Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
Gross Things Found in Food and Candy
In honor of the month of horror, I want to dive into one of the most important rules of Halloween with a top ten list. That is, always remember to check your treats.
Here are some of the most horrifying objects found in food:
10. Clay Knife
This happened while I was at work. A surprisingly calm customer turned in a mostly empty bag of candle with sculpting knife inside. The bag was sealed shut and somehow passed Hershey's evaluation.
8. Razor Blades
In Minneola, Florida, 15-year-old David Mahon claimed to find a razor blade in his Halloween candy. The greedy kid found some candy on the ground, which he assumed a smaller child must have dropped, and decided to take it for himself.
When his mom separated out some of his candy (which is kind of weird considering he was 15), she saw a suspicious Three Musketeers Bar. They opened the silver packaging to find the blade tucked inside.
This is what can happen if you get greedy with trick r' treating, folks.
6. Human Blood.
Sure this isn't a candy story, but a Cracker Barrel customer in Texas reported her ketchup on a BLT with fries order to be a bit strange. Turns out, the chef had cut himself.
The customer, Susan Mosher, was a cancer survivor and wanted to know what risks she might've taken in from eating a small portion of the food, but Cracker Barrel couldn't legal make the chef take a blood analysis, so the customer was provided with $100 in gift certificates to the restaurant. WTF?
The Whyte family reported the wife fell violently ill after eating at a famous pub in Sydney.
"A bitter row broke out between them and one of Sydney's largest tourist pubs. State food minister Ian Macdonald confirmed that frozen fecal matter had been found in a serving of chocolate gelato offered to placate pub patron Steve Whyte and his wife Jessica, who became "violently ill" after eating it. Staff at the Coogee Bay Hotel, located just a few minutes south of Bondi Beach, denied the charge. Both the chef and restaurant manager volunteered for DNA tests to prove their innocence. Both sides have accused the other of money seeking, with the Whyte's claiming they were offered $5,000 (£1,500) in hush money by pub General Manager Tony Williams, while they in turn were accused of trying to negotiate up to $1 million in ."
There are always those who panic at the thought of tainted Halloween candy, when in fact there has only been one real case of poisoned treats of the spooky season.
In 1964, a woman handed out inedible candy, such as cyanide-laced Pixie Stix, to children she believed were too old to be trick r' treating. However, most cases of poisoned candy thereafter were coincidence. One case is a punk who OD'd on Heroin the night after Halloween.
Rumors or Crystal Meth disguised as candy were widespread in 2007. An email came out, allegedly from Special Agent Todd Coleman, about the dangers of Halloween candy that year.
In the email, it was claimed customs found "Strawberry Quick" in some of their candies, a sneaky way to push meth throughout the states. However, Coleman said he never signed the emails, and since 2008, there has yet to be an evidence of any form of methamphetamine found in Halloween candy, which makes this claim a myth.
It's All Your Fault
If a salesperson approached you at your with a concept of making $1 million dollars than you ever were with loose liberal ideas of becoming an educated, self-made individual, you would give them a curious gaze, if not completely dismiss them as a scam artist.
And if someone asked you for 4 years of your life, years ripped away from your home to be shoved in hamster cages and forced to lose your confidence as thousands ideas are forced upon you or else, you would probably tell them what to do with themselves.
Likewise, you would be deterred by the notion of "getting a better life" for $23,000+ in the hole, you might even call the police.
Yet the higher educational system does all of the aforementioned without ever losing the beliefs of millions of Americans and without ever being sued for false claims and off-scale advertising.
Prior to 2007, going to college and getting a degree meant big things. Student debt wasn't so high and jobs were available. But if you were like me in 2007, barely 18 and progressive-minded, then you watched as your bank account flat-lined and the negativea built up during one of the greatest recessions since WWII.
Did I say since? Take this into consideration: Unemployment of 16-29 year-olds is at its highest since WWII and trends indicate it might supersede it.
What's really interesting is, that, when British young adults faced steep tuition increases with a lack of degree-based job placement, they attacked the government. Yet as Americans, we are captivated by the stigma college carries on its shoulders, one that says obtaining a degree is to completing high school 50 years ago.
Let's face it, students are in the worst predicaments of their lives. They've spent near $50,000 to pay for college, worked their asses off to make the grade and earn their degree, and now they can't afford the gas it would take to drive to a good interview.
