Essays

How I Failed My Saving Throw and Learned to Love D&D NEW
How I Failed My Saving Throw and Learned to Love D&D by Michael Channing I, by random luck, rolled up one of the strongest natural-born humans in the D&D universe. To a kid made entirely of knees and elbows, this was the perfect piece of escapism.
The Celebrity Death of 2016 No One Talked About
The Celebrity Death of 2016 No One Talked About by Michael Channing Finding his books sparked my interest in Dungeons & Dragons, which led me to board games and polyhedral dice. New avenues of nerdom opened and welcomed me in. I connected with friends, and we hung out and went to shows and conventions and whiled away many a night at the gaming table.
The People Who Cut You Open
The People Who Cut You Open by Michael Channing I have some skills. But these guys are good at saving lives. To me that sounds like magic, but to them it's Tuesday. Or any day. That is amazing.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Reading Review
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl The anticipation of the book lies not in whether or not the kids who aren't Charlie will get their comeuppance, but in how gruesome that retribution will be.
To the Heart of the Storm Reading Review
To the Heart of the Storm by Will Eisner As goes one street corner in the Bronx, so goes the rest of the world.
And Another Thing... Reading Review
Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein Something this book gets absolutely right--and I mean nails it to the wall and then puts another nail through the center of that nail--is the Vogons.
Beyond This Horizon Reading Review
Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein I grabbed the first Heinlein I saw at the library one day. I figured anything from the Grand Master had to be great. I was mistaken.
From Hell Reading Review
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell You thought you were going to read about a serial killer, maybe get a thrilling whodunit and police procedural. Didn't know you were wading into a sea of magic rituals and philosophical questions, did you? Welcome to Alan Moore.
End of Watch Reading Review
End of Watch by Stephen King In End of Watch, Brady Hartsfield takes on the role of that pleasing, deceitful voice. He finds folks at their weakest and tells them what they want to hear, that the end is easy and painless, and it will solve their problems forever. Otherwise, he says, the pain will go on forever, and no one will care.
Hell's Bounty Reading Review
Hell's Bounty by Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale It's a quest for justice and personal redemption, slathered in gore and dusted with gunpowder.
When David Lost his Voice Reading Review
When David Lost his Voice by Judith Vanistendael There's something this book gets absolutely right about cancer. It takes its time. Often, panels repeat, either completely or with only slight alterations, to give us the feeling of stasis that comes with dying.
The Maker of Universes Reading Review
The Maker of Universes by Philip José Farmer Farmer's two biggest talents are on full display: action writing and world building.
Brighten the Corner Where You Are Reading Review
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams This book is fun all the way through, even the sadder parts, of which there are only a few. But it always feels like it's holding back secrets, that there are depths unknown just below the surface.
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Reading Review
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams For almost the entirety of the book, ends miss ends, and you seriously have no idea what's going on. But you're laughing, having a good time, and you trust Adams, because he's not only funny, he's a fine writer.
Hell House Reading Review
Hell House by Richard Matheson The events unfold slowly, which is the proper pacing for a horror novel, but after a time the reader can't help but wonder if they stumbled into Heck House by mistake. But rest assured, Hell awaits, and the explorers do indeed suffer Satanic torments.
Honky Tonk Samurai Reading Review
Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale Of course, being a Lansdale book, the action and plot are often sidelined by snappy, whimsical conversations about dogs, cookies, relationships, sex, and the best color to paint a jail cell.
My Favorite Book Series
My Favorite Book Series by Michael Channing In no particular order.
Firestarter Reading Review
Here we have the tightest bond possible, that of a father and daughter, tested to its limits. We learn in this novel there aren't any.
Ruthless Reading Review
Ruthless is Adams' first book, and it's flawed. But the ending she chose is perfect.
The Shrinking Man Reading Review
By making the simple decision to remove the possibility of recovery, Matheson delivers a story far more terrifying and personal than anything that came before.
To Your Scattered Bodies Go Reading Review
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer Secret loyalties are revealed, backs stabbed, duels fought, enigmas uncovered then cloaked in darkness once again. One theme appears again and again: Can a person change?
Misery Reading Review
Misery by Stephen King Be careful what you wish for. Especially when you're asking for it from Stephen King.
Novelists I Should Read at Least Once
Novelists I Should Read at Least Once by Michael Channing For some reason or other, I haven't gotten to these writers yet. But I will soon.
Johnny Got His Gun Reading Review
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo Joe is more than a mouthpiece for the writer's politics. He's a character we're willing to invest our time and emotions in. But the politics are there, and this book does have an agenda. It just happens to be one I've always held as my own.
