Saturday, June 17, 2017

Why I Love Wonder Woman



Because she kicks ass.

Because she has integrity.

Because she loves.

Because of her innocence.

Because she makes me smile.

Because I never thought for a single moment that she couldn't accomplish what she set out to do.

Because I believe in heroes.

Because I enjoyed watching her kick the shit out of the bad guys.

Because I never questioned whether or not she could do it.

Because she was a role model for my wife when Lynda Carter created the role.

Because Gal Gadot is one for my daughter now.

Because Gal Gadot was five months pregnant when she filmed the movie. (Are you fucking kidding me!)

Because of all the posts I've seen on social media, especially by my former female students, praising her greatness.

Because she inspires.

Because she empowers.

Because she listens.

Because she's a fierce warrior.

Because she takes all the fire for the soldiers at they cross No-Man's Land during the siege of Veld.

Because she's the God Killer.

Because she brings hope to the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, which sucks without her. (Where are you Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton?)

Because of how she sees snow for the first time.

Because "Really, specs? And suddenly she's not the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?"

Because she believes in us.

Because our world needs her.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Drago Goes to the Movies or How I Learned to Love Writing Horror Stories (Pt. 1)

Why I Write Horror (Pt. 1)

This is the first in a series of entries about what inspired me to write horror stories. I've started with movies as they've always been an integral part of who I am as an artist. My first ambition was to be a filmmaker. As children, my younger brother and I would spend hours pretending our bedroom was a movie studio. We'd develop scripts and act at our stories as if the cameras were rolling. Those are some of the finest memories I have of my childhood. You'll notice a concentration of movies in the early 80s. This is when I first started writing with intent and absorbed everything I could as an artist. I kept this list to ten. It isn't intended to be a reckoning of the scariest or the best horror movies ever made. Not even close. It's only a compilation of what influenced me at various moments in my life.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
The first of a handful of scary movies I watched on Saturday mornings while growing up in NYC. This film was really my first introduction to the classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man. It might surprise you to know that the character who resonated with me the most at the time was the Wolf Man. Lon Chaney Jr.'s portrayal of a disconsolate, misunderstood villain incited my early interest in monsters and my portrait of compassion for those less fortunate. He's the reason I give my heroes flaws. We're compelled to shoulder those who are imperfect.

The Blob (1958)
Clearly, no movie has ever frightened me more in my entire life than The Blob. I shudder even now when I picture that mournful old man digging around in the molten meteor as the film opens. The power to consume is frightening. I have a dread of being eaten alive. Many of the villains I create in my stories are the Blob, often in human form.  

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1972)
My horror stories include their fair share of science fiction. Godzilla as a metaphor for nuclear destruction; the Smog Monster as the embodiment of human corruption and waste. Even as a child I understood these concepts. They scared the shit out of me. Still do. I love cheering for monsters. Godzilla was my ultimate childhood hero.


The Shining (1980)
The first horror movie that gave me pause as an artist. This was before I read the novel. I now understand the film to be something completely different than what Stephen King wrote. Stanley Kubrick used only the title of the source material and the character names. Nothing else is the same. I love both. I watched this movie dozens of times on bootlegged HBO and VHS. It made me start thinking about how characters evolve, interact. The vulnerability of children. The destructive force of humanity. The power of love and thought. I embrace all these themes in my writing. It forced me to understand how films tell stories with camera shots and editing. After seeing this movie, I wanted that authorship and control.


An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Another film watched endlessly on HBO and VHS. Looking back, the movie reminds me more of Dracula than anything else. The mystery of the moor, the insidious locals, the haunting zombies, the graphic violence all quenched my thirst for everything graphic. I appreciated the understated humor. The special effects and rhythmic chords of "Bad Moon Rising" during the initial transformation sequence were enough to captivate my youthful vigor.  A big influence on the early horror stories I crafted with pen and paper in my bedroom after dark.

Silent Rage (1982)
This critical and box office failure retells the Frankenstein story. I loved it. I often wonder if my Sheriff Brad Gleason is the reincarnation of this Chuck Norris character, but without the martial arts expertise. I'm often impressed with the subtle presence of science fiction in horror. The medical lab and genetic modifications are in Queensboro. Like the Wolf Man, I have pity on the monster, a mentally ill patient who violently murders members of his family. I appreciate how the film blurs the lines of good and evil and punches home the notion that evil can never be stopped. It's why I enjoy placing cliffhangers at the ends of chapters and entire novels.

