Meet President Jeff, Vice President Billy, and the other members of the new Administration’s inner circle

The President Washington needs, not the one it deserves. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

For the past week or so I’ve been talking about President Jeff, the new web comic I’ve helped bring to life. I’d like to invite you to learn a little more about the characters that make up this fictional administration.  They’re a collection of misfits in way over their heads. Some of them take it better than others. Please check out this new comic – I promise you’ll rarely regret it. Stop by, read, and share! And leave a comment!

Argue2

 President Jeff.

As always, thank you for your support and encouragement!

WEL

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“President Jeff,” a new collaborative web #comic, is now online!

WhiteHouseSouthFacade_SignA new administration starts today! Hate politics? So does President Jeff! Love politics? So does President Jeff! Conservative? Liberal? So does President Jeff. Wait…that’s not right.

Anyway, my co-creators and I are proud to present this comic to you. It’s mainly fun, with some occasional political flavoring. I’ll only highlight the first few strips on this blog, and then return to regular programming. In the mean time, please check out President Jeff’s first strip! It’ll run Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Because it is new, we’d be extremely grateful for any shares, follows, and comments. Especially that last one. Tell us what you think!

Have a great day!

WEL

 

 

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The new Web #Comic President Jeff starts tomorrow! You can check him out today!

President Jeff, the new web comic, kicks off tomorrow. But you can get to know the new president and his inner circle of misfits now!  

Sit RoomCheck out the new site, leave a comment, and share!

WEL

 

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Sneak Peek: My new favorite comic…because I helped make it.

For the past 13 months I have been neck-deep in academia and the world of military history as I work on my master’s degree. I love it. It’s a real passion, and I’ve learned more than I can say. The only downsides (aside from depleting any free time and making sleep even more precious) is that my pleasure reading and creative writing have all but vanished. I should graduate this September, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But the brain is an odd thing, and it’s been looking for a creative outlet.

That, in short, is what this post is about. Over the past few months some friends and I have collaborated – a few minutes here, a few minutes there – to bring life to something that was originally born for personal amusement. I’ll hold off on exactly how the idea went from offhand remark to what you see here, but I’m very pleased to introduce you all to President Jeff:

PJ_Sitting_at_Desk

President Jeff is a web comic that will be launched on 14 April. President Jeff is first and foremost a comic strip. Think “Dilbert” meets West Wing. Or maybe Harvey meets Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. With its mix of images and drawings, it’s a world as strangely inconsistent and absurd as the real one. I just hope you’ll enjoy it. While the strip is set within the world of politics, “President Jeff” is mostly absurdity. If there’s a consistent political focus, it’s on often baffling actions of our political leadership, and not any particular ideology. The authors are political moderates, and therefore will probably annoy everyone  at some point. But most of the fun is had at the expense of the primary characters. We think everyone, from the apolitical to the political junkies, from conservatives to liberals, will find something to enjoy here.

Splash

President Jeff and his Inner Circle.

As I said, the strip kicks off 14 April, but you can get a peek at what to expect now by visiting President Jeff’s blog page. There you’ll find a short introduction to how such a good-natured but clearly unqualified person attained the highest office in the land. Please follow the strip, leave comments, and share with your friends!

Hope to see you there.

WEL

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The Problem with Vampires (Part 2): the Best and Worst Vampires of all Time

Now that I’ve presumptuously declared the days of the terrifying vampire long gone, I

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

think it’s fair to ask, “Okay, smart guy. What are good vampire stories?” I’m glad you asked. A classic, truly scary vampire story must contain more than the threat of danger. It has to contain an invasion of the unknown. The vampire is something that the protagonists simply can’t get their minds around, because to do so promises madness. True, at some point the main characters have to accept what it is they’re up against, and I’d argue that this is the author’s (or director’s) greatest challenge: how to make mortal men and women willing to believe that the dead are hunting the living.

With that said, let’s talk vampires. I present to you a narrow, obviously subjective, and poorly researched history of the evolution of the vampire from chilling demon to dull sex symbol. This history may be wildly inaccurate, but I think it makes some valid points. It’s meant to be fun, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with differing opinions. Before we get stated, though, there is something I want to highlight. You’ll notice a Grand Canyon-sized omission in my list: Bella Lugosi isn’t on it. The reason for this is entirely due to my personal biases growing up. My first memories of Dracula on film were of Christopher Lee. When my parents introduced me to Bella Lugosi, the position was already being filled in my mind. I wanted nothing to do with Mr. Lugosi, because I was a Christopher Lee fan. The only time I would watch the original Dracula was when he was facing Abbot and Costello. So you can understand that, as unfair as it may be, I don’t place his iconic image on my list. Continue reading

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The Problem With Vampires (Part One of Two)