Slaughterhouse-Five Reading Review
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. What about the damn aliens? Did they happen, too?
Fender Lizards Reading Review
Fender Lizards by Joe R. Lansdale I hope my daughter will read this one day. It's perfect for young readers, especially girls looking for a heroine with real faults and true guts.
Boy's Life Reading Review
Boys Life by Robert R. McCammon Overflowing with the magic and marvel associated with the doe-eyed innocence of youth.
My Five Favorite Songs About Donald Trump
My Five Favorite Songs About Donald Trump by Michael Channing Sometimes it's easier to believe Donald Trump is the actual biblical devil than it is to believe that so many people hear all his mean, ugly, bigoted, hateful, insensitive, divisive ramblings and think, "Yeah, that's me, too."
Video Games I Have Loved, and That Have Loved Me Back: Part Three
Video Games I Have Loved, and that Have Loved Me Back: Part Three by Michael Channing I longed for my basement room, for my friends, for video games, so I decided to take a sweet trip down Nostalgia Lane on this new thing called the Internet. I Alta Vista-ed Dragon Warrior.
My Ten Favorite Guitar Riffs
My Ten Favorite Guitar Riffs by Michael Channing It's a riff so solid, you can lean against it.
What Makes a Miracle?
Open the door and see all the people, with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass Does anybody believe in miracles anymore? Walt Whitman saw them everywhere.
The Best Year of 2014
looking back on 2014 I got married twice.
I love my little nephew.
I hosted seven Nerd Quiz Live! shows this year.
This was the year I accepted Ronnie James Dio as my personal savior.
The Island of Misfit Toys and Lies
Dharma Mattel There's a toy war going on, and the sad things is the corporations are winning. They've fooled us into believing the lie of pink for girls and blue for boys.
Memories of Robin Williams
Mork's suspenders Trying to follow Robin's lead will crush you.
Video Games I Have Loved and That Have Loved Me Back: Part Two
Dragon Warrior III NES box art Thank you, video games for keeping my memories sharp, my heart light, and for making the years flow in reverse for a few short, bright moments.
My Five Favorite Songs About My Least Favorite Thing
Bruce Springsteen at work Rollins is right, it's not an adventure, it's a job. But you have to have a job. You gotta pay the bills and feed your family more than just free salt packets from Burger King. Staying is easy; quitting is scary.
Clockwork Angels Reading Review
Clockwork Angels Reading Review If you're familiar with the Rush catalogue, the book comes with a built-in soundtrack. Lyrical snippets from Rush songs are peppered throughout the novel. I often had to stop half way through a sentence and ask why my inner reading voice suddenly broke into song and jumped up two octaves.
Clockwork Angels Listening Review
Clockwork Angels Listening Review This is one of the heaviest albums I've ever heard, right up there with Tool and Pantera. I'm not kidding. There are some mosh-worthy songs here.
My Five Favorite Songs About Killers
Seasons in the Abyss Are we attracted to killers because they represent our own dark passengers? Do we vent our black desires vicariously through these fictional boogeymen?
What to Get Me For My Birthday (2014)
Fozzie the Bear needs surgery I don't ask for much, just some power tools, or objects of power, or the power to warp space and time.
Six Things You Don't Remember About Last Year
That first cup of coffee in the morning I want us to look back at some events of 2013 that were almost completely overlooked, unappreciated and nearly perfect.
All the Right Places
MST3k nirvana Don't relocate the sock. Or if you do, at least leave a forwarding address.
Music in the Abstract: Three Ways to Listen to Rush
Rush Roll the Bones What's the best way to enjoy almost forty years of mostly great music? How about...
My Faith
Brainy Smurf does not approve. Something to do with the Smurfs in the hands of a jealous god. Hard to explain.
Nerd Party
Party on, Yoda. Party on, Merlin. I would have been able to loosen up at the party had all those people not been there.
Reading Review: Two Hap and Leonard Novellas by Joe R. Lansdale
Party on, Yoda. Party on, Merlin. A blissful, fistful good time.
My Five Favorite "Radio" Songs
Party on, Yoda. Party on, Merlin. Oh, the insipid, toothless thing radio has become. In its effort to please everyone, it has nothing exciting to say.
The Naming of Songs
Hair of the Dog, by Nazareth. A song's name is not always in the chorus, but most people think it is.
Reading Review: The 2000 Year Old Man by Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner
the 2000 Year Old Man. A really old guy with really silly things to say. That'll be me some day.
