POP HAZMAT HEADLINE du JOUR: “TAN MOM” Releases Music Video. Asteroid Approaches Earth in Nick of Time.

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.
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HAZMAT HEADLINE DU JOUR: “TAN MOM” Releases Music Video. Asteroid Approaches Earth in Nick of Time. Posted by JONATHAN KIERAN

Click the Pic to watch a life-changing masterpiece of American entertainment culture that's certain to garner Kennedy Center honors within a decade ... if not sooner.

Click the Pic to watch a life-changing masterpiece of American entertainment culture that’s certain to garner Kennedy Center honors within a decade … if not sooner.

CULTURAL TOXICITY QUOTIENT: NOT EVEN QUANTIFIABLE

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Our putrefying culture remains one in which disreputable dirtbags (who ought to be relegated to the desolate Fringes of Chaos) feel quite encouraged to flaunt their willfully degraded, deliberately vulgar and aggressively shameless selves on film, as if mainstream society had thrown-down a “Welcome” mat and had extended to these reprobates a permanent invitation to drop-in unannounced for cocktails. Wait. Did I say: “as if society had …”? Excuse the blunder. Mainstream society has thrown-down the “Welcome” mat for these derelicts … and the mat is swiftly becoming a red carpet.

EXISTENTIAL RAMIFICATIONS: The asteroid can’t get here swiftly enough and it may miss the globe altogether. Bummer.

Is it just me or does the complexion of that asteroid's face look eerily familiar?

Is it just me or does the complexion of that asteroid’s face look eerily familiar?

TAKE-AWAY QUOTE: “I’m tan mom, bitch! I’m the cool one. I’ll give you a treat, to see my goodies browned.”

THERAPEUTIC CINEMA: The Road (2009) To evoke a landscape where “Tan Mom” will hopefully be found one day, wandering aimlessly with a thermos of tequila until she stumbles unaware into an encampment of starving cannibals and slovenly offers to shake her “goodies browned” for their entertainment. Please. Someone make that movie and give her a graphic cameo. I’ll be the one down in the front row with a jumbo-sized popcorn and a bag of Red Vines.

DETOX DINNER: This is a no-brainer. Go to the market and buy yourself one of those hot, greasy, fully-cooked and hormone-injected rotisserie chickens. It’ll be like having your very own “Tan Mom” over for dinner. Literally. The two are virtually indistinguishable. See for yourself …

rotchick tanskank

FURTHER READING: Divine Carnage … so you can read about the Emperor Caligula and his particular era. Don’t worry: if you’re currently living in the United States of America, you’ll feel right at home with this book. Everything will be uncannily familiar. In fact, you’ll be wondering when they’ll get to the part of the story where “Tan Mom” is awarded a seat in the Senate!

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

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

The World of Rowan Blaize Character Profiles by Jonathan Kieran: Meet … ILYSSA

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.
___________________________________

~The World of Rowan Blaize: Character Profiles~ by JONATHAN KIERAN

The realm of ancient sorcerer Rowan Blaize is one in which otherwise hidden worlds collide with (or dwell alongside) our own mortal sphere. Rowan’s existence is played-out across landscapes and dreamscapes that encompass “worlds within worlds,” providing the observant traveler ample opportunity to encounter creatures of dazzling magical qualities. Some of these beings are friendly, others are belligerent, and still others have a hard time deciding among the various options. From one universe to the next, certain things never change. Enjoy meeting the main characters of Rowan’s adventurous story in the profiles below and remember: wherever the world and whomever the wayfarer … only enchantment is immortal.

Character Name: Ilyssa

*IMDb Dream-Portrayal By: Sosie Bacon

When it comes to playing the determined, no-nonsense teenaged runaway, Ilyssa, from 'Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile,' I have a feeling that Miss Sosie could bring home the BACON and fry it up in a pan!

When it comes to playing the determined, no-nonsense teenaged runaway, Ilyssa, from ‘Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile,’ I have a feeling that Miss Sosie could bring home the BACON and fry it up in a pan!

Nature/Occupation: Mortal girl. Runaway. Probable future Queen of Kelnia?

