My favorite thing to read in a long time

Like many writers I tend to read a lot. Lately I have been into more supernatural things, some horror, and tending towards either graphic novels or straight up comics for a variety of reasons we will discuss in a later post. Today all I want to talk about is this comic I came across that I enjoyed more than anything in a long time.

The Pound – from Frozen Beach Studios.

Capture

The oddball minds of Stephan Nilson and Charles Pritchett, who have been around the comic industry for a while, have an original take on a werewolf, vampire, and other supernatural being story.

How is it different?

Do the vampires glow? Oh hell no.

Do the werewolves get over the top jealous of the human girlfriend of the vampire that glows? Oh hell no.

The story follows two Animal Control Specialists who lost their jobs due to budget cuts and start their own private stray animal removal business.

When one of their firsts calls turns out to be a werewolf…but when in human form a werewolf that takes them out to breakfast and is a really nice guy…the whole thing just gets weird.

If it sounds different it really is. It has some of the most original content I have seen in a very long time.

I can (and have) had to go home and have uncomfortable conversations with my wife about losing a job. It happens.

Have you ever had to go home and explain to your wife, who thinks you are chasing down racoons, that you spent all night fighting an actual, no shit, real werewolf…in a town that has never ever seen one in real life?

That is a fun conversation destined to ensure you aren’t going to be seeing your wife anything but fully clothed for a really long time.

Between the stresses on the job, and at home, it is absolutely hilarious. It is one to really not miss if you are into the supernatural genre.

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A new writing project – a Comic – Novel Crossover

As a guy who enjoys the process of writing books, and telling a story I embarked on a new adventure recently.

My previous books all have co-authors. I really enjoy the act of collaborating on telling a story, and I think extra eyes can help bring depth to any project.

Recently I started working with someone on a different approach to the process. This particular project involves taking a really amazing series of Graphic Novels that are already out there and writing a series of novels that parallels those graphic based books.

It is interesting to tell the story without the advantage of the graphics. The story line is complex, and hilarious in ways. I can’t wait to be able to release more details, but rest assured it is progressing rapidly, and you will enjoy it.

We hope to have it ready for release before the New Year, which means it is coming close. Stay tuned to the blog, you may see a sample chapter soon.

Writing, The Book and Entertainment Business, What is Going on Around Here?

I have been on this earth for 45 years (give or take a few months).  Perhaps it is just my approaching (ok in the) middle age but I am noticing a few things about the entertainment industry.

When I was a kid, and even into my later teenage years, you could go to a movie or pick up a book and it would just be what it was.  A book or a movie..Not a political or environmental statement on something.  There was no message, just fun.  In the case of some books just flights of fantasy (e.g. Dragonlance).  I don’t see that much anymore.  Ok maybe Harry Potter, Twilight, there are exceptions in books but movies are guilty of it fairly often.

The other thing I am noticing is that when I was a kid you could save $2 or something and go buy a book.  Enjoy that book and move on…Even if it was new.  There was a market of paperbacks, there was a $1 theatre you could go to and see movies.  They weren’t the brand new ones but it was fun all the same.

Now when I go to the book store and buy a new book I’m staring down $40 for a hard cover and $12.50 the other day for a paperback.  Buying kids books I’m forking out $10 a shot.  (Thank goodness for the used bookstores, love you guys).  I don’t mind paying through the nose for great stuff, but stuff with a message?

I tried to price my book as cheap as Amazon would allow.  $2.99 to $3.99 for Kindle and for paperbacks was the cheapest I could make them.  Shoot if you have Amazon Prime on Kindle they are free!

These things seem to be disappearing more and more.  People ask me why I write books. The idea was to put out a story that entertained people.  That’s all.  I didn’t want a political message.  I didn’t want to sway people to some ideology.  I wanted to give a low cost way you could pick up something, and forget your troubles.  Ok, maybe my subject matter of a nuclear assault, which became the topic for The Last World War was too much for that, but I wanted to pick a topic area that was so horrible that I hope it never happens.  Those weapons are well protected, and hopefully they won’t get loose.  Hopefully those who have them are smart enough to say NO NEVER! Although lately if you watch the interchange between North Korea and Donald Trump that may be a real hope, not a reality.

