Tag Archives: violence

Yet Another Injustice

I’ve started a couple of research-based, logical, sensible posts to demonstrate why racism and all the divisiveness it creates are keeping us from ever progressing into a better society, but I know in my heart it won’t do any good. The people who agree with me will read it and tell me how grateful they are that I wrote it, and the people who disagree will attack my character and call me crazy or stupid. All the while, in a few days, we’ll get yet another story of an unarmed American citizen being murdered by the police. The powers that be will lie, falsify evidence, discredit the victim, and tell us to go fuck ourselves for questioning their authority. The sad fact is that we now live in a quasi-police state owned and operated by corporate America, and I have zero faith that the various levels of our government represent my best interests at all.

For decades now, this country has been moving towards criminalizing poverty, and today, we’ve reached the point where just being poor is illegal. Between nitpicking traffic stops for a taillight out (which is really just an excuse to look for bigger and more expensive infractions) to arrests of people for feeding the homeless to choking a man to death for selling cigarettes, this country simultaneously seeks to punish poverty and stifle economic mobility. In my grandparent’s generation, one income from 40 hours a week was more than enough for a home, three cars, regular vacations, and retirement savings. For my parents, it took at least two incomes for the home, a couple of cars, and irregular vacations. For my generation, most of us require two incomes just to survive. For most of us, retirement means work until you drop dead. I can’t even fathom how hard it will be for those younger than I am.

I say this not as someone who shirked the system and tried to skim by but as someone who went to graduate school for an advanced degree and has worked since I was ten, sometimes at two, three, and once even four jobs to make ends meet. I say this as someone who wrote multiple books and maintains over a four star customer review rating on Amazon. I say this as someone who tried with every ounce of energy, spirit, and fight in my body to be successful but ultimately only found dead-ends and blind alleys. I don’t begrudge those who have found economic success in this country, but I do begrudge those who have purposefully shifted the average American’s wages to poverty standards while simultaneously slashing safety net programs. And I know I’m not alone in my anger at that group of people.

As I write this, my body is now a broken shell, probably from so many years of 60-70 hour work weeks with no real vacations. I’m physically not able to protest in the streets for equality and justice and improved wages. My heart is broken at how far this country has regressed in my lifetime (and I still stand by my statement that we are heading for a New Dark Ages ruled by fear and superstition). I like to think that if my body were able, I would step forward front and center and lead the charge, but right now, I’m just sad for this country. Sad at seeing the time and energy and resources wasted on mindless entertainment. Sad at seeing greed and vanity rewarded while virtue and decency are ground to dust. Sad at watching countless injustices unfold while the vast majority pour their righteousness into frivolities like getting college football coaches fired or criticizing others’ clothing choices.

One of my few remaining rays of hope is that history tells us that this is a repeatable cycle. All civilizations go through episodes of greed and corruption that are followed by periods of chaos and then stretches of peace and prosperity. We happen to be in an obtuse period of greed, and hopefully enough people are waking up to this fact that it will change soon. Hopefully, enough people will begin to see that matters of race and gender equality are also matters of economic inequality, and that as long as the system purposefully denies full rights to any taxpaying citizen, no one is really free. Hopefully, the episode of chaos that follows won’t be too terrible for my children’s sake, and hopefully the next era of peace and prosperity will last for quite a while. Right now, however, I’m overwhelmed by all the hate and venom spewing from so many directions

A Deeply Personal, Angry Rant

I’m probably the whitest white guy you could hope to meet, so honestly, I probably have no business saying anything about the happenings in Ferguson. But I’m going to speak my mind anyway because I’m pissed. I’m pissed for my black friends who once again feel as if our justice system has failed them. Before any single one of my white friends chimes in with a “yeah but,” shut the fuck up and listen. I hate the expression white privilege as much as the next person because there hasn’t been anything privileged about my life at all, but I’m absolutely aware that if I’m detained by the police for any reason whatsoever, if I’m polite and respectful, most likely I will get out of it unscathed. My black friends DO NOT have that luxury. If you disagree with that simple fact, fuck off and get out of my sphere. Permanently.  You won’t be missed.