Poltergeist (1982)
Probably my all-time favorite horror movie. Spielberg doesn't get credit for directing, but his signature's all over this nail-biter. My mom lost a baby girl a few short months after this release. In some ways, I always connected her loss with the little girl who gets taken in Poltergeist and equated the terror and heartfelt anger of JoBeth Williams with all the pain my mom endured. This film infuses everything I've ever written.

The Fly (1986)
Jeff Goldblum's best role. My heart breaks for him when that little fly gets caught in the pod. His decay and futile attempts to resist the transformation only serve to increase my empathy. By this time, I was reading and writing horror at a rate I've never equalled. The Fly fed my appetite for the grotesque while massaging my compassion for the diseased. The special effects of Brundlefly impress me even today. The tagline "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid." could be the best ever.

Event Horizon (1997)
After a lull in writing once I graduated college, I had a short run publishing short stories again in the late 90s. This film reinvigorated my passion for horror while feeding my literary stroke for more science fiction. The mysteries of the universe and the isolation of deep space create an intriguing landscape for this disturbing film and my creative output. I visit its domain in my latest novel Winter where villain Amanda Simmons attempts to build a bridge through space-time and across parallel dimensions.

Super 8 (2011)
This movie was Stranger Things before Stranger Things ever happened. It re-awakened my soul to everything I did and wrote while growing up at the dawn of the 80s. Super 8 is directly responsible for my Crow Creek series. The film explores the relationship between father and son and exposes the challenges of dealing with loss. I watched not only with a nostalgic yearning for my childhood but also with the hope and longing for what the future held for my writing. Since its release, I've written five novels, six short stories, and two plays. The second most prolific run of my career.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Winter Images

Winter is here.

I thought it would be cool to compile a few images I found online that reflect what my new novel Winter is about and/or where I got my ideas. My friend, author Chad Kultgen, told me it shouldn't matter how many books I sell because the worlds I create still exist. I hope you love the Crow Creek universe as much as I do. I've been on this journey for three years now. There will always be more stories here. These photos are in no particular order.

Mushroom Cloud

I'm fascinated with nuclear bombs. The atomic bomb drills we had when I was a kid growing up in NYC left an impression. So did those film strips that showed the nuclear tests. My favorite part in Indiana Jones 4 is when the bomb erupts at the beginning (and yes, he hides in the refrigerator, who the fuck cares?). I love that shit. There's something monumental about destruction. Maybe that's why The Trashcan Man seems so fucking bad-ass in Stephen King's epic novel The Stand. I loved Ozzy's Ultimate Sin album. "Thank God for the Bomb." Winter starts with nuclear bombs. I based them on what happened in Goldsboro, NC, in the early 60s.

Solar Flare

The power of the universe is mind-blowing. I'm sad when I don't see the sun. Our dependency on our home star is something none of us really thinks about. I do. Every day. How incredible would it be to harness that power? So, of course, I did. And I put it in the hands of the most despicable of villains, Amanda Simmons. Remember her? If not, you need to brush up on your Queensboro. She screwed over the Red Queen and toppled Entech. Even though Sheriff Brad and his band of heroes think they did. We know better. In Winter, she sets off a Solar Pulse that fucks up everything.

Bags of Blood

When I wrote Queensboro, I wanted to include vampires. My last name is Drago, for fuck's sake. Yes, we share something with Dracula. It might only be our family crest, who knows? Could be more. But it's not nothing. I also knew I didn't want to recreate anything that's already been done. Bram Stoker's original novel, 'Salem's Lot, Robert McCammon's They Thirst. That's about all we really need for vampire tales, right? So I tied my blood drainers into a social commentary about the health care industry and hooked everyone on a drug that's fueled by blood. That shit comes back in Winter.

Zombie Hands

As a horror writer, I'd be stupid if I didn't throw myself into the zombie scene. Flesh eaters are fun no matter how you look at them. Shaun of the Dead is my favorite zombie film. I kinda feel like The Walking Dead has jumped the shark, but we'll see what Negan has to offer this season (I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan from his Supernatural days). Like my vampires, my zombies are also original. They're a sick side effect of Amanda Simmons' solar mayhem in Winter.

