Mark Hurley

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Archive for August 2010

Perspective

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(Tour Arizona’s scenic Sonoran Desert! Resort pickup! Van adventures! Shoot jaywalkers!)

My fiancée and I have recently returned from a spectacular weekend spent with a recently transplanted buddy in Phoenix. It was my first visit to the land of John McCain, NBA Jam era Barclay, and leathery retirees so sick of people that they handily eschew Florida, where their grandchildren are more likely to visit. I am pleased to report the sprawling urban experiment, made of stubborn desert landscaping and held together with the glue of moral fortitude, still stands. I ‘report’ this because, if the spin mills are to be believed, that particular section of the Sonoran Desert has gone all Fertile Crescent with violent crime, kidnapping, and unabashedly brown births being carried out on any given street corner. Arizona lies on the front line of an invasion, and every day its people feel the burden that Obama refuses to shoulder. Indeed, what is it about the world’s deserts that American Presidents can’t seem to keep healthy of biblical crises? We exist in a nation divided, and a disproportionate length of fault line lies in the jurisdiction of an immigration law designed for a place that, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have never even visited. In the internet age, it is easy to forget just how immense our country is, and just how misplaced outrage can get when dramatically different ways of life are happening a couple hundred miles away.

If the concern over SB 1070 is that all Arizonans – not just the differently colored ones – are at risk of a domino effect, stripping the state’s residents of their humanity and civil liberties – – if that is the concern, we can send that worry the way of the Native American infestation: those blankets have already been distributed. Judging by the shifting, terrified eyes of the average citizen of Phoenix, you would think they were all hiding an extended family of opera singing Jews under their floorboards. Paranoia is such a way of life down there, Howard Hughes could be mayor by virtue of being the calmest, sanest sonofabitch in residence. In the short span of our visit, we witnessed a Big Brother system so intricately conceived that any smiling neighbor could double as informant against you if you made the mistake of having any fun in their viscinity.

The bitch of it is, the city is not overrun by crime, by any standard. Aware of the region’s purported woes, I kept my eyes open, and saw no corner drug deals, no bullet holes in brick buildings, not even a person that drove faster than 5mph below the speed limit. No evidence of criminal enterprise either, like graffiti or so much as a foreboding dark alley. As my friend Dan, who moved to Scottsdale two months ago, explained it, doors to cars and homes were generally left unlocked, as the punishment for a crime as odious but innocuous as breaking and entering could easily be death by the guy who could legally blow a hole in you with his shot gun. Everywhere, the people have been scared into enforcing the laws of the land, for fear the hammer will fall upon them.

Crossing the Hoover Dam and braving the treacherous mountain passes (we learned on the return trip you could avoid those by taking the Laughlin route off the 93) necessitated we arrive in Scottsdale past midnight on Friday, so it was determined that the party should commence directly, lest we waste more time. Dan took us to a glorious dive bar he frequents, the fabled crumbling slice of Americana with tabletop shuffleboard, toilets last cleaned in ’86, and an ancient Big Game Hunter video cabinet comprising the majority of the furniture. It was perfect. Pitchers were cheap, the jukebox was only mostly country, and we were well into the swing of a southwestern night of quiet debauchery when the box-dyed, 45 going on 70 bartender ruined the evening by declaring the bar closed.

When I informed the woman I was nowhere near the level of inebriation I had hoped for, and requested perhaps one more beer, her eyes widened with the naked fear of converses during the Spanish Inquisition. “Get out, get out!” she cried, I shit you not, good reader. We left then, not inclined to witness just how close we came to seeing a middle aged woman crap her pants. We decided, instead, to procure a case of Bud at the Circle K and continue our shenanigans at home, out of eye- and earshot of the local Gestapo.

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Written by scumbagstyle

August 19, 2010 at 2:21 am

Don’t Get Surgery, Get an Agent

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Originally created for Scumbag Style.

turtles(The only difference between subject A and subject B is shitty parenting. Somebody get this kid a rat.)