Age: 14-15

Background: Ilyssa is the daughter of an apothecary in the mountainside Kelnian city of Pyr Mida. Occupied by the forces of evil sorceress-queen, Oblixta, and used as a military garrison, Pyr Mida is ruled by a repulsive Prefect who conscripts young ladies to serve his every wretched need. Like others before her, Ilyssa is “chosen” and her parents are willing to give her up rather than escape or face execution. Ilyssa, being a determined lass, decides to run by nightfall into the wintry death that awaits upon the cruel mountain above her city … but fortunes can change quickly when magic is in the air.

Significant Traits: Auburn-haired and quite beautiful, young Ilyssa proves that a wry sense of humor and a modicum of rebelliousness can take a girl far in any world.

Unique Powers/Abilities: Of all the things that can be said about Ilyssa, being a “good sport” and being able to think fast on her feet are two of the best.

Classic Quote: “Watch it, smart-mouth. I’ve had just about the worst night and morning of my entire life and if you don’t think I’m up to scratching the eyes right out of your skull, you’ve got another thing coming.”

Featured In: Book Three (Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile)

*If I am ever fortunate enough to see Rowan’s adventures adapted for film or for the stage, this is the actor (or creature) I can most readily visualize playing the character in a given profile.

_______________________________________________

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

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

POP HAZMAT QUESTIONABLE CHILDHOOD CANDY HALL OF FAME: “STARBURST” by Jonathan Kieran

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.
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HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF LAME: LOVABLY QUESTIONABLE CANDY FROM CHILDHOOD! by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: STARBURST FRUIT CHEWS!

starburst

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: What follows is a (verbatim) “flashback scene” from one of my elementary school classes.

During this class, our halitosis-stricken teacher, Miss Marion “Spaghetti Legs” McGrady, was attempting to gauge local nutritional values from an informal survey of our confused and disenchanted brains. During the course of the lesson, she asked various students questions about their own “healthy food choices and experiences” at home. Unfortunately, she chose to petition our obese and somewhat oily classmate, Ronald Frakey, in this regard. Ronald’s mother, Lurlene Frakey, was well-known for spending entire mornings and afternoons sitting on her dilapidated front porch in curlers, a bathrobe and tatty pink bedroom slippers, sipping regularly from a bottle of Jack Daniels and often complaining to her deaf, one-eyed cat, Boogers, about the rising cost of menthol cigarettes.

crazed teacher

Spaghetti Legs McGrady, however, was apparently unaware that the Frakey household was a less-than-ideal source from which to extract useful information about the Four Food Groups. On this particular day, Spaghetti Legs was fixated on the importance of fruit in the human diet. The rest of us were breathless with anticipation as she focused her powers of inquisition upon Ronald.

MISS McGRADY: “Ronald Frakey. You look like a well-fed little boy. Why, I can tell by your complexion that Crisco is used rather frequently around your house. That means your mother must be a gifted chef de cuisine!”

RONALD FRAKEY: “A what?”

MISS McGRADY: “A good cook.”

RONALD FRAKEY: “Well, she can microwave a plate of Twinkies real good, if that’s what you mean. She’s got it timed real perfect, too, so the creamy fillin’ doesn’t even burn the skin off our tongues anymore!”

MISS McGRADY: “Never mind that, Frakey. Today’s discussion is about the importance of fresh fruit in any balanced diet, especially for growing children like yourself. What role does fruit play in your family’s nutritional infrastructure, Ronald?”

RONALD FRAKEY: “Role? Well, we have rolls every Thanksgiving. Mama hits my sister, Vicki, over the head with one o’ them Pillsbury canisters. See, Vicki’s got sort of a pointed head, like the peak of a roof or somethin’, and the doctors don’t know why, but they say her skull is prolly gonna be thick like that until she turns sixteen. Maybe. Maybe not. We just have to wait and see, you know? I sure dunno why Vicki’s head is shaped like that, but one time I overheard my Aunt Betty say it was ’cause Vicki’s real daddy is some fella what goes by the name of ‘Jack Daniels.’ Now, I dunno if I ever met nobody named ‘Jack Daniels.’ Maybe. Maybe not. But Mama says, ‘Hell, if the girl’s head is gonna be thick as a butcher-block until she’s thirty she might as well make herself useful.” So she clubs her with that Pillsbury can every Thanksgiving and Vicki doesn’t even feel a thing on account of the bone thickness and out pops them rolls, like it was magic. They go real good with our pork chop, too. Uh … does that answer your question ’bout rolls, Mizz McGrady?”

