Two deeply depressing anecdotes


Mostly depressing, at least; one of them is sorta funny because I’m an idiot and one of them has a tiiiiiny ray of humor that will force you to cackle and then feel bad about it if you have a really twisted sense of humor and are a bad person.  Which: you’re reading this, so… yeah.

My lovely wife has not been feeling well these last couple of days, so I was asked to pick the boy up from day care on my way home from work.  Normally this is her job; she drives past day care on the way to and from work so it makes a lot more sense for her to do it than me.  She also physically pays the bills for day care so the office staff knows her from that.

Me, I’m around there much less often.  I generally only pick him up or drop him off if she can’t do it, which works out to about once a month.  Lately they’ve had some turnover in their staff and apparently a couple of people who worked elsewhere at the day care have moved into his room, so my face is even less familiar to everyone than usual.  Also: I’m a big fat bearded bald guy, and I tend to scan white supremacist until my not-quite-as-obvious nerd nature takes over.

Included in the text from my wife to pick him up was the important detail that he had a box of snacks in the refrigerator and a jacket that I needed to remember to bring home.  Okay, no problem.  The jacket will be underneath his cubby.  Cool; I can handle that.  What’s the door code again?  New text with that; I’m on my way.

I let myself in, nod at the front desk people (who don’t stop me) and walk into my son’s room.  At first it’s obvious that no one in the room recognizes me and the boy is facing the other way; for some reason, rather than call out to him, I wait for him to turn around and notice me, at which point he comes running over with his arms up and the adults in the room appear to breathe somewhat of a sigh of relief.  There are hand-painted leaves hanging on strings all over the ceiling; he points these out to me and I happen to notice his.  These weren’t hanging up the last time I was in there and he seems really happy to be showing them to me.

This is the part where I’m an idiot, but keep in mind what I do for a living.  The leaf has his name and 8-23 on it.  In my line of business, when you put a date on something, that’s the date you did it.  I remark, mostly talking to him, but loudly enough that the adults in the room hear me, that that’s been hanging there for a while and I didn’t remember seeing them the last time I was there.  I then make eye contact with one of the minders and ask about the jacket.  She points out his cubby.

There are two jackets on the peg underneath his cubby.  I don’t know which one is his.  This one gets me some serious side-eye and she grabs his jacket.  Understand that I have a good reason for this:  the jacket was unearthed from the basement like two days ago and I’ve never seen him in it– because I don’t take him to day care and the way weather in Indiana works this time of year is that you have the heat on in the morning on your way to work and then have the air conditioning on on your way home.  The damn thing is effectively brand new, and since we pulled it out of a box of hand-me-downs as opposed to going out and buying it I have a perfectly good reason to be unfamiliar with it.  Hell, it’s not like he could have picked it out.

I sign him out and turn to leave and my eyes happen to fall on another leaf.  This one has a date in July on it.  And it hits me:  that’s not a turn-in date, it’s his goddamn birthday.  I know my son’s birthday, goddammit.  Even if I can’t remember exactly what time he was born anymore.  Middle of the damn night, I can tell you that.

Point is, as far as these folks are concerned, I’m the shittiest parent ever, and as far as I’m concerned I’m not a shitty parent– at least not for this– but I may not be too quick on the uptake, so it’s not like I’m coming off well to myself.

(Sidenote:  My wife and I do not have the same last name; she kept hers when we married.  The only time I ever regret this decision at all is when we’re dealing with the boy.  I don’t care if she has my last name, but I would like it if the three of us had the same last name, if that makes any sense.  Him having a different last name from her makes me look like an absentee father and I don’t like that at all.)

Anecdote the Second, the more depressing one:  I’m in the gym this morning when a couple of sixth graders, both girls, run up to me.  I know one of them fairly well, at least for a kid who’s never been in my room, and know the other one not at all.  They hand me a note that the one I don’t know found in her locker at the end of the day yesterday.

“I didn’t write it,” the one I know says, which is kinda weird because I’ve not accused her of writing it yet.