A few months back, Scumbag Style brought to your attention a serious parenting fail involving an Indian family and their miracle spider child that could have grown up to be New Delhi’s most badass masked avenger. Barring that, she could have remained the living Hindu god the ignorant rurals had already made her, collecting riches and fame and endless cunnilingus from her personal harem. But no! They had to go and “fix” her, further homogenizing Eurasia into the blandest place that smells like shit on Earth, and not the comic book mecca of justice and cleavage it might have been, replete with onomatopoeic violence bubbles and grappling hooks.

500-dopplegangerThat was all not to mention the schooling she could potentially have given those Bollywood hussies, all tryin’ to use their inhuman sexiness to distract us from the fact their evolutionarily inferior number of extremities. But the surgery was a “success,” and now other parents are feeling empowered to deprive their children of their most basic and innocent dreams. Like this kid in China:

Dad Maimaiti Musai said: “We were told surgery wasn’t possible when he was very young so we waited. But the growth got bigger and harder and became like a turtle shell. (der SUN)

You cured your son of being a Ninja fucking Turtle? Can your deranged – – nay, diseased mind possibly comprehend the implications arising from the damage you have done? I – – I… fffffuuuuh… hold on.

Despite my clenched, grinding teeth of incredulous rage, I have forced myself to count to ten, and rub one out* for good, calm measure. I want to make myself perfectly clear, so there is no chance of misunderstanding. I was born in 1984. Between the ages of three and eleven or so, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the most important thing to ever happen to the planet. My friends and I would put on bulbous green noses and plastic shells on our backs, on purpose, just so we could spaz out like an epileptic cat at a laser show in the middle of the street, and beat each other senseless with crappy carnival-prize swords. Every kid, at one point or another if not for a solid couple of decades, fantasizes about being a mutant turtle that knows karate and eats pizza for dinner every night and doesn’t look gay yelling, “Cowabunga!” before going serial killer on a super villain whose costume was sponsored by Ronco.

I’m not saying you’re the worst parent in the world, sir, but if you had a fan club, Andrea Yates would be president. This kid couldn’t have been closer to living the fuckin’ dream if he rolled around in mutagenic ooze with a Chinatown turtle up his ass, and you literally lanced the awesome off of him. Why?

“People bullied him and we were determined to end it. He is such a good and brave boy and he never complained. We are so glad that he is now on the mend.”

On the mend from evolution, maybe. Oh, boo hoo! He got teased for being different. When has that ever happened? I bet the thousands of socially awkward but otherwise physically sound kids that get teased around the world wish you could surgically remove their bullies, but they know nothing is coming. Some of the most important people in history were teased at school, because the other kids had nothing but their good looks and their Starter jackets to bolster their foundering self esteem. Billy Joel likes to recount how he used to get beat up for being a little Jewish piano playing pussy on Long Island, and look at him now. He’s a blubber-plated alcoholic who hasn’t put out a record in a decade, and he could ruin the back door of any chick within a hundred mile radius, and your mom, just so he can hold banging your mom over you. You don’t take adversity away from the kid because it makes him feel uncomfortable now. You make it a life lesson, help him develop some metaphorical callouses to match his gross real one. Wait until the mayor of Shanghai hands him the key to the city for foiling the plot of an evil super-genius with his bullet-proof back, and ask him if he’s worried about what the adult failure version of the kid that bullied him thinks.

Medics at Urumqi Military General Hospital say they have taken away the growth and replaced it with skin grafts from Hali’s scalp and legs.

Oh, that’s much better. He’ll definitely get teased less when he shows up for school in September with the head of a horror movie monster and the legs of a burn victim. At least with his disfiguring shell he had the potential to win some ladies over by saving the day. Not to mention, he could probably be the greatest break dancer of all time. The west has like three hundred talent shows that somehow pass as real entertainment that would kill to throw him a few million bucks to roll around on the ground smacking pajamaed street punks with his nunchucks on camera. If all else fails, you can make a damned decent wage on the freak show circuit nowadays. I’m just saying, parents tend to lack the foresight that people who are willing to exploit others’ kids have. It’s cool, you didn’t know. But what we should really be doing is collecting all the freaks that are born immediately after birth, setting up an kind of X-Men mansion school scenario, just in case they prove to be valuable freaks. Their parents might think they know best, but that’s all the genetic conditioning and hormones talking. We’ve already lost two potential super heroes – that we know about. Can the world afford another misstep?