I’m pissed at the latent and overt expressions of racism I’ve seen coming from white people ever since Michael Brown was gunned down in the street unarmed. If you think he deserved to die because he was a “thug,” fuck off and get out of my sphere. I’ll guarantee I was just as much of a smartass punk at 18 as he was and probably did ten times worse, and I didn’t deserve to be shot. Besides, this whole thing isn’t just about him. It’s about the thousands of black men who have been murdered by authority figures who never face punishment for their excessive uses of force. Michael Brown has just become the symbol for that oppression. If you think jokes about work boots not being looted is funny, fuck off. If you want to make analogies to OJ or the poor kids murdered in Knoxville or use this as any other excuse to express your internal racism against minorities, fuck off. Just because you don’t use the word nigger doesn’t mean you aren’t a racist.

I’m pissed that my white friends can’t see that their “yeah buts” are exactly the response the powers that be want. As long as working class whites are fine with working class blacks being treated like animals, caged in the prisons of the slums with little hope of escape outside of athletics, we will never push back against the oppression of the wealthy elite. As long as we allow race to divide us, we will never be anything but suckers and doormats for a system that fucks us over and drains us dry on a daily basis. And that is exactly what they are counting on. If you believe that THIS SYSTEM as it stands is what’s best for the average American, you are a delusional fool. Sorry to be the one to break that to you, but any system that allows billionaires to pay poverty wages to working people while receiving billions in corporate welfare and simultaneously dodging their tax responsibilities is morally bankrupt and doomed for bloody civil war. You can accept that lesson from thousands of years of human history or you can bury your head in apple pie and sing Lee Greenwood tunes.

I’m pissed that we are controlled and ruled be an ever shrinking wealthy elite who buy politicians and rewrite laws into their favor and then blame the rest of us for not succeeding in spite of the game being rigged in their favor. I’m pissed that conservatives want to blame everyone but big business for the mulching of America, and I’m pissed at liberals for being too spineless to actually do anything about it. I’m pissed at myself for not hoisting the black flag in my youth, when my body was still strong and virile enough to fight for real change. I’m pissed that now I’m virtually powerless to do anything of substance except write angry blog posts.

To my black friends, I’m sorry I failed you. I tried to build bridges; I tried to make a difference. While I know I made the effort, ultimately, I have failed at making any dent in the poison of ignorance and racism once again consuming this nation. To my white friends who harbor latent racism in your hearts (if you have in any way uttered that Michael Brown got what he deserved or that “those people” are acting just like you thought they would, I am talking directly to you.  Yes, you) fuck off and get out of my sphere. Whatever time I have left on this earth will not be spent on people mired in the divisive charade of hate that is racism. From now on, my time and energy is reserved for those who want to unite all of us working poor who want to shrug off the yoke of oppression and ensure that equality and justice are for every single person in this country, not just certain groups. If you aren’t in favor of that, fuck off. You won’t be missed.

Insert Inflammatory Headline Here

I am the enemy. Obviously. I’m white, straight, and male. Oh, I’m also Southern and a hillbilly. Five strikes against me. I am the touchstone of discrimination, bigotry, misogyny, violence, rape culture, and animal cruelty.  According to those more learned and sophisticated than I, I’m also privileged because of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation, and my gender.

I’m going to avoid the knee-jerk reaction to call hogwash because it’s counter-productive to the point I want to make. I don’t want to get drawn into a refutation of all the nonsense about painting with broad strokes. I will say is that if you lived in a home without running water for more than a year, you can call me privileged without any argument. If you had to attend school in clothes that reeked of something worse than kerosene fumes, you earned the right to call me privileged. Otherwise, please refrain from making assumptions about the obstacles other people have had to overcome.

I’ll also say I’m tired of our culture of divisiveness and dehumanization. I’m tired of the endless cycles of liberal vs. conservative; men vs. women; gay vs. straight; jocks vs. nerds; horsecrap vs. horsecrap. I’m extremely tired of intolerance in all its forms. Yes, Mr. Enlightened Liberal Panderer, you are just as guilty of intolerance as any racist or bigot you hate. You are the problem. Yes, Ms. Compassionate Conservative, you are an intolerant jerk. You are the problem, too.

See, every time some tragedy occurs, we get the same nonsense debates about guns or gender roles or religion or whatever, but we never have the real conversation, the one that truly matters. Our culture, this corporate, bureaucratic, bottom-line, profit-driven Huxlean nightmare, has stripped us of our humanity. We don’t look at our fellow human beings as just that. Instead, we immediately jump to what it is we should despise about someone for being part of the “other.” And even if someone isn’t really part of the other, we will find some way to twist reality until they are. And once they are part of that “other,” their rights become less important than our own. We are all guilty of this.  Yes, you are, too.

