Archive for the ‘Dark Mutterings’ Category


Fake news defined

   Posted by: amrath

Fake news is the news that pretends to be shocked that people trust Assange more than the agencies busted spying on all of us during Obama’s reign.



   Posted by: amrath

You know what really pisses me off? Ghouls. Not the D&D kind, but real life parasites that try to profit from the dead. My friend Paul Steed was buried four years ago. Love him or hate him, Paul contributed much to the games industry, and he personally convinced me to push on with my writing.

I never had the heart to take him off my Skype. I am furious that subhuman spammers have taken to sending me links on his account. It’s despicable.

Elgar take the people responsible. May their deaths be legendary, and recorded by a Knight of Fear.


Advertising: I’d Prefer a Root Canal

   Posted by: amrath

It’s inevitable: you have to get the word out. I started this venture some years back with the foolish notion that somehow people would just find my work and if it was good enough, it would flourish. Yes, painfully naive, but there it is. I took the lack of success as “not good enough”, until the few people who had managed to stumble on my work corrected me.

So I began the year with a promise to myself that I would figure out how to do this. I have studied a lot of thoughts on promotion, and there are as many takes on what is best as there are which god or gun is superior, which is to say “not quite infinity, but almost”. (Asymtotically approaches infinity?) Wait, come back, I’ll stop with the math jokes right now.

So, I’ve tried free giveaways of “The Dead God’s Due” on KDP. Not all that successful, a handful of books downloaded, nothing more. It’s just hard to stand out, as there are lots of free books. You can pay to get the word out. I did that, and got around 2500 downloads. Sadly, I think the ‘free book junkies’ are more collectors than anything else. I would have thought I would have gotten a review or something, even a hate mail, out of so many downloads, but in truth, I wonder if anyone read the work at all. If they did, they certainly had nothing to say.

Finally, I tried Amazon’s pay-per-click ads, and it seems to actually generate some small interest. I decided to work on my blurb to perhaps attract more clicks, and cancelled the one ad to replace it.

Suddenly, the ad is rejected. “Your cover doesn’t meet our guidelines.” It did before, but suddenly it doesn’t. After a week and a half of wrangling back and forth with customer service trying to work what could possibly be the problem, I finally wring an explanation out of them:

“In this case, the ad was rejected because of the skull. I know that this might not be consider as violent as other objects that a cover may contain, however, Amazon’s priority is to respect our customers and readers as much as possible, so the policies regarding what an ad can contain are based on what a person consider offensive. Since our customers involve adults and children, with different beliefs and tolerance of what they consider offensive, we take this matter very seriously and that why images like this can’t be advertise.”

Yes, that’s right, a freakin’ skull, you know, the same symbol even Disney has no problem using in children’s shows. The universal symbol for poisoning. The cover of many editions of Gray’s anatomy. The thing you see plastered on billboards and filling the shelves in October. It’s verboten. It might offend someone. (I couldn’t care less about the opinion of a hypothetical quivering pool of jello who would be offended by a skull. I don’t even believe such a person exists.)

Okay, what is acceptable in an attempt to depict an evil god? Dunno. Spend another hundred bucks or so on your cover and we’ll arbitrarily reject it again if we want.

Ok, maybe I can advertise my cowboy exorcist story instead. Nope. No guns, either, and I am guessing a demon would also be “offensive”. My vampire-zombie-soldier story? Nope, no blood, even if it’s just a tiny spatter on the title. Apparently, anything that suggests tension, conflict, or that not everything is warm and fuzzy unicorns farting rainbows has the potential to be offensive, which shoots pretty much any honest cover for horror, war, or non-unicorn fantasy right in the face. It’s nearly impossible to commission a cover I know will pass muster because the interpretation of what is acceptable is completely arbitrary. Oh, you have a jar of peanut butter on your cover. Clearly that would offend people with peanut allergies, cover denied.

