Thursday, May 31, 2012

Frustrated Writer

It has become difficult in the past 12 months to carve out a regular writing schedule. In fact, putting two good writing days together in a row is a rarity. Time has become a cherished luxury. Still, I’m pecking away at various things, including projects where the deadlines have passed. One is a short story and another is a novella. I’m not sure a market now exists for either, but they will get finished. I hate that I’m turning into The Guy Who Misses Deadlines. The only answer for now is to turn down projects until I’m caught up.

I’m also revising a big chunk of a horror novel that was abandoned a few years ago. So far, the suckage is less intense than I had feared.

I continue to write the weekly newspaper column. You can always read it here. I’ve changed my mind about reprinting some of the columns on this blog, at least for the time being. I’m in discussions about collecting some of them into book form for the holidays. If that doesn’t pan out, I’ll get back to posting some older columns here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Update

In preparation for the release of Dead Earth: Sanctuary later this year (I hope), the e-book version of the first book in the series, Dead Earth: The Green Dawn is now free. Get the details here.


It seems that we finally have an official release date–or dates–for the first volume of The Dead Sheriff. Evileye Books has worked out their production snafus, and now plan to release the e-book in July and the trade paperback in October. It will be good to finally see this one in print.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


(Originally published in The Ashland Beacon on 3-21-12)

There’s no room for a preamble. I’m here to serve and that means doling out well-researched answers to your vital questions, stat (note: we don’t actually have a budget for research. Maybe next year).

DrStrange1963 writes: “Dear Mark, Oreos or Hydrox?”

What? Are you kidding me? I type my fingers to the bone and this is the thanks I get? Ridiculous questions that are so obviously simple that Jessica Simpson could answer them.

On the other hand, you may be serious, so I will treat this topic seriously.

Oreos, ya big lummox! Is there a single person on the planet that wouldn’t pick the classic Oreo, with its perfect combination of delicious cookie and smooth and sweet cream over the cardboard and caulking of a Hydrox?

(By the way, no offense intended to those who love Hydrox–either of you. It’s just that you’re damaged in a deep and profound way, and should seek immediate counseling.)

If you’re still not convinced that Oreo is the superior cookie, then perhaps this will help. Do you know the origin of the Oreo, which debuted 100 years ago this very month? The creator of the cookie, a destitute baker named Hiram Oreo dozed off in his kitchen, exhausted from worrying about his money woes. While he slept, beautiful angels in bakers’ hats flew in through the window and whipped up the first batch of the world’s favorite cookie. Hiram awoke the next morning to find his kitchen filled with the baked goodness of the Greatest Cookie on Planet Earth. Hiram realized his fortune was about to change. He became rich, married a Kardashian, divorced a Kardashian and brought happiness to children of all ages with that cookie the angels made.

Now, let’s examine the beginnings of the Hydrox. In the early 20th Century, an evil alien overlord arrived secretly on Earth from the planet Hydroxia 7. His goal: to take over the planet by brainwashing every man, woman and child with a tasty confection he sold under the name Hydrox. The cookies contained a potent devil’s brew of vicious chemicals designed to sap strength and destroy free will. The evil alien’s dastardly plan would have worked, if not for one small matter.

The cookies tasted worse than doggy doo-doo.

Apparently, the taste buds of the evil alien were hooked up backwards, compared to those of a human, leading to a cookie that is pictured in the dictionary next to the word “horrendous”.

So you tell me: Sweet angels or evil aliens. Which would you choose?

You may be wondering how I knew that Hydrox were less tasty than doggy doo-doo. It’s simple. When I was a kid, I gave a Hydrox to my dog. He spat it out and growled at me. Remember, this was a creature that spent much of the day licking his butt. I rest my case.

Our next email comes from BeckyShecky of Ironton, who says, “Dear Mark, I have jury duty in a few weeks. Have you ever served? What tips can you give me?”

Becky, I have served jury duty three separate times in my life, thus proving that I am a good citizen. And I believe I can offer a couple of tips that just might help you out.

Yes, it’s time for another Absolutely True Story from my exciting life.