Dragons

Crow Creek. Pastor Aken. The Cavalli. Need I say more? If you have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about, how did you make it to Winter? You should start at the beginning of the series!

Lightning

I'm deathly afraid of lightning. It's my biggest phobia. During a thunderstorm, I'll hide from windows. I'm not proud. Just look at the fucking picture. Compare it to the trees. It gives incredible perspective. In Winter, you'll meet Frank Edwards (no relation to the senator from Chapel Hill who fucked around behind his dying wife's back). He's a truck driver struck by lightning while out on the road. He's away from home when the Solar Pulse hits. He's left his wife alone. She's a former Entech employee dying from ecGen2 withdrawal (that's the Red Queen's drug, but if you're with me this far, you know that!). Not good. Frank soon learns "lightnin gits you once, usually gits you again."

JFK

Politicians piss me off. JFK's no exception. The idea that a single family could hold power in America for generations is bullshit. We should also have term limits on all elected officials and judges (when not elected). That's your rigged system right there. Anyhow, those nuclear bombs dropped at the beginning of Winter are meant for JFK. Things don't go as planned, so the bombs make a comeback in the current day.

Maggots

Like my idol Stephen King, I'll go for the gross out when I need to. In Queensboro, you could tell folks were hooked on the Red Queen's death drug if they had maggots squirming under their skin. Kind of how flies are a precursor to dragons in Crow Creek. Both the maggots and the flies return in Winter. Keeps you on the lookout for the monsters they portend.

Big Ugly Fat Fucker


The B-52 Stratofortress that dropped the nuclear bombs over Winter, NC (and Goldsboro). Sometimes, nature isn't the only thing to impress. Look at that fucking machine. Human beings are quite remarkable when they wanna be.

Rootwork

Crow Creek wouldn't be Crow Creek without Black Jesus. He meets up with Sheriff Brad's wife Shana and together they fight zombies and hunt dragons while attempting to save the world from Amanda Simmons. Their narrative line could be my favorite of all that happens in Winter. It's definitely the most action-packed. I can't remember a time as an author when I've loved a character more than Black Jesus. He's also a fan favorite.

1949 Ford

Black Jesus has an ancestor who survives the nuclear bomb detonations. His name's Roosevelt Goods. He's a farmer (and part-time trucker) who befriends Frank Edwards after the lightning strike. There's plenty of Stephen King influence in this character and plot line. I don't want to spoil the story, but Rosie's 1949 Ford factors prominently in the telling. Sometimes they come back.

The Black Cat Trail

I love playing, singing, and listening to blues music, so I wanted to give Winter some soul. I researched NC musicians and found out about Carolina Slim. After the bombs fall, Rosie's old pickup truck will only play Carolina Slim's song, "The Black Cat Trail." I needed an omen and his lyrics didn't disappoint. I avoid black cats like lightning. I suggest you do the same.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Winter - Chapter One



Here's an excerpt from my upcoming horror novel, Winter. Winter is the third book in my Crow Creek series and will be published through Gold Avenue Press in October. Preorders are  now available on my website at www.tsdrago.com/winter/ for only $10 with free shipping. Thank you!