The U.S. furrowed a brown when student debt (often without significant job placement) skyrocketed to $100 billion, but as we approach $1 trillion today, raising a brow is about all we can do.
"Obama Care" provides some reassurance to graduates, however, by imposing a 10% interest rate cap on some loads, but what most of us graduates need are forgiveness.
But should we even call it forgiveness? Right now, there are some reading this and thinking all these numbers are a clever way to evade our own personal failures.
We did what we were supposed to. We fought in high school for our GPAs, faced rejection and acceptance from college administrators, many of whom we never meet, worked hard for 4 years, and smiled wide on graduation day. People who do well with their education are not the types to fail. They are not the ones without initiative.
When someone says, when the ivory degree on your wall is collecting dust, it's your fault, you tell them to fuck off. If you are shot in the chest and need years to recover, is that your fault?
No, it's not. And it's not a farfetched analogy. It feels about the same.
Some argue maybe we should have thought twice about college. True, that would have been nice.
But how much economic foresight can an 18 year-old have? If someone can barely buy a pack of cigarettes, how the hell are they able to take out $20,000-100,000+ in loans?
Back at 18, many are offered promises of a better tomorrow and not a business plan, and leave at 22 with neither. If a business makes promises and leaves you in debt, you might raise a middle finger outside of the court room.
With college? We just take it and blame ourselves. By the way, is it any coincidence that the U.S. makes one of the worst the Top-10 lists. This is the only sign of personal failure, but it is caused by social frustration. I won't contribute to the list because I have $1 trillion middle fingers.
Strange Call Leaves Writer Awake All Night
By far this is the strangest thing to ever happen to me via cell phone. I mean, this beats getting a picture of boobs from and unknown number, only for the sender to realize she had the old cell phone number of her ex-boyfriend . . . it's weirder than that.
About fifteen minutes ago - real time - I received one of those automated collect call voices. Normally, I end the call before thinking it through, but this time I listened. And although the caller ID said the call derived from Texas, it actually came from a jail not too far off.
So I'm thinking, Oh no, I have to bail someone out!
(Note: If you end up needing a bailout, don't call a writer. You're better off calling a homeless man. I know what you're thinking; homeless people don't have cell phone. My point exactly. Cell phones are to homeless people as money is to writers.)
This is some woman I do not know, and she is calling in hopes I can help her out. I know a few people by her first name, but none that would end up in jail. Nevertheless, my curiosity gets the best of me and I accept the charges.
"Chris!" the woman shouts into the phone. She's screaming and crying and trying to breathe all at once.
Shit, I do know her, I think. "This is he?" I reply.
"He? What the fuck do you mean 'he'?"
"This is Chris. Do I know you?"
"No, no, no, no. Shit, shit, fuck. Chris and . . . "
"I'm sorry, what?"
She adds, "You're a dude."
"Excuse me?" I ask.
A moment of silence melts over us like nacho cheese before she screams, "You have a dick! You have goddamn cock! You're not Chris-Ann! Damn it. How did you - Did you fucking steal her phone, you creep?!"
Someone in the background of call urges her calm down, but she's not listening. She rants on and on about the phone situation until she finally understands I have a recycled number. Most places give you a recycled number if you don't ask them for a new one. Then she says, "Well, shit. I really fucked this up. This is the only number I have in my head. Can you help me out?"
"I--I don't really--"
"--No, no. Don't just shut me out like that. You have a cell phone, right? So you probably have some money to bail me out, right?"
Her logic perplexes me. I say, "I'm sorry, I couldn't even bail myself out, if I had to." I'll be honest, even though this woman surely sounds high/recently arrested, I feel terrible. I want to help her. But even if I knew her, I wouldn't be able to.
Over a few more minutes, some tells her she needs to get off of the phone, and before I have the chance to hang out, she does.
Now I'm left with two questions:
1. Who the hell had my number before I obtained it? What kind of life were they living that people from jails called them first for a bailout.
2. What will happen to me? I just said 'no' to someone in jail. When they get out, they'll still have my number, which can provide some useful information. That's all I'll say for my own good.
So if I'm not here tomorrow, you know why. And if I'm not here, someone needs to find my unpublished works and publish them for me under my pseudonym. You can keep the money to help send a rescue crew, or to bail me out.