I read the note.  It may be the most obscene, sexually explicit thing I’ve ever seen in a school before.  It’s from another student– presumably, another sixth grader, who bills himself as this other girl’s secret admirer.  It begins by talking about how much he’d love to put his fat dick right into her mouth and have her suck on it for a while, and by the end of the note he’s fucking her in the ass so hard the tip of his dick is coming out of her mouth.  At the end it asks her to write back and put her response to this well-considered proposal into a nearby locker– which, as it turns out, is the locker of the second girl– thus the panic about me accusing her of having written it.  She offers to show me a sample of her handwriting; I decline the offer.

Perhaps the worst thing about this is that I genuinely can’t tell whether this note is meant to be sincere or whether the writer is trying to make fun of the girl or hurt her feelings.  It’s obviously horrifyingly inappropriate, and God how big of a fuckup as a parent do you have to be that your kid thinks it’s okay to write notes like this to someone– but what makes it worse is that I think he thinks it’s going to work.  The kid’s not trying to scare her or harass her– he may actually think this is a love note.  Which may be the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever encountered as a teacher.  Honestly, I think if it hadn’t referenced the other girl’s locker I might never have seen it.  The girl who brought it to me seemed a little grossed out but otherwise wasn’t as bothered by the note as I was.

Sixth graders.  And sixth graders in September, which is important– this is a year with a lot of development happening.  This would still be surprising in May but not nearly as much.  And, again– this note is beyond the pale even compared to the other shit I’ve confiscated over the years.

I bring the assistant principal over and hand the note over to her.  We both suspect that we can catch the culprit with the cameras; I haven’t followed up yet to find out if they caught anything.

I promised a funny part.

The last line of the note– before the “Please reply in locker blah blah” part, and right after the bit about the trans-abdominal reverse blowjob– is “If it’s okay with you.”  One sentence.  All by itself.

I’m going to fuck you in the ass, eleven-year-old, until my dick comes out of your mouth… but only if you think that’s okay.


In which your book sucks and you probably do too


Here’s how to write a book I’m not going to like:

  • Start with what sounds like a promising premise.  No, really– I’ll not like your book more if I originally thought I was going to enjoy it, and I have to start reading your book before I can realize how bad it is.  So you actually need to do something cool with at least the basic setting of your book to get me to pick it up in the first place.  Don’t worry– I like lots of different kinds of things, so “interesting setting” isn’t actually that high of a bar to clear.  Alternatively, have someone I like and/or respect recommend your book, or even just catch me in the right mood and I’ll start reading.
  • Once you’ve got your basic setting, don’t do any more thinking about it at all.  It may be that bits of your setting don’t quite make basic sense.  That’s okay!  People who like for their fantasy books to hang together coherently are few and far between, and besides, why would you want to overthink things?  Just say whatever you want.  So long as it’s badass, it’s okay, right?
  • Women don’t read books, and neither do men who like women, so there’s no reason to pay any attention to your female characters, make them realistic, or really use them as anything other than sex objects and/or punching bags.  Sometimes at the same time!
  • Rape is Realistic, which means it’s okay to have it in your book all the goddamn time.  Pay no attention to the part where “realism” is not demanded in any other aspect of your writing.  Women Back Then had to worry about being raped, so the male characters in your book should all be rapists and the women should all worry about rape all the time– unless they’re sluts, in which case it’s impossible to rape them anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s list the sins of Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man:

