The Mustache Growing Competition

Burt Reynolds is auctioning off his mustache and hundreds of other items from his film career. To celebrate this monumental event, I’m posting a chapter that was cut from Dodgeball High. It concerns a mustache growing competition between The Bandit himself and Justin Lucas, who is the book’s protagonist.

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE

I go in, and Burt Reynolds says, “Hey, there, little fella. Ha ha ha ha!”

This is so not fair! Why isn’t Principal Tug in his office? Principal offices are for principals, not guys who used to be my arch-nemesis before I met Rifkin.

“What are you even doing here, Burt Reynolds? You’re not my arch-nemesis anymore…and this is his office, so you should probably leave.”

Burt Reynolds gets out of the principal’s chair and traces the tip of his thumb across his mustache (which looks really dumb by the way). “Well, your principal called me on this here telephone. And he says, ‘Tiddlydoo, Burt Reynolds. I’ve got myself a problem. Can you pop on down to the school to give a no-good son of a bitch the beating he’s been beggin’ for ever since his momma sneezed him outta her cooch?’ So I says, ‘Ten four, good buddy,’ and beat my fastest time getting here. And then you walk through the door and I says to myself, ‘Well, if it ain’t my arch-nemesis, Justin Lucas!’ Ha ha ha!”

“You’re not my arch-nemesis anymore. You lost that honor when Principal Tug tried to get me to pull down my pants.”

“That really hurts my feelings,” Burt Reynolds says, crying like the biggest fake crier in the history of crying.

“I didn’t think it was possible for your acting to get any worse,” I say, and he stops pretending to be upset and starts being upset for realz. “So where’s Principal Tug?” I ask.

“ATTENTION STUDENTS,” blares out of the loudspeaker of doom.

Aaaaaaah! Not again!

I stick my fingers in my ears to hold back the blood.

“This is Principal Tug with another important announcement: You may have noticed that I’m not in my office. This is because I’m ALL-POWERFUL and have the ability to do my announcements from ANYWHERE in the school. Don’t bother to look for me because you shall NEVER find me. In fact, the entire planet is hearing this. Lungville has the finest loudspeaker technologies in the world. No other sovereign state can compete. And we also have the best assassins. Burt, it’s time for you to nip our country’s problem in the bud.”

Burt Reynolds rolls up his sleeves. “My pleasure, Principal Tug.” Then he tries to psych me out with his ex-arch-nemesis eyes and says, “Your ‘stache is lookin’ purty good today, hoss. Last time I saw it, it couldn’t compete against the fuzz on the side of a peach, but now it’s almost as long as one of my mama’s brussel sprouts. It’s pretty luscious for an eight year old.”

I put up my dukes. “I’m almost eighteen, stupid, and my marvelous mustache is more marvelous than Marv the Marvelous Magician…and that guy is pretty marvelous. And it’s like a trazillion times more marvelous than yours, so why don’t you shut up?”

“Give your fists a rest, son. Let’s do this like men. How about a friendly mustache growing competition?”

“That makes no sense whatsoever,” I say. “How can we grow mustaches when we already have them?”

“Simple as peach pie,” Burt Reynolds says, then he shaves off his mustache with a chainsaw.

“You’ve lost your brain! Mustaches are sacred.”

“Your turn,” he says, passing me the chainsaw.

I smash it on the floor. “I’m not shaving my mustache with a chainsaw. That’s the most retarded thing ever. By the way, your look weird as hell without a mustache.”

“Alright,” he says, “be right back.” He walks behind the principal’s desk, opens a drawer, and plops a Bic razor, shaving cream, a hand mirror, and a mug of water down onto the desk.

“Dude, I’m not shaving my ‘stache. You win the dumbass dork competition. I lost by disqualification, because I’m not a dumbass dork.”

“Huh. Always thought you were the coolest kid on the planet. Guess not.”

“Give me that razor, you motherfucker!”