* To this, in case you were wondering. If you need to go a good, philosophical, angry #3 that clears your mind of all concepts of evil and lets you, say, watch a Sarah Palin speech without rupturing an important blood vessel, this is well aged scotch of masturbatory fodder.

Written by scumbagstyle

August 11, 2010 at 12:21 am

Posted in Journalism

Show Me On The Continent Where He Touched You

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Originally created for Scumbag Style.

take your jesus(Except for you, Frenchies. You’ll probably like it.)

Catholicism is like the militant wing of that run-down Chinese buffet you see in every downtown. You gotta go once, just to say you’ve allowed the greasy, dyspeptic MSG to have it’s way with your blood vessels, that you’d savored the antithesis of nutrition at some point, temporary diarrhetic consequences be damned. Even aware of the innocent victims involved (I’m equating stray cats with altar boys, here, try to keep up), and even though you heard that only those with the stalwart stomach of a donkey have ever been known to leave there without puking, you had to do it. But as you take your place in the stall next to another novice of misadventures to call up Ralph O’Rourke on the big porcelain telephone, you swear to fucking Christ that, while patronizing the restaurant was indeed a life experience, you will never waste another Sunday there again.

That’s when the militant wing comes in. Catering platters in tow and armed with submachine guns of tellingly domestic origin, a team of highly trained, overpaid ninjas with a passion for bureaucracy stuffs Chow Mein and Buddha’s Super Special Delight down your unwilling throat at gunpoint. Then they make you watch as they try to run your credit card through a museum piece of a reader for a half an hour, because dinner isn’t free. While it’s technically food-rape, as you spend the long hours of the night on the can, you can’t help but feel a guilty party to kitten death, not to mention helping to maintain a business that should have made way for a K-Mart centuries ago.

Similarly, Western Civilization (read: Europe) has been trying to slowly and inconspicuously edge away from Christianity. Well, they must have triggered an alarm or an Indiana Jones-esque booby trap* or something, because the Pope found out, and he’s having none of it. Emperor Benedict is creating an office within the Vatican that would see to it that the West was “re-evangelized,” in order to combat “the process of secularization [that] has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Church.” In simpler terms, he’s telling mommy on Europe because, even though he brought the ball, they’ll only let him play deep right-field.

Studies have shown that readers willtolerate long articles better if there are lots of pictures, so here is the gayest statue of all time.

Studies have shown that readers willtolerate long articles better if there are lots of pictures, so here is the gayest statue of all time.

I go into gleeful epileptic fits when somebody has a plan to “-ize” any group of people, because that is going to be a shit show worthy of sweeps. Traditionally, that suffix doesn’t come after pleasant things, and the implication of force it lends to any phrase doesn’t help its case either. Outside of quirky ad campaigns, nobody ever threatens to “Snickerize” you, or “fellatio-ize” you. And even if they did, the understanding is that no matter how much you like adorable, sleeping kittens, this person has found a way to kill you with them, or at least alter your perceptions to the point where your faculties to trust in the overall goodness of humanity is as severely stunted as Glenn Beck’s sense of reality. No, “-ize” is usually used to verbify words like “sodom” and “paral.” Not to mention -izing is generally facilitated by a plan you wouldn’t be surprised to hear come out of Darth Vader’s mouth grill. Look:

The new pontifical council, he said, would “promote a renewed evangelization” in countries where the Church has long existed “but which are living a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.'” (HuffPost)

NOBODY expects the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples!

NOBODY expects the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples!

See? Don’t like “-ize” so much when it follows “secular,” do you? Anyway, if I may translate that from “justifiable guidance” to “what he really means,” the Pope just announced his intention to food-rape you, weekly, with little circles of cardboard masquerading as crackers that he happens to believe is Jesus Humphry Christ hisself. If you think that interpretation is a tad harsh, I invite you to consider the rapist. The rapist’s mindset is that he acknowledges his victim is perfectly content not being beaten to a pulp and violated, he just does not see why that knowledge should apply to his actions. Similarly, the Pope is all, “Look at these dicks, getting on with their lives, even in the midst of a messy breakup they thought was over some time ago. What they need is a little Church violently inserted into their rectums, to remind them how awesome it is.” It’s basically the same sound philosophy of Africa’s ritual rapings of lesbians to make them like dick (here), only white people are doing it, so it’s OK.