  • It’s actually pretty well-written on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph level.  This actually ends up being critical to getting me to hate it, because had it been poorly written in addition to being crap (let’s assume for the sake of argument that we can actually treat these as being separate characteristics) I would have abandoned it much earlier and thus it would not have had the chance to piss me off as much as it did.
  • The setting is thus:  There are demons in the world, called Corelings, and they come up out of the ground every night to wreak havoc on the world and Kill All Humans!  The world is thus very dangerous to everyone, and human society is more or less on the brink of extinction.  The Corelings are winning, in other words. The sun drives them off, so daytime is safe, but being outside after dark is basically fatal.  Corelings can be driven away by use of a set of magical symbols called Wards, but Wards can be fragile (step on one, and it loses its magic, for example) and making them correctly is difficult.  This is actually a decently intriguing setup for a novel and got me about halfway through the book.  However?
  • He didn’t put a single damn second of thought into it beyond that.  You know what every human habitation would have if the world worked like this?  Walls.  You’d build the walls before you put buildings inside them, and you’d carve your wards into something as permanent as possible and put them on the walls.  Portable rope-and-board warding circles exist, so if you were trying to build a settlement at Point B you could put most of the wall together at Point A and then transport it so that you could get them set up quickly.
  • Clothing would have wards on it– if wards couldn’t be worked into cloth for some reason, people would be wearing more permanent garments– helmets, for example, or maybe bracers of some kind– that could have wards carved into them.  The author appears to have never thought of this idea, which I started wondering about maybe twenty pages into the book.  The idea’s really obvious, honestly; you’d think he’d at least have had a sentence or two where he explained why this can’t work.
  • Corelings can’t rise through worked stone.  This would tend to suggest that most towns at least have a central area with cobblestones so someplace is safe from them.  They don’t.
  • “Hey, what about tattoos?” you might be thinking right about now, having learned about this scenario two minutes ago.  It apparently took hundreds of years of being constantly killed by these things before one of the main characters comes up with the idea of actually tattooing a ward onto himself.  Which not only works, but turns him into a demon-fighting ninja straight out of a Rob Liefeld comic book from 1995.  And a thoroughly dislikeable one, too, even though previously he was an interesting character.  Sadly, HIS PARENTS ARE DEAD!!! which means he smolders with generic rage.
  • In addition to the defensive wards (one of which, by the way, inexplicably hardens glass to be like steel, even though every other ward does something to demons) there are offensive wards that you can put on weapons to help you fight demons; otherwise, they’re basically invulnerable.  They were lost, though– all of them, so long ago that many people don’t believe they existed, even though none of the defensive wards were lost.  This is both possible and makes sense… somehow.  Until the main character finds a spear in a tomb, cracks the wards, pledges to start making weapons with those wards for everyone, and then… just doesn’t, for some reason, in favor of becoming Tattooed Demon Batman.
  • There are three main characters.  One is Tattooed Demon Batman.  The other is boring.  The third is a girl, with big tits, who spends the entire book avoiding rapists– like, literally, at one point she surreptitiously doses a guy’s food with some sort of impotence drug because she’s traveling with him (not a lot of room in a tent inside a portable ward ring) and she knows he’s going to rape her.  He’s real open about it– if she needs his help, she’s giving up some nappy dugout.  Charmingly, after spending the entire night trying to fuck her and being unable to get it up, he tells her he’ll kill her if she tells anyone about it.  This doesn’t stop her from considering asking him to help her again later on in the book.
  • With about a hundred pages left, she’s brutally gangraped.  For no fucking reason at all other than apparently Peter Brett figured something awful needed to happen to her.  Did I mention she was a virgin?  Because of course she was.
  • Ten pages after that (maybe not exactly, but close enough) she fucks Tattooed Demon Batman, who she’s just met, because that’s what rape victims do.  Tattooed Demon Batman and Other Boring Dude kill two of the three rapists by stealing their warding circle (roll with it) but the book makes sure to mention that the big scary one of the three rapists doesn’t appear to be among the bodies.
  • Throw in several chapters of slut-shaming, too, and three mothers– one a cheating, emasculating harridan and two whose purposes in the narrative are to die horribly so that their sons can feel bad about it.  The only semi-positive female character is a Wise Old Crone.  No, really, I’m serious.

This book fucking sucked and you should not read it, and Peter V. Brett should feel bad for having written it.  The worst bit is that I could easily keep complaining for another thousand words but the boy just woke up so I have to go.