Classic Kid-Kibble from Yesteryear! by Jonathan Kieran

POP HAZMAT-RETRO presents CLASSIC KID-KIBBLE from YESTERYEAR by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: BOO BERRY CRUNCH CEREAL (General Mills)

Wimpy Casper's dangerous "gangster" uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

Wimpy Casper’s dangerous “gangster” uncle pushing sugar-highs by the box? Probably.

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: As one of a trilogy of “monster-themed” cereals introduced by General Mills in the mid-1970s (along with Frankenberry and Count Chocula) Boo Berry Crunch was touted by its makers as “the first cereal to ever taste like blueberries.”

I have some good friends who operate one of those organic fruit farms here in Northern California. These fine people wouldn’t let so much as one luvin’ spoonful of Boo Berry Crunch pass their sustainable lips, but if they did, they would assure the world that Boo Berry Crunch did not taste remotely like blueberries. As I recall, Boo Berry Crunch tasted like crystallized drops of sugary summer sky that came to earth when a flying unicorn was strangled with the blue ribbon of a rainbow after a thunderstorm. Yeah, that’s what they tasted like. That and a slight nuance of Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo. I always wondered if there might have been a connection.

In any case, kids certainly overlooked any faint chemical undertones that might’ve been detectable in Boo Berry Crunch because, like any classic “gimmick cereal” of the 1980s, it contained enough high fructose corn syrup to keep you bouncing off the walls, swinging on the jungle-gym and running the streets like a fevered Tasmanian Devil until dusk. Cereals like Boo Berry Crunch were, however, the bane of conscientious mothers and their wheedling children. A mother with two brain cells to rub together wouldn’t let you go near the stuff, no matter how much you pleaded for “just one box,” dancing around in your duck-feet jammies.

“Those are junk cereals!” my mother would declare. “That stuff is bad for you. Here, have some of this Cream of Wheat.”

“I hate Cream of Wheat! You gotta put half the sugar-bowl on it to get it down.”

“Cream of Wheat is wholesome!” Mother would parry. “It’ll make you grow up big and strong.”

“I don’t wanna be big and strong. I want to taste that sweet Boo Berry goodness on my tongue. It’s fortified with two essential vitamins … and iron!”

“Oh, the company just puts that on the box because the government makes them do it. There’s no vitamins in that garbage. And you don’t need to eat cereals promoted by ghosts. Ghosts are the spirits of the dead. Boo Berry Crunch is nothing but necromancy in a brightly colored box. Do you know what that means?”

“Yeah, yeah. Deuteronomy says it’s the stuff Satan feeds his demon-spawn down in Hell. But can’t we just get one box? As a treat?”

“NO! Here, try a bowl of these nice Grape Nuts.”

“Mommy, no! ANYTHING but Grape Nuts! My gums will hemorrhage!”

It never worked, our pleas for Boo Berry Crunch, especially when Mother was in a spiritual phase. Sure, Boo Berry Crunch was probably “of the devil,” just like she claimed, but we didn’t fear hellfire all that much at age six and neither, apparently, did our next door neighbor, Barbra Smith. Barbra and her derelict boyfriend, Hank, were nice enough folks. Sometimes, on summer weekends, we were even allowed to play with their kids or camp out overnight in their yard while Barb and Hank knocked back whiskey sours and staggered across the patio to the sound of old Beach Boys records. The next morning, Barbara Smith never felt much like going through the complicated series of motions required to produce a pan of Cream of Wheat. That’s because she could barely stand. When we stormed her bedroom begging for breakfast, she’d throw a few pillows or maybe a pack of cigarettes at us and pull the covers over her head, groaning about the light in the room.

“It burns! It burns!” she would rasp.

Then she’d tell us to look under the kitchen sink and get the hell out of her hair, already.

Barbra Smith’s cupboards were stocked with every form of sugar-saturated kid kibble that a much sought-after rural hairdresser’s money could buy. Boo Berry Crunch was always prominently featured and we would end-up stuffing ourselves to the brink of diabetic comas until Barb and Hank finally drifted out of their bedroom around noon and started rummaging in the fridge for Bloody Mary fixings. By that time, we didn’t care about Saturday morning Adult Invasions. Our bellies were full and our minds were tweaking on Bugs Bunny reruns. My experience of forbidden Devil Cereals –along with the bliss of carefree childhood– was complete.