In another book we do use a topic of global climate change, not to say who did it. That book is to show through science fiction that working together humans can solve any problem, no matter what the problem happens to be. In that novel there is no “humans did it” or “no they didn’t” we just assumed that the climate is out to kill us, and showed that through real science it can, indeed, be tamed. Everything (from the solution side) in that novel is real science, not made up, it’s just expensive ;-).

I do hope that other people start to think in this method.  Low cost entertaining things with little to no political message (unless it is necessary for the story as it was in some ways in mine).

I didn’t want to win prizes, I just wanted to entertain.  I do hope the books do that.

Are we provoking a potential Nuclear War?

North Korea, and President Trump’s interaction with them has been a constant news buzz for the last few months. The stories all seem to go like this…Trump tweeted this, North Korea says that, Trump tweeted again, let’s all discuss that tweet for a few days, North Korea’s leadership is angry blah blah blah.

This newest one has me thinking.

North Korea Listed (again) as a Terrorist State.

North Korea may terrorize it’s own citizens (ok they do), but do they really export that terrorism anywhere? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t but I haven’t heard of any strikes anywhere by them.

Do they have the capability of doing it? Sure, but are we now witness the impact of the newly formed department of pre-crime? (I love that book/movie, but we can’t live in that world it is fictional.)

North Korea is run by a crazy man, of that I have no doubt. But without a UN resolution, without an international coalition we can’t go remove him and nation build, I seem to recall us doing that recently and it didn’t go well.

The difference here is North Korea is a nuclear power. They have nuclear weapons. There is no doubt about that. They may not have a missile with sufficient range to his us…yet, but does it make sense for us to pick a fight?

Does it make sense for Mike Tyson (in his prime) to challenge a lightweight high school boxer to a few rounds?

What could possibly go wrong if we provoke a crazy man who has nukes into using them? I thought long and hard about that nightmare scenario when I came up with the concept for my book The Last World War Volume 1 (volume 2 almost finished).

Could we win such a conflict? Does anyone really win when someone starts using these massive weapons? Ok, we can’t bit hit in our homeland, but we do have a lot of troops on that border, and South Korea has a massive part of their population right on that border. Could North Korea float a fishing boat just off shore of Los Angeles and set one off? All kinds of things can happen when you provoke a crazy person. I only hope we proceed with caution, and things don’t escalate, but for the first time in my adult life I see the potential for a nuclear weapon used in anger as a real possibility.

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 7 of 7

This is part 7 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is really well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

Autistic people can struggle to ask for help with a problem because of communication skills.

As I understand it most people have trouble admitting there are things they don’t know. It took me until my 40s and a PhD in Physics, along with around 10 years at MIT to understand that there are a LOT of things I don’t understand. Asking for help is part of life.

Have I always asked for help?

Nope. Mostly it is because sometimes it takes me so long to explain to someone what the problem is it is faster for me to solve it myself. Is that my fault? Oh absolutely as I don’t communicate the way most people do.

When I explain something and I think my explanation is obvious, there are times people look at me like a dog with it’s head tilted. I think I’m doing a good job, I’m convinced they are just stupid (I used to think that) and now I get that it’s just me.

I work hard every single day on my communication skills and do now ask for help. I don’t always get it, but is it my fault for not explaining my needs well? Sometimes, because as it turns out the way I explain it the thing I’m asking about doesn’t seem like a big problem to most people. I need to explain not just the issue, but the impact that issue is having on something else, which is not what I am really good at (yet).

I can’t speak for all people on the spectrum, but I know over the years not asking for help has screwed me up more often than it has helped me. It has (and I can admit it) prevented my career from advancing as fast as it could have.