One of the times I served on a jury, I was asked by the other jurors to be jury foreman (translation: none of the rest of them wanted to be bothered with it). The details of the case we heard aren’t important. I was fascinated to learn that one of the jurors–a senior citizen–slept through almost all of the testimony and no one–NO ONE–seemed to notice. And he snored!

Anyway, we heard one full day of testimony. The next morning, the two attorneys made their closing statements and the jury was ushered to our little room to deliberate. To get some idea of where we stood, I immediately asked for a vote. It was unanimous. It was 10:30 in the morning and we were through. Since the courthouse was located across the street from my office, my employer expected me back at work as soon as the trial finished. I had a lot of work piling up, so I was ready to leave. I thanked the jury and stood to summon the bailiff.

One of my fellow jurors–in fact, the older gentleman who had fallen asleep and snored in court–placed his hand on my arm and said, “Mark, if we stay here till noon, they have to feed us lunch, and today is meat loaf day.”

The other jurors nodded in agreement. We were staying for lunch. We sat in that little room for 90 minutes, making small talk and pretending we didn’t have a verdict. At noon we put in our lunch order. At one, I told the bailiff we had a verdict. The meat loaf was pretty good.

BeckyShecky, here are my two tips for your own jury duty: It’s okay to sleep in court. And if you’re still there at noon, they have to feed you. Good luck.

Look! An actual, real, not-made-up email from a living, breathing reader of the Freakin’ Beacon: Brent Ramey writes: Enjoyed reading your article. I too spent many a Saturday late night watching Chiller. It would be great to have a list of titles that ran on Chiller from the beginning to end. I am 50 years old now, however if I ever come across a 1950's or 60's Sci fi. I usually end up watching it. I have often thought is there somewhere in the world right now that is experiencing what our 50's and 60's were like. Technology though probably has ruined that chance!

Maybe they’re stuck in the 50s in Outer Mongolia. Back here at home, we have to create our own Chiller experience, with DVDs, popcorn and dressing up in scary makeup to crack jokes about the movies. At least that was my plan. My wife says I don’t need the makeup.

And one more, this time from Barry Grimm: I really enjoy your funny stories each week as I read the Beacon. Keep them coming.

Thank YOU, Barry. You keep reading and I’ll keep lying. Er, I mean, reporting the facts in a fair and unbalanced manner.


Mark Justice hosts The Breakfast Club weekdays on 105.7 WLGC. His email address is He really hates Hydrox.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Get Fit With Mr. Benefitness

Punch, punch, kick. If only everything were so simple.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Bonehead(s) of the Day

Wedding Fun: Mothers-In-Law Brawl

A wedding in Danvers, Massachusetts ended in a brawl with the groom’s mother being arrested.

The chaos started after the groom’s two younger brothers were denied booze at the bar

The 25-year-old brother punched a wall and began tearing apart the coatroom after someone from the bride’s side of the family told him to calm down.

When the bride’s brother approached, the groom punched him and the pair were soon tussling on the floor.

Then the groom’s mom attacked the bride’s mom. The groom's mom was arrested.

Full Story.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bonehead of the Day

The Relationship May Be Over When He Chokes Her For Eating His Cannolis

A man in Florida attacked his girlfriend because she ate all of the cannolis.

He was so angry over the cannolis he flipped over a coffee table in the living room.

The girlfriend threw his dinner in the trash because she was mad at him. He then threw the food at her, hitting her in the shoulder and the face.

He pushed her to the ground, got on top of her and started choking her.

She was able to get away and call 911… he was arrested.

Full Story.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Argillite Secret Service: Operation Rome

(Originally published in the Ashland (KY) Beacon on April 4, 2012)

As regular readers of The Freakin’ Beacon know, at one time in my life I was employed by a top secret government agency.

That’s right. I was a Double-Naught Spy for the Argillite Secret Service, better known as the A.S.S.

While I can’t reveal details of my top secret assignments, even after all these years, I can tell you that one time I was preparing to embark on a mission to Italy. I had a few hours before my flight, so I decided to get a haircut.

I used a barber a few miles from the A.S.S. headquarters. The guy was sort of unpleasant and a know-it-all and he wasn’t too good at his job. But he was cheap. That was important on a government salary.