Thank God for alcoholic neighborhood moms.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Mothers (even drunken ones, apparently) got wise with the advent of the Information Super-Highway and thus all of the brain-rotting, tooth-emulsifying treats like Boo Berry Crunch swiftly went the way of the Twinkie. May they rest in pieces.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Part of the appeal of Boo Berry Crunch stemmed from the fact that it was one of the popular junk cereals fronted by a monster. Few kids in my day could resist the imprecations of a monster that promised a reliable sugar-high. Boo Berry Crunch had an extra advantage because my friends and I couldn’t stand that mealy-mouthed wimpy wonder, Casper the Friendly Ghost. “Boo” of Boo Berry Crunch, on the other hand, looked like he could’ve been Casper’s seedy, criminal uncle who earned a living as a supernatural bookie at some Ghostly Greyhound race track, or maybe as an inner-city loan shark. Boo was villainous and kind of “Peter Lorre henchman” creepy and that made you feel like a rule-breaking rebel, a real “bad boy” when you tore into a bowl of the good stuff Boo was pushing. What red-blooded American boy could have resisted that? Behold the very first General Mills commercial for Boo Berry Crunch cereal … in all of its Boo Berry Splendor.
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder.

Grab The Good Moments and Never Let ‘Em Go, Fellow Homo Sapiens

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Perch no longer upon painful pins and needles, Ye friends, readers, and oh-so-ardent admirers strewn across the whirling globe. Verily I say unto thee, an “update” has been born amid the creaking, ramshackle windmills of my brain.
That being said, don’t get too excited, as this update is unlikely to rock your world or even rustle a few leaves upon the Autumnal Tree of Your Abiding Devotion.
Like most of you, I am preparing for the HOLIDAY SEASON (though, “bracing myself for it” might be a more apt description.)
I realize that I am not alone in regarding this particular time of year with a healthy dose of ambivalence, a soupçon of nostalgia, and equal parts schadenfreude and trepidation.
Don’t get me wrong.
You’d have to search field and fountain, moor and mountain, following all sorts of yonder stars to find a guy more existentially thankful, just for the basics. I do not exaggerate.
It’s a gift simply to be alive on this orb. A blessing. A marvel. A stroke of cosmic good fortune … whatever you wish to call it.
For example, I so appreciate the “little things” that I experience a physical, emotional, and spiritual reaction just to put on my running shoes and go for a jog through the woodlands adjacent to my seaside domicile. No ear buds. No distracting music required.
Just the sound of my breath, the rhythm of my footfalls, and all kinds of forest noises on either side: birds fluttering in the briars; ground squirrels scampering for cover; maybe a rattlesnake slithering away across dry leaves. I’m sure I’ve even ”heard” more than one mountain lion or bobcat watching me from the shadows of a rocky hillside.
Thankful.
There’s a large pond sequestered amid the expanse of gnarled oaks, just off the main trail where I run and (believe it or not in typically arid California) it’s always full and glimmering beneath sunshine or cloudy skies.
I’m grateful to be able to stand for a few minutes and contemplate the ducks and other waterfowl. Watch the reeds swaying in the breeze at the outskirts of the marshy idyll. I always end-up feeling glad that, somehow, some way, the universe—in its billions of years of outwardly explosive projectile vomiting—found a way to eventually arrive at … me.
And You.
And billions of others who have lived and struggled and laughed and died on this infinitessimally impossible planet.
Amazing, when you ponder it a bit.
My existence, like that of anyone, will be but one-zillionth of a blip in cosmic terms of Time, but it doesn’t feel that way when we’re genuinely grounded in the Moment, does it?
And what we know about Time and Space and their deeper secrets of operation is hardly comprehensive. I don’t care what Stephen Hawking or Einstein say.
I don’t know about you, but if the right contemplative mood strikes, in the ideal environment, in one quiet moment—be it lakeside or staring at the ceiling come dawn—all sense of Time’s omnipotence (and its limitations) begins to vanish, and in its place I can feel as if I’ve been alive forever.
Or that I’ll never be in a position wherein I won’t feel alive and part of the great, galaxy-gripping Mystery … whatever that Mystery turns out to be.
Yeah, yeah: the other aspects of everyday life are not felt so primevally; nor are they drenched in the fairy-dust of nobility.
I’m even-tempered, but not always on the inside. Some days I can roll out of bed and just sink my teeth gladly into a big old slice of Cynical Pie, relishing every mouthful of the crunchy, broken lightbulbs that constitute the main ingredient of said Pie.
Sure, I still get impatient with myself and with others, but I’ve lightened-up quite a bit in that regard.
Time heals, but only if you work with it, rather than against it. A lot of things that used to gnaw at my sense of pride now roll off the shoulders routinely.
Shut-out the harrowing mayhem of the world and bolt the doors of your soul.
Have a glass of wine.
Have a creme-filled doughnut.
Laugh with some friends.
To hell with excessive anxiety and worry; these add not a useful moment to this mortal coil—neither in the Big Picture nor in the smaller corners of our increasingly modulated lives.
Thankful? Hell yes.
To be certain, the world—or at least the behavior of the human race in general, these days—disturbs the breath right out of my body, at intervals.
The rampant disconnection from fundamental reality.
The garden-variety indifference and violence.
The staggering atrocities.
The ill-advised substitution of digitial communication and friendship for fulsome interaction and discourse.
The dangerous acceleration of ideological divisiveness.
The Caligula-level decadence that has managed to enter the mainstream of Western culture.
The rabid monkey-circus that is Washington, D.C. politics.
Yeah, these things are all worrisome to me. Maybe to You, too.
But a thankful soul can overcome them all, just by shutting them out at the opportune Moment(s).
Thankful. What a concept.
We have our loved ones. We’ve got the little material odds and ends that we cherish, for whatever reason, but to which we are not unduly attached.
Remain in beloved circles, with your own magical talismans, Gracious Reader, throughout this holiday season and beyond. Pause to enjoy the moments that occur within the Moment.
The moments that really do last forever because they happened within Forever.
From my Christmas tree to whatever sacred artifact or structure you contrive to mark the innate excellence of winter in the West, I wish you thankfulness … and the best New Year you never thought you’d remain sane enough to see.
xx
Jonathan
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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books (Brightbourne 2012), as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review, Manhattan Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines, papers, and alt-weeklies. Click on the book covers above and to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles and perhaps spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race.
Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new masterpiece of epic dimensions. Drop-in once in awhile for updates. Mr. Kieran promises to provide them, but only once in awhile, because he doesn’t get paid to blog endlessly and believes that any “writer” who gives-away a lot of stuff for free is a Wattpadder or a Smashworder, not a fuckin’ writer.