Still debating whether I will change the cover for DGD, or gouge out my own eyes with a spoon over the madness of it all. While I am deciding, I guess I’ll see how Goodread’s ads work for me. Of course, I’ve been awaiting an approval on that campaign since Thursday. (bangs head on desk)

It’s absolutely mind numbing how risk averse the publishing industry has become. In a business where free speech should, by rights, be held in the highest esteem, lawyers and crybullies have boxed us in to the point we can barely create at all. I feel like I am in the Death Star garbage compactor. (Ad rejected, the word “death” may offend some audiences).

Could we please just shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level?


Paris and the Brave New World

   Posted by: amrath

For the most part, I try to keep my politics out of things, but on occasion, you’re going to have to put up with a bit of my “right wing bullshit”. Most guys who serve end up leaning right, that’s just a fact of life. It’s hard to see the world as it really is, to be that guy standing on the wall guarding against barbarians,  and not come away changed.

So, yeah, this is one of those times when I speak my mind. Before you condemn me for my views, you remember I placed my body between you and the people who would kill you for yours. You may not like my views, but I demand you respect them, as I respected yours.

I had a damned tough weekend, due largely to the fact that I see the world as it is, rather than through the lens of feel-good illusion. Less than a week after the horrific attacks in Paris, the goons were out spinning, dancing in the blood. The Newspeak is that standing up against invaders is ‘cowardice and surrender’. I’m sure you’ve all seen the map going around. Maybe you even posted it yourself, and thought it was clever.

I beg to differ. I have my reasons. You may not share them, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t end with disagreement. You know the drill with the rest. If one has concerns regarding cold invasion, he’s a bigot, ignorant, a racist, hates brown people, or, at the very least, is making a mountain of a molehill. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

That’s what gets me the worst: being belittled by the masses of proles who have never even left the country, much less the western world. They have no concept of who I am, where I’ve been, or what I’ve learned. They’re certain my position is from prejudice and ignorance, rather than from a pretty well-informed position that people are people, much the same everywhere you go. They lie, they dissemble, they do what’s easiest most of the time.

And if they tell you they’ll kill you, you’d best pay heed.

I have lost all patience with ignorant, insulated fools who have the gall to denigrate me. Not a one of the dolts who ever wanted to take me on with some Facebook Shithouse Philosophy had ever been to France, or the Middle East, yet they knew all about it, and knew I was a bigot. You see, despite all of my travels and experiences, I know nothing, because the proles can’t imagine anyone actually learned anything from experience. They were told all they needed to know about the world by esteemed, ivory tower professors. There have no desire to verify those claims. That would take effort.

So let’s talk about experience.

I spent much time with the French, and I loved them. No group of people was kinder to me in my travels. Unlike the ‘thinkers’ who attacked me for my views, I actually knew names that I feared to hear on the casualty lists. To the mouth breathers, they were just statistics. Dominique and Natalie, Jean Jaques de Valee, those are real people, not faceless, interchangeable Frenchfolk. Dominique was a slip of a girl, shy, frail, and blonde, and Natalie was likewise tiny but a fiery and impulsive brunette. The two of them reached in their own pockets and put me up in a hotel one night when I was too late getting back to the base and couldn’t get in. Jean Jaques, with his handlebar mustache, was a two-fisted drinker, literally. He told many an excellent tale waving two shot glasses in the air, cackling like a madman. I hope they are well. It’s been thirty years, but I still remember them.

Oh, but I went many more places than just France, and I learned things everywhere. One of the most impactful lessons I ever learned on women was taught to me by a wise Turk decked out in genuine Bedouin garb, in Antalya, Turkey. I still remember the grimace and grin on his face as he knocked back his rakhe and followed it with water. We were in a bar, with silk clad women dancing. We (being 19 and sailors) wanted to see more skin, and the old Turk chuckles and tells us, “You are young. You will learn no woman is anything near the illusion you have of her now. If she takes them off, you will be disappointed. She will just be a naked woman. But now, you imagine her a goddess. We came here for a fantasy, yes? More rhahki!”

I was educated about meerschaum by a street vendor there, and I still have the intricately carved meerschaum pipes and chess set I bought from him after his lesson. They are among my most treasured possessions, because they remind me of the Turks.

