Everything Everywhere All At Once…. Again.

“The Only Thing I Do Know Is That We Have To Be Kind. Please, Be Kind. Especially When We Don’t Know What’s Going On.” — Waymond Wang

As you may recall, almost a month ago i went to see Everything Everywhere All At Once in the theaters and the experience broke me. Almost literally. It was one of the best films I had ever seen in my entire life, and my life connected with it on so many levels. I saw myself in almost all of the characters in some way, but most importantly in Waymond. Watching Waymond just trying to do what ever he could to not loose his wife while begging every one to be kind tore my heart out when looked at through the lens of my recent failures. And when they told Evelyn that she was the worst Evelyn in all existence it felt like they were talking to me.

So today, I decided to once again brave the theater and try and watch it on the big screen. I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous that I would have a similar experience. But I figured I’m in a different place then I was a month ago and that I would hopefully have a different experience.

This time, the movie was just as amazing and transformative as it was last time, only in a different way. This time I while I still heard the sadness and the desperation in his voice, I was able to see past it. I heard his message last time, pleading with everyone to be kind while he was lost in that moment, but I didn’t have it in me to embrace them like Evelyn did. This time I could though. This time I when I heard say a speech that could have easily come out of my own mouth, I let the words roll through me and fill me with such hope for the future.

Be Kind is everything I’ve ever wanted to be. Waymond Wang is my spirit animal and I need to remember to spread that kindness in every moment of my life. I will watch this movie when ever I need to remember that and I will carry it with me.

Instead of walking out of the theater lost and not knowing where to turn, I walked out with my heart so full of happiness and hope that it almost hurts. I walked out last time thinking I was Waymond and had lost my Evelyn and I felt so alone. But that’s okay. I may have lost my Evelyn, but I don’t need an Evelyn. I need a Waymond of my own.

I’ve realized I’ve never really never had a Waymond in my life, so I think it’s time I focus on being my own Waymond and show myself that same unconditional love and support that I only thought I had. Hopefully someday l’ll find someone and we can be each other’s Waymonds.

Something else happened that hasn’t happened in seven years. I edited my four favorite movies and took off Lost Hoghways for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Not only that, but I moved it into the number one spot. After last viewing I was worried about recency bias, but after that viewing it has been cemented. This has pushed Sunset Boulevard to number two and has become my favorite movie of all time. It’s also now the single most personal movie I’ve ever seen.

Michelle Yeoh is so amazing in this, and I love that Jaime Lee Jamie Lee Curtis was willing to play that part. They are amazing together every time they interact.

That being said, it’s Ke Huy Kwon that has stolen my heart. His return to acting is such an amazing triumph. He feels so natural and so real. He plays Waymond like he’s taken shards of my souls and held them up for the world to see. He’s so naturally loveable and honest, and KIND. Each version of the character is so different but still has that sane heart. He did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

After my last experience watching this film I was so afraid to sit down in the darkness of my holy place and feel the film wash over me, but I’m so glad I did. I feel like part of myself has been healed.

Beautiful movie that you need to see before it leaves the theater.

I want to leave with this quote from Waymond, because no words I have ever spoken have summed up my philosophy on life more.

“When I Choose To See The Good Side Of Things, I’m Not Being Naive. It Is Strategic And Necessary. It’s How I Learned To Survive Through Everything.” — Waymond.

Be Kind.

Hey everyone. Lots of stuff going on right now, so I want to take a moment to talk about mental health. As you may, or may not remember I had a little break down about two weeks ago and a very good friend talked me through it. Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health in general and mine in particular. I’ve decided that my break down was a very good thing for me. It allowed me to empty everything out and start fresh.

One of the main points I want to get across, is that the road to mental health doesn’t have one path. It has many and they all crisscross each and look very intimidating. The best way to start is to just start waking. Walk what ever path you can find. Once you start walking you’re feet will help guide you, and it’s not a path you have to walk alone if you don’t want to.

My second point is that the type of person that sabotages your path is the worst kind of person in the world. I had found a path that was really working for me. Sort of a, fake it till you make it. When ever any one asked me how I was I smiled huge, told myself I was doing amazing, and then told them the same thing. I pulled a Stuart Smalley and gave myself daily affirmations, and as time went on I started to believe it. It was transformative. But then one day I was trying to help my exwife and she said “if that worked for you you’re depression was never real in the first place” and followed it up with a bunch of other stuff that pulled me right out of it.

That conversation literally almost killed me.

Another time I was at work talking to a friend and therapy was brought up, a guy a desk over loudly yelled out “therapy’s a scam”. He wasn’t part of our conversation, but o stood up, and loud enough for the entire audience to hear, yelled at this guy I’m pretty good friends with. Not because he thinks therapy is a scam, but because he said it like that. I told him someone in hearing distance is suffering from mental illness, and is going to remember what he said. Because if you are around people , I guarantee someone in hearing distance is suffering from mental illness, and the grip is so very fragile.

My recent break up was very difficult on me. All my life I have had feelings like I’m less then and disposable. And to literally be told I’m not important enough to keep broke me. It really did. I lost 20 pounds in a week and a half and all those dark suicidal thoughts bubbled up in the back of my head.

And then I saw Everything Everywhere all at Once and saw myself played out through Waymond and it finished the job of breaking me.

But like I said earlier, I think it was a good thing. The movie and the conversation afterwards cleansed my soul. It emptied my heart and reminded me to above all else, Be Kind. Be Kind to myself, Be Kind to others.

But Be Kind to myself first. You see, I’ve never done that. I save all my empathy for others. So at the end of the day I’m all out for me. So that’s my focus right now, Be Kind to myself.

The movie and the breakdown was the start of ny path to mental health. The conversation was the next step. Followed by the Zoloft, and next as much therapy as I can afford.

I know a lot of people bag on medication, but I gotta tell, I know it’s only been a month and a half or so, but Zoloft has been working gang busters for me. I’m going to be homeless again in four months if I don’t find a house, I’m lonely, my car is in the shop, but I’m okay with it. For the first time I feel like I don’t have to worry and best of all, I’m actually sleeping! I lay down and my mind shuts off and out I go. I’ve never had that experience before.

It’s amazing.

So to sum up…. Find your path! Please! I beg of you. Get help. Send me a message, I can hook you up with a great support group through Facebook.

Don’t be a dick and tear others down. Be positive.

And finally, and most importantly….

Be Kind.

Dating App Nightmare

Next Installment of Dating App Horror Stories:

I told some of you this story, but i had some developments on it and thought it was worth sharing. Last week i connected with a lady from Canton who immediately set off several red flags… First red flag (other than hitting like on me!! lol ) was that all the pictures she sent were the same pictures she used on her profile followed closely by her weird grasp of the english language. So yeah, instantly knew was not a real person, or at least not who she pretended to be. I did a reverse picture search and found about ten different facebook profiles all using the same pictures. Yeah. lol

So i should have just unliked and stopped talking, but i’m lonely, and sometimes these people are fun to screw with. And don’t worry, since she wasn’t real, i wasn’t real either. Didn’t give her any real information at all. Eventually she lets me know that “She’s Depressed” and wants to come up and see me. BUT, in order to do that i need to send her some money so she can come up.