Songs That Made Childhood Magical … #SesameStreet

Okay, so a hitherto planned “Ten Best Meals I Ever Ate” List is not going to appear today. I’m on the fourth day of a complete fast/cleanse, i.e. no solid food and only lemon-water, honey and cayenne pepper to sustain me. Thus, my long and illustrious history of gastronomic adventure is the last thing I want to expound-upon, at the moment. Instead, we’ll opt for some HazMat pop-culture profiling. Behold, the Alligator King and his brood of seven toothy tots.

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

You can COUNT on this song being stuck in your head all the livelong day!

Jonathan Kieran’s HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME 

TODAY’S HONOREE: “7” by the Alligator King of Sesame Street (Voiced by Bud Luckey)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Nothing warms the sweet cockles of wistful Kiddie Heart-Land like the memory of a Sesame Street “number song” that you couldn’t get out of your head at age five if you’d even tried. Forget about the fact that you used to you drive your poor mother bananas with endless repetitions of what you had learned. Forget about your mother’s desperate prayers that you would one day employ your knowledge of figures and digits to conquer Wall Street and put her in the most posh Park Avenue spread that money could buy. Irrelevant! These “number songs” were magical, and they were the top of the Toddler Hit Parade, back in the day, before Barney and Sponge-Bob and Ninja Turtles and Tellytubbies came around to rip the innocence of youth from our tender, fluttering souls with all manner of subtle-but-wanton devilry. Okay, so Barney wasn’t all that Evil. Still, none of the others could match Sesame Street’s penchant for producing cartoon ditties that made you want to COUNT until the cows came home! The plight of the Alligator King and his Seven Sons was one of the best, made all the more immortal by the swampy New Orleans ragtime inflections of the great Bud Luckey. What are you waiting for? 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 … SING IT!

DEFINITIVE LYRIC:Said the alligator king to his seventh son, “My son, you win the crown. You didn’t give me diamonds or rubies BUT you helped me up when I was down.”

SEMI-TWISTED “ADULT HUMOR” MOMENT: When the second son gives the Alligator King “seven statues of girls with clocks where their stomachs should be.” Surely this was some sort of perverted metaphor, but our beloved Jim Henson has taken the secret to his grave. Talk amongst yourselves about it, philosophers and sociologists.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: No one can swing like the ALLIGATOR KING!

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books, as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines. Click on the book covers to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles or spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race. Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new novel. Drop-in once in awhile for updates; he promises to provide them … once in awhile.

California Matrons in Flux #TBT

"I read the other day in the Wall Street Journal that human beings are becoming more stupid from using computers so much in daily life."

“I just read in the Wall Street Journal that human beings are becoming more stupid due to overreliance on computers.”