Studies have also shown that Kelly Brooke's tits will make readers do anything.

Studies have also shown that Kelly Brooke's tits will make readers do just about anything.

Let’s get down to silk frillies here: Would the Jesus of the Gospels (remember those?) want his name to be mentioned in the same sentence as “rape?” See what you made me do? Twice? Once more and the Beeteljuice effect comes into play, and the two will forever be synonymous. So, you know, watch yourself.

So, Benny, who do you have pegged as Masturbator of Ceremonies for this jerkoff parade?

Monsignor Fisichella, [who] created a minor uproar last year when he defended Brazilian doctors who aborted the twin fetuses of a 9-year-old child who was raped by her stepfather. His call for mercy sparked heated criticism from some hardline conservative members of the Pontifical Academy who questioned his suitability to lead the institution.**

Yeah, that’s kind of a sticking point with those guys. Jesus would definitely want a 9 year-old to carry her incest rape baby to term, the resulting sterile, mentally handicapped abomination to decency and general aesthetics still being a person in His eyes – – Oh, shit! I did it again! Welp, can’t be taken back now. Britney should write a new song: “Whoops, I did it again. I summoned the visage of a Michael Keaton character to brutally mutilate the spiritual innocence of millions of believers… Oh, baby, baby.”

[Sidebar, Nevadan readership. If you found that scenario atrocious: you really need to go here.]

So, yes, these are the people planning a hostile takeover of Europe, with the silent approval of the UN and thousands of berkenstocked hippies in universities all over the world. There’s more mind-numb frosting on the cake that is that article, but… whatever, dude. Frankly, I’m tired. Just, don’t bother trying to -ize America. That would be like trying to do fecal graffiti in a public bathroom with no lights: Thousands of assholes have already got it covered.

*Heh, I said “booby.”
** Just a little peek at the SBS backstage area: In my head I am thinking way to hard about my own metaphors. Like, if the Catholics are like Chinese food-rapists, and Catholics don’t condone abortion, even under the circumstances of rape, would the Chinese food-rapists excommunicate you if you tried to cut out the resulting Moo Shoo Baby before you “take it to term”? Did I just blow your mind? No…

Written by scumbagstyle

August 11, 2010 at 12:17 am

Posted in Journalism

Good Plan

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Originally created for Scumbag Style.

(You’re just lucky they were even interested. Ew.)

My new favorite phrase is “corrective rape.” Coined (and here) in South Africa for a new vigilante justice practice, “it is committed by men behind the guise of trying to ‘cure’ lesbians of their sexual orientation.” Good plan, that. That’s like this one time, my mom tried to get me to like peas, so she shoved them down my throat while kicking me in the balls. I then wanted peas as often as I could get them. My family nickname became Peaslut, so great was my desire for peas.

It all started with an incident in April, a big deal of which as been made in the UK press, but is all but absent from the American papers, probably because our leaders are hoping to institute the practice here and don’t want it to get any bad publicity. So, this will be in Limey English. I’ll do my best to translate…

The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane [the man pictured above], former star of South Africa’s acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female [wait what?] football squad [soccer team], was found in a creek… on the outskirts of Johannesburg [a meal of sausages and mashed potatoes]. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. As well as being one of South Africa’s best-known female footballers [something to do with cricket, I have to assume], Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigners (sic) and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema.

Ok, so that one didn’t quite come out the way they planned. As my mother learned with her first three children, they don’t eat a whole heck of a lot of peas when they’re dead. But they’re getting the hang of it now, and the movement is all due to the heroic sacrifice of Eudy Simelane and her fearless attackers.