MISS McGRADY: “No, Ronald Frakey. It certainly does not. Excuse me for a moment, class, while I get the small silver flask of homeopathic medicinal liquid that I keep in the bottom drawer of my desk. Don’t be alarmed. You have all seen me utilize this crucial and massage therapist-prescribed treatment on numerous occasions as I guide you to ever-greater heights of scholastic achievement. One day, many of you will also find yourselves taking advantage of cutting-edge herbal remedies to shield yourselves from the relentless horrors and unendingly dark, harrowing terrors of adult life. [Gulp. GULP.] Ah. There. That’s much better. Now, Mr. Frakey, I was not speaking of rolls that one consumes in the manner of puffed pastries and what-not. I was speaking of the role of fruit. The part that it plays in the fortifying bosom of your family’s nutritional regimen. Can you tell us the part that fruit plays in the Frakey domicile? Tell us about fruit, Ronald!”

RONALD FRAKEY: “Aw, heck, Mizz McGrady. I can tell you all ’bout that! Why didn’tcha just come right out and ask me the first time? Fruit’s great and wonderful.”

MIZZ McGRADY: “Now we’re getting somewhere. What is your favorite kind of fruit, Ronald?”

RONALD FRAKEY: “Starburst! Them pink ones. But I suppose I like the other colors just as much, too. Maybe. Maybe not. Why, I can sit down and eat a whole pack in ten minutes, I reckon.”

MIZZ McGRADY: “Mr. Frakey! Starburst is categorically not a fruit.”

RONALD FRAKEY: “Well, now. I dunno ’bout that, Mizz McGrady. It says on the TV in that fun little commercial they do: ‘Starburst fruit chews. A burst o’ refreshin’ fruit flavor for you.’ Now, if that ain’t fruit, then I’d like to know what a galldurned fruit is. I mean, they say the word ‘fruit’ twice in one song. Seems simple to me. You chew it and it bursts with flavor. Fruit flavor. TV don’t lie. They couldn’t say it twice if it weren’t true. And it ain’t just any fruit, it’s fruit for YOU.”

MIZZ McGRADY: “Ronald Frakey! I fear that your nutritional education has been sorely neglected when you consider a processed, tooth-rotting, wax-covered square of solidified corn-syrup to be a member of the FRUIT FAMILY! I can see now that I am going to have to arrange an immediate emergency conference with your mother and father!”

ma frakey

RONALD FRAKEY: “Oh, you can’t do that, Mizz McGrady. See, Daddy fell into that grinder down there to the Potted Meat factory eight years ago, and they still don’t figure they got all the pieces of him to toss in the casket, so he ain’t gonna be much help to anybody. And Mama … well, Mama don’t like to leave Boogers all by hisself in the house. He’s deaf and he’s only got one eye, see, so he tends to get confused and piss all over Mama’s National Enquirer magazines if she ain’t watchin’ him every minute, you know? Mama believes in the importance of readin’ and, you bein’ a teacher and all, Mizz McGrady, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to take my Mama away from literature. Not for one single solitary minute. Not for fruit. Maybe. Maybe not. Besides, Mama hands us all a brand new packet of the Starburst every time she makes a beer-run to the Handy-Grab, and she says to me and Vicki, she says: ‘Here now, you kids take this. This here’s a little packet of good healthy fruit. You both need some vitamins in your system this week and I’ll be damned if I’m wastin’ a food stamp on a bag o’ them overpriced oranges. Let those fools in Florida eat ’em, seein’ as they grow ’em like weeds down there! You won’t catch me peelin’ one of them things. Plus, in this Starburst pack, you get more’n one kind of fruit! See? Look here, it’s got watermelon, strawberry, orange, lemon and mango. I read somewhere in the Enquirer that mangoes is supposed to be extra good for you. Make your bowels spin like a waterwheel durin’ flood-time, mangoes will.’ So, Mizz McGrady, you can call Mama to talk about fruit all you want, but she already knows all about that sort of thing. Why, I bet she can prolly teach you a thing or two. You might even want have the Principal Hickens hire her to replace that Home Economics lady who up and quit to marry the undertaker last month. I don’t expect Mama’s lookin’ for a job, but can it hurt to ask? Maybe. Maybe not.”