Here’s one example of this insanity. A couple of weeks ago, the science fiction convention Archon rescinded its invitation to Tim Bolgeo to attend as a special guest of honor. For those who don’t know, Uncle Timmy is a long-time veteran of fandom in the Southeast. However, someone created a social media frenzy concerning a newsletter Uncle Timmy publishes, alleging that the newsletter promotes racism, homophobia, and anti-science propaganda. A mob quickly bombarded Archon with diatribes, and the convention caved to the pressure. In return, people who know Uncle Timmy personally took to social media to defend his reputation and scold the Archon committee members for hastily bowing to the vocal minority.

Though far from the truth, let’s assume for one minute that this  highly educated, well read person is filled with hate and bigotry. However farfetched it may be, let’s assume that this person is using the medium of science fiction fandom conventions to spread hateful propaganda. How does creating an angry mob on social media and threatening the convention committee do anything to improve humanity as a whole? All that has been said publicly is that one group’s rights are more important than another’s, so let’s ban the one group so the other can feel “safe” in their insulated environment. Does any of that sound vaguely familiar to anyone? To me, it would be much more productive, much more beneficial, to sit down and have a face to face dialogue, to discuss openly the perceptions and misconceptions one group has against the other. But we don’t do that in our society. We jump straight to labels like Libtards and Repugs, and bash each other’s intelligence and character without a second thought.

In no way am I trying to diminish the importance of subjects like rape culture, homophobia, misogyny, or racial discrimination. These are all topics that need serious discussion and open communication. However, we do need to stop trying to rank which group is most oppressed and which group is least. Those kinds of artificial stratifications keep us from seeing every member of every subset as a fully rendered human being, and they cause us to dismiss the perceptions, experiences, and sufferings of an individual as insignificant. They also cause us to jump to the “I’m enlightened; you’re ignorant” paradigm that prevents real dialogue. As long as we continue to segregate ourselves into these subsets and bicker about who has it worst, we will always be divided and unable to work together for the betterment of all.

See, here’s the thing: those who are really in charge, the ones really abusing human rights and keeping us from advancing civilization, want us dividing ourselves up and bickering like we do. As long as we’re fighting over some hot button issue that we can never, ever hope to eradicate fully from the human experience, we aren’t working together to expel them from power. See, that’s the real conversation that will never appear on a corporate-owned media outlet, and as long as we keep playing their game on their terms, we’ll never unite as humanity and see real change.

Those who know me hopefully know that as a human being, I’m not the enemy as described above. Despite my five strikes (and I’ll add a sixth: poverty), I strive to treat every person with respect and compassion. Even though I often fall short because of my limitations as a human being, I try to view every person I encounter as a human being worthy of love, respect, and dignity, whether they agree with my viewpoint or not. That’s the real challenge — respecting and loving someone who opposes your personal beliefs, but in the end, either our similarities will bind us together and move us forward or our incessant bickering will tear us apart. Right now, in our current environment of hate, my hope for the former is waning.

Wednesday Afternoon Ramblings

Ever since the tragedy in Newtown, the gun control debate has intensified to an unbearable cacophony.  I’ve tried to stay out of it much like I tried to stay out of the election.  There are already too many people spewing too much bile for the opinions of one insignificant hillbilly to make much difference either way.  For the record, I’m for responsible adults having the right to own as many guns of whatever size and type they want.  I’ve seen the kinds of weapons criminals carry, and responsible, law-abiding citizens of this country should have the ability to protect themselves and their families from people who would do them harm.  But the purpose of this post isn’t to argue about guns.  Larry Correia and Sam Harris do a far better job of spelling out the fallacies of gun control than I can.  For me, the parts of this debate that’s being missed, the crucial parts, are the underlying causes of mass violence.

First and foremost, our mental health system is a deplorable sham.  It’s simply inaccessible to many of us, mostly because of costs but also because of the attitudes and behaviors of many within the profession.  Since my shotput accident in 1989, I’ve battled depression.  Most of the time, I overcome it and function well.  However, back in 2003, I fell into a deep depression that nearly crippled me.  I recognized that I needed help and sought out a professional.  First, getting in the door was tedious and challenging.  Just getting face to face with a therapist was nearly more of an obstacle than I was able to overcome.  Then, when I finally did get to see someone, I was greeted by an incompetent person who laughed when I explained the accident.  No, really, she laughed at a person in the depths of a crippling depression.  Here I was fully aware of my condition, actively seeking help, and stifled by the so-called professionals who were supposed to be there to help.  Fortunately for me, I already knew enough about depression to look elsewhere for assistance, but imagine for a moment if I had been slightly more despondent or more unhinged.  I easily could’ve slipped off the edge and done something horrific.  That’s just one example of the absurd state of our mental health system.  Those of you, our president included, who are so vehement that guns are the issue, why are you not equally looking at mental health, or more accurately the lack of it, as a culprit?