I was once a big fan of vampires. As a child growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s, I

Today's overindulgence of vampires has given me an undead hangover

Today’s overindulgence of vampires has given me an undead hangover

begged my parents to let me watch anything on TV that had a vampire in it. This included the well-known vampire movies, those starring Christopher Lee, and of course ‘Salem’s Lot. But this also included the odd and oft-times campy appearances of vampires. I’m talking lesser known movies like Vampire Circus (1972), the classic series Dark Shadows…heck, there was even a vampire story in an episode of BJ and the Bear.  This last example notwithstanding, these creatures embodied everything that made horror so, well, horrifying: they were irredeemably sinister, and operated outside of human understanding. Images of shadowy creatures with bright eyes and blood stained teeth lurking in the darkness kept me up many nights, wishing desperately for the sun to rise so I could get some sleep.

But something has happened over the years, and it’s not just that I’m getting older. Vampires aren’t what they used to be. Somehow vampires have transformed from this:

Some creepy vampires

Some creepy vampires

Into this:

Vampires....I guess?

Vampires….I guess?

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not in any way criticizing the writers or the fans of books, and the similarly themed movies and TV shows, such as those you see above. But let’s be honest…if it weren’t for the word “vampire” stamped across these, I would have been sure that I’d been misdirected to the Romance section by Amazon’s search engine. And of course, it’s not just books. Shows like True Blood and the Vampire Diaries, plus (of course) movies like Twilight, have turned the vampire into something that it shouldn’t be: boring. I am not passing judgment on the literary or entertainment qualities of any of these books or shows. I can’t, since I have never bothered to read them. And before anyone tosses out the “then how do you know they’re boring if you’ve never watched/read these” argument, I have a couple of things to back me up. First, you have to be either blind or incredibly insincere if you try to argue that vampires haven’t really changed over the past 20 years or so. Second, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. Vampires are everywhere now. At least, what passes for them these days. While I’m all for the creative treatment of just about anything, I’m just going to say what’s really on my mind: vampires can’t be heroes. They’re the living dead, they feed on blood, and they are unholy and incapable of love. There…it’s out.

Now, I love Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. Her works are examples of incredible creativity and powerful storytelling that demonstrates that there are no absolute rules in literature. However, I think Anne Rice did for vampires what Tolkien did for fantasy…she defined it so completely that most writers that have tried to emulate her (and these are legion) usually pale in comparison. But more significantly, I think what has happened since Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles publication is that the whole idea of a more “human” vampire has redefined the creature. Where once the vampire was defined by words such as “horrible,” “dark,” and “terrifying,” now it is “passionate,” erotic,” and “beautiful.” In my mind, in the world of horror, the vampire doesn’t need to be more human. The best horror is when the human struggles against inhumanity. Once upon a time, the vampire was the archetypal villain. We learned more about our protagonists as they struggled against the inconceivable horror of the vampire. Now, the vampire is simply a human who happens to be dead and has a substance abuse problem. One could argue that what has actually happened is that the vampire has been split into two different sub-genres…one classic, and one romantic or adventurous. If so, it makes no difference. The book shelves, various TV series, and movies have overwhelmed the image, and now I think the vampire has lost its edge. In short, it has become a sexual bore.

I’m sure there are plenty out there that disagree with me. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I am hoping that I can generate some interesting discussions on this, though. What do you think? Is the vampire dead? Well, more dead? Or is this vampire genre more nuanced and fulfilling than I’ve portrayed?

I’ll continue this discussion a few days, when I publish my completely inaccurate, totally subjective history of the best and worst in vampire lore.

WEL

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An Invitation to War

Fog and Friction

"You want a SLURPEE? Oh...RETREAT. Okay"

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve been retweeting (wow, I just realized that my Spell Check recognizes “Twitter” and “retweeting” as words)  a number of tweets from @FogAndFriction. If you took a look at the name behind it, you’ll then have noticed that I actually use that handle. So what gives?

I made a deliberate decision when I first launched The Weathered Journal to keep it focused almost exclusively on writing and reading. The only deviations from this are for Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, and occasionally Christmas. But for the most part, the Journal was meant to showcase my fiction writing, and to connect with other readers and writers with similar interests. The last thing I would do is sandwich in a post on, say, Syria, between two posts about Fantasy Warfare and a book review of The Time Machine.

Now here’s the rub: because almost all of my available time outside of work is being consumed by my graduate school work (I’m putting off work on an assignment as I write this), I’ve found very little time to connect with readers, writers, or anyone else. Almost all of my writing is geared toward my master’s degree in military history. So how do I continue writing for readers when all I have time to write is history? The question sort of answers itself: post articles and research that are generated while I work on my papers.