This concludes our seven part series. Will I write more on this subject? Well, who knows what tomorrow may bring, but in the mean time I am working on a few new book projects. Wrapping up another as we speak to be out before Christmas. There are more following that! Enjoy the blog, check out the books, and let’s hope that we can cross the finish line into a movie soon!

Sample Chapter from upcoming Novel: The Last World War Volume 2

If you haven’t read it I have a book called The Last World War, Volume 1 (Trial by fission). Many people have enjoyed it, and we always intended for there to be a second. This is a preview of part of that second book which is now in the final stages of preparation.

If you haven’t read it just click books at the top of the page, and you will see it there, or just click right here -> LAST WORLD WAR VOLUME 1

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN DRAFT

 

Alex sat down at his computer to do another financial model that would show the “on paper” value of a small company to potential investors. This was the third one this week, and while it sounded like boring work to most people, to him there was a real beauty in those numbers. These number represented people’s professional lives, their hopes and dreams. If he did the numbers in certain ways, these people will prosper, or if he did them wrong, the people would die in a pile debt from which they would never recover. They had to be done just right, with no margin for error.

The people around him sat tapping on their keyboards doing similar tasks, and he assumed it would be a day like any other. As he was just getting on a roll with the numbers, out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone drop a soda can in the trash and hurry out the door. He wondered why someone was drinking soda from a can instead of bottles, but he shook his head and just assumed it was just someone who preferred the cold metal instead of the plastic. What Alex did not notice was the louder than usual popping sound the can made when it hit the bottom of the waste bin.

The news had said something about an “invasion,” and some kind of series of attacks in New England, but that was a half a country away, and he had work to do.  The news was something that he never put too much stock in anyway, since they had shown time and time again that they could not be trusted to actually report the news accurately.  The “news” companies were constantly reporting poorly researched information and then they always seemed to be retracting some part of a story, if not the whole thing, so he would just wait it out and see what was true and what wasn’t.

Everyone said to be on the lookout for anything unusual, but how weird was an aluminum soda can? It wasn’t that strange, was it?

He knew the attack in Los Angeles was real, but he still had to work. Getting paid by the hour did that kind of thing to a newlywed. If he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid, and last time there had been an attack in the United States it was over that same day. That had to be the case again, didn’t it?

Someone started coughing on the other side of the office hard enough that it caught his attention. Normally it wasn’t the kind of thing he would notice, but this was different. The coughing became harder than a person at work should. He hoped they wouldn’t get everyone sick, he didn’t have time for that. “Go home asshole,” he thought to himself, if they had something that might be contagious they should have just stayed home and not come in and risk infecting everyone. Then surprisingly, a second person, then a third started coughing a sickly wet cough.  One person, then another, and another turned the corner and started coughing so hard that they vomited, then vomited again. Someone screamed and joined in with the rest and added to the vomiting.

The amount of spewed forth bodily fluid had to be enormous. He was fifty feet away and the smell was enough to make him want to join them and bring his breakfast back to the surface.

Alex took off his headphones, stood up and looked over the cubicle walls, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. A small sound escaped his throat at the sight of people on the other side of the office who were bent over coughing and spewing forth vomit of a variety of colors based on the contents of their most recent meal. He couldn’t begin to imagine what made all of them start at once, but he realized there was no way there was anything normal about any of it. Something was wrong, and it had happened fast.

Looking around and realizing just how widespread it was he began to panic, fear was setting in, his eyes went wide and breathing was coming faster and faster with every passing second. The sounds coming from people were like nothing he had ever heard from a human, and the smell filling the room was like something out of a cesspool.

Then his eyes found Angela. She was a great friend, and had been through so much lately. While she would never be a Victoria’s Secret model, she had an aura of self-confidence and sensuality about her. Now, she was bent over coughing and suffering from what looked like a nose bleed, or was the blood coming from her eyes, it was hard to tell. Alex tried to rush over to her side of the room but, as he got closer, he got a tickle in his throat and started coughing. He couldn’t figure out why, he was healthy. Then he coughed harder and harder. His eyes were flooded with tears as if someone had turned on a faucet. Stopping his advance towards Angela he bent over, all of his muscles tensed at once. He fought back, but had somehow lost control over any part of his body.

