The Devil Signed Onto Twitter

(With mumbled apologies to Charlie Daniels.)

The Devil Signed Onto Twitter

Well, the Devil signed onto Twitter,
he was looking for some grist to mill.
He was in a bind ’cause he had a deadline,
he was willing to make a deal.

When he came across this blogger
jawing on a topic and playing it hot,
and the Devil slid into her mentions all slick
and said, “Girl, let me tell you what…

I guess you didn’t know it
But I’m an aggregator, too
and if you care to let me share
your content, I’ll boost you.

Now you write a pretty mean blog post,
but give the Devil his due.
I’ve got exposure online like you’d never find.
My platform’s perfect for you.”

The blogger said, “My name’s Nonny,
and this might just be me,
but I’m gonna take a pass, you can kiss my ass,
’cause I never write for free.”

Nonny polish up your work and shop your pieces hard
’cause all hell’s broke loose on the web and the Devil holds the cards.
He promises you a byline and a credit to your name,
but if you pass, you’ll get paid just the same…

The Devil opened up his site
and he said, “Oh, gimme a break,”
and words flew from his fingertips
as he fired his hot take.

And then he slid his hands across the keys
and they made an evil click.
A cap of Nonny’s post appeared
in the Devil’s piece, the dick!

When the Devil published,
Nonny said, “Well, that’s pretty nice, you know,
but you just take down that work of mine,
or else you can pay me what you owe.”

Flame war in the comments, run boys, run. 
Devil’s in the Post of the Huffington. 
Digging in your mentions, picking out quotes. 
Mister, does your blog pay? No, lawlz, no. 

Well that ol’ Devil bowed his head,
because he’d been DMCA’d,
and he took that borrowed blog post
down for which he hadn’t paid.

Nonny said, “Devil, you can put it back
if you ever wanna meet my fee.
I done told you once, you quote-mining dick,
I never write for free.”

Flame war in the comments, run boys, run. 
Devil’s in the Post of the Huffington. 
Digging in your mentions, picking out quotes. 
Mister, does your blog pay? No, lawlz, no. 



Author’s Note: do make the decision to give a lot of my work away for free, but I do so on my own site and my own terms rather than generating traffic and revenue for others who gain more “exposure” from the content donated to their sites than they give to the paid works of their content creators.

If you enjoy and/or benefit from my presence on this blog or elsewhere on the web, please consider paying for it through PayPal or Patreon.

That Never Happened: Notes on a Post about Feminism (Poem)

Case in point what I was talking about before, re: adequacy; I wrote this poem a month ago and meant to post it here and then link it on my Patreon, but every time I set out to do it, I found myself paralyzed with indecision. I consistently think it’s one of the better and more important things I’ve written, right up until it comes time to tell someone about it.

The poem was directly inspired by a specific incident that I’ve already actually forgotten because the sort of incident that inspired it happens constantly. The title is a sort of reference to another observation on the phenomenon, Helen Lewis’s observation that “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” I’m not a particular fan of Helen Lewis, but this sentiment is repeated and paraphrased so many times without attribution—or attributing it to a man who happened to quote her, such as Wil Wheaton—that I felt it necessary to point out who codified the sentiment in this form.

Anyway, poem:

by Alexandra Erin

That never happened, you’re making it up,

but you need to realize it happens to men, too,

and it was obviously a joke when it happened.

Anyway, everyone does it sometimes, but not all men.

You feminists generalize everything.

It hurts my feelings when you’re so sensitive.

Nothing in life is more important than free speech,

so just shut up about this social justice nonsense.

We don’t care about race or gender or anything else,

we’re all just people here, just human beings,

so if anyone gives you trouble for who you are

it’s your fault for letting them find out.

You will never find a more welcoming community,

but you can’t expect to just walk in here like that.

Gaming has never been a boys’ club,

but why are girls getting into it now?

The corrupt media narrative ignores our wonderful diversity.

Feminists won’t understand that we are not their shield,

but of course white men are catered to, we’re the majority.

You feminists act like men are so dangerous,

but you’re waving raw meat in front of a wild dog

and whose fault is it if you leave your door unlocked?

I resent the implication that I can’t be trusted.

It’s just a compliment, just a drink, just being friendly,

not everyone means something by everything,

not everyone is angling for something in return,

and besides, fake geek girls are taking over

and pretending to like our things

to get compliments

and drinks

and stuff

and never have to give a single thing up in return,

and how is that fair?

You females give so many mixed signals.

You’re so contradictory, I swear,

it’s like you’re different people.

