But even were I to see them, I would not be able to correctly identify the craft. The type has ceased to be important. Only the circle within a circle of the British emblem interests me. It is a good target at which to aim.

High and fast it comes, staying hidden in the sky-filling explosion of the morning sun. The flight goes as others before it; we fire, the plane circles, we fire again, the sentries on the ground move about, and the English fly away with their photographs.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

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Point Man

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

An Excerpt from “Point Man“:

1944–Italy

Crack!

Before the echoes of the rifle shot died, all seven of us dropped and merged with the rocks on the dusty Italian hill. We were on the inside of a long, climbing curve and I was on the high side of the trail, up against the bank. That’s why I couldn’t see shit over the sights of my Browning Automatic Rifle–my BAR.

It was a real bitch hauling those sixteen pounds up and down these hills, but the firepower–it was a light machine gun in all but name–was a real comfort sometimes. Like now.

I eased another magazine out of my bandoleer and set it down beside the one already in the receiver–just in case.

“Anybody hit?” Sarge called.

“Dutch dropped,” Padre said. “He isn’t moving.”

Dutch Boehm was point man, the most dangerous job in a patrol file. Usually it was Padre’s, but Sarge had put Dutch there today.

“Anybody see where it came from?” Sarge was doing the next most dangerous job, calling attention to himself. I waited for another shot but none came.

“Sounded like it came from up and to the right.” Russo was tail-end Charlie. He and Dutch were buddies. We called them the Axis twins.

“Okay, take New Guy and check it out.”

“Right Sarge. C’mon.” I heard rocks and dirt kicked loose behind me as they moved out. We all waited. Flies buzzed and walked undisturbed on our faces and hands. I squinted at the narrow view of shimmering rocks, leafless shrubs, and Shitter Jones’ worn boot soles ahead.

Russo and his backup came clattering back down onto the the trail. He went over and stood near Sarge. The rest of us took that as a signal to relax–but not too much. I got up into a crouch, so I could see what was going on.

“They let out Sarge.” Russo’s words came between gasps. “Found this.”

He offered Sarge a single dull brass cartridge. Sarge rolled in in his fingers and then sniffed it. He looked at New Guy. “What about you?”

“I d-didn’t see nothing.”

“Padre, you and New Guy go up and take care of Dutch. Don’t dig him in, just cover him with rocks. Bring back his tag and personals… and his ammo.”

“Why me? I just came–” I moved up behind New Guy and put a hand on a shoulder when he started to protest. He went off muttering. Padre followed silently.

“Fifteen minutes for water,” Sarge continued. “Chick, you keep an eye out.”

Chick, that’s me. I climbed a little way up the steep bank and rested my ass against it. It was so steep, you couldn’t call it sitting. The rest of the guys moved back down the trail, where the bank made some shade, and lay down, mostly.

I fumbled my canteen from its case on my right hip while scanning the barren hills for movement. The first sip was warm and metallic tasting. I swished it around in my mouth and spat. Then I chugged a good one, wishing it was a Pabst. I looked back toward the other guys.

Sarge was way down the trail, near where the tail of the squad had been when Dutch had bought it. He was leaning over and looking at something. Then he was picking it up. Whatever it was, it was shiny.

Shitter Jones was talking to Russo. He pulled out some Luckies and traded for some toilet paper from Russo’s K-rations. The way K-rations were made, most guys got clogged up and couldn’t go to the bathroom but every three, four days. This was a good thing, because it took you that long to save up the tiny packets of paper to make a decent wipe. Most guys excepting Shitter: He was always wandering off to find a bush or rock pile somewhere, and he was always desperate for paper.

Jones moved off on another privacy search and Russo started emptying his Garrand. Click-clack. He worked the action and round sprang out. Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack.

Unlike my BAR, the M1 Garrand rifle loads eight rounds through the top from a special stripper clip. When the last round is fired, the bolt locks to the rear and the clip springs out, You can’t reload until the weapon is entirely empty, so if you want to make sure it’s full, you have to empty it all the way first.

