Book Review – A Hell of a Christmas: Dear Satan by Padraic Keohane

Padraic Keohane has a wicked sense of humor and a clever wit. He always has, at least as long as I’ve known him and that’s been quite a while now.

I reviewed one of his books – a collection of short stories – back before I had this blog up and running. That book, Stories of Sagacity and Wit, was a fun read and I highly recommend it. Padraic’s latest work departs from the adult level short stories and splashes head-first into the kids’ books department. True to form, he approaches his story from a different perspective than most and has given us a children’s book that would actually be fun to read to a kid. In fact, were my son still of that age group, he’d probably think it was a hoot. Nowadays, unless it’s King, Matheson, or Horowitz, he just ain’t that into it.

Which is a pity, because A Hell of a Christmas: Dear Satan was a fun read. The general gist is Billy sends a Christmas wish list to Santa, but transposes some letters and hilarity ensues. Without digging too deep into the weeds, what you get is a story about the ultimate force for evil making the ultimate force for bike riding and giving it away because he’s really not that bad of a guy.

Aside from the obvious spelling lesson, there aren’t any treacly lessons about this, that, or the other thing snuck into the story, it’s just a fun little story about a kid who accidentally asks Satan for a bicycle. If you have young ones – and they have the right sense of humor – you’ll likely find this book is a blast to read to them.

“Billy is a good boy, but not a good speller. He wants a bike for Christmas, so naturally he writes to Satan. Will the devil and his crew get into the Christmas spirit? An illustrated storybook for the older kids and adults.”

Get your copy on Amazon

Happy Halloween

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Have a safe and happy Halloween. Dress to the nines, hand out candy, worship the Dark Lord of the Night, whatever floats your goat. Go out and have a little fun and don’t worry about what people think of you.


Happy Halloween and Don’t Hate Me

Our Kenpo instructor opened class on Thursday with an odd statement. A cup of butter has over 1600 calories in it. My immediate thought was I’d better stop drinking a couple cups of melted butter in the morning, but it went further than that and ultimately digressed into a discussion of how many burpees it would take to work off one small piece of Halloween candy.

For those unfamiliar with the dreaded burpee, this is what it looks like. It’s a squat jump, a mountain climber, and a push up all rolled into one thing.

They’re just as uncomfortable as they look like, but they’re a damned good workout that I largely eschew because reasons.

We didn’t get a final count in class, so I took it upon myself to do a bit of research and what I found may shock you. First up, a single piece of candy, like one of those small Snickers bars you give out on Halloween, has about 100 calories. That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly.

Now, there’s no exact measurement of how many calories a single burpee burns because it’s somewhat dependent on weight and athletic prowess. Studies have show that a 125 person doing 30 minutes of vigorous calisthenic similar to burpees exercise can burn about 240 calories. The larger the person, the more calories burned in the same time frame with 185 pound person burning off upwards of 355 calories in the same time frame. I’ll go with the larger number and assume a single burpee takes a few seconds to complete. That means 20 burpees in a minute and 600 in a 30 minute stretch. That means a small person would need to do about 12 minutes of burpees to burn off 100 calories and a larger person would need to do around 8 minutes. So, to burn off a 1.25 small Snickers bars, you’re looking at between 160 and 240 burpees. Per tiny candy bar.

Of course, there are other exercises out there that are a bit easier on the body.

  • Weightlifting: 112
  • Walking: 186
  • Yoga/Stretching: 149
  • Stair Stepper: 223
  • Swimming: 223
  • Cycling: 260
  • Rock Climbing: 298
  • Rowing: 316
  • Elliptical: 335
  • Running (6 mph): 372

These numbers came from here, by the way. If you can’t trust the LiveStrong group, who can you trust?

So, why bring all this up? No real reason. Enjoy Halloween, enjoy the candy, dress up and scare kids. It’s once a year and it’s supposed to be fun. You can always do more burpees tomorrow. Or ride a little further, or hit a little harder.