New Topic: Pop-Culture
I'm adding a new topic for The Forbidden Blog: Popular Culture.
But first, I will answer a couple FAQs.
Q: What's the deal with the into page?
A: It actually isn't an intro page. It's called a splash page, and mine is specifically designed for tablet computers and other current mobile forms of technology.It's a fast-paced world, and I realize some people can't spend a lot of time on a website. Think TV channel surfing. So, I've offered a way to quickly visit the newest content on this site.
Q: What's with the name of your blog? It's a bit cheesy, don't you think?
A: The name does sound cheesy now. When I created the blog, it was kind of a taboo thing. A lot of people frowned upon blogs, with the notion being they were pretentious rant pieces. Maybe so, but at least they are accepted. In light of the stigma, I called mine the "Forbidden Blog" and have stuck with it since.
- Now back to Popular Culture -
I'm not going to spend time on Charlie Sheen going as Charlie Sheen for Halloween. It's ridiculous. And I envy his ego.
This is about the return of a special show: Captain Power.
Yes, look it up if you missed it. It was really on the air for one year, but at first, it was quite popular. And as ridiculous as Charlie Sheen's Sheen-Mask. I say screw Captain Power. I wanna see a live-action variation of Captain Planet.
How cool would that be? Seriously. Captain Planet kicked a lot of industrial ass when I was a kid, although I always felt bad for the kid with the power of heart. All of his friends get to use elements, but he has the heart to do his part for the environment.
Another show I would like to come back: He-Man.
Yep, I wanna see He-Man the movie, starring Hugh Jackman.
There we go. New topic: Pop-Culture. Bad show: Captain Power. Good show: Captain Planet. Worst Halloween costume: Charlie Sheen. He's not winning or losing. He's just boring now.
The Candy-Cane Killer
When the idea for this blog came to mind, I thought, Maybe it's to early to talk about X-Mas.
As I looked around me at work, however, I discovered I was already too late. See, in the retail business the holiday ordering runs Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Christmas Clearance. And then those crappy holidays like Valentines Day.
And with every roll in of holiday product come at least a half-dozen holiday-themed novels. Doesn't matter the genre. It could be the tale of Seductive Santa, or One Horny Halloween for romance, or Bleed My Valentine. The latter might be a pretty good title for a cheesy horror movie. And for mystery: Who Choked the Turkey?
I'm not too sure why, but holiday-themed novels piss me off. It's like a writer wrote a book specifically to bank on the holiday shopping madness. Good business, yes, but poor artistic values.
To be fair, though, there are some good ones. A Christmas Carol is fairly famous, I believe. (What a title, though . . . ) There's also Santa's Evil Twin by Dean Koontz, which is fun.
Note: I don't mind stories that take place around holidays - just ones specifically engineered to sell a few copies during the holidays. For instance, Die Hard was pretty bad-ass for its day.
But who am I to judge? As a matter of fact, I once wrote a holiday-themed short story for a competition. I ended up never submitting it or even attempting to publish it. I was a ashamed for sinking so low. Since 2008, I have never touched the story. No editing. No second-guessing. Nothing.
For the first time, it shakes off its dust and appears in the blog for your amusement.
Enjoy. (Click read more >)
Does Writer's Block Exist?
Author Richard Price makes an interesting remark in the video about writer's block. And if I completely agreed with him, I wouldn't be blogging, now would I?
His first point regards writing a novel. While he works on a manuscript, he has no real problem coming up with ideas or writing. The issue he finds is slowing down enough to put everything together.
I fully agree with him on this. Once a project is rolling, I don't struggle much with coming up with ideas, but making sense out of them is something different altogether.
However, I never face writer's block in-between novels.
From time to time, I may find it difficult to come up with a good short story idea, but after a week (max) inspiration smacks me in the face.
As for blogs, well I have even more of a problem. Most writers will blog about their life when they don't feel like chatting around their writing life anyone. They say things about the great life of New York, or the places they've traveled to. Well, I live in bum-fuck Indiana and have zero dollars to spend on traveling. I would love to, and I would to blog about them, but it might before a bit before those days arrive.
To get back to writing, generating ideas, or blogging, I use the same trick.
I DO NOT BELIEVE IN WRITER'S BLOCK.