I’m going to hold onto why she was depressed until the end of the story, because honestly, that’s the best part.

So I bite, how much money do you need? She needs me to cash app her 200 dollars so she can buy a TRAIN ticket from Canton to the North Royalton (Not where i’m at, but she doesn’t know that). I’m like…. How much? 200. For a TRAIN from Canton to North Royalton. Yes she said, she’s checked the schedule and the train is leaving soon and she’ll be to me in an hour when she needs lots of sex to cheer her up.

I’m like…. Okay. A couple of things. One, i know these are just hook up sites, but that’s not really what i’m looking for. Two, I’m pretty sure no trains run from Canton to North Royalton. 3. I’m pretty sure you’re not a really who say you are and are just trying to scam me money. She promised she’s real, so i told her tell you what. You just took a picture of yourself, take another picture of yourself holding up a piece of paper that says my first name on it, todays date, i can clearly see your face, and has your cash app on it and i’ll think about it.

Needless to say, she didn’t take it well. Doesn’t understand why i’m suddenly so mean, all that jazz. I hold firm on my picture requirement. She keeps every could of days reaching out, all upset about how i treat people and how mean i am… Yet… She still loves me and feels l might be her soul mate after our ten line conversation.

Flash forward to today and i get another message from her… It’s a picture of her, holding a piece of paper, that clearly has photoshopped over it…. HI JOE! SEE? I’m REAL? lol lol lol

Needless to say…. Not sending money. lol

Okay… Now… Before i end this, the best part. The reason she’s depressed and needs to come and make the sex with me…. Her sister is missing! Her sister ran away from home because she’s upset that “Amanda” found out that her sister has been having an AFFAIR with…..

THEIR FATHER!!!!!!

When she said that’s why she was depressed i responded the only way i could…. “Yep. That would Do it.”

Meeting Nancy.

While A Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t my first horror film, or even my favorite, the impact it had on me and my life is extreme. I was 9 when Nightmare came out, and I was obsessed with it from the get go. I had already seen the First Friday and was in love with horror, and the idea of this hideously scarred creature that devoured you from with in fascinated me. When ever I found someone who had seen it, I pumped them for information, tried to find out every little detail of the movie. I remember watching the trailer and not realizing that long arm Freddy, face off Freddy, and Freddy were all the same person. When I found out he could do those things, I had to know what else he could do!

Growing up, I had some bullies. Some of them were worse then others. One of them was far worse. But this isn’t a story about that bully, maybe I’ll tell that story some day. This is a story about another bully. For sake of storytelling, we shall call him Nick, because that was his name. Nick was a few years older than me and on the wrestling team. He enjoyed pushing us around, practicing moves on us until we cried. Once he lifted me over his head and threw me in the ditch as we waited for the school bus. When I told my mom, she made me go to school anyway and I remember my teacher making fun of me as I sat at my desk with mud dripping out of my hair and dirt under the table.

I was in elementary school at the time.

I was friends with Nicks brother, so we were forced to hang out from time to time. And we only had a few houses in the area. One particular day in 84, I went to Geauga Lake with them, a local amusement park. On the way I discovered that Nick had scene A Nightmare on Elm Street and it had terrified him. It had scared him so bad, that he refused to talk about it, but I kept asking. He got mad and punched me in the arm so hard my entire right arm went numb. But I didn’t stop. I was obsessed and kept asking. I couldn’t fathom a movie could scare someone so badly. Finally his mom had to ask me to stop. She accused me of bullying him and says she was going to tell my parents.

So I did… Until the trip home…. On the trip home I tried to bring it up again, but got shot down quick. I stopped talking and sat quiet. Before long, Nicks eyes began to close and I realized he was falling asleep. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I leaned forward, and quietly whispered into his ear, “what ever you do… don’t… fall… a… sleep”

Imagine My shock when He started to cry. This already huge kid on the wrestling team who was strong enough to lift me over his head who played football and did all the manly things little weird kids like me couldn’t do. It was Very light and very soft, but in his sleep this bully that had been so mean to me and hurt me so many times started to cry.

That was the moment that I realized the power movies and stories hold. That was the moment I first had the unrealized dream of growing up and finding a way to scare people for a living. Stories were a power that I was able to possess. Something I was able to use. That was when I feel in love with telling stories.

I used to have horrible dreams, for so many reasons. When I finally saw A Nightmare on Elm Street I immediately fell in love with the film and especially the character of Nancy and how she was able to fight those dreams. She was tough, and Smart and everything I was never able to be. When push came to shove she was able to stand up to her darkness and over come it. I wanted to be Nancy. I wanted to be strong enough to stand up to my Bully’s, especially the other one that I haven’t talked about, and I wanted to be able to stand up to the darkness in my own head. That part that Freddy represented. The dark thoughts lurking in the back of my mind that lead me to do things like burn the insides of my legs with a lighter when no one was looking.

But I couldn’t. I was never strong enough, but it helped so much to watch Heather Langenkamp play Nancy and succeed where I couldn’t. It gave me hope. I know a lot of people don’t understand why people love being scared, but for me, it’s a sense of safety. I was never safe with those bullies, but I was safe watching Nancy. It was a controlled fear, that in the end she would over come.

So I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street over and over again. I never had a lot of friends, but Tina, and Rod, Glenn and Nancy became my friends. I was safe with them and when I watched them I wasn’t being picked on. I was safe and I wasn’t alone.

Loneliness has always been a big part of my life, and for the past two weeks it’s been literally eating me alive from the inside. I waited by myself in line for two and a half hours for the chance to tell Heather what Nancy meant to me desperately wishing I could lean on someone. By the time I got to her my hands were shaking.

I know people say things like this all the time, but it’s true. I almost passed out. I was three people away from her, and looking at her, and my head began to feel very swimmy. The weight of everything I’ve been through in the past few years, combined with everything else started crashing in on my shoulders and my eyes grew heavy and my stomach twisted. The world was swaying as I moved closer and closer.

Thankfully, I didn’t pass out. Instead, I cried. I walked up to her, and I thanked her for being her. I told her what a profound impact she had upon my life and how important she is to so many people. I told her at times in our lives, Nancy stood between some of us and life and death. I know she did for me. I don’t talk much about my childhood depression and my suicide attempts, but they existed and Nancy helped me.

And I got to tell her all this, even while being consumed by my sadness and loneliness once again, I get to tell her how she had saved me. She smiled so nicely and thanked me for every word. We talked about her movie I Am Nancy, which I have yet to see but I had bought a copy, and she said after my story she thinks it’s going to resonate with me. Then, she placed her hand on mind and said quietly, next time we meet, because I know we will, you can tell me what you thought.

Then she hugged me, we took this picture, I thanked her again and wandered off in a daze. Thankfully you can’t see my red swollen eyes and tear stained cheeks. I had to get some Advil, a gallon of water, a Diet Pepsi and a soft pretzel while I sat on the floor and waited for the shaking to stop. I wanted to keep crying, I wanted to let it all out, but I couldn’t in front of people. I waited until I was alone in my car at the end of the evening and I sat in the parking lot of the Monroeville Mall and I cried.

And as I cried, I thought of Nancy.

And yet again, she helped.