And now, because it’s almost Halloween and I’m current writing a book about a woman who gets killed in the first few pages, enjoy a ghost.

Tell Me A Halloween Story

Back in March, I found a mess of images that had given me some writing ideas in the past and posted them to see if anyone could come up with something. I got a few bites, which was cool, and got to read some clever stories out of it.

In honor of Halloween, I’ve found a bunch of images to use as writing prompts. If you’re interested, and think you can do it, write a Halloween story based off one of these images and post it on your blog. When it’s done, drop me a line with the link and I’ll put up a post linking to everyone’s blog (or website, or whatever). If you want to just post something here, drop me a line and I’ll post it up with your information. No rules, no requirements, no obligations. Your story is yours and it can be whatever you want it to be.

With a bit of luck, everything will be ready by October 30th, just in time for Halloween.

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Happy Halloween

My son is absolutely convinced our house is haunted.  Apparently the haunting is centered on our guest room, which is fine by me because then when guests come over we can tell them to not concern themselves if the walls start bleeding.  It’s totally not their fault, it’s just the ghosts being ghosts.  Ha, ha.  Everyone laughs.

My son likes to play games in my office – right across the hall from the guest room – and will always close the guest room door before he sits down to a mind-expanding time with The Force Unleashed or Jedi Academy.  I like to think teaching him about the Jedi is a life lesson, but I like to think a lot of things.

Whether or not the house actually is haunted is up to some debate.  Our dog has no great love of the hallway.  That may partially be because he knows the shower is at the other end – inside the dreaded guest room – and that means he’s about to get a bath.  He’s also blind, skittish, and old, so I can understand why he wouldn’t be enthralled with the idea of getting a shower.

Or it may be that, even blind, he’s seen this:


I doubt this is real, but it is creepy as all get out.

Personally, I’ve never seen a ghost, ghoul, goblin, or spook in the guest room.  I’ve never heard voices or felt invisible fingers brush me.  I have had chills run up my spine, but that usually involved spiders in the shower.  Maybe the ghosts just don’t like me, or maybe they’re nervous because I’ve seen a documentary on how to deal with hauntings.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.



Just because I’ve never seen a ghost there doesn’t mean there are no ghosts there.  It’s logically impossible to prove something doesn’t exist since you’d have to iterate through every possible permutation of a thing in the hope that you don’t find what you’re looking for.  Or something.  Just imagine I said something sciency and it was all very wise.  Then look at this picture and you’ll forget all about it.

Ghostly pole dancers work cheap.

Ghostly pole dancers work cheap.

So, to set my mind (and everyone else’s) at ease, I’ve decided I’m going to become an amateur ghost hunter in the hopes that someday I can move up to the big leagues and become a Professional Paranormal Investigator and Eliminator.  Fortunately, the Internet is filled with information – some of which doesn’t even involve cats or naked ladies.  I was writing a story earlier this year (one that will be included in The Clock Man) that involved ghosts.  Specifically, it involved ways to get rid of them when you don’t have ready access to a proton pack or a positron collider.

After wading through acres of cats and binders full of naked women, I found a simple answer that was just sciency, just truthy, enough to work and incorporated it into the story.  You’ll have to read the story to find out what the solution was.  But the research got me interested in my own problem with the ghosts in my guest room.  Based on the research, my best guess is I’ve got a Class I, non-terminal, localized, non-repeating, phantasm, which sounds terrifying but at least it’s not this dude.


Leftover shot from The Crow – the other greatest movie ever made.

In order to hunt ghosts, you apparently need some equipment.  Lots of equipment with very sciency-sounding names like thermal imager, parascope, vortex dome, and SB11 Ghost Box.  I guess it makes a certain kind of sense; if you’re stalking the unstalkable you need a set of tools tailor made to peek behind the curtains of reality.  There was a time when all this equipment was hand built by monks in Bavaria, but the modern world has changed all that.  I still pine for the days of artisan equipment though because, as a buddy of mine once said, “You can’t mass produce power.”