I should just give up on you.

I should just leave you all alone.

But I won’t fight hate with hate.

I will be the bigger man.

I will stay here and I will tell you

every single thing you ever got wrong

until you know better, until you see.

Because I’m a nice guy.

Support the author on PayPal or Patreon.

Monday Morning Monster: Jack o’ the Lantern

Jack o' the Lantern (2)







Resembling a scarecrow with a burning jack o’ lantern for its head, a jack o’ the lantern differs from the more familiar animated scarecrow in being a spontaneously created undead being rather than a deliberately created construct.

The story goes that when a sufficiently hateful or angry and murderously evil person dies in a pumpkin field, the murderer’s soul, seeking purchase on the material plane either to avoid an unkind fate in the lower planes or to seek revenge against its killer, can either move into one of the pumpkins or seep into the soil and from there enter a gourd.

A pumpkin so inhabited by a soul will grow tall and round and slightly misshapen in a way that vaguely suggests a humanoid skull. Anyone who looks closely at or touches the pumpkin will receive a suggestion (as per the spell; save DC 13) to carve a face into it and put it on a scarecrow body. The first night that the light of the full moon shines on such a scarecrow, a fire will ignite inside its pumpkin skull and it will be animated into a grim mockery of life.

The anger and hatred that the jack o’ the lantern’s spirit feels fuels its existence. While a jack o’ the lantern is a free-willed creature with all the knowledge its soul possessed in life, it is incapable of tender emotions, calm rationality, or mercy. Any better qualities the soul may have had are burned away in the fires of rage.

Sad Puppies Review Books: Yertle the Turtle


Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired)

This book is the all-too-plausible story of one evil turtle and his tyrannical desire to enslave all other turtles to his bidding.

If when you read this book it seems to echo eerily close to something you have heard before, that is probably not a coincidence. This is no mere children’s story like the ones you’d find in Aesop’s fables. This is a story with an important moral lesson to teach us and it relates to real life.

The villain of the piece is a turtle named Mack who is so dissatisfied with his place in the world that rather than climbing the ladder and making something of himself, he instead blames society for such petty things as the pain in his back and his lack of food. Not content to merely complain, he uses his extraordinary power and privilege to impose his will upon all other turtles. Lacking the gumption and will to raise himself up, he instead only tears down, and will not be satisfied until all other turtles have been brought down to his level.

Set against Mack is the tragic hero of the piece, a Randian super-turtle named Yertle who, though born to lowly circumstances on top of a rock only a little bit higher than the station of any other turtle in the pond, raises himself up to be the self-made king of everything up to forty miles away. Because a rising tide lifts all boats, in the process he raises every other turtle in the pond up with him.

Even Mack—the greedy, grasping, ungrateful, Mack—is elevated to the very same position Yertle was when the story began, sitting atop the very same rock. If he really wanted to be where Yertle is, there was absolutely nothing stopping him from doing as Yertle did. He was given the exact same opportunity Yertle had. Yertle’s very success proves the existence of upward mobility in the pond. Every single one of the turtles under Yertle only has to look up to find something to aspire to.

But when Mack’s  incessant complaints and whiny demands do not give Mack any greater reward than he has earned, he brings the whole thing crashing down in the most vulgar way imaginable: he burps.

In this one burp, he becomes worse than the Soviets who condemned the Kulaks during holodomor, worse than the people on the street who mouthed the Nazi lies about Jews during WWII.  Why worse?  Because those people lived in fear of their lives.  They had to say what they did because they feared being next on the kill list.

But Mack? Mack drags everyone down into the mud and dashes every turtle’s dream of attaining a higher place in society of his own free will. Does he care about the wishes of the turtles above him? No, he does not. Mack imposes his will upon all. In his pond, all turtles are slaves shackled to the ground, doomed to swim about the pond without the benefit of direction or purpose.

And in the end, the turtle who had the vision to build a society where any turtle could climb so high as to see forty miles in every direction, where any turtle could through nothing save their own hard work and determination could become king of a house and a cow and a mule, he is down with the rest, only able to see mud.

The burping vulgarians of the world cannot tolerate men or turtles of Yertle’s grand vision, and so cannot rest until they are destroyed. Saul Alinsky would be proud.

Two stars.

Get more Sad Puppy book reviews (including ones never seen before elsewhere) here!

Support the author on Patreon!

Magic Items (D&D 5E)

The following three magic items are intended for use in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. They are presented here as a preview of my upcoming supplement, Armoury of Enchantment, which will be added to my other titles currently available on the DMs Guild.