That’s what Russo was doing. Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack. Ping! The clip jumped out. Russo pulled a full one from his ammo pouch and slid it into his rifle. He glanced over at Sarge before bending over to pick up the loose brass.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

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That In Those Times We Will Remember

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

An Excerpt from “That In Those Times We Will Remember“:

Gentlemen, I’d like to draw your attention to this outline of the continental United States,” the old Marine began, as he put the first transparency on the overhead projector. “And this, gentlemen, is an outline of the island of Cuba drawn to the same scale,” he added, superimposing a second overlay onto the first. “As you can see, it is over 800 miles long and would run from New York City to Chicago.” He paused for effect, and then put on a third overlay. “Can you all see this little red dot?”

“Just barely. What’s tha-at?”

In the relative darkness beyond the bright overhead he couldn’t quite see who had asked, but the Cape Cod twang told him it was either the boss himself or his brother the Attorney General. It didn’t surprise him that the AG was deeply involved. After the boss had had to scrape the Bay of Pigs fiasco off the bottom of his polished oxfords, there were damn few around him he still trusted. Obviously his brother was one, and this old Marine hoped that he too was on that short list. He’d served under many men since his ROTC days at DePauw – some were pompous pinheads and some weren’t – but he genuinely enjoyed serving under this C-in-C. It wasn’t just the famous “vigah” or the fact that he had served in the Pacific. The man was a quick learner, and he needed to be that above all right now.

“I’m glad you asked. That, gentlemen, represents the relative size of the island of Betio in the Tarawa atoll. About two miles long and maybe 800 yards at its widest point. It took 12,000 Marines three days to take it. Over a thousand never came home.”

He could tell from the murmuring that they got the point. Those who wore uniforms — and those who had ever worn one — were no longer looking at the red dot. Their eyes were fixed on the little sky-blue ribbon with its tiny stars in the top row of combat decorations on his Class “A” jacket. It was a slight irritant to some of the brass, since they had to salute that ribbon even if they outranked the wearer. They all knew that his had been earned on Tarawa.

On the way back to his office he stopped by the scuttlebutt, took a bottle of his favorite APC grunt candy – Anacin – out of his pocket and washed down three pills with some water. Ever since the Bay of Pigs he’d made it his mission to protect the boss as best he could from the Langley cowboys and Foggy Bottom dilettanti who wanted to play at war, but every attempt left him with a massive migraine. He’d told them before and he knew he’d have to say it again. Either do the sonofabitch and do it right, or don’t do it at all. Quit friggin’ around. He went into his office, closed the door without turning on any bright lights, leaned back in his leather chair and closed his eyes.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

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3 Bachelor Bears

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

Here is an excerpt from “The Bachelor Bears” by Dennis Maley, a clever satire inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears (also check out ten more stories in the contest here):

Three bachelor bears lived communally in a cabin deep in a national park. One bear was undersized, another was a middle-sized bear, and the last had been overserved. The large bear was almost too big for the front door of the cabin.

The bears had friendly relations with their neighbors, who regarded them as good-natured, harmless and reliable. They admired the resolve of the wee bear for refusing to seek compensation for his height deficiency. Their garden was tidy and won frequent awards for “yard of the month” from the homeowners association.

Each of the bachelor bears had his own bowl, carefully selected from Crate & Barrel, his own overstuffed chair, and a bed from Ikea. The wee bear’s precious belongings were small, just his size, while everything the middle-sized bear owned was middling. Imagine the size of the belongings of their oversized friend!

One day, the bears took a stroll in the park while their porridge cooled. In their absence, a woman discovered the bears’ dwelling. She was an agent of the park, selected for her uncommon ability to use verbs as nouns and nouns as verbs. She had been tasked with insuring that the strongest of the park’s denizens didn’t benefit at the cost of the weakest. “A big ask is how this cabin has avoided inquiry,” she said.