Violently, with no way to catch himself, he hit the ground hard, face first.  Through the ocean of tears freely flowing down his face he saw Angela on the ground about twenty feet away. She had drool coming down the side of her face and blood quickly running out of her nose, ears and eyes. Then it dawned on him, that he had the same problem.

When did this happen?

How did this happen?

He could not focus on anything except Angela and her body spasming on the ground in front of him. His eyes clamped shut uncontrollably, and trying as hard as he could, there was no way he could open them. His muscles started flexing, doing some crazy things, sending his body thrashing in all directions.

Then, without warning every single muscle tensed at once and he could no longer move. No longer in control of any of his muscles, his lungs started to spasm, alternating between trying to draw breath into his now destroyed lungs and projectile vomiting massive amounts of blood. Then, his colon was next to release its contents and the flood of bloody shit flowed out of his anus emanating a smell that was like rotting flesh as it mixed with the reddish colored urine that his bladder had formed a pool on the floor.  His mind recognized that as the smell coming from the room letting him know that he wasn’t the only one in this condition, and finally understanding where that smell was coming from.

What the hell was going on?

How can everyone here go from healthy to this in such a short period of time?

It didn’t make any sense.

He lost consciousness not understanding what had happened.

 

***

 

The President stood at the head of the conference table, frustrated that he was still stuck on board Air Force One. He held his cell phone at chest level staring into space for a moment. Only some of the electronics gear was back up and running, with technicians and software people working furiously on the rest. Thankfully the cell phone networks were working again, or they would have almost no updated information about what was going on outside the airplane, which was still on the ground.

“Everyone quiet,” the President shouted.

The room fell eerily quiet, more so than the President had intended. He slowly put down his phone.

“Everyone, Given that the Prime Minister of Israel was going to surrender, and has now either done so or been killed, we have to think this through. The only way that man would have agreed to lay down arms is if his citizenry were about to be exterminated,” the President said.

“Mr. President, we have no other source, are we sure it as bad as he made it out to be? Is it possible tha the fighting was localized to just the capital” some unknown intelligence staff member asked.

“That was the Prime Minister himself, not some aid. Given that we had no cell access anywhere at the time, yet his call and that damn General got through, I feel safe saying that I’m sure,” the President said. His tone of voice showing his growing frustration.

“If that is true, and satellites gave us no warning, the electronic systems have been down longer than we realized. Mr. President, I believe we may have the modern-day version of the D-Day invasion taking place, only we are on the defensive side. I think they are coming at us with everything they have available, as fast as they can put it into the field. If we don’t have our networks, smart weapons, and sensor platforms this will be a war we are really not ready to fight without unconventional weapons. The numbers are just not on our side,” surmised the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“General, we just launched two unconventional nuclear warheads and they took control of one of those. How do we know that the next time we launch one it won’t be retargeted to hit one of our cities? Maybe it will be reprogrammed to hit one of military bases around the world, and how the hell would that be helpful?” the President’s anger was coming through loud and clear.

“That is a possibility while those devices are on ICBMs. However, if we launch our attacks from bombers we can guarantee a hit thanks to the human pilots. However, we will have to turn off as much in the way of electronics as we can, just in case those aircraft are penetrated by this network attack as well. But, this may be the best pathway forward. We could also use one of those really fast point to point transport devices that research scientist just showed us, if it would work for the task. He said faster than light, and I don’t know how fast that is, but if we can deliver things without the need for missiles, that just might save our ass,” the General was a professional in every way, and clearly was not ready to talk terms with the enemy.