He hands it to me, and I shave my mustache off. I do it perfectly since I’m great at everything that I do.

(A marvelous mustache is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s been shaved out of existence. A razor is powerless against greatness.)

“My marvelous mustache will grow back in six minutes flat,” I say.

“Mine will be larger than life and humpin’ your mama in three,” Burt Reynolds says.

We wait in silence for our mustaches to grow while making war faces at each other. After three minutes, Burt Reynold’s mustache is back. Like he never shaved it in the first place.

I feel my upper lip and it’s completely bare.

Stupid! How could I be so stupid? It took me seven years to grow my marvelous mustache. Why did I think I stood a chance against the Mustache King of the South?

Burt Reynolds hands me a samurai sword. “You know what to do.”

“No, I don’t know what to do.”

“Do the honorable thing and commit seppuku.”

“I have no idea whatsoever what you’re talking about.”

“Disembowel yourself with this here sword and save yourself from a lifetime of humiliation.”

“Disembowel?”

Burt Reynolds makes a frustrated face. “Just stick it in your belly and give it a nice wiggle.”

“Uh…okay,” I say, then I take a swing at his throat.

Blood spurts out of his neck, and he gives me a big smile. “You got me, Smokey.” Then his corpse falls onto the principal’s desk, knocking over a bronze eagle, and some sort of elevator-thing opens in the wall.

“PAY NO ATTENTION TO MY PERSONAL ELEVATOR.”

“Aaaaaaah!” I say and drop the sword.

“It just goes to my private bathroom, which I NEVER clean. You REALLY don’t want to go in there. I just had an extremely SMELLY bowel movement. WOOOO! I can smell it from my secret bunker even though it’s NOWHERE near my private bathroom. If you want to go to my secret bunker, you’ll to need to take a different secret elevator, which you will NEVER find because it’s so secret. Dear God, I think my stench is knocking me unconscious. Yes, I’m definitely unconscious. By the way, I talk in my sleep, and when I’m unconscious.”

I pick the sword back up and say, “I’ll see you up there, old man.”

 

TO READ FROM THE ACTUAL BOOK, BUY IT HERE.

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Hello, My Name is Bradley Richards

Not using a pen name from the start (for my writing) is one of my biggest regrets. The thought didn’t even cross my mind while I was writing my first novel (It Came from Below the Belt), which was about a Jewish time traveler who is trying to get back to his own time, and the only “person” who can hook him up with a time machine is his future self’s severed, sentient penis who also happens to be the reincarnation of Hitler. But the penis will only help the time traveler if he helps “him” win a high school election for class president. So, yeah, there’s no chance that the book caused problems for me when I was looking for work. Potential employers only looked at the book’s title when they googled my name, not the synopsis, right? RIGHT?

And back then, I never imagined that I would write and publish a book called Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You. Although I still don’t know what’s wrong with threatening the lives of everyone who reads the title. I mean, the book is called Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, not I Will Fucking Kill You. What’s so confusing about that? Do they think Rico Slade is a hitman who I’ve hired to kill them? It would be great if there were a mobster who was sending a copy of my book to each of his victims before he took them down (because it would mean more money for me). If so, I hope this people had the chance to read my book before they got murdered.

And I just put out my seventh book, Dodgeball High, which is my first book title that is unlikely to be perceived as offensive unless the thought of your precious child getting pummeled by dodgeballs makes you foam at the mouth. I wonder if it was a conscious choice.

Human Resources Guy: Whoa, this job applicant has some book titles that offend my delicate sensibilities, but his last one is called Dodgeball High. That pretty much negates everything that has come before. Seems like hiring material to me!

Normally work as a freelance editor, but sometimes it’s difficult to find a gig and there’s no job security, so whenever I’m between editing jobs, I look for a “real” job. And I’m never successful. Is this because potential employers are googling me? I don’t know. I seem to get called for a hell of a lot of interviews, but no one ever hires me. Although I also suck at doing interviews, so perhaps that has a bit more to do with it. And a lot of the times the interviewers tell me stuff like “Thanks for coming in. I have 30 more interviews to do, but I’ll get back to you next week.” So the competition is kind of stiff. And I’ve gotta assume that one of those 30 people is less socially awkward than I am.