Badge in hand, she climbed the picket fence that surrounded the cabin. She approached and peeked through a window. Inside, she saw an enormous chair. “My take-away is that the size of this enormous chair is unfair!” She stamped her foot hard, which might have been painful, but she wore comfortable shoes.

Approaching the door, she tried the latch. The wide door swung open. Certain that no one was home, she walked inside.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island…

****
image via shutterstock / Mike Tan

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The Helpful iPlate of Doom

Monday, May 12th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

Here is an excerpt from “The Helpful iPlate of Doom,” a clever satire inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears (also check out ten more stories in the contest here):

“Can we try it, Mama, please, pretty please? All the kids at school are using it!”

“OK.” Mama Bear took her famous stew off the stove and reached for the box on top of the cupboard. The new iPlate sure looked pretty — a shiny multi-colored platter with miniature light bulbs around the edge. Best of all, as part of the new Bear Land Agricultural Needs Department initiative, every family was entitled to one for free.

“Hello. I’m an iPlate, here to help you make healthy food choices. Please deposit acceptable food and wait for green light to start eating.”

“I’ll go first!” Jumping with excitement, Sister Bear grabbed a spoonful of meat from the stew and dropped it on the iPlate.

“Unacceptable food. Red meat: high saturated fat content. Please remove.”

“You did it wrong! Let me try!” Brother Bear removed the offending meat and replaced it with a scoop of potatoes.

“Unacceptable food. Stewed potatoes: high starch, low vitamin content. Please try again.”

Mama Bear was confused. Beef and potato stew was a family staple going back to her Russian grandparents. Why was it unacceptable? Still, the cubs were so excited about trying their new educational toy, and she did want them to learn to eat healthy…

“Maybe it doesn’t work well with homemade food. Let’s try something simple, like a banana.”

“Unacceptable food. Banana: high in sugar, promotes tooth decay.” This time, the device did not ask for another try. Instead, the light bulbs around the edge flashed red, and a different, louder voice sounded.

“You have performed three unsuccessful attempts. Please report to the nearest B.L.A.N.D. center for Food Re-education.”

“No way! I know how to feed my cubs!” Mama Bear grabbed the iPlate and turned it over, looking for a switch. “Let’s just set our normal plates for dinner.”

As soon as Mama Bear’s finger found the switch, the iPlate shook violently, slipping out of her hand.

“Hostile consumer! BZZZZZZ!” The iPlate flew in a circle around the kitchen, then aimed straight for Mama Bear, barely missing her head. “Violation of B.L.A.N.D. food guidelines in progress. Enter Emergency Response mode. BZZZZZ!”

“Cubs, get out of the kitchen!” Mama Bear yelled. Brother and Sister Bear didn’t need to be told twice. The iPlate looked terrifying, like an attacking alien spaceship from old human movies.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island

*****

image via shutterstock / Bob Orsillo

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11 Satires Exposing the Silliness of the Broccoli Police

Friday, May 9th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

1. The Helpful iPlate of Doom by Marina Fontaine

“Hello. I’m an iPlate, here to help you make healthy food choices. Please deposit acceptable food and wait for green light to start eating.”

2. The Bachelor Bears by Dennis Maley

Three bachelor bears lived communally in a cabin deep in a national park. One bear was undersized, another was a middle-sized bear, and the last had been overserved. The large bear was almost too big for the front door of the cabin.

3. Goldilocks and the Three Bears Coffee Co. by Jack Morgan

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Progressistan, there lived a girl named Goldilocks, who was considered beautiful by the outdated standards of the white-supremacist, heteronormative patriarchy. Goldilocks lived in government subsidized housing on the edge of an enchanted forest and she would venture out into it to commune with the Earth Goddess daily.