Bon Who?
Mary's eyes acording to The Art of Noise. Most popular music I have intentionally avoided.
Backyard Quest
Link finds a rusty lawnmower gear. I failed every one of my quests. No resets, no save points, no walkthroughs. Hyrule burned to the ground because I sucked at everything.
I'm Not Racist, But...
Not the clansman I was expecting. A touchy subject I am in no way qualified to discuss. But why should that stop me?
Good Vibrations
Still life with skull and bass. Had you asked me when I was twelve what my favorite band was, I would have answered, "The Beach Boys." Because that was the only rock-and-roll tape my mom had.
Memories of Bruce
Santa Bruce. For her birthday last year, my fiancee Connie got to cross an item off her bucket list. We drove from South Carolina to Kansas City, each of us catching a few hours sleep in the back of the van, to sit behind the stage at a Bruce Springsteen concert.
An Assemblage of Fools
That sweet glock rock. Despite what the gods command, I will continue to do comedy.
What To Get Me For My Birthday (2013)
Word ninja. You know, if you wanted to.
Interview with Cody Hughes part 2
Word jester. Cody: "It woulda been funny if I got hit in the head with that beer bottle."
Interview with Cody Hughes part 1
Word jester. Cody: "Doing the comedy that you want to do falls apart so easily."
Pain-A-Day Calendar
Peanuts calendar of sad. This week is going to suck.
Reading Review: Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale
Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale. A journey downriver to fulfill a dead friend's dream.
End of Me
Above average dick joke. Do you think about when you're gonna die? I think about it all the time.
PK Podcast 1: Dead Writers
PK podcast one. I must remind myself from time to time that my heroes are not perfect.
My Five Favorite Songs About Fatherhood
PK podcast one. The most positive fatherly example I've grown up with may very well be Darth Vader.
My Open Mic Manifesto
Me on the mic. I take it to the maximum.
Up, Up, and Away
Super me. I figured if my super powers weren't going to evolve naturally, the only other way to get them was with, according to comic book lore, radiation. Turned out there were very few sources of radioactivity in my hometown.
My Five Favorite Songs About the Apocalypse
Apocalypse songs. As more and more musicians began to reject the pervasive greed and excess not only in rock-and-roll but in American culture, the glamour boys who needed nothing but a good time began to find themselves ignored and unemployed. The reactionary themes of the Sixties reappeared, only this time angrier and darker.
Video Games I Have Loved and That Have Loved Me Back
Ultima: Exodus. You felt like a character in the story rather than a machine manipulating buttons and a joystick at maximum efficiency. It's true escape, not just empty motions.
My Five Favorite Rock-and-roll Screams
A scream from The Wall. The releasing of anger can better any medicine under the sun.
My Five Favorite Song Choruses
My five favorite choruses. Songs are usually built around choruses that stick to your brain like peanut butter, but the entire rest of the song exists only to kill time until the chorus can come round again
Super Murder Fuck
The Falcon Lords. I left with many mementos of my adventure: a ringing in my ears, smoke in my clothes, a band around my wrist, someone's Dead Kennedys button entangled in my hair, and a graveyard tango ghosting in my brain.
Step Right Up
Sideshow banner. Only in Asheville would a tapeworm puppet teach us about water harvesting at a sideshow.
Home Sick
I'm sick. Rainbow nurses me back to health.
Grandma
I'm sad. I visited my grandma at the nursing home this Christmas. I recognized her mostly because everyone else there called her Grandma and Mamma. But this wasn't the woman I remembered.
Put the X Back in Xmas
I'm sad. You can wish me merry Xmas if you want. I won't mind. You can even pay me to have a merry Xmas. I'd gladly take upwards of five bucks to have a happy holiday, especially since you insist I remain joyful the entire month of December.
Setting the Platinum Record Straight
Bob comes to the defense of Rush. If you're not a Rush fan, please pay close attention to these amazing and true facts about the world's greatest band.
These Lyrics Suck
These lyrics suck: Sorry. This song had it coming.
Happy Rollins Day
Me, painted red like Rollins. How you can celebrate the birth of everyone's favorite alternative icon.
Flayed in the USA
I'll have to do this swiftly. For all the atrocities done for my benefit, I say thanks.
Instant Normality Kit
I'll have to do this swiftly. Calling all nerds, geeks, dorks, and other geniuses. Do you feel left out at your job, unable to mingle with the normals?

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Vestigial
now available for purchase or download
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Vestigial by Michael Channing