“Ok. Israel is gone, and that is a huge problem, but let’s figure out our status at this point. Do we have word from any other allies around the world? Is anyone else under attack?” the President asked looking at his Secretary of State, the nation’s chief diplomat.

“Without access to our computer networks, or even television news, it is really hard to tell. I’m going to have people light up the phone line and do this the old-fashioned way, but it will take some time,” the Secretary of State said.

“Get to work,” the President ordered.

“General, where is our heavy combat gear? How much do we have in transport, and how hard will it be to make sure we bring everything we can home as quickly as we can? I have a feeling we may have to become an isolationist nation for a while,” the President said.

He clearly did not like these decisions, but knowing he was painted into a corner. Becoming isolationist could result in the rest of the world falling into an even greater level of chaos. That might be very challenging to fix once things got under control domestically, but he couldn’t very well protect the world and in the process, lose the homeland. America had to be able to protect its own before it could worry about any other nation’s citizens.

“Mr. President, we have probably forty percent of our hardware being repositioned. If you recall, we took a bet, we sent almost every asset we had into the Middle East to try to bring an end to hostilities quickly, most of it is still there, or in transit. If we can find their staging area there perhaps we can launch an attack before they make a move elsewhere in the world. We can issue an order for everything in motion to come home at best possible speed, fuel conservation be damned, and develop a reasonable plan to pull out of everywhere we are that isn’t currently a war zone, but that will take time, I don’t know how long, but at least weeks to months. The other problem is that there are many places around the world that if we pull out with the threat of global armed conflict spreading everywhere is going to go way up,” the Chairman said, clearly not happy with the timeframe any more than the President.

“Fine. Someone figure out where the Vice President is, and get him here to meet that bizarre scientist. Perhaps that crazy man can save us, if we can figure out how to properly use that stuff. He showed us that thing that apparently enables faster than light travel. Perhaps that can deliver our weapons, and people where they need to be without the need for air support. I can’t believe I just said those words, and let’s hope to Christ that the thing works.

“Also, we need a better understanding of what manpower the enemy has already managed to land on our shores. Even if I would launch a nuclear strike here, which I won’t, and we still have active cyber-attacks that may make matters worse, AND our smart weapons are fucked, then maybe, just MAYBE our scientists can pull our asses out of the fire,” the President was shouting louder and louder as he finished his statement. He was also starting to ramble, which was uncharacteristic, the stress was obviously taking its toll.

“Yes, Mr. President,” said the Chairman.

More computers and video screens had been coming online during the exchange.

“Mr. President,” the Vice President’s voice said.

“Frank, I didn’t realize your link was back up. Where the hell are you, and how soon can you get to wherever I am?” asked President Press.

“Somewhere in Texas, I think. However, I’d like to make a point that both of us being in the same place at the same time is a very bad idea, Mr. President,” said Frank.

“Of course, and honestly I’m not 100% certain where we are, just that there is some technology here that you have to see, and help us figure out how to use it to clean up this mess,” said the President.

“I’m told the electronics in this plane is fine. Mr. President you need to get someplace safe and organize a response to the invasion making its way through New England, as well as a nerve agent attack that is at this very moment putting Americans into a horrifyingly painful death spiral, on top of all that we also had a massive nuclear strike. I suggest you go to Fort Bragg and I go wherever you are,” Frank said.

“Mr. Vice President, if I may?” the Surgeon General interrupted.

“I have been on the phone with some of the Emergency Rooms in the impacted areas of this nerve agent. The people infected are experiencing the following symptoms: muscle convulsions, runny nose, crying, drooling, release of bowels and bladder, even some temporary paralysis. Those that will die are doing so in about ten minutes post exposure. Everyone else will recover, and all we must do for the moment is to keep them comfortable. The hospitals in the area surrounding the nuclear strike are over run in the same way we experienced last time, and that must be our priority,” said the Medical Professional.