Saturday, September 17, 1960

            Pastor Aken dragged the limp teenager out of the passenger seat of his blood-red Chevy Corvair. She didn’t make a sound. Her smoky eyes fluttered, but she kept quiet.
It was after midnight. He’d kept Bishop Lundby waiting for over two hours. The girl had been difficult to snatch. Not because she’d struggled. She’d stayed with her boyfriend in Braxton Park longer than her parents might’ve wanted, had they known of her whereabouts. But that didn’t matter. The pastor had considered interrupting their tryst and slitting the boyfriend’s throat (he despised his oily hair and faded motorcycle jacket) but didn’t. They’d need someone to blame for her disappearance.
The early-morning sliver of moon glimmered as he traveled with her across the empty parking lot. He glanced at a toppled oak tree. Several thick branches rested against the roof of the church, peeling away the weathered shingles. Muddy leaves tap-danced against the siding in the cool breeze. There were a dozen broken windows, and the gutters had partially dislodged. The remnants of Hurricane Donna.
Pastor Aken hated the bishop. Despised his entire congregation and Mount Olive Church. Would burn each and every member alive if he didn’t have to follow protocol. He’d spent the entire ride to Chasm County digging his fingernails into the steering wheel and talking himself out of driving back to Crow Creek. He could’ve finished the job in the root cellar under First Baptist. No one ever went down there. The place was dark and musty. Put a lock on the door, and they’d have no idea. He could’ve been fast asleep by now and dreaming of his own family, not satisfying someone else’s needs.
He had his sights on Pattie Lynn Briggs, Jake Riddle’s wife. She was just fine. Flowing red hair. Crystal blue eyes. Skin as fair as fresh snow. His chiseled Native American jawline and her Yorkshire complexion would produce bold, handsome progeny. And if her firefighter husband somehow died in the line of duty, all the better for the pastor and Crow Creek. Folks needed a little prodding now and again.
            The languid girl winced. He’d yanked on her blonde hair without realizing, curling the locks into his fist.
            “Just a while longer,” he told her.
She sighed but seemed comforted. He was confident she and her boyfriend had consumed enough Old Fitzgerald to put all of Holt County to sleep. Her father managed the flat yard in Queensboro for Southern Railways and probably had no idea she’d been nipping his supply. The freight companies knew how to grease their engineers, especially with Southern bourbon, and the softer taste of Old Fitzgerald had the local teenagers scrounging to imbibe. The pastor understood. Sneak off with a bottle of sour mash from your old man’s liquor cabinet, pocket a pack of Lucky Strikes from the corner store at Ninth and Mill—what juvenile could resist such carnal paradise?  Partly why he loved his own church as much as he did. Something about the company of sinners.
He wrenched her up the short set of wooden steps at the rear of the church. The doorway was unlit. Not surprising. Bishop Lundby dwelled in darkness. Pastor Aken preferred the spotlight. The perfect metaphor for their contrast. With any luck, this fourth and final girl would complete the bishop’s cycle, and the pastor would earn the right to sire his own flock and never return to Winter again. He’d serviced the state elders for more than a century, biding his time. His devotion had even included a murder of the Cavalli (an ancient order of knights) during World War II. While presiding over the Baptist church at Fort Bragg, he hunted the high-ranking officers until he’d located the right one. Flat-topped bastard never saw him coming. Drove the penknife squarely into his temple while he slept in his barracks. Didn’t spill a drop of blood.
Pastor Aken knocked. The door rattled on its hinges and squeaked open. A business of flies hovered about the musty sanctuary. The pastor swatted at them with his free hand.
The man slouching in the shadows wasn’t Bishop Lundby.
“McCrory?” the pastor shouted. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
The hunched furniture salesman licked his lips and pushed wire-rimmed glasses up the slope of his greasy nose. The pastor heard the crooked man sucking on candy. The scent of peppermint wafted in the humid air between them.
“Lundby told me you’d be coming.” His eyes widened. “With a girl.”
Pastor Aken stepped in front of the subdued teenager and shoved McCrory inside the church. He released the blonde’s hair and grabbed her wrists as he hurried inside with her and closed the door.
The church was almost too dark. Too quiet. Pastor Aken kept his eyes on McCrory. He knew the runt wouldn’t hesitate to snatch the girl if the pastor dropped his guard even for a moment. Not because he would ever take a meal from the bishop. That was out of the question. He’d do things that were worse. Dirty things.
“She’s special,” McCrory hissed. “I can smell her from here.”
Pastor Aken puffed his chest. “Where’s Lundby?”
“Can I have her for a moment?” McCrory slid into a wooden pew and raised both palms, wheezing softly in the darkness and ignoring the pastor’s question. “I just wanna take off her shoes and sniff her feet. That’s all. I promise. Nothing more.”
The massive oak tree slapped the outside of the church, knocking loose a few window slivers. Pastor Aken jumped and narrowed his eyes.
“I’ll only ask you this one more time, McCrory. Where’s the bishop?”
McCrory dropped his shoulders.
“William Blount Air Force Base.”
The pastor scratched his pointy chin and waved slender fingertips at a fly buzzing his ear. “Near the coast?”
McCrory nodded. His eyes never left the slumping girl.
“Yes, Ethan. Bishop Lundby phoned my father’s shop yesterday and asked if I’d come wait for you. Keep an eye on your delivery till Monday. What was I supposed to say?”
Pastor Aken flickered, his skin melting. Thick black scales flashed. For a moment, he felt his wings pull at his shoulder blades, threatening to erupt.
“He expects me to leave her with you all weekend? After all the work I did collecting her?”
McCrory’s response was more of a grunt than anything else.
Pastor Aken grabbed him by the throat. The hunched man squealed.
“I owe your father, McCrory. He helped me with my first feed. He’s the only reason I don’t kill you right now. But, someday, after your father’s long gone, I’ll run Crow Creek. Then I’ll have you. You’ll slip up, and you’ll be mine. Mark my words.”
The pastor withdrew, tossing McCrory to the hardwood floor in front of the rotting pew. The slimy man scrambled on his knees toward the feeble girl.
“Her toes,” he begged. “Let me kiss them. Just once. Please! You have no idea how much I need—”
Pastor Aken kicked McCrory as hard as he could across the jaw, slicing open his translucent skin with the sharp edge of a polished Italian loafer. The wretched creature bounced off the back of the wooden pew and collapsed to the worn floorboards in a puddle of his own drool.
“As much as I’m sure you’d love that opportunity,” Pastor Aken shouted, twirling on his heels, “I have other plans for her now.”
And with that, he stormed toward the altar, towing the girl by his side. He thought she might’ve giggled but no longer cared. He would be finished with her directly. He was through playing second fiddle to the bishop. And to McCrory’s father. And to anyone else ignorant enough to get in his way. Crow Creek would be his now. And if the bishop wasn’t careful, so would Winter. The people needed him. Loved him. Wanted his leadership and spiritual guidance, especially at the start of a decade that promised to be as turbulent as any in recent memory.
He thought about the black hitchhiker who’d been lynched (misdirecting blame was easier with colored folks) on Route 119 after the last girl he’d collected for the bishop. Out near the new subdivision beside Braxton Lake. Since Martin Luther King’s appearance on the cover of TIME magazine, radical white Southerners jumped at every chance to hunt, innocent or not. A recipe for disaster. The pastor imagined the horrors that would define the nation by the end of the 1960s and smiled.
As he approached the altar, he scooped the girl in his arms and plopped her hard on top of the communion table. She stopped giggling and arched her back, dividing her pouty lips. Before she could speak, Pastor Aken drove his fingernails into her neck and tore open her throat. Blood sprayed the clean satin tablecloth. The girl tried to scream but only gurgled. She kicked her feet and tossed her arms, but the pastor snapped her neck with a quick flip of his wrists. She lay motionless. He ripped the lavender little-nothing dress away from her chest and opened his mouth, gnashing his teeth as he dipped into her ivory flesh.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why I Wrote Winter