MIZZ McGRADY: Class. Uh … please open your history books to the … to the … oh, well … to any chapter you want, really. I don’t care. Just read silently amongst yourselves for about half an hour. I … I need to go to the teacher’s lounge for some important … for some … for a little lie-down. Now … hey. Has anyone seen my small silver receptacle of homeopathic medication? Class? This is not amusing! CLASS! Who in Hell’s Bells swiped that flask of gin?”

desks

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DEFINITIVE QUALITY: You heard it from Ronald Frakey and rest assured that millions of satisfied children around the world sing the joyous refrain even today: “Starburst fruit chews! A burst of refreshing fruit flavor for YOU!”

BRUSH WITH GREATNESS: The glory of Starburst is exceeded only by its illustrious progeny … it’s not every candy that can give birth to a SKITTLE.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Starburst is still mesmerizing children from its place of honor atop 7-11 candy displays everywhere. Ronald Frakey has been in and out of jail since murdering Boogers the cat with a can of Pillsbury Thanksgiving rolls. Mrs. Frakey’s liver (which is all that remains of her) is preserved in a jar on a shelf at the Institute of Cirrhosis Research & Prevention in Ottawa, Ontario. Miss Marion McGrady never came back from the teacher’s lounge. Her whereabouts are unknown.

SPRUCE IT UP WITH A COCKTAIL!: Pop one of those beguiling little squares into your next Mango Margarita. It’s good, healthy fruit … and your bowels will move like a waterwheel. Trust Mama Frakey.

_______________________________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books …

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

The World of Rowan Blaize Character Profiles by Jonathan Kieran: Meet … TALTHAGAR

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.
_______________________________________

~The World of Rowan Blaize: Character Profiles~ by JONATHAN KIERAN

The realm of ancient sorcerer Rowan Blaize is one in which otherwise hidden worlds collide with (or dwell alongside) our own mortal sphere. Rowan’s existence is played-out across landscapes and dreamscapes that encompass “worlds within worlds,” providing the observant traveler ample opportunity to encounter creatures of dazzling magical qualities. Some of these beings are friendly, others are belligerent, and still others have a hard time deciding among the various options. From one universe to the next, certain things never change. Enjoy meeting the main characters of Rowan’s adventurous story in the profiles below and remember: wherever the world and whomever the wayfarer … only enchantment is immortal.

Character Name: Talthagar

*IMDb Dream-Portrayal By: Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington has just the right blend of scruff, understated snark, and heroic swagger to play sword-wielding spy, Talthagar, in an adaptation of my novel, "Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile.' He'd have to grow some serious hair, though. Are you up for it, Sam? Expect a call from your agent any day now.

Sam Worthington has just the right blend of scruff, understated snark, and heroic swagger to play sword-wielding spy, Talthagar, in an adaptation of my novel, “Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile.’ He’d have to grow some serious hair, though. Are you up for it, Sam? Expect a call from your agent any day now.

Nature/Occupation: Mortal warrior. Swordsman. Spy for Sye, King of Corydia.

Age: 27

Background: Talthagar was the son of a Lady-in-Waiting in the court of Queen Scilde, first wife of the Corydian King, Sye. Talthagar’s father was one of the King’s most valiant warriors. Taking up the example of his father, Talthagar showed unparalleled gifts as a swordsman and rose at a relatively young age to great favor in the eyes of the aging monarch. He also demonstrated exceptional skill as a spy for the royal court, moving between Kelnia (in the North) and Corydia to form ties with the Kelnian resistance movement known as the “Kashizma”.

Significant Traits: Talthagar is a ruggedly handsome man of great physical strength and mental resolve, as befitting an individual of his dangerous professional stature. No less redoubtable is his behemoth black stallion, Skull, from whom the warrior is seldom parted and with whom he enjoys an almost symbiotic relationship. Talthagar is a loner, which is probably one of the reasons he is such a capable woodsman and tracker, in addition to his other qualities. Deadpan in terms of humor and impatient in terms of disposition, the great Corydian hero is nevertheless a man of pure heart and unbreakable courage … even in the face of sorcery he can scarcely begin to combat or comprehend.

Unique Powers/Abilities: Swordfighting. Tracking. Horsemanship. Espionage. Bravery in the face of wicked witches.