For some people, even that’s not enough.  Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go full-bore, but I’d love a set up like this.  I think the sight of me stalking down the hall with my black sunglasses on and carrying this bad boy would end any ghost problems I might have.


The fork is tuned to the aether.

Or I could, you know, just hit Amazon and see what they’ve got.  Conveniently, Amazon has everything you need except a PKE Valance Meter; those you have to make yourself.  Unfortunately, I’m cheap and pretty lazy, so I think I’ll stick with my tried and true method of ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away on its own.  So far the ghosts haven’t been pests, so I say let ’em stay.  Especially if they’re willing to scare the bejeezus out of anyone who manages to break into the house.  That sounds like a win/win to me.

Now, do I believe my house is haunted?  Not really.  Do I believe there are actual haunted houses?  Sure, why not?  I’ve never been in a haunted house, but I can see how something like one could happen.  And, let me tell you, I’d love to investigate one.  We’ve all had those moments late at night when you know someone’s there, but just can’t prove it.  There’s that gnawing feeling in your gut, the hair on your neck pricks up, and the shadows seem to move about on their own.  It’s at those times when you know in your heart of hearts that you’re far, far safer in bed (ghosts cannot penetrate blankets), but your bladder is absolutely convinced that it’s about to explode.  Your bladder will eventually win.  You know this.  I know this.  Your bladder knows this.  And the ghost hiding in the corner knows this.


Remember this when you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

It’s at that precise moment when the ghosts, spooks, goblins, and specters become quite real and that Class I vapor becomes a full-on Class V full roaming phantasm – and a real nasty one at that.  And there you are, draining a bladder that’s probably in cahoots with the spirit world, completely helpless as the invisible claws float silently toward your throat.

That’s when you’ll wish you’d spent some time studying ways to fight the spirit world.  You’ll wish you had spent the time perusing the arcane literature that so many normals laugh off as “a joke” or “a waste of time” or “a box with some lights on it that some dolt spent hard-earned money on”.


Information, as they say, is power.  And with Halloween coming up and Dia de los Muertos hot on Halloween’s heels, you’re gonna need as much information as you can get if you’re going to survive the paranormal onslaught.  I’ve been doing my homework, have you?

Some links to check out before you start your career as a ghost hunter:

Ghost Hunting 101, Ghost Hunting and Pseudoscience, Ghost Hunting, Ghost Hunting for Girls (not sure how this is any different for girls, but I’m covering my bases here), The Albuquerque Kids’ Ghost Hunting Tours, A test of Ghost Hunting Apps for your smartphone, Amazon’s Ghost Hunting Kit

If you don’t get to those in time, remember this one thing: there are already strong, brave people out there fighting tirelessly every day.  If you can find them, maybe you can call them.



Don’t let yourself get caught unaware.  Arm yourself with as much knowledge and as many boxes with blinking lights as you can.  Make your living room look like the set from Star Trek.  Your significant other might balk at the idea that you get to watch TV from the Captain’s chair but, let’s face it, you put in the hard work, you deserve the chair.


Even dogs can be haunted

As for the ghosts in my guest room.  I’m going to find out once and for all if they’re real and then probably do nothing about it.  Like I said, they don’t seem to be hurting anyone and we’ve got the space to share with them.  They did make it into a couple stories, though, so they’ve got that going for them.  I just hope they don’t demand royalties.

Happy Halloween!

In honor of the greatest holiday, like, ever, I’d like to share up a few creepy pictures I’ve come across recently.


Clowns are creepy enough as it is, but this one weirds me out something fierce.


I think they used to use guaze of some sort or another back in the day to take pictures of “ghosts.”


I think there’s actually a short story in here somewhere.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a horror story and I can see some mad scientist trying to find a way to make nightmares even more frightening.


This one’s been desktop wallpaper most of the month.  Not scary, and more appropriate for Dia De Los Muertos, but I thought it was dope.

Happy Halloween, everyone!