Movie: 1990 Deadly Manor

Where better to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than in a DEADLY MANOR!! Jose Ramon Larraz’s (Edge of the Axe, Black Candles,Vampyres) last horror film. A group of “teenagers” on the way to a weekend getaway at lake (insert probably racially insensitive overly complicated fake Native American word that the “teens” comically mispronounce here) decide that it’s just to long if a drive and decide to break into an abandoned mansion instead. On the way up to the house they discover an old car wreck sitting in a stone slab shrine in the front yard, complete with black pantyhose and a picture of the woman who presumably died in the wreck. I’m the words of our lead Peter “Major Weird!”

Things start to go wrong before they even enter the house when Helen gets a bad vibe and refuses to enter, instead opting to leave her boyfriend behind and hitchhike home. But some strange guy they met on the side of the road tells them they should stay anyway….

Not to be deterred, And to quote Peter the bard once again “zombies or no, I’m staying here!” The group decides to stay the night in the old abandoned house.

I absolutely love the ridiculousness of this film. This is one of those movies where any logical thinking person would have left so long ago, but not these guys, they just keep making excuse after excuse why they should stay.

The abandoned car in the front yard keeps beeping? It’s just a horn! Who cares. The coffins in the basement? Pfft. Whatever. A literally photo album filled with photos of naked people both before AND after death? Puts it down and goes to sleep!!

But my favorite!! My absolute favorite!! They open up a closet only to find like… 30 human scalps all arranged and in a neat and orderly fashion and what do they do???? Shrug and close the door! One of them even comments that people collect all sorts of things.

I mean…. The women are like this is weird, but of course the men just laugh it off and decide to stay anyway.

A completely ridiculous movie filled with an odd number of piggy back rides.

Worth watching for any other fan of the silly and bizarre, but if you like actual good movies… you should probably look somewhere else.

2 out of 5 Stars.

Movie: The Fellowship of the Ring

Fellowship of the Ring

I first saw Fellowship of the Ring the Friday after it opened before work one afternoon. I worked second shift as a security guard but our third shift guy had quit so I was working third as well. So the the night before and the night after I saw it I was working 5pm to 9 am.

I got home from work at 930 am, ate breakfast, slept two hours, took a cold shower to wake up and went to a 130 showing. The theater was packed so I had to sit in the third row all the way to the left side of the screen.

I had no one else who was interested in seeing it, so i went alone and didn’t move once. Which is amazing considering how much I pee, but I guess I had a much younger bladder then.

I’ve never cried so much in my entire life. The film was beautiful and everything I wanted it to be. Between the tears, the angle, how close I was, and my exhaustion I was so sick by the time the movie was over I almost threw up, and by the time I was done with work the next morning I’m pretty sure i had. I got written up because I was 15 minutes late for work. I told them with how I felt they were lucky I made it at all.

When I left the theater that first time my mind was reeling. I had so much I wanted to say about the movie, but I had no one to talk to about it. Instead I sat down and I began to write. I was writing reviews for a website at the time and I turned in a twenty page review on Fellowship. I can only imagine how bad it must have been. So redundant and looping back on itself. I had hyperlinks to take you to other pages so I could talk in detail on every character, it has to have been the worst. I’ve never claimed to be a good writer, or reviewer, but I like to think I’ve gotten a little better since then…

Fellowship of the Ring is in my opinion the best film in the series. It’s a perfect movie. It captures the book so perfectly, and it even manages to improve upon it in some ways. The Samwise we are given here is so much better than then the one we got in the book or the animated version. It’s so hard to give you a different take on a beloved character and somehow make it equally as beloved.

When I rewatch Fellowship of the Ring, I don’t cry as much as I did that first time, but i still cry. It’s a powerful film filled with powerful moments. One of my favorites and one of the most powerful is when Bilbo let’s go of the ring.

It’s such a well done scene.

We start with Bilbo not even realizing he didn’t leave the ring on the mantle. He’s genuinely confused as to why it’s still in his pocket. For a few moments he considers keeping it, he almost gives in and when Gandalf scares him back to reality he wraps his arms around Him in fear, not of Gandalf, but over what the ring almost turned him in to….

But it still wasn’t enough. He still walks away with the ring and almost gives In. Bilbo is forced to choose. A moment of no return. Does he give in to the darkness or does he let it go.

The ring hovers in his hand for a moment, somehow visibly growing heavier. If he gives in he’ll be lost. Not even Gandalf will be able to save him as the darkness extinguishes the light left inside him.

Instead he does the hardest thing he had ever done in his entire life, the hardest thing anyone could ever do. He breaks his addiction. Bilbo turns his hand over let’s the ring drop to the floor with a hollow thud.

Ian Holm does an amazing job in that scene. It all plays across his face. He tells the whole story with so few words, but the ones he does use are so powerful. You see the light return to him as Bilbo walks away.

It’s a beautiful scene that highlights Bilbos strength. It’s a test that even Frodo isn’t able to pass at the end of the film. When it comes time to put the ring down Frodo couldn’t do it.

I’ve always loved that Peter even foretells that in a way when Frodo picks up the ring. He comes in and immediately bends over and picks it up. Frodo isn’t even in focus during that scene. It’s unclear if Frodo is up to the task before him, so the moment is out of focus, instead focusing on the doubt playing out across Gandalfs face.

It’s so easy to get lost in the spectacle of the Lord of the Rings, that we forget that it’s those little moments where Peter Jackson really excels as a director. He plays that scene so masterfully.

Peter again shows off that skill in the scene where the Fellowship is formed. The scene mirrors the earlier one by again, playing the drama out over faces and reactions.

This time you watch as Elijah Wood slowly comes to the realization that it has to be him. He has to be the one to take the ring. His eyes are full of so much sorrow. Sorrow over what it’s doing to those around him, and sorrow in himself over his doubt that he can actually carry out the duty before him.

That scene never fails to make me cry. As sad as it is to see him step up when all he feels is doubt, even sadder is the genuine grief that flashes across Gandalf’s eyes. Gandalf knows how small of a chance they actually have. Gandalf thinks he’s sending them all to their death, and in that moment the weight of it all is so heavy that his grief looks like it’s going to consume him.

“Gondor has no King, Gondor needs no King”.

I think, for me at least, another strength of this film lies in the fall and redemption of Boromir. Sean Bean is amazing in Fellowship. Out of all the characters he feels the most real and fleshed out. He’s so deeply flawed, but he really only wants to help. He wants to do right by his people and live up to the tremendous pressure his father has put him under.

Being that he doesn’t survive the movie, Boromir is the only one who is given a full character arc, and it’s a heartbreaking one. When we first meet him in the extended edition in the scene where he speaks with Aragon for a moment in the house of Elrond, both Peter and Sean do an amazing job of highlighting his flawed nature and foreshadowing his fall just as the sword fell to the ground.

As is a common theme in this movie, I again bawl ugly sobbing tears as Boromir, after driving Frodo away realizes his mistake and literally sacrifices himself to save Merry and Pippin. But he doesn’t do it to repent. He does it because he has to. He has to protect them. He’s not fixing a mistake, his mind is no longer clouded and he’s doing the right thing.

And ultimately he fails. He dies knowing he drove Frodo away and probably caused the death of Merry and Pippin. He dies with the full weight of all his failures on his shoulders.