In some countries, I would be imprisoned or killed for my writing. In this country, either I can’t find a steady job because of it or that’s completely not the case but I’m just really paranoid that it is. Speaking of countries that kill writers of awesome books, I wonder how those writers promote their books when they’re totally anonymous. I have enough trouble with that when I don’t have to worry about a bunch of douchebags who want to cut off my head. And I found promotion to be even more difficult when I wrote Slender Man erotica under a pen name and sold it for Kindle. Perhaps the most taboo/best written books just rise to the top in those countries through word of mouth.

Want to be an author? Then you can just forget about having any privacy for the rest of your life. Well, unless you use a pen name. But that’s not entirely foolproof (see: Patrick McLaw). I’m so paranoid that all my Facebook status updates aren’t visible to the public. Instead, they’re marked “Friends Only,” which has gotta be working against be when it comes to promotion. At the moment, I’m promoting a new book and I have a long-term freelance editing gig, so I’m not looking for work and I’m less concerned about who reads my Facebook posts, but it would be such a hassle for me if I made all the posts public and later had to go back and click “Friends Only” over and over again for every single post. It would be really useful if the site had a feature that made it possible to do it all with a single click.

And as far as Twitter, it’s possible to change your username. So I once changed my name to @KamikazeCohen (which is the name of a character from Dodgeball High) so potential employers wouldn’t stumble across my off-color tweets. Since then, I changed it back to my real name to use while I promote. But this time I’m using it as a gimmick account called Dodgeball Facts (which is listed above @BradleySands). Maybe I’ll get a pass with human resources departments because it’s themed.

So has possibly ruining my life been worth it? There’s some days when I don’t think so since my books only make a few bucks here and there. While on other days, I think of myself as an artist whose voice cannot even be silenced by poverty. But this all could have been avoided with a pen name. Or perhaps if I hadn’t used book titles that I thought would grab people’s attention. Sometimes I think about changing my last name, but I don’t know how helpful that would be because it seems like most job applications ask you to list any names that you used in the past. If I were to change my name, I would be Bradley Richards (because I want to join the Fantastic Four).

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Dodgeball High

My new novel, Dodgeball High, was just published by Eraserhead Press.

It was two years in the making and my first book since 2012. I think it’s my best. I know everyone says that about their new book, but I put a lot of hard work into it and I’m very proud of it. It’s about a teenager who starts at a new high school, where he is surprised to discover that EVERY SINGLE class is devoted to learning about dodgeball. He then participates in the deadliest dodgeball tournament ever.

On the dodgeball court, EVERYONE can hear you scream.

Justin Lucas just started at a new high school, but there are no classes in really important stuff like English literature, mathematics, science, or history. Instead, the entire curriculum is dedicated to playing dodgeball. Justin is…perplexed. Where are the pencils and textbooks? Why are there so many explosives strapped to the balls? And what’s up with the barbed wire? Does the school administration really think it’s appropriate to wrap the balls in barbed wire?

Dodgeball High does not seem like a safe environment for a young man. But his classmates don’t care. They kinda remind him of junior Mafia dons, little serial killers, and pint-sized dictators from third world countries. And they are all really good at dodgeball (and the shedding of their classmates’ blood), while Justin totally sucks. And to make matters worse, Justin’s parents are like…total dicks. They won’t let him go to a different school because they think he’s full of crap about this “dodgeball nonsense.” Not to mention that Dodie Manson, the greatest player in the school, has a gigantic crush on Justin. And whoever Dodie wants, Dodie gets, and her BFs have a habit of experiencing intense pleasure prior to their “mysterious” decapitations.