Classic Quote: “If I’m out of line, you gotta tell a guy like me.”

Featured In: Book Two (Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile)

*If I am ever fortunate enough to see Rowan’s adventures adapted for film or for the stage, this is the actor (or creature) I can most readily visualize playing the character in a given profile.

_______________________________________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books …

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

Classic Retro-Kids’ TV On-the-CHEAP! MR. DRESSUP #exposed

Watch the Rowan Blaize Book Trailer HERE.

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HAZMAT-RETRO HALL OF FAME: CHILDREN’S TV ON-THE-CHEAP! by JONATHAN KIERAN

TODAY’S DUBIOUS HONOREE: MR. DRESSUP (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 1967-1996)

A single adult man who keeps a biologically unrelated little boy living in a tree in his backyard? Welcome to kids' TV from the CBC!

A single adult man who kept a biologically unrelated little boy living in a tree in his backyard? Welcome to kids’ TV from the CBC!

GUILTY OF VEHICULAR FANSLAUGHTER: Ernie Coombs (Canada’s answer to Mr. Rogers … only a lot more caffeinated and likely to bounce off the cardboard walls)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Nothing touches the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for producing tatty but creative kids’ shows that were built to last and rife with mangy-looking puppets suffering from Borderline Personality Disorders! As a bumpkin-child in the woods of upstate New York, I couldn’t wait to fill my impressionable mind with that one-of-a-kind brand of folksy Canadian Crazy that the CBC pumped into our living rooms on a daily basis via programming like The Friendly Giant and the legendary Mr. Dressup.

Mr. Dressup was probably the “King” of cheesy children’s TV, at least for youngsters in our region who depended upon the seemingly limitless pipeline of entertainment thrift utilized by producers just across the border — producers who had to stage a show with nothing but four or five Ping-Pong balls, construction paper, two asbestos oven-mits and maybe a ukulele. The brain-trusts in Toronto knew how to BRING IT! I only wish today’s bloated and shiftless TV execs could do in an hour with their $9 million budgets what Mr. Dressup’s team obviously did in 10 minutes for a few bucks and a six-pack of Carling-O’Keefe.

Mr. Dressup ran daily from 1967-1996, amassing over 4,000 episodes packed with wanton childishness. That was the whole point! Like most children’s TV programs since the days of Caesar and Cleopatra, the setting and context of the actual characters on Mr. Dressup lacked verisimilitude. Wait. Scratch that. The set-up made absolutely no freakin’ sense whatsoever. First of all, you had a loner-type adult person with no fashion-sense and no apparent prospects for marriage (Mr. Dressup) living in a tiny house crammed with semi-magical knick knacks and strange outfits that were kept in something called a “Tickle Trunk” while, out in the back yard, a child biologically unrelated to the adult lived in a tree.

Uh huh.

On the Mr. Dressup show, the treehouse-dwelling child was a freckled puppet named “Casey”. Casey looked like an unfinished Lady Elaine Fairchilde marionette stolen from the Mr. Rogers set, fitted with a blond page-boy wig and wrapped in a tea-cozy. A parade of disheveled, disoriented and equally unrelated puppet-people streamed constantly through the door of the little house to visit the adult loner and the boy he kept in the backyard tree. This highly unusual and improbable “family unit” was unexplained and therefore taken for granted by the viewing public at the time. We called it “the magic of children’s television.”

Today they call it “a particularly disturbing episode of Law and Order:SVU.”

But that’s how kids’ programming rolled in the days before unseen parents allowed their irritating real-life children to play in the park unsupervised with an obese purple dinosaur on Zoloft that taught them to chant endless verses of black magic composed by Lucifer, Lord of Hell.

In terms of plot, the Mr. Dressup show was rather formulaic and predictable, which was an attribute beneficial to a developing child’s mind, I believe. That whole dynamic has certainly changed. Mr. Dressup, ever-exuberant in his bow-tie and suspenders, would greet his friends in TV Land and prepare them for a morning of storytelling that always involved the retrieval of some indicative costume from the Tickle Trunk. The costume was usually made out of colored gauze, tinfoil and discarded candy wrappers, but we didn’t care, as kids. Sometimes, to our horror, the Tickle Trunk wouldn’t even open, forcing Mr. Dressup to actually “coochie-coo” the damn thing until it coughed-up the goods. That trunk was a coy little tramp.