Also, why isn’t anybody talking about the problems in our society that create such deep feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation that people feel compelled to murder strangers?  Is it just simpler to point at guns and say they are the problem than to dig for the root causes?  I know plenty of people who own guns who’ve never even aimed them at another person, so I find it hard to believe that the weapon itself is the issue.  What pushes a young man to walk into a school and murder over two dozen people, most of them under the age of seven?  What drove him to that point of disassociation?  Is it economic inequality?  Is it the failure of inclusion (that’s another post for another day)?  Is it the endless bombardment of propaganda that we’re exposed to daily?  These are the questions we should be focusing on more than whether or not lawful citizens should be allowed to own a rifle.  Why isn’t the president asking these questions at least as much as looking at guns?  It seems to me if economic inequality is a culprit, he would then at least have some leverage for his economic agenda.

We’re already a polarized populace.  After the election, hundreds of thousands of citizens signed petitions to secede from the union.  If the president pushes for more gun control in this climate, his actions could ignite a powder keg, literally.  I’d much rather see the left asking the deeper, harder questions right now than using Newtown to push a political agenda that 1) doesn’t work and 2) might spark a civil war.  Just as the Bush administration dropped the ball after 9/11 by telling us to go shopping, the Obama administration has dropped the ball after this tragedy by focusing on guns instead of the underlying causes, and this time, things could get bloody and ugly rather quickly.

Literary Underworld Ramblings

If this writing doesn’t work out, maybe Shrews and I can become a pro wrestling tag team.

In an effort to raise awareness of our consortium of writers at the Literary Underworld, we’re offering guest blog appearances on the craft of writing.  Today, Steven Shrewsbury invades the Ramblings with his ideas on violence in writing.  If you haven’t read any of his work, please check out his books at http://www.literaryunderworld.com/  Use this code LUBLOGTOUR  and receive a special discount on your purchase.  Thanks for supporting independent authors.  Without further ado, here’s Shrews:


I’m author Steven Shrewsbury and I’m filling in today. Let’s talk violence.

I’ve been told that my sword & sorcery works and horror novels are too violent. Some say the violence is extreme and shouldn’t be put in such close quarters where sexual situations just occurred, much less dialogue with God or demons. My usual answer to these statements is, “Ever read the Bible?”

Now, my work could never be confused with Biblical scripts, but I mention this to let the reader know they might need to grow a pair. Okay, it’s only a story. It cannot hurt the reader. Much. Yes, sometimes violence one reads can stay with a casual reader, an act so revolting or crazy it pops up in the mind later at work or during dinner. Fine. While that isn’t what I go for, to gross out or make the smashed potatoes hit the wall via projectile vomiting, I do desire to entertain and tell a story that might last in the mind. One might say, “That Shrews, he goes to far.” However others say, “That Shrews, I bet he’s a crazy bastard. I bet he’s fun to have a beer with.” It’s the latter. Trust me. Most days, anyhow.

That said, even a writer who likes to sling the entrails and mix up heads on bodies after decapitations feels that tempering the violence is a good idea. If the story degenerates into describing battles or an act of murder over and over with such vapid detail, at times, one will wonder if the writer penned it with his pants around his ankles. It’s my natural inclination to use humor (albeit dark at times) along with the violence and spread it out as the story unfolds, but also to make it credible. I’m not using Green Lantern Rings or powers endowed by a Yellow Sun, but usually iron and steel. Things bend and break under such force and usually, its more fun to describe the will behind the steel that made such an incision.

Real life is screwier than fiction, I’ve heard tell. I’ve never been in a sword fight in my life, and I bet that’d be pretty scary to face down a man (or woman) who has been. That is reality, not pulling a blade and making a mess. The person behind the instrument can invoke bravery or cowardice.