I barhopped in Haipha, Isreal, played some bars with our ship’s band, and chuckled seeing Budweiser cans with Hebrew lettering. Richard Dreyfus visited our ship and spoke to the crew, and my young, ignorant ass had no clue he thought we were a bunch of troglodytes. I thought he actually liked us. Why else would he have come?

I learned it’s very easy to fool the trusting, there.

I sang in a bar in Toulon, France called Camelot 2000 while my bud played guitar, and the other patrons pitched coins at us, then gathered up and did the bunny hop around the room (literally, the goddamn bunny hop). I remember talking to a couple of French girls there who told us how they had nearly been arrested in New York because they took their tops off at the beach. I couldn’t help but think the old Turk’s lesson in Antalya.

I also learned in Toulon that the French really do say, “Ooh lala!” when something shocks them. I’d always kind of thought that was just a movie thing.

I walked along the nude beaches in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, thinking of the story of those French girls. I saw plenty of topless women, but the old Turk really had known what he was talking about. They were just topless women. I realized how silly some of our notions were, and that in New York, two innocent people might have been jailed because people in NYC had never learned the simple wisdom I was taught at the same time I was introduced to rakhe.

I watched ladies of the evening in Naples hovering around burning tires. We called them “campfire girls”, and they seemed to be doing a brisk trade, though I had no interest in that sort of thing. In a bars there, I was taken aback that the girls delivering drinks were completely topless, and didn’t even use pasties. That fact hadn’t been advertised. I had to wonder if it was that way in every bar in Naples, or just the ones catering to young men who might be more easily parted from their money if they were distracted with skin. I again thought of the old Turk’s lesson, as I watched the cops patrolling, SMG’s (sorry, wasn’t trig enough at the time to know what kind) slung over their shoulders, and thought, “Damn, these guys are serious in Italy.”

I saw how the world really worked. I saw how everyone was pretty much the same, even while they were very different. They had their shitbags and their good people. There was always a new con, a hustle you hadn’t seen, so you’d best not be too trusting. Some would trade honestly, some would cheat, some would stab you and leave you to bleed out in a dark alley.

But here, safe within the walls men like me helped man, punks who have never been anywhere, never talked to any Turks or Italians or Isrealis, have no problem telling me how uncultured I am. They have the gall to tell me how I don’t know shit, I hate brown people, I’m xenophoic, I’m ignorant and paranoid to be alarmed at blood running in the streets of first world cities, spilled by the worst sort of savages who are acting in concert globally.

We’ve done our job too well. The proles feel so safe here, they no longer believe there are barbarians outside the wall. And they have never gone outside to look.

There are more and more cases lately where I feel ashamed that I walked steel decks of ships of war, protecting these wretches from the barbarians. It’s not so much that they are ignorant about the ways of the world. What really burns my ass is that they have no clue and no desire to obtain one as to the lessons I learned standing my watch.

They are content to be what they are, ignorant and thinking in patterns taught to them by social engineers. They are like the people in Brave New World, and I am the savage, nonplussed at their complete abandonment of everything it is to be human, to exercise judgment, to do anything but go along with the designs of the Alphas. We are surrounded by people carefully crafted to fill a role, rather than grow naturally into who they could be, and the true horror of it is that they are content with that reality.

Yeah, I know. TLDR. Don’t forget to snag your ration of soma and distance yourselves from the human condition.

But when the day comes, and you find yourself on your knees before the barbarians, slowly coming to understand they don’t even know the meaning of the word ‘mercy’, don’t call out for me. I’m done with you. You have it all worked out, and I don’t know anything. You’ll handle it just fine.

I’ll be too busy looking after my own.


You’ve been Grubered

   Posted by: amrath

Why are conservatives upset with the whole Gruber thing? I mean, clearly the people he thought were stupid were the ones he convinced to support Obamacare. Democrats should be mad as hell at him. Conservatives should rightfully be pointing, laughing, and saying, “We told you so,” I would think.


You've been Grubered


Online Seller’s Rules

   Posted by: amrath


Why do we need rules? Why can’t we just act sensibly and make a deal, exchange a few bucks for some used stuff, and both be happy? In the world of online bartering and person to person sales, there are way too many people who simply don’t have common sense or courtesy: crooks who try to con you, chiselers who want something for nothing, and outright morons who apparently cannot distinguish between a Neiman Marcus Showroom and my humble abode and get bent out of shape when they don’t get Neiman Marcus levels of service.