Last summer, I wrote the rough draft of Winter in about 10 weeks. At that point in my career, I'd signed contracts with Samhain Publishing to release the first three books in the Crow Creek series over a period of eight months. I was excited and couldn't crank out the pages fast enough. The first draft wrapped shy of 90,000 words (I've since trimmed some 5,000 off the total). If you've followed my career at all, you know that my deal with Samhain fell to shit. They downsized their company, threatened to close their doors, announced their resurrection, threatened to close again, and I don't have any idea where they stand now. They reverted my rights, however; so I restored Crow Creek and Queensboro with Gold Avenue Press and await the release of Winter. I've been out of the author game for 18 months, so trying to regenerate interest in my work has proved daunting.

Anyway, as the presidential election gained momentum last year, I watched the rise of the candidates and assumed Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would win the nominations. I thought for sure we'd see a rematch of the 1992 election, only with different family representatives and a bigger, crazier billionaire as the third-party candidate (sorry Ross Perot, but the Donald trumps you). Things didn't turn out exactly as I expected (what the fuck happened, Jeb?), but I think the novel's premise still holds water. I have concerns about the concept of an American royal family and political nepotism. The Kennedys are probably the most recent example of an elite American dynasty, so I knew when I drafted the book that I wanted to connect the Kennedys with the absurdity of the current presidential election and my fictional Crow Creek universe.