But in another beautiful moment, he looks into Aragon’s eyes and for the first time in his entire life puts his faith and his hope in something other then himself. He asked Aragon King of Gondor for forgiveness, and he grants it.

“I would have followed you my brother, my captain, my king.”

It’s such a nice touch that they then have Aragon wear Boromir’s bracers for the next film.

I could go on and on about this movie, but I won’t. At this point it’s been dissected time and time again by people much better than I. Instead I just have one last thing that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention. My favorite part of this movie.

Cate Blanchett as the Lady of Lothlorien, Galadriel.

The first time (and every time) I watch Fellowship of the Ring, I start to cry the moment we enter Lothlorien and keep crying almost until we leave. Even after this viewing I have a slight headache from crying as the fellowship receives their gifts.

When we read a book, we have an image in our head, and when we see the movie, it never lives up to that image… Except for the Lady Galadriel and Lothlorien. Those first images we see, that’s what I always saw when I read the books. It was like Peter Jackson reached into my head and created that scene just for me.

And Cate…. My god. She is Galadriel. She captured the written word and gave it flesh and form. She’s utterly amazing.

I have a list of things that I have a hard time talking about without welling up in tears, and one of those things is when Frodo offers her the ring. Cate’s performance is magical in that moment. But not only Cate, Peter and the effects department are at the top of their game here. All the elements swirl together to create this powerful and beautiful moment where we would all willingly allow Galadriel to take the ring and supplant the dark lord.

But she closes Frodo’s hand and passes the test. And in my favorite line in the series and one that always brings tears to my eyes “i passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the west, and remain Galadriel”

She looks so relieved at that moment. Like she genuinely didn’t know if she was going to pass. At that moment she proved to herself that she actually was who she always thought she was and that she would remain that way. It’s the single most beautiful moment in all six movies.

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve read Lord of the Rings, and now I can’t count the amount of times I’ve watched the movies. I didn’t have a lot of friends as a kid, I was quiet. These books were my friends.

I will always be grateful to Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings movies. He created a world that paid so much respect to the books that kid inside me read dozens of times.

In my opinion Fellowship of the Ring is a perfect film. I will continue to watch it again and again. I will cry as Boromir succumbs to his madness and realizes his weakness. I will laugh when Merry and Pippin take down Boromir and Aragon. And I will smile when Gimli goes on his anti Galadriel rant.

Because honestly, this might be one of the best movies ever made.

I will end this with the last words Aragon speaks to Frodo.

“I would have gone with you to the end, all the way to the fires of Mordo”.

5 out of 5 stars.

A High School Memory

This is a true story from my senior year of High School.


A conversation with a friend of mine reminded me of something that happened in high school that I hadn’t thought of in years. First though, let me start in the 6th or 7th grade in Mrs Ebersole’s science class.


I loved Science, space in particular, but really all science. I was fascinated with how things worked. One morning before school I was listening to The Buzzard Morning Zoo on WMMS 100.7, and they talked about an article one of them had read about an attempt to put an embryo in a male and if it was possible for a man to while not give birth, carry the child under the right circumstances.


Something about the story, not the conversation, sparked something in my brain.


Coincidentally that same day in Mrs. Ebersole’s class we discussed reproduction. As I mentioned, I was inquisitive, so I stupidly brought up the conversation and had some questions about it. Instead of talking about it, instead of acknowledging my curiosity in any way, the teacher decided to take a moment out of class to publicly make fun of me.


She called me stupid. She said I need to grow up. She said I wasn’t smart enough to tell when someone was joking. An adult teacher laughed at me in front of the entire class, and then got the rest of the class to also laugh at me.


Naturally I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. I tried to explain my self but the adult decided instead of teaching, it would be more fun to make fun of an 11 or 12 year old in front of his peers.
The fact that I felt the need to say “I stupidly asked” shows that 35 years later I can still feel that moment. The immediate result was a complete 100% loss of my interest in science. I suddenly wasn’t smart enough to love science. It was all beyond me and to this day I feel stupid and like I can’t understand it when I try to read anything scientific.


In high school I had to take general science twice, because I just wasn’t smart enough to understand it.


I tell that story as an explanation for how I was in the situation for the story I actually wanted to tell.
I like to joke that I graduated High School a retired Lieutenant Colonel. Because I did. I mean, not a real one obviously. In high school I took four years of Air Force Junior ROTC.


I didn’t take it because I wanted to go into the military. I didn’t. I would have been miserable in the military. I took it because it counted as a math credit, but more importantly it counted as a science credit. Four years of ROTC meant four less math and science credits I needed to graduate, and as I now knew, I wasn’t smart enough for either.


I surprised myself by actually enjoying ROTC. I never belonged to anything before and it felt good to be in a situation where I had friends. By my senior year I had the respect of my fellow students and some of the kids actually looked up to me.


My Junior year I got to lead a team and we won a 3rd place trophy at the Ohio Valley Invitational Drill meet… Which was actually kind of a big deal because we had been shut out at that meet for a few years and the school was considering stopping participating. People from other school came up to me to congratulate me after my performance.


Not that I got to accept the Trophy mind you. Someone else accepted it for me. See, we could only have so many people in the trophy ceremony and Sargent Hyatt said I wasn’t going to place anyway.


As I remember it, I was the only team leader not in the ceremony.


I think we only won three trophies that year, and one was an individual trophy. Not going to lie, it hurt not getting that trophy myself. What hurt worse though was explaining to the other kids why I didn’t accept it and why it made sense for me not to be up their and to watch someone who wasn’t a team leader, and wasn’t on my team accept my trophy.


The following year Sgt. suggested that we give a “stronger leader” the chance to run that team and it was taken away from me. Again, I had to explain to my peers why it was okay and keep the peace so they didn’t give Sgt trouble.
That was still not the story I wanted to tell, but it illustrates the coming confrontation.


Fourth quarter of my senior year I was elected squadron commander of the Midview Air Force Junior ROTC unit. I was shocked, and it felt so good to know that my fellow students looked at me and wanted me to lead them. I know it was all just BS, but it still felt really good. I’ve never felt particularly liked, but knowing that the other kids felt I deserved it did wonders for my self esteem.
The way ROTC works, you don’t have a normal teacher. You have two retired military personnel teaching the class. I’m not going to try and write the Colonels last name, because I’d slaughter it. But it was his first year and he always had a little bit of a hard time understanding we were just kids.


Second in command, was Sgt. Hyatt. He understood we were just kids, didn’t care. We were military so he expected us to act like it. Major (again not going to slaughter his name) always kept Sgt in-line and genuinely seemed to like dealing with kids. But Major retired and Sgt expected way to much of us. Not to insinuate any impropriety, but always seemed to take special interest in the young females in class.
Especially the attractive ones.


He was not a good person. He walked around like this was basic training and always had the girls in his office to talk. The girls that wore the skirts on uniform day were always assigned the front row seats.


I already knew Sgt didn’t like me after an incident where I caught him bad mouthing me to other students on a drill meet my sophomore year. But he was an adult, so I wrongly assumed he had out best interests at heart. And he might have, he just didn’t have mine at heart.


Once I was elected their was very little he could do about it.

