About Rampage Productions

What’s an English major to do in a world where typing “OMG WTF LOL” is seen as a legitimate attempt at communication? I’ve come up with a three part answer: surround oneself with cynics, read a great deal of satire, and start a humorous blog with an undertone of mutton.

O’ to Be a Vampire Bride

In the world of Amazon literature, one would assume that works with reviews numbering in the thousands and averages of four and a half stars would be limited to immortal classics like the Bible:

Holy Bible

Or period think-pieces like Go the F**k to Sleep:

Go the F to Sleep

They are not:

Vampire Girl

Terrifying?  Maybe not.  Not until one soaks in the knowledge that a statistical majority of 1,009 people like this book a lot.  In fairness, my wife and I might be among them, though for all the wrong reasons.  So buckle up, buttercup, because here comes the plot synopsis of Vampire Girl, quoted verbatim from Amazon:

My name is Arianna Spero. I was an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life, until my mother lapsed into a coma.  Now, I am her only hope. She made a deal with the devil, and on my 18th birthday he came to collect. But there’s a way to save her. There’s something the princes of hell want more than my mother.

Me.

So I signed my soul away and promised to pick a prince to marry. I would take the blood oath, become one of them, and give them an heir. I would become a princess of hell, and my mother would live.

If ever there was a book that needed a scene where the best friend, gay or otherwise, tried to talk some sense into the protagonist, this is it. Then again, Arianna does have a sassy, transgendered waitress friend (whom she is helping save up for gender reassignment surgery… because we’re a socially aware Vampire Girl, if nothing else).  But as you can deduce, that character seems to have a lot going on in his/her life and really wasn’t available to be the voice of reason this novel so desperately needed.  This acknowledged, we’ve taken the liberty of writing a new one in and plopping them down with the protagonist for coffee.  It goes about as well as you can imagine:

“So, my mom made a deal with Satan to save my life.  You know… when I was a baby.”

“That’s so sweet!”

“I know. But now she’s all, like, experiencing eternal torment in a lake of fire, and I feel really super bad. So… I’m making a deal with Satan to get her out.”

“Wait a minute… This all started because of a pact with Satan and you want to make another pact with Satan?”

“Uh… yeah?”

“…”

“…”

“Have you, maybe, considered that part of your family’s problem is that you keep making pacts with Satan?”

“I don’t get it.”

“…Father of Lies? The Beast? The Great Betrayer? None of this is ringing a bell?”

“Are we talking about the same Satan?  He seems super nice.”

“There’s only… OK. You know what? Let’s forget about Satan for a moment. So what’s this pact you signed on for?”

“Right, so I have to marry a vampire Prince of Hell and sire an heir.”

“…Vampire prince… Wait…”

“It’s cool. I get to pick, and they’re all really hot.”

“All? How many vampire princes of hell are there?”

“Seven.”

“Seven?”

“Yeah. Seven. They’re all manifestations of, like, the seven bad things.”

“Seven deadly sins?”

“Yeah. Glutton. Lust. Avarice. Pride. Sorrow. Pride. Sloth. War.”

“…Wrath.”

“What?”

“Wrath. The sin is wrath. You can be wrathful. You can’t really be warful.”

“But he’s War. See? Says so right here.” Time and space warps around Arianna as she pulls out a copy of Vampire Bride and points out that the Vampire Hell Prince is, indeed, the manifestation of War.

“…Huh. That’s… That’s something… Anyway, look, if you’re committed to this marrying a hell prince thing, why don’t you hook up with whoever is the embodiment of Lust, get as freaky weird as you can while still being a young adult novel, and be done in an afternoon?”

“Dean.”

“What?”

“Dean. His name is Dean. The manifestation of Lust.”

“…You’re !@#$in’ me.”

“No. See?” Again, time warps as she pulls out of the book. The name “Dean, Vampire Prince of Lust” appears repeatedly. “Besides, I have to spend a month with each.”

The best friend, whose sexual orientation is entirely moot, takes a deep breath. “Alright.  I’m going to summarize what I got. Because your mom made a pact with Satan, which ended–predictably–with her in a state of eternal torment, you’re going to make another pact with Satan, which involves shacking up with seven sin-inspired vampire hell princes for a month a piece. Then, you pick one to marry.”

“Right.”

“And then earn your mother’s eternal salvation by porking said Prince of Hell and having his kid.”

“Yep! And they’ll be the next King of Hell!”

“…Who’s the current King of Hell?”

“Satan.”

“…Isn’t he immortal? How can there be a next King of Hell?”

“He’s dead.”

“…Look, I want you to know that, as your best friend of ambiguous sexual orientation, I will support you no matter what you do.”

“Thanks!”

“But I’m still not coming to your wedding.”

“Awwwww! Well, that’s cool because vampire security is probably gonna be tight anyway, what with all the murderous fairies prowling around trying to kidnap me.”

“Fairies?  Like…Tinkerbell?  How would that even work?”

“More like Tinkerbell on ‘roids.  I totally don’t know what their problem is. The hell fairy slave trade is, like, so superior to the raping and pillaging alternative.”

“How did we get on the hell fairy slave trade?”

“I dunno.  Probably because I was about to tell you I’m also the Queen of the Fairies.”

“…This seems like information that should have been front loaded…”

“It comes out at the end of book one.”  Arianna grins and does her best jazz hands, “Spoiler alert!”

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I’m a Resident, and I’m Here to Help!

Our lack of publication may be summarized in three sentences: The editor is in grad school.  The three-year-old is feral.  And the author…well… He embarked on one of those leisurely quests through the medical establishment–a quest wherein a great many tests are conducted to discover nothing about him is uniquely wrong, excepting the ever-present cynicism and the sheep-themed website.

To date, I’m told, there is no cure for either.