I got to Smiley’s Barber Shop just before closing, and I was the only customer.

“How you doing, Smiley?” I said.

“Lousy,” Smiley said. “What do ya need?”

“Uh, a haircut.”

Smiley sighed and gestured to his empty chair. I sat down.

“What’s new?” Smiley said, going into Conversation Auto-Pilot.

“Going on a trip.” I said.

“Where to?”


“Rome? That’s a terrible city! It’s crowded and dirty and full of mafia types. How ya gettin’ there?”

“TWA,” I said.

“TWA? Their planes are old, the flight attendants are ugly and their food is awful! So where ya stayin’?”

“The International Marriott downtown,” I said.

“That dump? Are ya kiddin’ me? The rooms are tiny, the service is terrible and their food is the worst in town! So what are you going to do there?”

I couldn’t reveal the details of my mission, so I said,” Some boring work stuff. Then I’m going to tour the Vatican and try to see the Pope.”

Smiley barked out a laugh. “Fat chance! You and a million other people tryin’ to see him. He’ll look like an ant! Lots of luck, pal.”

He was still laughing as I left the barber shop.

I went to Rome, successfully completed my mission and even had time for a bit of sightseeing. I returned home a few weeks later, just in time for another haircut.

Smiley’s was again empty when I arrived.

“Look who’s back. The big-time world traveler,” Smiley said as I entered.

I settled in the chair and prepared for his volley of questions.

“So, how was the trip to Rome?” he said as he began the haircut.

“Fine,” I said.

“Right,” Smiley said with a chuckle. “So how bad was TWA? I bet it was the worst flight of your life.”

“Nope,” I said. “The plane was brand new. It was full, so they bumped me up to first class, where I had a gorgeous 25-year-old flight attendant and she served me some of the best food and wine I’ve ever had.”

In the mirror I saw Smiley frown. “Well, I bet the hotel was as bad as I said.”

“Sorry. They had just finished a 30 million dollar renovation. It’s now the finest hotel in Rome. The only problem was they were overbooked and ended up giving me the penthouse suite at no charge.”

Smiley was silent for a few seconds. The only sound was the metallic clicking of his scissors. Finally, he said, “I know you didn’t get to see the Pope.”

“That’s a funny story,” I said. “I booked a tour of the Vatican. As I was strolling around admiring the beautiful architecture and the magnificent artwork, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see one of the Swiss Guard. He said, ‘Pardon me, sir, but the Pope sometimes likes to meet a random tourist. Would you mind meeting him?’ I told him it would be my pleasure. He took me to a small, private room and asked me to wait there for a few minutes. He closed the door and I stood patiently. After a few minutes there was a knock at the door and in walked the Pope.”

Smiley stopped cutting my hair. In the mirror I saw his mouth hanging open in surprise.

“You got to meet the Pope?” he whispered.

“Yep,” I said.

“You. Some nobody from Argillite got to meet the biggest religious leader in the whole world.”

“That’s right.”

“So what happened??”

“Not much,” I said. “He shook my hand and asked me a question.”

“What question?” Smiley said. “What did the Pope ask you?”

“He said, ‘Where did you get that terrible haircut?’”

Mark Justice hosts The Breakfast Club weekdays on 105.7 WLGC. He no longer has his high security clearance, so don’t bother asking him about President Obama’s birth certificate.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Bonehead(s) of the Day

Drunk Grandparents Tow Kid in Car Behind SUV

A grandmother and grandfather in Sarasota, Florida were arrested for being drunk and towing their granddaughter in a toy plastic car from behind their SUV.

A cop spotted the SUV pulling a small plastic Hot Wheels car with the 7-year-old girl inside. The toy car was connected to the SUV with dog leashes tied to the trailer hitch.

The vehicle was traveling about five to 10 miles per hour, and a woman was riding in the rear with the hatch open, cheering the child on.

The grandfather was driving and was drunk… the grandmother was also wasted. Both were arrested on several charges.

The father was called to the scene and was very upset saying to his mom: "Are you f---ing stupid? You should know better!"

I think we can all agree that she is "f---ing stupid".

Starting Tomorrow

I'm going to begin a series of reprints of the humor column I do for a local paper. You have been warned.