What one will do in a given situation, that is interesting. Wouldn’t one want to run? Sure. Would we really stand and fight if given the chance? Maybe. I love to relate the story of the hero in Robert E. Howard’s “The HOOVED THING” for it is set against the usual H.P. Lovecraft setting: New England, unspeakable horror, a monster out to get us all. This time, though, the main guy isn’t an erudite man from Mass who will commit suicide rather than face the ultimate horror. The lead character in Howard’s tale (shockingly) is a strapping Texan who grabs from a curio cabinet a sword blessed by a saint (lucky!!!) and decides, screw it, I must fight this thing or it will kill everyone else. Do or die, gung ho! The line “Fear can become so intense it defeats itself.” What courage. What a guy. What balls. Ya gotta root for that fella and hope YOU have that kind of stones in such a case. It isn’t high art, but it makes the point, literally.

Is violence bad? Sure. It hurts. Emotional scars run pretty deep, and might last longer than the Vicoden can ebb away a broken limb. Frankly, I’ll say what many might not want to: Violence is good for a story, and it makes it more interesting if used properly. Forget S&S or horror, but pure action or thrillers, a fight breaks out or the weapon is drawn, the game is afoot like a motherf—okay, I already did a blog on foul language in fiction, so I digress.

So temper the violence, folks, and try to entertain. Many can do it. Now, I’m off to try and figure out how to write a vampire work without bloodshed or lots of violence. Dunno if that can be done, but I hear racks of books are being sold by authors penning vampy romances, apparently writing with condoms over their heads. Wish me luck. What will come out will probably be a really blood-soaked, brutally real look at the genre, but I promise you this: It won’t be boring and the only sparkling with be the glisten off the blood pooling on the floor tiles in waning candlelight.

Cheers from Central IL

Steven Shrewsbury



Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings

No offense intended to my female friends, and you’re more than welcome to read this post and chime in on this discussion, but this post is about being a man.  I’m all for women’s rights and believe we’re all equal, but this post is about what it means to be a man in 2012, at least from my perspective.  Part of this is my attempt to rediscover myself after a rocky ending to a once beautiful relationship; part is my venting over what I feel are blatant disrespects to my manhood; and part is my anger over the castration we face on a daily basis.  Again, I respect women and realize you have your own set of obstacles, but this entry will contain moderate to high levels of testosterone, so consider that fair warning.

First and foremost, being a man in this age is maddening.  We’re expected to temper and control millions of years of evolutionary hard-wiring in order to fit the contemporary mold of civilized behavior.  Well, that’s not easy.  For thousands of years our species has thrived in part because of this wiring, but now, we’re barbarians if we exhibit any signs of temper or anger.  A thousand years ago, hell two hundred years ago, if someone cut a man off in traffic the way they do today, that man could’ve ripped out their fucking throat and left them for he vultures to pick apart.  Genetically, I’m identical to the men of those times, but today, all I can do is give that asshole the finger and lay on my horn.  The frustration of having to bridle back those old impulses is hard to describe.  I hope other men know what I’m talking about and can weigh in on this because I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this frustration.

Also, you know what?  I like meat, especially steak.  It tastes really good.  Do I like factory farming? No.  Do I think all farms should allow free-range grazing and avoid pumping their animals full of hormones? Yes.  But I like to eat meat because it’s delicious.  I also happen to like salad because it tastes good to me, too.  There’s not much better than a fresh salad with basil, olive oil, and vinegar.  My point here is that often I’m made to feel like a Neanderthal for eating meat or a wimp for eating salad, but the simple fact is that it’s my body and my choice.  I’ll eat what I want.  End of discussion.

Then, there’s this whole thing about being sensitive and in touch with our feelings.  I’m here to tell you that I’m about as sensitive, compassionate, and in touch with my emotions as a man can be, and do you know where it’s gotten me?  The best I can tell, only heartbroken.  The women I’ve mistakenly given my heart to haven’t taken good care of it.  They’ve either played on my compassion and drained me dry or criticized me for what I’m not, instead of cherishing me for what I am.  I don’t want to change my kindness or lose that connection to my own emotions, but I know that it will be hard to trust sharing those parts of myself intimately with anyone again because so far, that’s only gotten me hurt.