Once Mr. Dressup donned the Kleenex cape or the fake beard made out of cotton yanked from a thousand Q-tips, he would tell some brief fairy tale that sent us all off to Imagination Town in our pea brains. After that it was time to head out into the backyard for a visit with Casey in the treehouse. The best part about Casey was actually his constant companion, Finnegan the Dog, who looked like an unlaundered sailor’s sock after a nine-month tour of duty. Finnegan the Dog was great because he was entirely mute. Couldn’t bark a note. Couldn’t growl. Couldn’t talk. He was the only silent creature of Irish extraction I ever saw. Mr. Dressup or Casey would talk to Finnegan or ask his opinion about something and the puppeteer would merely make Finnegan’s “mouth” move silently and he would whisper the answer in Casey’s ear. Casey would then translate/interpret Finnegan’s response. He was the original Dog-Whisperer, that Casey.

The entire, belovedly creepy Mr. Dressup crew -- l. to r. the clearly "out of it" and obviously overmedicated Aunt Bird, Alligator, Mr. Dressup, Casey, and Finnegan the Dog

The entire, belovedly creepy Mr. Dressup crew — l. to r. the clearly “out of it” and obviously overmedicated Aunt Bird, Alligator, Mr. Dressup, Casey, and Finnegan the Dog

An assortment of guests would soon follow. An alligator-puppet cleverly named “Alligator” might drop by to yammer-on about God-Knows-What and at least once a week you could count on a visit from Aunt Bird, who was the show’s requisite “dazed and confused” elderly puppet. Poor Aunt Bird never made much sense, always looked like she had possibly been mauled in an alley by Finnegan the Dog’s more aggressive canine relations, and she was a definite candidate for Lady Rogaine or whatever it is they recommend for women with unsightly bald patches. Sometimes in tow with Aunt Bird was her niece, Miss Biz, a bug-eyed specimen who was as neurotic and disconnected as Elaine Stritch. Miss Biz, with only about a dozen strands of pink, wispy boa-feathers protruding from her lumpy head as “hair” clearly inherited the Female-Pattern Baldness gene from her dizzy aunt. I always figured there must’ve been an ostrich or maybe a vulture in that follicle-challenged bird-family’s woodpile. Anyhow, after all of this pointless but riveting Goodness, Casey and Finnegan would go to sleep in the treehouse, Aunt Bird and Miss Biz would fly off to whatever sorry, hair-lined nest they called home and Mr. Dressup would conclude the show with a consultation of the Wise Old Owl, which was a framed picture of an owl that would magically come to life and open its cardboard eyes, roll them, say: “Who, who, to-wit, to-woo …” and then offer some word of encouragement to insecure children all over the world … or at least within a 150-mile radius of Toronto, Ontario.

It’s amazing how such low-budget yet creative and lovingly crafted productions had the power to mesmerize children, once upon a time. These characters became as familiar to us as friends when we were young and life was a bit simpler. It all went down not that long ago — as noted, the Mr. Dressup show racked-up 29 years of whimsical entertainment and over 4000 little episodes before the Tickle Trunk demanded a cut of the syndication profits or went on the fritz and refused to reveal its secrets for the unappreciative ADHD demographic of the burgeoning Cyber Age. That’s okay. When the asteroid hits and the Zombie Apocalypse is unleashed upon what precious little is left of civilization, we’ll all be forced to live in treehouses with pets rendered mute by radiation poisoning. I figure I’ll be one of the few who’s ready.

Thank you, Mr. Dressup.

DEFINITIVE DIALOGUE: “Three little birdies, happy and gay. Three little birdies fly away.” (Classic chart-topping Mr. Dressup lyrics)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Ernie Coombs, who played Mr. Dressup for almost 30 years on the CBC, went on to become a popular figure on the college lecture circuit, especially for generations of students who had “grown up” with the beloved children’s program. Ernie Coombs passed away in 2001. RIP, Mr. D.

Casey from the Treehouse

Perhaps scarred by a youth spent living in the backyard tree of an unrelated adult male, Casey found the transition to adulthood somewhat difficult. Between government checks and visits to his parole officer, he still finds time to audition for local children's theater and enjoys macaroni art. He lives in Winnipeg.