Now that I had been elected as the Squadron Commander, the next step was for me to accept it, and that’s when Sgt stepped in and we get to the story I actually wanted to tell.


It started small. Sgt would make small hints that maybe other people were more deserving. Not to me either. He’d casually walk by someone and tell them he was surprised it wasn’t them, or other little comments like that. I flat out heard him tell a girl that it should have been her.


I had a conversation with another girl that I had huge crush on who was in tears that Sgt had trashed me to her and asked her to get me to withdrawal. He promised the position to her if I did.


He tried to talk the girl who put me up for it in the first place into not nominating me.
Keep in mind, I was 17 and he was like, 56?
Needless to say, I was hurt. I didn’t understand why he was doing it, but I damn well wasn’t stepping down.


Flash forward to about a week before I’m going to get the appointment. Sgt asks me to stay late after class to talk about it. He closes the door and I’m now alone in a small office with a retired Air Force Sargent who is 30 to 40 years older than me.


Alone, with the door closed so no one can hear, he flat out tells me that I don’t deserve to be squadron commander. He tells me that he has a particular person I Should choose instead and offhandedly mentions that almost anyone in class deserves it more that me, but she deserves it the most.


He says I’m being selfish and if she doesn’t get into college it will directly be my fault.
In a moment of history repeating itself, he starts telling me I’m just not smart enough to lead. He follows that up by telling me that even though I was elected by my peers, that I’m not really that well liked and I just got it because the students that everyone actually liked split the vote.
He offers that maybe they elected me as a joke that got out of hand.


He really didn’t know, but he knew I didn’t deserve it and nobody wanted me.


And if that wasn’t enough, He goes on to tell me that while being squadron commander will look really good on a college application, we both know I’m not smart enough to get into college anyway so why not give it to someone who is.
In the coarse of my 25 minute lunch break, did I mention he was eating through this? I wasn’t, I didn’t have time for lunch that day thanks to this conversation. Instead I grabbed a Pepsi and a Candy bar and cried in the bathroom.
So I’m the coarse of the 25 minute lunch break, he called me stupid, unpopular, told me I couldn’t get into college and that I was probably just going to end up digging ditches. When all that wasn’t working, he just started screaming at me covering my glasses in spit and food particles.


At one point he went as far as to suggest if I didn’t step down he’d come up with a reason to suspend me and keep me from graduating.


When I walked out of the office the couple of students eating lunch in the ROTC room refused to make eye contact with me. They assumed I had done something to deserve the screaming they heard through the door.


As I wandered dazed past Colonels office he thanked me and said he knew I was going to do the right thing.


Obviously Fully in support of Sgt bullying me.
I really don’t know how I found the strength to stand up for myself throughout that. I really don’t know. But I did. I didn’t buckle. I went on and became Squadron Commander, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should. Colonel at least hid his animosity moving forward, Sgt never did.
I’d like to say this conversation was hugely important and spurred me forward and helped me to fight back and be a stronger person, but it didn’t. No matter what the movies tell us our minds don’t work like that.


Instead all this story did was reinforce all those doubts floating around the back of my head. I knew my appointment was probably a joke, he didn’t need to tell me. It wasn’t, they actually liked me, but 17 year old me didn’t know that.
Almost every kid is afraid they are stupid, and unpopular. I was unlucky enough to be surrounded my whole life by people who felt the need to flat out tell me these things. I could give you a dozen stories just like this.


It took me years to vanquish those thoughts and insecurities that Sgt played with all those years ago. If this happened now I could probably have the teacher brought up on charges. But when I told people this story I was told I misunderstood and was being emotional.


I hate to say this, I really do, but I was more impacted by the bad teachers then the good.
This life is all we have, and not all of us will make it through.


Be kind.

Movie: Scream, Or How I learned to Get my head out of my Ass and love 90’s horror.

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It’s funny, but when i think of “classics” and my favorite movies, i never think of Scream, and I’m curious as to why. I saw Scream the Friday that it opened. That first night, i saw it by myself, so Saturday i went back with a friend to show them, and Sunday i took another friend to see it. I watched it two more times in theaters before it was done with two other friends.

I can’t think of any film with out the word “Star Wars” in the title that I’ve seen in the theaters as much as i have seen Scream. It’s also the only series that doesn’t have Star Wars in the title that I’ve seen every entry in the series on the big screen. Scream is a movie I love showing to people who haven’t seen it before, and a film that actually gets BETTER watching it a second time.

Even now, 26 years later, It’s still a fast and brutal movie. Even though again, like so many of the “classics” it’s not nearly as brutal as we remember it. At the half way point of the movie, we’ve only had the two killings. But they were powerful deaths, so they left a mark on the rest of the film. Well okay…. One of them did. Who really cares about Steve anyway.

The Cast in Scream is undeniably impeccable. The core that would carry on of Neve, Courtney and David is just amazing. David Arquette is beyond charming. Rose McGowan plays the best friend well, and Skeet and Matthew Lillard are delightful in their roles. (I fully support the theory that Stu is in love with Billy and Billy is using him). The Kevin Williamson script is fantastic, and really refreshing for the time.

Really, i can’t say enough good things about this movie, and what it must have been like for Wes Craven to YET AGAIN have a hand in creating an horror icon. So many people don’t get to do what Wes did once, but he proved capable of doing it over and over again, and if he had lived longer i’m sure he would have done it again for another generation.

The question though remains. With how good Scream is, with how much i obviously love the movie, with how many times I’ve seen it, why doesn’t Scream jump to my mind as one of my favorite movies. Why don’t I think of it when i think of the “classics”?

Is it my natural Age bias? I was 21 when scream came out. So I was already a fully functioning “adult” with fully formed opinions. Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, i was still forming when those came out. I was still forming and didn’t see the genesis of all of those. So is that why I don’t think of Scream that way? Age Bias?

From Dusk Till Dawn and the Craft both came out the same year and both of those are classics that instantly jump to my mind when i talk about that Horror in the 90’s and my favorite films.

So what is it about Scream? Am I a Hipster and never realized it? Is it the films popularity? The films Influence? Am i turned off by how big it became and the litany of imitators it attracted. Is that what keeps me from including Scream in the pantheon it belongs in? Or is it some sort of Hipster inception and the way the hipsters embraced it as some how better than what came before it that pushed me away?

Honestly? Yes. Probably. That’s probably it in the a nutshell. I grew up with Halloween and Texas Chain Saw Massacre. So i loved the imitators as they came out. To me, that’s what Horror was. Slumber Party Massacre, April Fools Day, House on Sorority Row. When Scream came out, it knocked the board over and completely restarted the game with different rules, and some of those rules were really judgmental and hard on what had come before it.

Not going to lie, I bristled. I hated that smug, better than everything else 90’s attitude it brought with it, even though i myself was embracing that attitude by turning my nose up towards the films it brought with it.

I was a hipster and i didn’t even know it. BUT, i was in my early 20s. We were all Hipsters in our early 20s. We couldn’t help it. It’s just how our minds are built. We distrust things that are new and shake up the System to much. We think we know better and if something challenges that we push it away.

And Boy did Scream Challenge what came before it…. In a good way though. It didn’t really make fun of what came before as venerate it, and refresh it. I couldn’t see that then though. My head was still firmly lodged up my asshole at the time.