"I read the other day in the Wall Street Journal that human beings are becoming more stupid from using computers so much in daily life."

“That’s a buncha crap, though, ‘cuz yesterday I took one of those online tests, and my I.Q. was twenty-one degrees warmer than it was last month. And I’m talking Fahrenheit, not Celsius.


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Jonathan Kieran is withdrawing from contemporary human society to protest a multitude of offenses against taste and decency (not really), but that doesn’t mean you need to head for the hills. No! Let Mr. Kieran become your Vicarious Hermit, serving all of your needs for solitude and isolated contemplation by proxy, as it were. Otherwise, stick around: some form of epic and expectation-shattering work is slated for release … sometime.

For your current reading pleasure, Jonathan is the author of the classically appointed Rowan Blaize books and novels, as well as the Midwest Book Review-acclaimed, Amazon No. 1 Pop Culture bestseller Confessions from the Comments Section. Visit Mr. Kieran’s Official Facebook Page and give it a “Like” if you are so inclined. Meanwhile . . .

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of works. Click on the book covers to the right or have a look below to learn more.

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

Book One = The magical cornerstone – a lavishly illustrated epic narrative poem … a genuine “spell” for the young and young-at-heart to treasure for a lifetime, telling the story of sorcerer Rowan Blaize’s battle to regain his magic powers. (Think Beowulf-meets-Dr.Seuss or an epic story-in-verse of a scope similar to Tolkien’s soon-to-be-released The Fall of Arthur, only contemporary.)

Book Two = The rip-roaring novel that continues the adventures of Rowan Blaize and introduces the three hilarious witches of the Ancient City, along with its dysfunctional werewolves, wraiths, ghosts, vampires, dryads, banshees and a beauty pageant brat that just might destroy the world.

Book Three = The next novel that finds Rowan trapped by a spell in another world, caught between a faery-squashing sorceress who’ll stop at nothing to conquer the kingdom … and a feisty teenage prince who’s determined to get it back.
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IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Reading And Writing While Intoxicated (by LIFE, thank you very much)

I suppose some people might be interested in what (if anything) a writer likes to read while he or she is in the process of creating a new, long-form literary work of his or her own.

Do I binge on vintage comic books culled from secretive forays to collectibles stores, flea-markets, and online eBay auctions?

Do I crack open a box of bon-bons and dive, without a pang of guilt, into the adventures of distressed damsels desirous of rescue by Harlequin heroes?

Do I gather my powers of pomposity and insist upon reading Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov in the original Russian?

No, no, and no, to all of the above scenarios. (At least, not yet.)

Reading for pleasure when one is actually in the midst of writing a book tends to be a delicate proposition, as I discovered many moons ago.

You don’t necessarily want to “hear” anyone else’s writerly voice in your brain, not while it is of the utmost importance to summon your own voice for the work at hand. I know some writers who avoid casual reading like the plague when they are working, and I can understand the self-prohibition.

In my experience, however, hours of spilling my talent and hammering my wordsmithery onto a blank page leave me in need of some practical diversion.

Running five or six miles is always a go-to for me during a major creative burst. I did just that a few hours ago and thought about my new book and its characters the whole time. These were healthy, energy-replenishing thoughts, however. As opposed to the ones that can leave a guy drained while composing behind a desk.

Whilst running six miles in a forest setting, the mind may indeed cycle and recycle ideas about plot problems and possibilities, but the brain is also busy looking for potholes in the path, wondering if that low, stealthy-sounding crunch behind a thicket could be a mountain lion, or (at my age) just keeping the heart-rate nice and steady. Keeping the breath in rhythm with the footfalls.

It’s great, and I’m thankful for the oxygen, the general hush of creation, and the abundance of sights and gentle sounds that constitute healthful sensory encounters.

But when it’s bedtime, I want to read stuff. And I damned well don’t want to read anything I have written that day. (That’s for tomorrow’s perusal … the next jump-off point, if you will.)

I am at present writing a rather massive new work of fiction, and I am also illustrating said work. Lavishly so.

This, I need the distraction of other works, at least when the sun goes down. Though television has its place, the generally fetid state of contemporary entertainment is far too kinetic, incoherent, and disconnected to afford even a guilty pleasure, at least for me.

Thus, I prowl You Tube for solid old favorites (King Of The Hill is currently floating my boat) and I try to read books that feature literary voices and themes radically different from my own.

To wit, I am currently devouring a couple of classics in the pantheon of world literature, each of which is, in turn, quite different from the other.