Enter the Goldsboro bombs.

For those not up to speed, two Mark 39 nuclear warheads were accidentally dropped in rural North Carolina in the early 1960s. They didn't detonate. I can't recall exactly why I remembered hearing about those, but at some point, I posed the question to myself, what if those two bombs had been a failed attempt to assassinate JFK a few years before the real hit in Dallas? Further research told me that JFK toured North Carolina during his 1960 run (the first candidate since George Washington to do so, by the way) against then incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon. How perfect! I tweaked a few dates, combined some events, created a fictional mastermind, and presto - I had my conspiracy: kill Kennedy. The bombs go off and wipe out the entire town of Winter (yes, I couldn't resist the nuclear winter play on words - I'm a smart ass, remember?), save one farmer and his pickup truck and lazy old hound dog.

Flash forward fifty odd years and Amanda Simmons, the covert rascal who devastated the Red Queen in Queensboro, finds herself at the center of a new assassination attempt with her fingertips on the nuclear trigger. Sheriff Brad Gleason returns, so do his ex-wife Shana, shaman Black Jesus, my original breed of dragons, vampires, and zombies, familiar villains, new heroes, and plenty of jiggery-pokery to go around.

I hope you have as much fun reading this one as I did writing it. The action is nonstop; the emotions, a rollercoaster ride; and the twists and turns exactly what I hope you'll want from my series. I don't think I'll ever leave Crow Creek, honestly. The people and places have become my friends and neighbors. I see them in my dreams. Well, they haunt my nightmares.

If you'd like to read a couple of good books about the historical incidents, try The Goldsboro Broken Arrow and John F. Kennedy's North Carolina Campaign. They both helped me a great deal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How Will We Afford College?


My wife and I have no idea how we'll be able to afford to send our children to college. I imagine many parents have the same concern. Maybe a tuition fairy will reduce the costs or provide assistance? If not, we're fucked. Well, our children are.

Before you start giving me bullshit like we should've saved more money or minimized our debt, you should know we've done both. We've put as much money away for our children's education as we could possibly afford since each was born. Their 529 plans haven't exactly yielded the best results, but the money remains nonetheless. It barely scratches the surface of what we'll owe. And except for the 3% interest on our 15-year home loan, we have no debt. Our credit score floats around 850. Actually, I think this hurts us. We might have a better chance of being awarded financial aid if our credit was in the toilet.

Wanna tell me to work harder or earn more? Go fuck yourself. I've worked at least two jobs at the same time since I graduated high school 30 years ago. Work ethic isn't my problem, believe me. I have no more blood to drain or sweat to perspire. I've sacrificed more life as a working parent - missing ball games, recitals, etc. - than I ever should've. I could've seen my boy swing a bat or my girl kick a soccer ball; instead, I was teaching a class or running a rehearsal. Yes, we made the decision for my wife to be a stay-at-home mom. Should we be penalized for not wanting our children to be raised in daycare because that's the expected standard for our generation? I don't think so.

Look, I have a master's degree. I've taught for 25 years. I'm about maxed out at what this backwards-ass state is willing to pay me to teach kids. You wanna know what that is? Just north of 50K. That's all. What a joke! How many professionals with a master's who've given 25 years to the same career are only making 50K annually? It's pure bullshit. Finished laughing at me? Hope you choked.

Here's the kicker: my son's up first for college. He wants to go to film school at USC. He has good grades but doesn't play the "let's take as many advanced placement courses as possible so I can graduate at the top of my class" game. I hate that fucking game, as a teacher and as a parent. He takes the classes that mean something to his future. He's done the research to see exactly what courses a filmmaker needs. It's not AP Calculus, I assure you. I took that class in high school. Totally worthless.

USC costs 67K each year for out-of-state tuition. Remember how much I earn? Still laughing? It gets better. My wife and I completed the Expected Family Contribution online calculator to determine how much money colleges will expect us to pay out-of-pocket when our first child attends. We filled out an application and provided information about our income and assets. It's a simple formula. They expect us to pay a little over 12K each year. Okay. I accept that. We can do that. I work more than one job, to be fair.