So this has given birth to a new blog of mine: Fog and Friction. The research required for this program is extensive, and I’ve found that with a little tweaking, material that never makes it into my academic work can be turned into what I think are fascinating articles on military history. And it’s only a short walk from these kinds of articles to contemporary analysis on warfare, international relations, and (shudder) politics. In short, Fog and Friction will be the home to my nonfiction writing. I’m inviting you, if you’ve any interest in that sort of thing at all, to join me at this other blog, and to follow me on Twitter (@FogAndFriction). I can promise you that no matter the topics addressed there, you will find thoughtful, and more importantly, respectful discussions. I can’t predict everything that might show up there, but it’s a point of honor for me to eschew the partisan fear mongering so common with any blog that has a political flavor to it.

I hope to see you there!

One last thing: stick with me here at the Weathered Journal too. Fantasy and science fiction are my passions, and I will continue to update (albeit a bit more sporadically than I like).

WEL

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(WW)2: A #Scifi Serial About Earth’s Final War

 

(WW)2

(WW)2

I snapped back the charging handle of my M4 carbine with a rapid pull, locking the first 5.56 mm round into the firing chamber. The distinctive “lock and load” clatter reverberated across the hillside where my platoon had set up our ambush as the action was repeated by a hundred other men. I looked down to my radio operator, a sergeant from Des Moines, and told him to inform the Brigade Command Post that we were in position and ready to go hot.

He spat out a cheek-full of tobacco juice, then leaned his head toward his right shoulder and spoke into the mic fastened to his body armor.

As he gave me the thumbs up that the CP had acknowledged the message, I heard my platoon sergeant’s gravelly Southern voice. He was perched about three feet higher up the hillside than where I was, so his view of the kill zone was unobstructed.

“Craziest thing in the world, Cap’n Vance. Never thought I’d ever be settin’ up to fight outside of my own home town. Even crazier we’re gettin’ ready to throw down right outside the friggin’ base.”

I nodded, but chose not to answer. First Sergeant Mallory had seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia over the past fifteen years. I figured the last thing he wanted to hear was words of wisdom from a brand new captain who hadn’t yet deployed outside of the National Training Center. Still, I had an advantage over the battle-seasoned sergeant: I finally understood the threat that was getting ready to rip through our position.

Continue reading

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A brief respite, so I’m destroying the world

(WW)2

(WW)2

I have just under two precious weeks of break in between classes, and I’m determined to do some writing. In order to get the juices flowing, I’ve decided to destroy the planet. Yeah, I’m pretty excited. To this end, I’ve released the first installment of a new science fiction serial: (WW)2. Here’s the pitch:

A war unlike any humankind has ever faced now threatens the race with extinction. As the nations of Earth crumble in the wake of the invaders, isolated defenders prepare for a last stand.

I’m excited about running a serial story on my blog. I’ve got a high-level story arc mapped out, as well as a few immediate installments in the works. But aside from that, there’s room to grow in this story. The central characters are really interesting to me, particularly an unsavory CIA agent who belongs in prison more than anywhere else, but is thrust into the final lines of Earth’s defense.

As to the releases: first, I can only promise that they will be erratic. I hope to release a short (1-5 page) installment every few weeks. I can’t commit to anything because my classes are research and writing intensive, and they’re only getting more difficult. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Second, I plan on releasing the installments first on Wattpad, then on my blog. A month or two ago, I opened an account over at Wattpad. I’m not entirely sure why I did so, since I don’t have a whole lot of time to develop a new social media site. I think it was because the site is geared toward sharing writing and receiving feedback, so it was an opportunity to connect with new readers and to hear from other writers. So if you’re part of the Wattpad community, please look me up: WLinde. Otherwise, you can follow along right here. You can expect the first posting over the next few days, or you can check it out now right here: (WW)2.

Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it more than I can say.

WEL

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Ancient warfare inspiration

England2I thought I’d break my school-induced silence by sharing part of an amazing poem I read as part of my current military history class. The poem, translated from Old English, is called The Battle of Maldon. The poem (with, of course, a healthy amount of artistic license), tells of a 10th century battle between Viking invaders and the Anglo-Saxons near Essex. The poem is both grim and heroic, and I struggled with which verses to share. Please note that the translations are not mine. Enjoy!

 There against anger Byrhtnoth stood ready,
surrounded by warriors. He bade them with shields
build the battle-hedge, hold that troop
fast against foes. Then was the fight near,
glory in battle. The time had come
when fey men must fall there.
Clamor was raised there. Ravens circled,
eagles, eager for carrion. There was uproar on earth.

If you’d like to see more, the entire poem can be read here: The Battle of Maldon.

This study of military history has been a source of nonstop writing inspiration. I really can’t wait until I have enough time to make use of it.

WEL

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