Scream obviously wasn’t the first 90s Horror film. To me, the first “90s” horror film is actually Candyman. Candyman is a beautiful good bye to the horror of the 80’s and while stepping forward to embrace what was yet to come. BUT, Scream was the first film to fully encapsulate 90’s horror. As has been said time and time again, (even by me a few sentences ago) it changed the game. It brought some good, it brought a lot of bad….

But really…. Was it all that bad? Or was i just set in my ways an unwilling to accept change? Well yeah, some of it was bad. Some of it was really bad. But some of it wasn’t. Some of it was really good. Cherry Falls, Faculty, Disturbing Behavior…. All had that slick 90’s sheen that i used to find such a turn off. Looking back on it, i don’t even know what i didn’t like about them. Yes, some were bad, but who really cares?

For me, when ever the movie came out, 80s, 90s, 2020s… I’m tired of sitting down at a movie and looking for something to not like. That’s not why i watch movies. I watch movies to have fun and enjoy them.

So basically, what I’m trying to stay here is get your head out of your ass. Learn how to enjoy things. The films you loved when you were are a kid have just as many flaws as the movies that are coming out now. You’ll be so much happier if you just calm down, and look for something good in the film. Look for something you are going to enjoy.

Watch Ghost Ship for that opening and let the rest go. I missed out on so many great movies because i just refused to let myself enjoy enjoy things. You’ll be so much happier if you do. I know I am. so relax. Scream is a classic, and while it might not be in my top ten, i think it’s time to accept that it’s in my top 25 at least.

Get your head out of your ass and go enjoy Scream.

4 out of 5 Stars.

Trauma.

Let me start by apologizing. This was raw and written in one shot and not edited.

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about trauma shall we?


It’s been a stressful holiday to say the least. The day before Christmas Eve we had our first Covid scare. Which is actually pretty amazing when you think about it, that it took so long. Sadly, that led to us having to bunker down over the holiday creating a situation where my fiancé couldn’t see her four year old for a few days. Add onto that the stress of me worrying about the older kids and Jaime, add onto that the worst bought of insomnia I’ve had in years that started a few days before….


Like I said. Stressful Christmas. But it’s better now. We all tested negative and my fiancé is currently upstairs with her little baby girl being the beautiful Mom she is.


So to celebrate we went to see the new Spider-Man today. Let me start by saying I loved it. It was amazing. If you haven’t seen it, I’m sorry. I’m going to spoil a moment in it, that really isn’t a spoiler at all, because that’s what started it. That itch in the back of my head.


A little over half way into the movie, when Ned opens up that second portal, and we all see something we never thought we’d see again… Not in costume yet, but we saw him. Tobey Maquire steps through and introduces himself as Peter Parker. For a moment, just for a moment I felt that twinge, one of the many scars in the back of my mind and for just a moment I was sad, but I let it go and let my self be a kid again.
You see, like so many kids, growing up Spider-Man was my favorite. Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. The old live action series where you couldn’t see his feet… I loved it. I even had Spider-Man underoos that I wore when I played with my Spider-Man action figures.


At some point, I stopped thinking of my love of Spider-Man and how he made me feel like a kid again. But today, watching that movie, watching all those different versions I felt it. I felt like a kid again.


And that was when the problem started. When that scar started to itch, and when without even realizing it, I reached up and gave it a little scratch. The movie wasn’t even over yet before I felt the blood on my finger tips.


The last time I felt that way, the last time specifically Spider-Man made me feel that was was almost 20 years ago. 2002 walking out of the regal cinema in Middleburg Heights after watching Tobey Maquire’s first outing in the red and blue tights.


I’ll always remember that feeling. How I felt walking out of that movie. Spider-Man AND Sam Raimi?? Amazing. I loved it. I was “literally” walking on air. I felt like I was floating.
And then it all came crashing down. I don’t remember exactly how it started and what happened. My eldest was 5 at the time, and I think they wanted to stop and look at the candy, or didn’t want to leave or something…. I don’t know. But I do know by the time I was aware of the issue it was all too late.


Next thing I know, my ex wife is sitting on the floor in the middle of the main hallway of the theater yelling at my kid, crying because they weren’t listening and yelling at me for some reason. I did my best to try and her her to move, my precious five year old is in tears, feeling like shit as my ex spews vile and hate at us both.
That high, that child like joy was torn away from me, and for some reason, even though I was just trying to leave my ex was treating me like I was the villain. That was one of her moves. Her particular brand of gaslighting was to twist me around so no matter what I did, she reacted as if I was the bad guy.


So suddenly my five year old is in tears, my ex is screaming at me, everyone is looking at me as she makes this my fault, even though I still don’t know what’s going on. And at that moment, as happens some time when your around someone who keeps on pushing, I broke a little.


I yelled at her I picked up my kid and stormed out of the theater. I was doing my best to get out of the situation, but I could only do so much. I couldn’t leave her. I just had to try and pull it back in.


To make matters worse, at that moment a lady going into the theater saw this, saw the screaming five year old and the ex spewing her be behind me and just assumed that obviously I must be an abusive husband. She ran at me, screaming at me and yelling at me. Begging me not to hit my child and wife. Begging me to hit her instead of that beautiful child.


I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t me. That I wasn’t the abusive one, that I would never lay a hand on either one of them, but she didn’t care. She ran at me and wrote down my license plate number and kept screaming at my wife to go to a shelter and kept telling me exactly how bad of a person. She thought I was.


I was mad at her at the time, but in hindsight she was just doing what she thought was right. She was just trying to help my baby, who clearly needed help, she just has the wrong person. I angrily drove home and cried in the bathroom until I was sick.


I think I’ve watched that movie once since then, and it killed so much of my love for that character. I’ll never know exactly what happened and what caused it.


My eldest was being a kid. It was what kids do. My ex wife though…. My ex wife didn’t take it well. She was mad. Mad at my eldest for being a kid. Mad at me, For…. Mad at me for being happy.
As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s the only thing I can come up with. When ever I was happy it made her mad. She always tried to tear my happiness down. Especially when my happiness was pure and child like. She liked to twist my happiness and use it against me like a weapon. She didn’t know how to be happy, so no one else was allowed to be either.


Cut back to today, and the end of Spider-Man. As three is the magic number plaid over the credits I could feel that childlike joy bubbling up inside. The movie was everything I love about that character and made me so happy… but at the edge of that happiness I could feel it.


A dread boiling just out of sight. A feeling that I couldn’t place, am unhappiness seeking in from that bloody scar I had unconsciously scratched in the back of my mind. As I drove home, quietly, my fiancé napping in the seat next to me, my mind just kept opening that wound up further and further.


As the night went on I just kept thinking about that first movie and the feelings after it and a sense of dread just kept building and building and I knew something bad was coming. I could feel it deep down in my soul.


My heart kept beating faster and faster. My mom called and inadvertently made it all worse. For a few moments I was worried that I was having a heart attack, but it was just the anxiety building and building making my heart beat faster and faster until I felt like it was going to burst.
Eventually I went for a walk. I spent an hour alone in the dark walking around in circles getting my mind back on track and placing a couple of bandaids on that freshly reopened scar.
For a few moments I had it back, that piece of my childhood that got taken away from me. But that old wound was infected and seeped it’s poison back into my soul. But again, I fought it off, and I’ll keep fighting it off. I’ll keep moving forward and I’ll take that piece back. She can’t have it anymore.