Perhaps scarred by a youth spent living in the backyard tree of an unrelated adult male, Casey found the transition to adulthood somewhat difficult. Between government checks and visits to his parole officer, he still finds time to audition for local children’s theater and enjoys macaroni art. He lives in Winnipeg.

The discombobulated Aunt Bird

WARNING GRAPHIC: This is a photo from the Ottawa Police Department's homicide unit, taken Thanksgiving Day 1996. It is the last known photograph of Aunt Bird. Her surviving family members refused to speak to Pop HazMat about the murder, which appears to have been related to the infamous "Savory Stuffer's" string of serial killings that terrorized Canada in the late 1990s.

WARNING GRAPHIC: This is a photo from the Ottawa Police Department’s homicide unit, taken Thanksgiving Day 1996. It is the last known photograph of Aunt Bird. Her surviving family members refused to speak to Pop HazMat about the murder, which appears to have been related to the infamous “Savory Stuffer’s” string of serial killings that terrorized Canada in the late 1990s.

Tickle Trunk

Of all the Mr. Dressup cast-members, the Tickle Trunk appears to have fared the best in private life. Tickle Trunk (pictured on the left) is now owned by Lance and Bartholomew,  a fabulous Greenwich Village couple who specialize in restoring worn-out receptacles of all shapes and sizes. "We needed a place to keep our collection of damask napkins and, well, we certainly love to tickle," said Lance. "It was really a no-brainer."

Of all the Mr. Dressup cast-members, the Tickle Trunk appears to have fared the best in private life. Tickle Trunk (pictured on the left) is now owned by Lance and Bartholomew, a fabulous Greenwich Village couple who specialize in restoring worn-out receptacles of all shapes and sizes. “We needed a place to keep our collection of damask napkins and, well, we certainly love to tickle,” said Lance. “It was really a no-brainer.”

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC: Casey and Finnegan … Classic Moments to Treasure.

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Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books …

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

The World of Rowan Blaize Character Profiles by Jonathan Kieran: Meet … Starbane Cadrach

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of the novel Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

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~The World of Rowan Blaize: Character Profiles~ by Jonathan Kieran

The realm of ancient sorcerer Rowan Blaize is one in which otherwise hidden worlds collide with (or dwell alongside) our own mortal sphere. Rowan’s existence is played-out across landscapes and dreamscapes that encompass “worlds within worlds,” providing the observant traveler ample opportunity to encounter creatures of dazzling magical qualities. Some of these beings are friendly, others are belligerent, and still others have a hard time deciding among the various options. From one universe to the next, certain things never change. Enjoy meeting the main characters of Rowan’s adventurous story in the profiles below and remember: wherever the world and whomever the wayfarer … only enchantment is immortal.

Character Name: Starbane Cadrach

*IMDb Dream-Portrayal By: Evan Peters

Okay, so maybe Evan Peters (at 26) is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth to play a 15 year-old Prince from another dimension. Never the less, Evan's ability to project a certain innocent, youthful determination onscreen would make him a "dead ringer" (pun intended) for my particular vision of the character of Starbane Cadrach.

Okay, so maybe Evan Peters (at 26) is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth to play a 15 year-old Prince from another dimension. Never the less, Evan’s ability to project a certain innocent, youthful determination onscreen would make him a “dead ringer” (pun intended) for my particular vision of the character of Starbane Cadrach.

Nature/Occupation: Mortal Prince, half-brother of Oblixta the Sorceress-Queen and rightful heir to the Throne of Kelnia.

Age: 15-16

Background: The only son born to King Adraeus and Queen Mirysta of Kelnia, Prince Starbane is rightful heir to his father’s throne, but the invasion and triumph of his traitorous witch-sister, Oblixta, finds him fleeing into a desolate winter woodland to find the sorcerer Rowan Blaize and somehow avenge the ruin of his parents as well as the loss of his own kingdom.

Significant Traits: Petulant, inexperienced and reeling from the tortures of his sister, Starbane has little skill for navigating the adventures before him as he seeks Rowan Blaize, but with each successive accomplishment his maturity —and his courage— grows more powerful.