And what really pisses me off is this whole bullshit notion of romance.  I’m sorry, but cards and flowers and little gifts are a ridiculous waste of money.  I’d rather show my love by helping with the dishes or doing a load of laundry or cooking a nice supper.  I know that’s not very romantic, but you know what?  I work pretty fucking hard and don’t earn a whole lot of money in my profession, so I try to spend my money wisely.  My idea of romance is sitting together on the sofa on Friday night and listening to good music.  That’s about as romantic as I can get.  Anything beyond that feels corny and cheesy to me.  I’m a terrible dancer and don’t like crowds, so going out is more of a drain than anything.  That’s just who I am, and if that’s not good enough, then I guess I’m not the right man for you.

I was raised in a time and place where parents and grandparents used real threats of physical violence to keep their children in line.  My grandfather never actually hit me, but by god, he sure as hell made me believe he would if I crossed the line, so I never dared try him.  My father only had to spank me a handful of times, and each one I deserved and I never misbehaved in that manner again.  Today, if a man raises his voice, he’s got “anger issues.”   Well, despite the do-gooders best intentions, the removal of the threat of violence has left us with where we are: a generation out of control with no respect for authority or other people’s rights.  I’m not advocating for abuse, but corporal punishment, even if just as a threat, does work.

I’ve never once raised a hand to a woman.  Well, not since I was 13 and got in the last fist-fight with my sister.  Even when my ex-wife came to me on Christmas morning to tell me she wanted to leave and I was so angry I wanted to strangle her, I didn’t even threaten to lay a hand on her.  Even when I’ve been pushed beyond my limit of patience and tolerance, I’ve never even considered striking a woman because I am a man, and to me real men don’t physically hurt women.  The one caveat to that is if a woman tries to harm my kids.  Then, I’ll kick her ass as if she were a man, but other than that one exception, there’s no place in this world for a man to even slap a woman.

This post has gone way off the rails from what I had originally intended, but those are some of my thoughts on what it means to be a man today and how complicated and confusing all of it has become.  What do you think?  Am I just completely off my rocker, or do I make some legitimate points?  I want to know your thoughts on this subject.

You Can’t Make Crap Like This Up Ramblings

No one could’ve predicted this would end badly, a convicted felon with a penchant for guns and predatory wildlife.  I mean, how could anyone foresee a bad end to such a stable environment?  For answers to this tragic enigma wrapped in a blanket of conundrums, I rushed to Washington to speak with my old friend, Billy Joe Oilmoney, himself an avid gun collector and hunter.

“Well, it sure is a mystery,” he said, scratching his head.  “No one could’ve predicted such a tragedy.  This here is a perfect example of why we don’t need regulations of any kind.  If a law-abiding gun owner can’t set loose his collection of lions and bears on unsuspecting neighbors without being criticized for it, that ain’t the kind of America I want to live in.”

I politely reminded Senator Oilmoney that the owner was a convicted felon.

“That’s exactly what I mean.  If we didn’t have regulations, he would’ve been a law-abiding citizen.  Are you slow or something?”

Thankful to have that cleared up, I headed down to South Carolina to speak with Joseph Cartwright III, talk radio host, blogger, and Tea Party Activist.

“Truly, no one could’ve foreseen such a terrifying end to this man’s life.  It’s clear President Obama ordered the CIA to frame this man in an attempt to further a socialist agenda of stripping all Americans of their guns.  I’m sure the PETA tree-huggers will be all over this, too.  Now, we’re gonna have to deal with a new rash of regulations ordering us not to keep exotic predators in our basements.  Well, if I can’t raise Grizzly bears on my farm, I’m not sure I want to live in his nation anymore.”

Next, I headed out to California to interview Dr. Jen Touchyfeely, Professor of Emotional Studies and faculty sponsor of her university’s PETA chapter.  I like to keep things fair and balanced, you know.

“No one could’ve predicted such a horrendous end to this.  It’s just awful how those evil police officers gunned down those innocent animals,” she said, sobbing uncontrollably.  “They could’ve let them live free out there in the wild.”

When I asked about the dangers of letting wild predators roam freely near residential areas, she became incensed.

“We all know the Midwest is just fly-over country.  People don’t actually live there!”

Finally, to get the pulse of how this shocking mystery was affecting the common man, I hurried to Arkansas to chat with my old pal Cletus McOnetooth.

“I reckon it’s is the first I heard of this.  Real live lions and such?  Really?  This ain’t another one them ‘Diny-sores Live’ that turns out to be nothing more than mechanical puppets, is it?”

I assured him the lions were all too real.

“Hot damn!” he shouted, grabbing for his coat and calling to his wife.  “Sugar, gas up the truck and grab my shotgun.  We’re eating lion tonight!”