Rapes are committed against lesbians daily now in Johannesburg, and all around South Africa. “Every day I am told that they… are going to rape me and after they rape me I’ll become a girl,” says Zakhe Sowello from Soweto. To which I retort: how will you know you don’t like dick until it is used as a weapon and shoved into all of your holes simultaneously and possibly 25 new ones these guys will make for you? They’re trying to help you cast the juju demons of homosexuality out of your soul, and all you can do is complain?

Either way, the people responsible for the reported average of 10 corrective rapes a week are rarely prosecuted or punished. “Support groups claim an increasingly aggressive and macho political environment is contributing to the inaction of the police over attacks on lesbians,” that women are considered sexual beings, and their status as lesbians is an “absolute affront” to this kind of masculinity. Can we send these guys just one laptop from the home of a straight, masculine man, aged 18-40? Guaranteed, it is jam packed with footage of lesbian activity that these men choose to watch voluntarily. Well, one guy started punching the screen and calling the ladies infidels, but he didn’t really get the point, or a new computer. Point is, maybe if they saw how beautiful and filthy lesbian sex could be, they’d keep their dicks out of the equation for the sake of preservation rather than destruction. I challenge pornographers around the world to donate copies of their barely legal, first time lesbian films to South African authorities. But, send them here first, so we can test them for effectiveness.

Still, something doesn’t add up. Every man I know likes to hear of, or in the happiest of circumstances, to see two chicks bumpin’ cooches. There’s got to be something else at work here. “One man roared with laughter as he said lesbians should be ‘whipped.’ ‘There is no mention of lesbians in the bible,’ he said.” Something. Can’t put my finger on it.

Written by scumbagstyle

August 8, 2010 at 2:06 am

Posted in Journalism

Where’s Passion Pit

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Radio Exile is perhaps the best music appreciation site at the moment, and should probably account for 70% of your music knowledge. I write for them occasionally, so I got a vote and subsequently, an early look at their list of the top 10 albums of 2009. By no means do I want to steal their thunder by revealing it here, and I encourage you to take their word as gospel when they post the list in a few days. But what I’d like to do is look at a criminally overlooked 2009 album, that won’t appear there, or on anyone’s list I’ve seen, and deserves a solid listen.

Passion Pit started in Boston as a one man short-play project as a gift for Michael Angelakos’ girlfriend. It ended up a five piece outfit that released their debut full length, Manners in 2009. Their sound fits neatly into both the new indie dance-pop movement and the best of the art-synth of the 80s. Think Animal Collective sans pretension with a dash of Prince, able to fit on a mix tape with Peter Gabriel and The Black Kids, and you’ll get the idea. Sprinkle in a chorus of children, some good natured hand claps, and some messianic live drums throughout, and this things is 11 tracks of sexy. Manners is one of those rare albums that benefits from meticulous and obvious production values, and the new indie penchant for fun, up-tempo tunes that mask introspective and challenging lyrics.

But the real charm of the record comes in its attention to the lost art of mixing; that is, the order of the songs on the album, and along with album art, the only thing standing between true, vinyl worthy music and the two Lady Gaga tracks you just snagged off of Itunes (no disrespect, love). Passion Pit knows how to construct an album to make a truly artistic soundscape, one that is inescapable until the disk has run its course. Like a memorable night out, no part is misplaced. It opens with “Make Light,” the perfect indoctrination to the sound of the album, hooky and sugary without giving away the secrets ahead. This is where you’re pregaming in your mom’s minivan with the bottle of Poland Spring vodka and blueberry shnapps you stole from her. Immediately following is my pick for best track of the year, “Little Secrets” a monumental dance pop number that I dare you not to bop to in the driver’s seat. By now you’ve started making out with your buddy’s visiting cousin, and life is good. Catch your breath and try to get it up again on the charming third track before running face-first into the first obvious single “The Reeling,” a tune that would have made a perfect radio premiere for the band were it not for payola. Here is the soundtrack to walking into the club.