4. Hillary Steinem: Kid Community Organizer and Detective by Dean Anderson

Knock, knock! There was a knock on the club house door. Hillary and Makayla were studying in the clubhouse Hillary’s Grandma Betty had built for her. (When Grandma Betty built the clubhouse, she made sure to follow all of the appropriate city codes and filed for all of the appropriate permits.) Hillary opened the door to see it was Billy! Billy was taking a big bite out of a very large cookie.

5. The Obedient Courage and Open-Mindedness of Healthy Herbie by Erich Forschler

Healthy Herbie and his neighbor, Selfish Face, played together in the backyard sandbox at Selfish Face’s house. “I’m gonna make a castle and then the knights are gonna have a war!” Selfish Face exclaimed. His eyes shimmered with racist hatred as he filled a small plastic bucket with sand.

6. John Henry Goes to Washington DC by Nick D’Orazio

GRANDDAUGHTER: Did Big John fight the steam drill?

GRANDFATHER: No he didn’t. He marched right up to the government and asked for unemployment. And you know what? He got it too! Because big John Henry was the best there ever was at getting things.

7. Welcome to the Club by Colin Blake

Anna and Will ran inside holding a doll and a ball respectively, not realizing what a fury that was going to cause among the literati.

8. The Emperor’s New Accomplishments by Frank J. Fleming

Long ago in a faraway land lived an emperor named Obama. He was the greatest emperor the people had ever known; everyone knew he was the smartest and the most capable emperor that had ever existed. The only problem was that he had no accomplishments to show for his greatness.

9. Johnny and Margie Meet Auntie Sam by John L. Scot

“I don’t like Aunt Samantha,” said Margie. “She’s too bossy. Why do we have to pay her tribute?”

“Because Auntie Sam gives us everything,” Vanna replied. “She pays for your education, for our medical care, for retirement, she keeps us safe, and she even tells what to eat so we can stay healthy.”

10. The Good Hood Fairy by Jack July

Once upon a time there was a girl named LaQuisha who lived in the ghetto outside of Philadelphia. She was watching TV and smiling while imagining her life as a character in an episode of the Cosby show. Her little brother was in bed and her Momma wouldn’t be home from the factory till morning. As she reached for her glass of green Kool-Aid, shots rang out from somewhere outside. She dove to the floor like her Momma taught her spilling her Kool-Aid.

11. Abuela’s Healthy Porridge by George Tobin

Ernesto and Herve laughed and held hands on the way to the house ofthe kind old woman they called “Abuela” or “Granny.” Today the growing darkness from the North seemed far away. Today was made for celebrating with whole grains and organic fruits. Today they had no concerns but to enjoy being young, Sandinista and gay.

****

image illustration via shutterstock / ORLIO    

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These Last 2 Healthy Eating Horror Stories Are the Most Shocking Satires Of All…

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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From “The Good Hood Fairy” by Jack July: “For the rest of the night till early in the morning, they baked pan after pan of biscuits, until the final pan was fluffy and mouth watering. LaQuisha was proud. Then the Fairy said, “Oh, honey, we ain’t done yet.”
Once again the wand was waved and the chant spoken. Sausage appeared, along with a cast iron pan. “Baby, it’s time to make some sausage gravy.”

Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

The hilarious results began with with a trio of takeoffs on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears Monday3 Nanny State-Approved Bedtime Stories For Your Little Community Organizers Tuesday, and 3 more satires led by The Emperor’s New Accomplishments by Frank J. Fleming on Wednesday.

Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a girl named LaQuisha who lived in the ghetto outside of Philadelphia. She was watching TV and smiling while imagining her life as a character in an episode of the Cosby show. Her little brother was in bed and her Momma wouldn’t be home from the factory till morning. As she reached for her glass of green Kool-Aid, shots rang out from somewhere outside. She dove to the floor like her Momma taught her spilling her Kool-Aid.

2. Abuela’s Healthy Porridge by George Tobin

Ernesto and Herve laughed and held hands on the way to the house ofthe kind old woman they called “Abuela” or “Granny.” Today the growing darkness from the North seemed far away. Today was made for celebrating with whole grains and organic fruits. Today they had no concerns but to enjoy being young, Sandinista and gay.