So, to save time. and so that I am not forced to injure my hand by pounding it against someone’s thick skull, I have created these rules. Please refer to them when you are seized by idiot notions. It will save me the trouble of having to choke sense into you. I will make it simple, and use lots of examples and colorful language, so you can understand. Ok?

And if you are a seller, please, by all means, link this page in your posts. It will probably save you some trouble.

The Rules:

1. I do not need your money. I don’t want to get ripped off, and it’s nice to get a little something for my stuff, but the truth is that I could set it all on fire and not lose any sleep over it. It would be out of my way, which is my primary goal. The hassle you present is being weighed against simply having the garbage collectors take it away in one of my several free ‘bulky pickups’ they offer me throughout the year. If you offer me five bucks for a piece of furniture that I only asked 25 for to begin with, it is a bad deal for me. I could use it for firewood and come out better. Don’t be silly.

2. I will not bring the item to you for inspection. I will not be taking your cashiers check. I will not be taking your personal check. I will not be mailing the item. You will bring your ass to my house and pay me in cash. It’s that simple.

3. This is not a showroom, and I am not getting a commission. My dinner is getting cold while you agonize over a minor defect in a cheap piece of used furniture. I will not stand overlong in the cold or heat pretending to enjoy your asinine company while you catalog every flaw on an item we both know isn’t really suitable to display your collection of Ming Dynasty Vases. It’s a cheap table, ferfuxsake! Take it or leave it, or make a reasonable offer and have the cash in hand. Your twenty bucks does not buy you much more than five minutes of my valuable personal time, even less if you are annoying.

4. I will not answer your twenty-question email that accompanies your offer of half my asking price. You haven’t even seen the item yet, and you are not even standing in front of me with your chiseling half-off offer, yet you actually expect me to take you seriously? Your mail went straight into the trash, unless I found it amusing enough to forward copies to my friends for laughs at your expense.

5. No, I will not give it to you for half my asking price. I picked that price for a reason. It’s pretty much break even with me versus donating the item and claiming the deduction on my taxes. If you can’t afford 25 bucks, then you can’t afford the gas to drive over and pick it up anyway.

6. I will NOT be lifting the couch and hauling it about, turning it this way and that for you to inspect, most especially if it is over ninety degrees outside. I don’t care if you’re worried about there being a tear on the underside. Surely you’ll see that when we load it, and we could cross that bridge if and when we come to it. I’m not going to bust my ass when you’re not even committed to taking it off my hands.

7. You came to buy a table. Making inappropriate comments about my wife and how saucy she sounded on the phone puts you very close to being in the hospital or the morgue, and very far from any sort of good bargaining position. Yeah, pal, special price for you: $100.

8. It’s a cheap TV stand, ferfuxsake! I don’t know where it came from! I can barely remember my ex-wife’s middle name, much less where she bought the damned thing.

9. Yes, I am probably willing to shave my price a little, but that involves you making it easier, not harder. If you show up, don’t waste my time or ask me to do a bunch of crap, and offer me $40 on my $50 item, I will likely accept. If you have me measure every dimension, recite everything I know about the history of the item, take multiple extra pictures, and reschedule your visit five times, and then offer me 25 for the same item, I will not only tell you to fuck off, I am likely to put my foot in your ass. My time is just as valuable as yours. If you take a lot of my time, you have essentially used up any bargaining room, so don’t push it.

10. This is the big one, the golden rule, the summation of all others, the alpha and the omega of rules: you may be bargain hunting, but you are also a guest in my home. If you don’t behave as such, I will kick your ass to the curb in short order. You may think you’re a special snowflake, or that you have some mesmeric power, but you’re not, and you don’t. I have been buying and selling stuff on craigslist for a long time. In a day or so, someone will come by, be respectful, quick, and offer me 80% or more of my asking price. They will get a great deal, and we will both be happy. You know where the door is. Don’t let it hit you in the ass on your way out.