That established, allow me to share what I have learned over the course of my long absence: most notably, that I am not an anesthesiologist.

Well… not usually, anyway.

Directions: Use to forget troubles. Side effects may include new troubles.

Directions: Use to forget troubles. Side effects may include new troubles.

And because I am not an anesthesiologist, and because I’m given to understand that most anesthesiologists don’t need to measure things in fifths, I’m loathe to offer advice to a member of that profession.  That said, recent experience compels me to offer a few words of advice to the dear, dear resident physician tasked with removing some of the more terrifying moles* from my chest.

(*And just so we’re clear, “mole” is being used in this instance to refer to a smallish skin blotch that has made its home on my epidermis and not a smallish, garden-dwelling mammal that somehow got lost and made its home in my wazoo.  This is an important distinction, and I’m trusting that the removal of the latter would not be trusted to a lowly resident–or, at the very least, not the resident who removed my moles for reasons which are about to become very obvious.)

Because my moles are legion…and because I foolishly told the resident to take off whatever she wanted…and because said resident was either enthusiastic, sadistic, or both…I was awarded ample opportunity to observe, review, and come to an understanding of the process. If I might be pardoned a moment of medical oversimplification, it can be summarized thusly:

1. Numb the area.

2. Check to make sure the area is actually numb.

3. Remove the mole with an insanely scary looking knife.

Actual picture of resident with scalpel

Actual picture of resident with scalpel

That established, let’s talk about the importance of step two–i.e., the one that simultaneously differentiates this procedure from the plot of a B-grade horror film and keeps the screams of your patient from echoing down the halls.  The resident attending to me struggled with step two.  She struggled mightily.  She had a scalpel, a needle’s worth of anesthesia, and God as her co-pilot.  Based on her actions, I assume that she assumed her needle was magic–that its touch could do no wrong.  The idea that it might numb an area a quarter inch to the right of the spot intended, consequently, was simply unthinkable.

And to her credit, she might have also been an ex-gunslinger, if the speed of her draw with that knife of hers was any indication.  By the time my rather vocal protest to the effect that we had omitted step two (and in the course of doing so uncovered some glaring shortcomings in the execution of step one) registered, she was already showing me my own mole with the giddy delight of someone who doesn’t grasp why someone else might not want to see recently severed portions of their own anatomy.

I’m thinking she needed a button.  Something to the effect of, “I’m a resident, and I’m here to help!”

Ready, Willing, and Unable

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  When you stop caring about others, and by extension what they think about you, your morning routine steadily slims down to nothing.  I used to shave my face.  Now, I have a beard.  I used to comb my hair.  Now, I buzz it short.  I persist in bathing, but only because it dissuades the chiggers from taking up residence in the aforementioned facial mass. I am completely unable to fasten a necktie, and contrary to what I have been routinely told, this has yet to have any substantial negative impact on my life’s trajectory.  Then again, I majored in English, a field where the code of professional dress oscillates back and forth between this:

beat poet with beret

And this:

mcdonald's employee

(The moment of oscillation generally occurs upon realizing the beret isn’t edible.)

Be that as it may, all of the above I offer not to prove that I am lazy and/or unpleasant, which I undoubtedly am.  Rather, it is my feeble attempt to solicit pity on behalf of the individual who, in a staggering underestimation of my incompetence, invited me to stand up in his wedding – conditional on my willingness to wear a bowtie.

Or, as turned out to be the case, conditional on my ability to wear a bowtie.  Now, my neck is not abnormal in any way, shape, or form – it is soft, supple, and fits comfortably into the palms of most serial killers.  On its annual performance review, it receives generally high marks and consistently exceeds expectations in terms of keeping my head aloft.  My hands, however…  I swear to god, I do not know what is wrong with that department.  To date, they’ve proven to be useful for exactly two things – opening beer and inputting the thirty lives code for Contra.

the code

So when it came time to turn this:

untied bowtie

Into this:

bowtie tied

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up with something closer to this:

The Mummy

So, it was time for plan B – swearing and alcohol.  Neither fundamentally altered the state of the bowtie, but I felt a lot !@#$in’ better.

Plan C then – YouTube.

The first video I encountered was titled, and I quote, “If you watch only one video on how to tie a bowtie, watch this one,” which I foolishly selected.  In truth, I wanted to watch zero videos on how to tie a bowtie but was propelled onward by some perverse combination of obligation and inebriation.  Suffice it to say, the video did not take because, at the three-minute mark, they had not made it around to even starting to tie the bowtie, and I had lost interest.

Lost interest, in this context, is code for “passed out.”

When I came to, wiped the drool off my keyboard, and remembered what the hell this mass of paisley was half-assedly wrapped around my neck, I realized it was time to get serious.  So, returning to YouTube, I pulled this bad boy up and resolved to watch it.

However, I quickly determined that ten solid minutes of video instruction from a gentleman with an English accent was above my pay grade, which, as we established earlier in this piece, is approximately minimum wage.  Two minutes in, and it rapidly became apparent I might die of old age before we concoct some form of knot, let alone anything that resembled a properly fastened tie.  That and I was bothered because the entirety of the video appeared to be of his neck.  After a couple minutes, one starts to wonder whether you are watching his Adam’s apple or if his Adam’s apple is watching you.  That and Rule 34 of the internet dictates neck fetishism is a thing, and somewhere there are websites featuring content we won’t speculate about linking back to this video.  Returning to the point, the only thing the video managed to prove was that this old guy who pointed a camera at his neck could tie a bowtie, whereas I – still – could not.

This pretty much takes us to plan D – text groom until he marvels at what a loser he asked to stand up in his wedding and delivers the bowtie pre-tied.

It wasn’t exactly a glorious victory for misanthropy.  Then again, they seldom are.