****

image via shutterstock / RoJo Images

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The Emperor’s New Accomplishments by Frank J. Fleming

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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“Long ago in a faraway land lived an emperor named Obama. He was the greatest emperor the people had ever known; everyone knew he was the smartest and the most capable emperor that had ever existed. The only problem was that he had no accomplishments to show for his greatness…”

Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

The hilarious results are being published over the course of a week, starting with a trio of takeoffs on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears Monday, and 3 Nanny State-Approved Bedtime Stories For Your Little Community Organizers yesterday. Enjoy! And be sure to check back tomorrow for the next batch of stories.

1. Welcome to the Club by Colin Blake

Anna and Will ran inside holding a doll and a ball respectively, not realizing what a fury that was going to cause among the literati.

2. The Emperor’s New Accomplishments by Frank J. Fleming

Long ago in a faraway land lived an emperor named Obama. He was the greatest emperor the people had ever known; everyone knew he was the smartest and the most capable emperor that had ever existed. The only problem was that he had no accomplishments to show for his greatness.

3. Johnny and Margie Meet Auntie Sam by John L. Scot

“I don’t like Aunt Samantha,” said Margie. “She’s too bossy. Why do we have to pay her tribute?”

“Because Auntie Sam gives us everything,” Vanna replied. “She pays for your education, for our medical care, for retirement, she keeps us safe, and she even tells what to eat so we can stay healthy.”

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3 Nanny State-Approved Bedtime Stories For Your Little Community Organizers

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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From Dean Anderson’s submission to the contest: “Hillary and Makayla organized kids to protest at the Boys and Girls Club with signs like, ‘Kids deserve healthy food!’ and ‘Cookies = Cigarettes.’”

Recently it came to our attention that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been dabbling in literature. In a clear sign that its 100,000 employees have far too little to do, the sprawling federal agency has issued a nauseating children’s book called “The Two Bite Club,” in which a mother cat and her adorable kittens Will and Anna learn to make federally-approved healthy food choices. According to the USDA website: “Parents or caregivers read the book to children and encourage them to try foods from each food group by eating just two bites, just like the characters in the story.”

The PDF is available here: try not to gag on your broccoli.

Naturally we viewed this as a sinister intrusion of federal power into the sphere of family life and a gross infringement on our freedom to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast and snack on salt and vinegar-flavored potato chips while catching up on Game of Thrones. American patriots bled and died to ensure these sacred freedoms. So we resisted in the only way available to us: we asked our community of writers to sharpen their pens and write their own brief satirical stories. Take that, USDA!

The hilarious results are being published over the course of a week, starting with a trio of takeoffs on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears yesterday. Enjoy! And be sure to check back tomorrow for the next batch of stories.

1. Hillary Steinem: Kid Community Organizer and Detective by Dean Anderson

Knock, knock! There was a knock on the club house door. Hillary and Makayla were studying in the clubhouse Hillary’s Grandma Betty had built for her. (When Grandma Betty built the clubhouse, she made sure to follow all of the appropriate city codes and filed for all of the appropriate permits.) Hillary opened the door to see it was Billy! Billy was taking a big bite out of a very large cookie.

2. The Obedient Courage and Open-Mindedness of Healthy Herbie by Erich Forschler

Healthy Herbie and his neighbor, Selfish Face, played together in the backyard sandbox at Selfish Face’s house. “I’m gonna make a castle and then the knights are gonna have a war!” Selfish Face exclaimed. His eyes shimmered with racist hatred as he filled a small plastic bucket with sand.

3. John Henry Goes to Washington DC by Nick D’Orazio

GRANDDAUGHTER: Did Big John fight the steam drill?

GRANDFATHER: No he didn’t. He marched right up to the government and asked for unemployment. And you know what? He got it too! Because big John Henry was the best there ever was at getting things.

*****

image illustration via shutterstock /  alexsvirid

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