Trauma. The gift that keeps on giving, but I’m going to keep moving g forward.

Story: The Book. (D&D)

Okay, the book isn’t actually the name of this story. I couldn’t come up with one. This is actually a piece i wrote for a player in a D&D game i was running. He came in part way through and i needed to add his character to the game and this is the piece i wrote to bring him in. Enjoy

D&D

                Blood seeps from a shallow cut over your right, momentarily blinding you. Balling up your right fist you rub your eye clear, succeeding only in smearing blood and dirt across your face.  Your heart races as your eyes dart around you. You aren’t sure where you are, or how you got here, all you know is you need to run. You can’t tell if you hear the sound of pounding hooves in the background, or if it’s the beating of your own heart, intent on breaking through your ribcage.

                You’ve never been more afraid in your entire life. This, your first big adventure in a life lived mainly for study and through books has some how gone so horribly wrong.

                “Calm down,” you mutter quietly to yourself, but your legs refuse to stop shaking. You can hear the faintest hint of a tear in the back of your voice.

                “It’s okay,” you follow it up with, but your beating heart tells you that’s a lie. You are not going to be okay. You are not sure you are ever going to be okay again. You run your hands over your body to check to see if everything is still there. Yes, everything seems to be in place. Your bag of holding is still hidden in your belt, so presumably the 4,872 gold pieces, 3631 Silver pieces and 8,090 copper pieces you had in at are still in place.

                You are also assuming that the 500 Platinum pieces you were given are still in place as well.

                Instinctively, you pull one of the platinum pieces out and run your fingers over it. You should have known this was going to go bad. On each and every coin, someone took the time to scratch the royal seal out off with a giant X. The Coin was still good, but you would have to be wary of where you spent it or be branded a traitor to the crown.

                When you woke up that day, when you started this adventure the last thing you expected was not only to uncover a plot to murder the Princess and end the Monarchy, but the rewrite the very fabric of what you knew as existence. You should have known, you should have seen, but you had blinders on, all you could see was that book.

                The Black Book, a strange mixture of Necromancy and Divine magic. A guidebook to the Abyssal and the celestial all at the same time. The legends say that the book held two intelligences, that were constantly at war with each, other fighting for dominion. The things it had to teach you, the pathways that were open before you.

                As you stand, knee deep in the stream, bending down to wash the blood away and check your wounds in the reflection, you remember the ring on your finger. After rubbing the water over your face, you stumble to the shore of the stream and expel a charge on your ring. Instantly your hair is clean and dry again and your clothes are perfect.

                More importantly, the cut on your head is beginning to close up. Your heart is still beating uncontrollably, nothing in the ring is going to help with that. The sun will be up soon, and you need to find some place to hide. They are after you, after what they did to Wix…. After what the Mage let them do to him!

                And the knowledge that Wix’s fate was to be yours….

                Head down, you plunge into the underbrush. In the fight to escape, when the Paladin was by your side, you used up all your magic. You had nothing left. Just you and the book. A silent prayer, your next steps would be guided by the gods of Providence.

                You can hear them moving in the trees and the brush around you. They are hunting you. The gods truly seem to be on your side. You grip in your hand a small Wand of Magic Missile, but you are reluctant to use it. It has one charge left, and you don’t want to risk it.

                You tucker down in a hollow under a tree, the wand facing out in front of you, your face stained with tears. They are moving through the darkness. Dozens of them. Faceless cultists leading firey hell hounds. You don’t know how long you sit here, you don’t know how long you spend in darkness before sleep takes you.  

                As you sleep, your mind does not rest. Instead it wanders backwards, over the journey.

                It all started for you, as all great adventures do, in a Library. The Annex was the greatest library in all of Kadavaria, and even though you were hesitant to exploit your family connections, you knew that your father was good friends with the Library’s curator, Dr Cranberry Mistletoes, a tinker Gnome of some great renown.

                Using your family connections, you reached out to the college and were granted admittance into the school and the Library beyond. You spent hours and hours in that library, years up on years. Over the time you developed kind of kin ship with Dr Misteletoes and an even deeper bond with his assistant. A minotaur named Edward Longhorns. Something about Edward, it was almost impossible not to like. He for such an angry looking beast, he looked at the world with a trusting wonder and knew nothing but love. His was a life dedicated to peace, no matter what the cost.

                The library itself was an amazing place. It always seemed bigger than you expected and while you didn’t always find what you were looking for, you always found what you needed. It was set in the basement of the college under the queen’s lake. The ceiling of the Library was a great glass ceiling that when you looked up you could see the lakes waters rippling above you, the fish swimming about.

                Life was good, until about a month ago when you came to the library for that evenings study only to find the campus a buzz. Someone it had seemed, sometime after second bell, had stolen the library. The door frame at the bottom of the stairwell opened to nothing but a dirt wall.  The bottom of the lake was now nothing but dirt.

                Through the wizards grapevine you heard that a Drow Wizard by the name of Wix had sent a party to search for the library. Again, due to your families place you had been to the Tower Castle in the center of Bridge Town and knew Wix to be the one of the court magicians that sat on the king’s council with Dr. Mistletoes.

Fearing that your friends were lost, and all the knowledge with in was lost with it, you decided to go to Tower Castle to see if you could speak with Wix. It took some talking, but eventually you were led to the wizard in his home below the bridge. Your timing could not have been better. An hour sooner and you would have been dismissed without getting to plead your case, an hour later and they would have been gone.

The Goddess of Providence it seems has taken interest in you.

It was too late to join on the grand adventure to find the library, so Wix turned you away. As his guards began to lead you out of his chamber though, the doors banged open and in walked a female half Drow Warlock, and A female half Orc warrior carrying the head severed head of a human being in one hand, and a black book in the other.

The Warlock you would come to discover was the Old Drows daughter Autumn and the Half Orc Paladin was her lover Doria Caine.

For a moment you locked eyes with the Warlock and a shudder went down your spine as he you looked away. You could feel it moving inside her. Either this woman had made a deal with a devil, or someone had used her in their own deal. You didn’t know which, but you could feel that dark spirit moving inside her, and its shadows playing in the back of her eyes.

She drew her magic from the demon trapped with in her soul.

The book though… When you saw the book you immediately knew it for what it was, and as Caine stepped forward, setting the head on the table and removing the book from under her arm, you instinctively stepped forward to take another look at it. Wix picked up the book and looked at the grizzled warrior women before him and asked a loud “where did you get this? Have you found the library?”

You had seen the book before. At the Library about a year ago. It had been on Dr. Misteltoes desk. He had been arguing over it with another wizard. A large giant of a man with flowing white hair and beard. But that was before, that was before…. The sound of your own voice surprised you…

“The Black Book” you whispered, “Dr Mistletoes said it was stolen.”

“The thief had it” Doria muttered as she pushed the head over. “Your daughter tried to speak with him, but he isn’t talking”

Wix the senior motioned you over and asked you what you knew of the book. You were only able to regurgitate what little knew from Dr Mistletoes, but it was enough. He hired you on the spot for 500 platinum pieces to be paid to you by his partner when you reached the Cairn Ferox. They needed two spells from the book, and they needed you to find them and translate them.