Unique Powers/Abilities: Starbane is not a magical person, but as a prince of blood royal, he seems to possess the innate ability to draw other significant individuals to his cause. He is sometimes sarcastic, but the goodness of his heart and the strength of his nobility can never be questioned.

Classic Quote: “I don’t know if you remember me telling you, but there’s a bull ogre running around these parts. Please don’t be too surprised if I’m not keen on heading back into the trees.”

Featured In: Book Three (Rowan Blaize and the Starbane Exile) and Book Four (As-Yet-Untitled)

*If I am ever fortunate enough to see Rowan’s adventures adapted for film or for the stage, this is the actor (or creature) I can most readily visualize playing the character in a given profile.

_____________________________________________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books …

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the special $0.99 Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads

POP HAZMAT HEADLINE du JOUR: Rich Manhattan Moms Outwit the Poor at Disney World

GOODREADS MEMBERS Click Here for a Chance to Win a Giveaway Copy of Rowan Blaize and the Hand of Djin Rummy by Jonathan Kieran. The Contest runs until June 10!

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HAZMAT HEADLINE DU JOUR: Rich Manhattan Moms Hire Handicapped Tour Guides so Kids Can Cut Lines at Disney World! posted by Jonathan Kieran (via New York Post link)

The super-rich don't stand in line to ride Space Mountain, honey. The roll right on in!

The super-rich don’t stand in line to ride Space Mountain, honey. They roll right on in!

CULTURAL TOXICITY QUOTIENT: 7 (Nearing the Repulsively Cynical Level of Toxicity)

RUDIMENTARY ANALYSIS: Behold another reason to curse your wretched poverty, bemoan your status as a mere peasant and fear the passel of hyper-caffeinated offspring yanking your sweaty tee-shirt and whining, “Why do WE have to wait three hours to ride Space Mountain, Daddy? Muffy Van Rothschild’s mommy hired a man with no legs, no arms and a souped-up wheelchair and they went right inside! Can we get a cripple of our own for Christmas this year?”

Just when you thought Manhattan socialites could not be any more devious when it comes to outsmarting the rest of us plebeians and maximizing their already paramount Park Avenue-proportioned privileges, we learn from the New York Post that enterprising blue-blooded trophy wives with Jackie-O hairdos and faces like the business-end of a hatchet are wiping the floor with us at Disney World. At DISNEY WORLD, for crying out loud!

It has been discovered that you’re not really rich until you can afford to hire a wheelchair-bound Handi-Capable person (with official sticker) for $1,400-a-day to hustle your future Ivy league dropouts and blushing debutantes right over The Poors as if they were nothing but crunchy pieces of trailer-park gravel and score that first available whirling saucer. Rich mothers don’t wait in lines where they can smell the odor of inferiority rising like an invisible mist from the likes of you and me. They don’t loiter with the Great Unwashed, chatting about the price of gas while people move perhaps fourteen inches forward every thirty minutes in order to get photos of their underwhelmed children spinning around in a moribund “teacup” that hasn’t been updated or upgraded since 1956. No! They’re smarter than you are, they’re wealthier than you’ll ever dream of being, and they KNOW WHERE TO FIND THE BLACK-MARKET QUADRIPLEGICS.

EXISTENTIAL RAMIFICATIONS: Of course, now that the “Disabled Disney Tour-Concierge” subculture has been exposed, Manhattan moms will be ramping-up (no pun intended) their efforts to outwit their fellow charity-ball attendees in new and innovative ways. When genuine handicapped guides become scarce, socialites will simply start hiring Sardinian thugs to kidnap and maim people to serve as permanent “props,” as their own full-time “help”. Difficult to get a great table at a trendy Upper East Side eatery? Not anymore. Just wheel-in comatose “Aunt Cindy” on a gurney, complete with IV-drip and a nurse on standby. You’ll get that table. Rich people figure things out and they take what they want. Disney Tour-Concierge Assassins. Has a certain ring to it, don’t you agree?

TAKE-AWAY QUOTE: “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida. “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”
_________________________________________

Escape the Imminent Collapse of Civilization, Friends, if only for a few hours. A sweeping modern fairy-tale is born with the Rowan Blaize series of books …

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 might just 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.

Click here to purchase the special $0.99 Kindle e-books and watch a video of Jonathan discussing his work.
__________________________________________

Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Rowan Blaize Official Website
Goodreads