A cherished friend and benefactress from Germany recently sent me an English translation of Der Shimmelreiter (or, according to its titular English approximation: The Dykemaster) by Theodor Storm. The little novel has become an instant favorite, weaving a tale about the hardy peoples who dwelled ever at the edge of maritime peril along the lowlands and uplands near Germany’s legendary dykes. The book is casting an undeniable spell, and for that magic I am most grateful.

My other selection is Metamorphoses by Ovid, the ancient Roman poet. This is a hardcover English translation of Ovid’s mythical, satirical classic that I picked-up on-the-cheap ten years ago at a Borders book-store. (Remember when those existed, fellow old-timer?)

How do I know I bought it ten years ago? Because the receipt was still in the book. At all events, Borders used to publish their own, affordable, library-quality editions of oft-forgotten classics. Apparently, I loaded-up on some Kafka and a heaping helping of Camus on that long-ago day of giddy shelf-hopping. They’re all still here, waiting patiently in my library to be reread, dusted, or shown the least bit of affection.

We’ll see how fate treats them, when it comes to tempting a busy writer in need of a bit of nightly amusement.

With another dear friend having sent me tempting new non-fiction books about Vermont hermits and dysfunctional families, I don’t think Kafka stands a chance right now.

Literature. It’s a helluva lot better than whiskey. Even if the latter has been responsible for so very much of the former.

See you around …

Jonathan

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books, as well as the critically acclaimed (Midwestern Book Review) Confessions From The Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop-Culture Zombies. His work has also been featured on The Daily Dot.com and in a plethora of other ‘zines. Click on the book covers to the right if you want to learn more about Jonathan’s titles or spend some of your hard-earned money on his multi-formatted gifts to the human race. Jonathan is currently writing and illustrating a new novel. Drop-in once in awhile for updates; he promises to provide them … once in awhile.

Zanzibar … and a word.

Apologies, of a sort, for being so conspicuously off-the-radar these days, but the reasons for my social media inactivity are twofold and perhaps even a tad noble, now that I think about it.
In the first place, I have been working steadily on a monumental new work of fiction –an illustrated epic of (one hopes) world-altering significance. The planet might benefit from a heaping-helping of existentially buoyant magical entertainment right now. Which brings me to my second point.
The human race in general seems stressed and agitated to the point of rancorous intoxication, right now, and the internet (in my opinion) is largely responsible for both inspiring and amplifying the relentless sounds of hysteria that rise like a mushroom-cloud of radioactive chaos from the gloom-scape of our beleaguered “civilization.”
There’s just way too much damned noise around the globe, currently.
Way too many overwrought exclamations, emanations, pontifications, execrations, vilifications, and superfluous revelations.
Brains are being scrambled before our very eyes with needless, untamed, unsolicited information.
I, quite frankly, do not want to add to that debilitating cacophony by posting my head-thoughts every hour on the bloody hour, or even every week.
I’d much rather let individual works of art (literary, visual, aural) represent my contribution to this mortal coil, instead of incessant, trivial gabbling and opinion-mongering. (This post being, of course, an obvious exception.)
Call me a Romantic. Call me older. Call me quiet.
Quiet is a lovely thing.
That being said, a major work is slated for release in either mid-2018 or early 2019. Something heartfelt and rather elaborate, I must confess. More information about this project will be forthcoming when it is appropriate to come forth about such things.
In the meantime, the bustling Grand Central Station that is my frontal lobe continues to shuttle other ideas back and forth for purposes of sheer self-amusement and daily upkeep.
A three-act play for the stage is well underway, as is its screenplay companion.
The threads of two other long-gestating book projects are being sewn toward something resembling completion.
A new book is being outlined.
Two finished works of long-form fiction are awaiting, quite patiently, the proper publishing “home.”
It ought to be a busy rest-of-the-decade.
Otherwise, enjoy the continued, relative silence you’ll be “hearing” from me, and be sure to cultivate some of your very own, wherever you live and enjoy this one and only legitimate miracle called Existence.
Ta,
~Jonathan

Zanzibar Circus 5.11.17

More Zanzibar on the way. Give us a wee bit. We’ve been busy.

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Jonathan Kieran is the author of Confessions from the Comments Section: The Secret Lives of Internet Commenters and Other Pop Culture Zombies (Brightbourne) as well as the Rowan Blaize series of epic contemporary fantasy books. He is also the creator of the comic strip Zanzibar Circus (or, in the case of today’s careless screw-up, Planet Zanzibar.) Look for an epic new tale of staggering proportions in 2018. Meanwhile explore this site to learn more about Jonathan’s current titles, or buy his books on Amazon by clicking the cover images to the right in the sidebar. Enjoy your life before the cataclysm strikes.