“Mr. President, that may have been a test of some new capability. If they use those weapons on our troops while we are in contact, they will be slaughtered as they won’t be able to offer any kind of resistance thanks to the associated symptoms. Everyone must wear protective gas masks, whenever they are about to make contact with the enemy, or set foot outside of a base until we fully understand the situation,” the Vice President said.

“General, issue that order, and Doctor, you better figure out if whatever it is that is happening is contagious or not, we don’t need a fucking pandemic on top of everything else,” said the President.

“Frank, get here and get to work, we will be at your old stomping grounds,” the President said, then walked out of the room to see the pilots.

 

<AP NEWS FLASH> Hospitals in some of the southern states are being overrun with citizens suffering from the effects of a nerve agent. Many people around the nation are nervous they are showing signs. There will be an upcoming press release showing what symptoms to be watchful of, however if symptoms being experienced are not chronic, the malady is likely not a nerve agent. Hospitals are asking that people think before jamming local emergency rooms.

Enigma Machines Still Giving us Trouble ENIGMA@HOME

When I was in my 20s, and studying Physics for my undergraduate degree I started looking into ways I could contribute to the basis of scientific knowledge in my spare time. I know…I know get out just a little more. Bear with me a moment.
Someone (probably one of my classmates) told me about this computer screensaver I could install called SETI@HOME. In other words, the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence at home. You could install it on your computer and use your unused CPU cycles to search through radio astronomy data for signs of aliens on other planets. It was run by some people at The University of California, Berkley, and was a really interesting idea.
No, I didn’t find anything but I found the concept interesting. Using unused computer cycles to do useful things. Over the years I have kept other types of these programs installed, and there are now a growing list you can participate in through BOINC (Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing).
These guys now have dozens of things you can participate in yourself using your computers unused CPU cycles. If you are the one that finds something interesting they do alert you, and you will find some competitive people who want to be “the one” to find whatever it is that the particular project is chasing.
In recent years I have become really interested in World War 2, as well as Viet Nam History. This spawns from the work on two different historic fiction novels. The Forest of Assassins, and China Bones (both available on Amazon in print, kindle and audible versions).
That passion is now something I can devote my unused computer cycles to! Enigma machines were these little boxes that the German military used to code and decode messages that they didn’t want the Allies to intercept and use. In other words they carried some of the most secret stuff across the communications channels that the Germans had.
Well, the guys at BOINC now have Enigma@Home (http://www.enigmaathome.net/). As it turns out there are still 3 original Enigma messages that have never been decoded. Even all these decades later. I am personally using lots of my unused computer cycles to help and I encourage you, dear reader, to do the same.

If I can help decode one and there is something juicy in it, who knows maybe there will be a new historic fiction novel in the works. But, for now, enjoy China Bones if you like WW2 history. You will find it a nice read!

Writing the Apocalypse, it is harder than you think

Writing the apocalypse is a hard thing to do. Let’s assume you are a writer, storyteller, movie maker, or just someone who enjoys thinking about how YOU would tell a story instead of the way some other person has done it.

Now, let’s assume you want to write about the end of the world. Assuming your story is more complex than BOOM the world exploded (George Lucas pulled that one off) it is a hard thing to start. How do you want to destroy the world? Chemical? Biological? Aliens? Zombies…again?

Do you start with the world already destroyed and just live through the aftermath as one of those lucky survivors? What to do? There are endless choices.

I am in the middle of writing a series that will, ultimately, become one in that genre. It took me an entire book to open up that apocalyptic story line. It didn’t destroy just a ton of stuff, but I wanted to tell that story from the beginning. How would it begin?

In my case I chose political chaos. World leaders not getting along, someone taking advantage of a leadership shakeup in one nation, in this case one of the few remaining superpowers. That might do it?

That story thread turned into how would I do it? Well, in this case nuclear has to be the start. What has enough bang to get the U.S. to respond with the heat of 1,000 suns. Well, I’m not sure we can do more than we did in the Global War on Terror UNLESS we were responding to a nuclear attack.

Find the last world war on Amazon by clicking here!!!