But, wait a minute, USC costs 67K annually. Where does the rest of the money come from? I'm not a math teacher, but I think we'll need to come up with 55K each year. That's more than my base salary teaching high school! Will we get financial aid? I don't think we'll qualify. Not for that much. No way. And what about when my daughter goes to college? Guess what she wants to be? A plastic surgeon. Medical school! I don't even wanna think about those costs.

Yeah, I'm pissed. You know what I've learned? Hard work only pays off if you pick a career the public respects and values. If not, better hope you're born into a rich family or qualify for some serious financial assistance. Otherwise, you're fucked. Well, your children are.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why Donald Trump's Running for President



If you're expecting to hear my political views, I keep those to myself. So, you won't find out who I'm voting for here or why. I'm only telling you why I think Trump's put himself out there.

You should also know I'm not a conspiracy theorist. Never have been. As proof, I offer this: I believe Oswald acted alone, I don't think the government is covering up anything in Roswell, and (sadly) I'm confident Elvis dropped dead on the toilet and isn't wandering around Kalamazoo, Michigan, right now eating fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. There are other examples. We can argue about those later.

Since the beginning, I've believed that Donald Trump entered the race to help Hillary Clinton get elected President. By since the beginning, I mean at least since he announced his candidacy in June 2015, but I could be convinced that this goes back to the 90s when Bill was fucking around with Monica. In my mind, here's how the conversation might've gone:

Hillary: Okay, I'll put up with this bullshit now, but I get to be President someday.
Bill and the Political Powers That Be: You got it. Give us time.
Hillary: Take all you want.

But forget that. I'm only screwing with you. I realize Hillary has an impressive résumé.

Below are the points of my argument. Take them as you will.

1. Trump's craziness prior to his nomination has only gotten worse since the convention made it official. Insulting parents of a dead soldier, kicking a baby out of his rally. The list goes on, right? Beyond lunacy. Okay, by itself, it offers little to no proof of my thesis, but his antics certainly haven't helped the GOP. And if he's not helping the Republicans, Hillary benefits. Every time.

2. Three extremely popular billionaires have endorsed Hillary. Those are Mark Cuban, Mayor Bloomberg, and Warren Buffet. Again, absolutely no evidence here. Total conjecture. But if three billionaires can get together, why not four? It's an exclusive club. They know each other. They talk.

3. Believe it or not, Trump and Hillary are friends. Their daughters are close friends. Trump used to be a Democrat. As recently as July 2015 he said he identifies more as a Democrat. He supported the Clintons. Political rival Jeb Bush tweeted this theory last December!

4. Trump didn't release his first campaign ad until last week! Last week! That's unreal. Hillary's run over 30,000 of them! If he's not helping her, he's making very little effort to win. Clearly.

5. Trump employs anywhere from 30-60 campaign staffers. Hillary has over 600! "I alone can fix it." Really? Who takes that seriously? Nobody with a clear understanding of how a three-branch democratic system of government works.

6. Since announcing his candidacy, Trump has raised slightly more than $90 million. Doesn't sound awful, right? Only 3% has come from Super Pacs, by the way. Hillary has raised almost $375 million! Nearly 1/3 has come from Super Pacs. Pretty fucking interesting.

Don't believe those last three stats? Fine. Google them for yourself like I did. Or maybe you can get Bill O'Reilly to fact check me and stop me if I'm spinning.

7. For me, here's the real clincher: Trump's VP pick, Mike Pence, was the worst possible choice he could've made. With so many Independents and moderate Democrats declaring they're undecided because they don't trust Hillary, Trump should've picked a moderate like she did. Tim Kaine was the near-perfect choice to sway those middle voters. Pence is one of the most conservative members of Congress! He's not bringing anyone to the table. And don't give me evangelics and Tea Party conservatives. They won't vote for Hillary unless Jesus tells them to. And maybe not even then.

Final thoughts. I don't take Trump seriously. Never have. He reminds me of the old Andy Kaufman character, Tony Clifton. If you wanna believe in conspiracy theories, here's one - maybe Andy didn't die and Trump is the Clifton character. They'd be about the same age now. Judge for yourself. Here's a graphic I found online.