At the time you did not know the evil you stood across from. While Wix has the best interests of the kingdom at heart, he was not a nice man. He and his brotherhood, the brotherhood of the open hand, where hiding a secret. A secret only a few people knew. The king was not the King. The real king was dead, murdered a long time ago and replaced.

You didn’t know it at the time, but eventually you discovered the brotherhood planned to kill the King and his family and replace the fake King with one of their own. None of this made sense… The implications. The King, you had met the king. When you were young you met the king. Thanks to your father, the Princess Isabella had even come to one of your birthday parties! They were good people. It didn’t make sense.

The first spell you were to find was a locating spell. It was an incredibly complex spell that once cast, never went away until the target of the spell or the caster were dead. Each caster could only have one locating Spell could active at a time, and once you cast it you knew the location of your target, no matter where they went. Even into other dimensions.

Surprisingly the spell was actually a lost wedding custom. Upon pledging their lives to each other the husband and wife would cast the spell on each other. It was sweet in a weird overly protective way.

They forced you to cast it on a wood elf Named Evening Flowers. It was strange though. Once your caught onto her, her location kept jumping erratically. Almost like the pocket dimension she was hiding in kept moving.  But you were able to narrow down three locations that you were pretty sure you could find her.

Eventually, you found that she was the Thief, Finnian Raws lover, and she was hiding in his home. Still later, you discovered that they meant to kill her to protect the secret. Even later though, you discovered that she was actually the one who killed the king when he was still a prince seventy-five years ago. She

Supposedly her dagger was still stained with the blood of the real king, and the brother hood of the open hand wanted that blood.

The second spell was a complex resurrection spell with an even more complex ritual attached to it. You put the pieces together as you traveled to the Cairn, and when you arrived you wished you hadn’t. You were greeted by a tall barrel-chested Necromancer who dressed like a storm giant and had a flowing white Beard.

You immediately recognized him as the wizard that was fighting with Dr. MIsteltoes, the one that tried to take the book.

His name was Tragger Radnor and he is by far the scariest person you’ve ever met in your life. He tossed you a bag with the five Hundred platinum pieces and thanked you for your work. You immediately tried to talk them out of the ritual, but to now avail. The magics they were dealing with… Even for magicians so much more powerful than you… it was dangerous. People were going to die, and souls were going to be eaten.

Not that they could do the spell, you thought. No way they could find all the components the spell required. First off, it required seven individuals willing to give up their life. It could only be cast by someone who has succumbed to the powers of the abyssal, and it required a soul cast in crystal. Lastly, and most importantly it required the Golden Skull of a Wuderlak.

A Wuderlak, is the worst type of Vampire that ever existed. Rare and far more powerful then a normal vampire. They had all the powers but very few of the weakness. The lived on the blood and the soul of their victims, they grew stronger off the pain they caused. They were the shells of the Vampires left over from the other world before this one. They wandered the land soulless and direction less, living to do nothing but feast and destroy. They were essentially empty vessels. If you cast the right blood ritual though, a soul could be put in one.

Upon arrival at the Cairn you and your companions were taken into the basement, and their you saw it. The ritual chamber. Six men, in a circle tied to a stone Colum. A seventh was empty. In the center of the room was an empty bowl about a foot deep. A channel ran from each column to the bowl. In the center of the bowl, Tragger Radnor placed a golden Skull, the Skull of the Wuderlack. From his pocket he produced a green glowing gem.

Everything that happened next, happened so fast. You tried to stop it, but you couldn’t. Before you could react, Tragger Radnor waved his hand, and suddenly you couldn’t move. You were held in place by a mystical force. The trip had been about a week. During that time, you found became friends with the Paladin and her warlock lover. Their story was sad, and their love was tragic. Each of them had suffered great loss, and now that loss was only going to get worse.

The Paladian Doria Caine stepped up and tried to help you, but she was brushed aside. Autumn Wix screamed, and tried to save her lover, but before she could her Father and Tragger Radnor intervened. Wix the senior held a blade to the unconscious paladin and threatened to slit the Half Orcs throat if Autumn didn’t help. So in order to protect the life of her lover, Autumn Wix did the one thing she was afraid to do more than anything else.

She let the Demon inside her out, and she sacrificed herself to it.

As the Demon infested Autumn Wix began to cast the spell, one by one her father worked his way around the circle slitting the throats of the captive. With each one, the blood flowed down, filled the channel and mixed with each other in the bowl in the center, coating the golden skull. Finally, after the blood of six men stained the dagger, they approached you and placed the blade at your throat.

You were about to die.

The Gnome appeared from nowhere firing his giant metal gun into the room. The spell was broken just long enough for you to escape.

“Run!” Cranberry Misteltoes yelled at you as the shadows began to move and hands began to move out of the darkness towards you. You pulled Doria Caine to her feet and the two of you fled down the hallway. She tried to go back, but you wouldn’t let her. Faceless cultists, hell hounds and other, even darker spirits swirled around the Cairn.

As you looked back, you saw it, the Wuderlak taking form. The Seventh Sacrifice was completed. Instead of losing, Wix slit his own throat while his daughter held up the green Gem, finishing the spell and placing an unknown soul inside the creature. All the while Tragger Radnor battled the tinker gnome.

When you finally opened your eyes, you were very surprised you had slept. But you needed it. Your mind was clearer. You closed your eyes and you could still finish Evening Flowers out in the world, constantly moving. An entrance to her home wasn’t that far away. The wuderlak was still out their as well, and it wasn’t going to stop.

Especially since you had it’s soul. You weren’t sure exactly when or how you found it, but at some point, it was pressed into your hand. The green glowing gem with the soul meant for the creature. You needed help. You had to protect yourself from the creature that would keep coming for you.

Somewhere along the way you became separated from Doria. You lost her in the darkness as you were fighting. It was just you, alone in the world in desperate need of help. You pulled yourself out from under the tree and tried to get your bearings.

In the distance you could see a small farmhouse and could see smoke coming from the chimney.

EQUIPMENT

Ring of Mending: Rare Magical Item used for Mending and Repairing your clothing and basic Magical Items. Also cleans you. Not only does it mend your clothing and basic Items, it also mends you. Once per day can be used either Any number of Healing Potions Equaling 1 Supreme Healing potion. IE, you can do 1 Supreme, or you can do Five Common. You could do 1 Superior and 1 Common,   2 Greater and 1 Common, 1 Great and 3 commons, what ever the combination, as long as it doesn’t go over the 10D4 + 20 or a Supreme. The Mending Spell has no limit and can be used as needed.

Winged Boots: Requires Attunement While you wear these boots, you have a flying speed equal to your walking speed. You can use the boots to fly for up to 4 hours, all at once or in several shorter flights, each one using a minimum of 1 minute from the Duration. If you are flying when the Duration expires, you descend at a rate of 30 feet per round until you land. The boots regain 2 hours of flying capability for every 12 hours they aren’t in use.

Cloak Of Protection: You gain a +2 bonus to AC and saving throws while you wear this cloak. Helm Of Comprehend Languages: While wearing this helm, you can use an action to cast the Comprehend Languages spell from it at will