I took some criticism for that first book. People thought (and told me loudly) YOU ARE SO WRONG. If someone nukes the US we would turn them to glass. I’m not so sure. First, I’ve met a lot of DC based politicians. I’m not sure we would take that retaliatory nuclear strike so lightly, especially if the nation that nuked us used up their entire arsenal in the attack (limited to five) and we could still crush them conventionally.

Then, I thought about it. And I think I am right. The US if attacked with a very small number of nuclear weapons (two in my story) would not respond nuclear. We would handle it conventionally. I’m almost certain of it.

But what happens on round two of a nuclear strike? Or a nuclear strike with a follow on invasion? What do we do then?

Can the world be turned into something where humans really do struggle for survival? Well, yes we can. In the series The Last World War, that is exactly what happens. Book 2 is almost complete, I thank you for your patience, and that series will live up to the phrase…Go big or go home!

Thanks to everyone who has enjoyed my writing! I will keep putting it on the page, if you keep turning those pages.

You will never look at a wine glass the same

Ok, if you have ever been in the military you will know what this is. I also wonder who among you may be able to look at a wine glass the same ever again.

This, and many other hilarious stories, can be found in a book I was happy to co-author with Michael Garst called Laughing at a Military Enlistment. Just click on the title and you will be instantly transported to the book on Amazon (Kindle, Paperback, and Audio).

I now give you a chapter from our book called…Dining In.

 

 

If you were ever in the military, you have probably been to a Dining In function for either your unit, or graduation of some training course. They happen to everyone, and they are usually fantastic events for unit moral. 

If you aren’t familiar with them, a Dining In is a formal dinner.  You get nice white linen napkins, real plates, place cards, and actual, real food that doesn’t have a twenty year shelf life.  If you are just coming out of a military training rotation this is an amazingly refreshing treat as compared to life during the training course. 

During one such formal event there was a prank, of sorts, pulled that suspended these formal events for that particular school, at least for a while.

As you shall see, it is probably better that way.

For this event, the soon to be graduates were tasked with setting up the dining room, which is not unusual. This process involved placement of all the plates, silver, glasses, Polaroid cameras, and seating arrangements.

Wait, what, Polaroids?

If you remember those cameras that will let you know how long ago this was.  If you don’t remember those go to Google and look it up, they were a ton of fun before digital cameras. 

We will wait right here while you see what they were.

During the set-up, one of the males involved in the setup procedures, without any identifying marks on his “male wedding tackle” had taken Polaroid pictures of his kibbles and bits inside of the wine glasses belonging to the head table, with the all of the high-ranking people’s nameplates clearly visible in front of it. He then placed the pictures in envelopes under the appropriate dinner plates.  In the picture, all that could be seen was, well, a bare wang stuffed inside a wine glass with the name of a high-ranking officer very clearly readable in the foreground.

Once the room was set everyone left and went to go get freshened up for a wonderful evening of wine, women (or men depending on their gender) and song. In other words, PARTY ON DUDE (give us a break, we both came of age in the 80s, we have to have a Bill and Ted reference somewhere).

Just remember, this is a formal gathering. So that means dress uniforms, with all the decorations and shiny things attached.

Now the party has begun.  All of the graduates for this class are in attendance, along with their respective dates.  Everyone is done up in their best uniform, nicest dress, greatest suit, all pressed and dressed in proper formal attire. People are looking great. 

The head table has a bunch of high-ranking officers ranging from the head of the school all the way down to a crusty looking Warrant Officer.  For whatever reason the Warrant decides to move his place setting around and he happened to notice the envelope under the plate.  Without fanfare or theatrics he pulled the envelope from under the plate and peaks inside.  With a small smile and a flickering glance at the other members of the head table, he pushes his wine glass away without taking so much as a sip out of it.