Tracks 5-7 are less catchy at first listen, as the hooks are less obvious, but by no means does the listener suffer through them; instead, there’s the idea of getting a deeper look into the mind and intentions of the artist. Check out the blistering crescendo on “Folds in Your Hands”; this is a man who knows he’s on fire. At this point in your memorable night out, you have already impregnated someone, and you are the man. “To Kingdom Come” (track 8 ) brings the album into a forced refocus, opening with anachronistic guitar picking and a smooth synth line, not to mention brilliant percussion work. It announces its presence as another single contender before twinkling out, and making room for a redub of the fan favorite from the Chunk of Change EP that got them the record deal. “Sleepyhead” is outrageous in both incarnations, and on Manners wears a tux to the prom instead of the hoodie and hornrimmed glasses it did before. Your night, it seems, is not going to run down, but end up in a crash wherever you happen to be standing, because you are not giving up on the good times. “Seaweed Song” is an appropriate closer, and one often performed as a slowly building, epic, album KOing anthem in live appearances. That part is like listening to “Kashmir” on your second insemination of the night.

I’m sure there are people or robots better suited to pick the best albums of the year than myself, but I would have felt remiss not sharing my personal head-bopper. Jam out irresponsibly, folks.

PS. If you trust me after checking out Passion Pit, a couple more albums that were inexplicably ignored this year:
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career

Written by scumbagstyle

August 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Posted in Journalism

Hannanian Civil War: Chapter 4

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(Art by Meghan Schroeder)

CHAPTER 4
The Great Hall in the Palace of Hannan, One hour past noon

The anticipated day arrived with force, the sun bright and hot the moment it appeared above the Everquakes, as if it were as impatient for this meeting as the nobles that had been waiting for it for almost a fortnight. Today the nobles’ audience with the Queen was to take place, and though it was swelteringly hot and muggy – and though most of the nobles that now filed into the court considered their long compulsory presence in Bastion to have been no better than incarceration – most of the highborn present had decided that the bright sun and the end to their travails was reason enough for high spirits. At risk of predictability, Barticus Bloodbrood did not concur.

“I know that I am going to have a few very pointed questions for Tyrahav, I’ll tell you that,” said a Jerial passing through the high doors of the Great Hall. Pilik, his piece having been offered the night of the debate, had resumed his usual place of anonymity at these events, reading on a bench along the wall, with a clear route to the exit should the proceedings prove as asinine as he predicted. Barticus was more than happy to oblige the boy, leaning himself against a wall by the door where he might get an accurte forecast of the coming talks.

Aside from the benches that lined the walls, there was no accommodation for the nobles’ derrieres, a fact one particularly loud Guadin saw fit to point out. “No chairs, I see,” the old man said to his wife. “You know this meeting will run overlong, and I wore my good boots. Should have known I’d regret it.”

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Written by scumbagstyle

August 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Fantasy

Hannanian Civil War: Chapter 3

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(Art by Meghan Schroeder)

CHAPTER 3

The Knightly Cell of Flynt Latomere, well past midnight in the Palace of Hannan

Flynt Latomere paced his cell, scratching absently at his irritated navel, a look of consternation furrowing his fair brow. Something was not rubbing him in a comfortable fashion, and it was not merely the strangely symmetrical and curiously itchy rashes he had developed all over his body since he began to don his new armor daily. Something just outside the reach of the tendrils of his mind whispered forebodingly at him, urgently, like the cries of a man with empire rocking information after the cover of the tunnel to the deepest dungeon had been closed on him. But so deep was this… something, that the language of it – if there was any at all – was all but indecipherable.

He was aware, of course, that his knightly cell was becoming more immodest, almost by the day. It was difficult to ignore the constant appearance of indulgences about the room, some of them voluntary, some of them contrived as personal gifts from the Queen. The red velvet curtains, with the Latomere Panther embroidered into them, had been Flynt’s own idea, a well-earned gift to himself for his hard work and for inhabiting a room along the East wall of the palace, where the sun encroached unnaturally early, especially on his mornings off. But the carpeting he was currently engaged in wearing a hole through; the carved oaken shelves that held autographed first editions of the old romances; the almost embarrassingly suggestive silk sheets on his cot – all were found on separate occasions on his return from duties. All were obviously from Tyrahav; none were the sort of extravagancies he had ever seen adorn the cell of any true knight he had ever known, save perhaps an untried Guadin pretender.

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Written by scumbagstyle

August 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Posted in Fantasy