Footwear of the Windrunner

Wondrous item, very rare

These boots or sandals allow the wearer to run—not walk, not stand, but run—on thin air. They seem ordinary when worn, until the wearer takes the Dash action. Doing so gives the wearer the ability to run on thin air. Ascending by 1 foot requires an additional foot of movement, descending is treated as normal movement. The wearer falls if knocked prone, or at the start of their turn if they do not immediately take the Dash action again. If the wearer jumps while wearing these shoes, a DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check is required to avoid falling at the end of the jump.

Potion of Cosmic Revelation

Potion, rare

Also known as the elixir of the third eye or the potion of mind opening, this potion bestows upon any creature who drinks it the effects of the contact other plane spell, some 2d4 minutes after it is imbibed. The potion renders the drinker catatonic (unconscious, for all purposes except the spell) for the duration of the spell (1 minute). A creature who is not seated when the effect hits falls prone.

If the drinker does not have any 5th level spell slots, the saving throw called for by the spell is made with disadvantage, but even on a failed save the drinker can ask 1d4 questions before taking the damage and succumbing to the mind-shattering effects of the spell.

Sapphire Bird Ring

Ring, very rare

The first sapphire bird ring was created by a high elf wizard of an age long past. This wizard, whose name and identity have not been lost, was known for possessing an unusual reverence for the beautiful things of nature, even for an elf.

This ring bears a device that resembles a bird with two exquisitely cut sapphires for eyes. With a mental command and an action, one or both sapphires can be ejected from the ring, at which point they turn into a crystalline construct resembling a bluebird. Use the statistics for a raven, minus the mimicry ability, but the creature is a construct, not a beast, and has only 1 hp. The birds glow with an inner light, shedding bright light in a 10 foot radius and dim light for another 10 feet. If one of the birds takes any damage, it shatters into brittle blue glass immediately. If a bird is destroyed, its gem will reappear on the ring after 1d6+1 days. Until that time, it cannot be re-summoned.

While they exist, the bluebirds are bound to the ringbearer can communicate with, control, and see through the senses of either bird as if it were a familiar, (as described under the find familiar spell), though the birds cannot deliver spells or use the Help action. The wearer may also cast the animal messenger spell at-will, using one of the birds. The birds always return unerringly to the ring after delivering their message.

A bird created by the ring cannot be banished as a familiar would be. If touched with the ring, as an action a bluebird can be turned back into a gemstone, which rejoins with the ring.

Twine Story: Attract Mode

Attract Mode” was an idea I had for a short story some time ago but couldn’t figure out how to write, until I came up with the idea of doing it in Twine, a visual mark-up tool that is mainly used for crafting interactive stories. I started this last fall, but was stuck on a few aspects of it. Today I showed it to Jack, who helped me figure out how to wrap it up, and so now, I’m sharing it with you.


(And for the curious, the title “Attract Mode” refers to what most folks call the “demo” of an arcade game. The term dates back to pinball machines, which would light up and make noise to attract people.)

Flash Fiction: The Stars Don’t Fall Here Anymore

The Stars Don’t Fall Here Anymore

By Alexandra Erin


The stars don’t fall here anymore. Sometime, one night three summers ago, they started giving our planet a miss.

What’s that old joke? They’re called meteorites when they hit the earth because if they missed they’d be meteor-wrongs.

Well, something went wrong, somewhere, because the stars no longer fall here anymore. If you go out into the countryside on a clear night during the Perseids or Leonids, you can watch them streak across the sky and then zig-zag off, pull a u-turn, bugger off to go streak across some other sky.

There’s less and less of them every time, too. It’s like word gets around, somehow.

No one knows how to feel about it. On the one hand, maybe it means we can all stop worrying about ever going the way of the dinosaurs, but on the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t be worrying about death from above when there’s something so wrong with the ground under our feet that rocks and dust and chunks of stuff from everywhere else have started taking a pass on it.

The stars don’t fall here anymore. No one knows why, or how, or what to do with this information, and now the stars in the sky have started winking out, one by one, a few hundred over the course of the night every night. The moon, bound by tidal forces to show her same face for billions of years, has started to inch around. Some people say she’s started revolving, but I think deep down we all know she’s turning her back on us.

Even the sun is a little colder.

The scientific implications would be profound, if only anyone could make sense of them. There are no answers to be had anywhere, no one to turn to and ask them. It all just keeps happening without any explanation, as if the whole entire universe is telling us, “You know what you did.”

The worst thing is, they’d probably be right, except it’s so hard to narrow it down.