During the beginning of the festivities are the toasts: to the President, the United States Army (or insert favorite military branch here for your Dining In event, for us it was Army), and so on down the line.  At each toast, each and every person takes a drink out of their wine glass and a soft hint of laughter runs through a small number of people in the crowd.  As the toasts continue, and food was consumed, the wine is refilled until the dinner is over, and the mood to kick back and relax starts to take hold.

Now remember, the Warrant Officer has not touched his wine in any way, shape or form.  He has also hidden the envelope that was under his plate so, as his plate is removed, there is nothing out of the ordinary.  But, as the rest of the dishes are removed, the other envelopes come out into the open. The members of the head table carefully look at each other in wonder of what the hell is going on, and why there are envelopes under the plates.

While the higher-ranking members of the head table don’t open the envelopes right away, a few of the more junior officers do.  Let’s just say, the reaction was worth the price of admission, it was certainly worth all the bruises, lost sleep, and hell of that particular training cycle.

One junior officer turned the color of a rotten apple, if he had been a cartoon steam would have been coming out of his ears. Another officer, had a hard time covering the deep laughter he was hiding, to a point of choking, from laughing so hard.  That particular officer had to leave because he was making a scene.  Every time he would look one of the senior officers, or their wives he would start laughing so hard that he ended up drooling. 

We think he had a bit more than his share of the wine, but we could be wrong.

Word had gone around to let the other members of the class in on what was happening.  There was so much rejoicing in the fact that they finally pulled a prank that would survive in the lore of the school for all time. 

Come on, male genitalia, in wine glasses is a good one.  

Epic, you might say.

The best reaction was yet to come, and it happened when the senior officers opened their envelopes, and then the wives of the senior officers opened them.  One wife fainted dead away, two went screaming out of hall in horror because of what was done.  There was that one who just smiled, licked her lips and went about partying down.  While the wives were having mixed reactions to the wonderful little surprise, the officer/husbands were trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

That is, until a specific one of them opened the mystery envelope.  Once one was open, the others were opened, and the remainder of the head table found out that they had been wine-nutted (yeah it’s a new word, watch for it in the urban dictionary).  A short time later the entire head table left, with their horrified wives in tow, and the party raged till the very early hours of the morning.

The next day was interesting. There was an early morning formation, in which a very high ranked officer screamed, yelled, fumed, and generally carried on like a pissed off crazy person.  He was sputtering on and on about the lack of decency and decorum for such a time-honored and traditional event.  He kept yelling about how the person(s) who did this despicable act had no honor and so forth.  The real shock happened when the officer demanded those responsible to step forward and face punishment.

One of the first things you learn when you join the military is to never volunteer for anything, ever.  There is even an old joke that claims that NAVY is an acronym meaning Never Again Volunteer Yourself.

The second thing that gets burned into your brain is that if someone says that whomever said or did whatever it was should step forward, DO NOT step forward, look straight ahead, do not smile, in fact don’t even breathe differently.

So, here is this officer blowing a gasket, face turning purple, vein in his forehead about to explode, saying who ever put their junk in the wine glasses is to step forward.  Like that is going to happen.  He then states that if no one steps forward, he will pick people at random for a penis inspection.

There was stunned silence followed by snickering from the ranks of men and women in formation.

Seriously, a penis inspection.

Wow, so many questions come to mind.

Who performs the inspection?

How will that inspection be performed?

There is at least one thought that comes to mind. The rest we think you can figure out on your own, with no help from us.

About this time, as the ranting and ravings are still ongoing, there is talk of penile inspection, and general blanket repercussions, when the grisly old Warrant officer strolls by with what turned out to be a member of the JAG Corp (JAG is the Judge Advocate General, or military lawyers).  There was some good news, for once.

Well, there was no inspection of the privates, no repercussions, and that was the final Dining In event that particular school had, that we are aware of.  While no one came out and said whom the nut dipper was, rumors have flown around for years. So just remember, if you are reading this and still on active duty, wipe your glass before you drink from it, because you just can’t be sure if you are getting a wine glass with a set of dipping nuts.