Say your car is having some issues. Let's assume you cannot figure out how to turn off one of the inside lights. You try the switch. You try closing all of the doors. You try locking it. Hell, you pull the fuse. But when none of these things work, you're left frustrated and confused. You have all of these ideas and none of these are working.
So what should you do next? Consult the manual, right?
If your manual is anything like mine, it probably doesn't go into detail about the light inside of your car. In fact, although it may list the part, it doesn't troubleshoot it.
The next solution? Google.
In the same manner, when a writer can't think of anything to write or has too many ideas to put together, the answers can be hard to find. And there isn't much of a manual. And Google won't magically give you an idea. But from these places, you can find a prompt.
A good prompt is the cure for what we call "writer's block." A news story, something that pisses you off, something that interests you, something you say in the eerie thirteenth hour of the night.
All of these a good ideas. There's no such thing as writer's block, and if there is, it's as likely to be solved as déjà vu.
This Year's National Novel Writing Month Challenge
Last year I competed in my first NaNo WriMo and wrote the first draft of His Daughter. This year I doing it again, except for one minor detail.
I have a few novels in the works, so I definitely don't need to have another draft floating around. Instead, my goal is to edit 2,500 words a day for 30 days. That's 75,000 words total, or the length of His Daughter.
I wonder how many others will be entering NaNo WriMo next month. Give me a shout out the same ol' ways, be it on here or one of my many social hubs.
So Many Books Are the Same
I crossed this blog the other day and thought about the first comment made. Essentially, the blog covers the idea of playing around with P.O.V. in writing. The comment made suggests writers, though they would love to 'play around', can't because they have to make money. This seems all too true.
In my latest creation, His Daughter, I toyed with P.O.V. and the structure of the plot. When I started the novel at of the end of my undergraduate career at Ball State University, I thought I was a creative genius. Never before had such a complicated structure brought such clarity.
And of course, I realized my first draft was far too confusing. I broke it down a little bit, but still held the mystery. Now in it's third draft, I feel it's definitely unique in style and reflects a certain competency, I realize there's a problem.
Almost every novel is in third- or first-person, with a main character narrating along the way. What happened to dual-protagonist narration? Where is the omniscient narrator? Why are so many stories linear. It's verse-chorus-verse in bookstores.
Certainly my new novel could be crap, but trust me, my point's not to justify it. As a matter of fact, it was just a catalyst to move on to my next point. So just forget about it now.
Instead, think about verse-chorus-verse. Usually this cliche refers to a Seattle-style repetition in music. But there're reasons so many songs follow this model:
1.) It makes money.
2.) It sounds familiar and works well with its structure.
So I'm not dissing on verse-chorus-verse.
But it's kind of watered down literature. And I know I sit here sounding unjustifiably pretentious when I say publishers no longer vary their materials. Sure, books can have a unique story or a strong selling point, but they want to stay close to what most people will buy.
And writers are left writing the same old thing, over and over. Sure, we could all try to force new ideas out into the marketplace. Yeah! Being broke, hungry, and humiliated sounds great.
I'm left perplexed. Is there a way to make both work - creativity and not-being-poor?
I'd say force new ideas out there. Take the hit. Maybe find a story with a more familiar story to put out there in the mean time. I'd love to hear some thoughts about this.
7 People Refusing to Give Up on the Bookstore
Santa Cruz - Seven former employees of Borders are refusing to give up on their bookstore dreams, while adding a new definition to the term "bookstore." Well, adding an old one.
There is something to say about individuals trying to keep bookstores alive, but these seven even challenge the digital wave that just won't cap. For now, they aren't dealing with eBooks or other digital forms of literature. This is a bookstore called Inklings Books & Things, and it sells ideas, books, and things. Clever name.
I'm taking a moment today to bring up Inklings, because its owners need to be commended for the way the business operates.
Far too often, we all walk into bookstores and see the same big-name books on display and very little new, obscure, or rare talent. Inklings does its best to accommodate its customers and employees. Read the article and you'll a little bit of the how.
At any rate, Inklings stocks the books their consumer want, and they often introduce new authors or diamonds that have been in the rough for too long.
I my opinion, it would be nice to see some bigger chains of bookstores carry more new authors and more from indie presses alongside their blockbuster authors.
But how will this bookstore fare? Can a bookstore with a traditional set of ethics survive against cookie-cutter stores and the popularity of eBooks?
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.