Does Justin have what it takes to survive and make it to the top of his class before graduation? Or will he be eliminated permanently? Read Dodgeball High to find out, but watch out for the ball that’s coming at your head!

Order it here.

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Seeking Submissions for How to Win at Ultravision: A Strategy Guide for Video Games That Don’t Exist

I will be editing a multi-author anthology called How to Win at Ultravision: A Strategy Guide for Video Games That Don’t Exist. Eraserhead Press will be publishing it. The book is inspired by Jeff Rovin’s How to Win at Nintendo Games and Jorge Luis Borges’ reviews of books that don’t exist.

Submissions are now open. I am looking for mini-strategy guides for games of your own invention. They must be in the range of 1000 words to 5000 words long. Text only. Payment is $10 and a contributor’s copy.

Email submissions to bradleysands@gmail.com.

Here are some links to examples:

A page from How to Win at Nintendo Games

From The Ultimate Game Guide to Life

A piece written by Albie about a game that doesn’t exist (I recommend cutting and pasting it into a MS Word document because it’s otherwise a bit difficult to read)

Here is part of my pitch for the book. Perhaps it will inspire some of you:

I’m extremely fond of fiction when they’re told in different forms. The earliest example that I can think of is Jorge Luis Borges reviewing books that didn’t exist. This gave him the opportunity to write about a book that he was passionate about without having to devote months or perhaps years to writing them. He was also a prankster, so he would publish the reviews and pretend that the books existed.

A more recent example of telling a story in a different form is in Stephen Graham Jones’ Demon Theory and The Last Final Girl, where Stephen tells stories in the form of screenplays even though they’re intended to be read as novels.

I’ve also done this sort of thing myself. I wrote a story that’s a screenplay for a Rico Slade movie (inspired by my novella) and a story told in the format of a comic script about two giant monsters who are having a tiff about their relationship (while they are destroying the city). In each case, the script’s fictional author is the main character rather than any of the characters that they are “writing” about.

If someone were to actually make a movie using my Rico Slade screenplay, it would be awful. I feel as if telling stories in different forms like this works best when the “fictional” intended product would be a complete failure if it were actually made according to the script without any alterations.

The thing that excites me the most about stories told in different forms is reading a story that has never been told this way before. It’s new and unique even when it’s based on a preexisting form. I see it as continuing the legacy of Borges in the modern era.

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A Talking Eyeball Walks into a Bar: An Introduction to Writing Bizarro Fiction

I’m teaching an online class for Lit Demon, which is a new site.

Course begins June 7th, 3pm CST (spans 3 consecutive Sundays)

Includes 3 live webinars, 2 critiqued assignments, and instruction materials.

In this workshop you will learn to write high-concept bizarro while concentrating on the absurd and the surreal. You will discover what “high concept” means and learn what appeals to bizarro readers. We will study the differences between bizarro and traditional fiction, as well as their similarities. We will discuss characters in bizarro (particular protagonists), settings, and the relationships between characters and settings. You will be taught to use traditional plot structures in untraditional stories. We will speak about conflict and what protagonists do to solve the problems they face. Do they do this differently than protagonists in other genres? If so, how?

By the time you finish the workshop, you will be able to write a bizarro story that will delight and totally weird out your readers.

TESTIMONIAL

“I would not be published today if it weren’t for Bradley. As a guest teacher in a bizarro workshop, he picked me out and asked for more, and asked for better. He was constantly challenging me to push further and in a short time helped me chisel my writing abilities to a finer point. Bradley was able to not only see gaps in my writings, but was able to push me toward interesting solutions to fill those gaps, not just create bridges. He doesn’t push his own style on you, but helps you realize your own. A fantastic teacher and editor all around.” – Andy de Fonseca, author of The Cheat Code for God Mode

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Currently Seeking Editing Clients

Go here for more information.

Below is a testimonial from a client of mine named Bryanna Plog.  I edited her memoir about teaching in Colombia (Misspelled Paradise: A Year in a Reinvented Colombia). It’s available now from Amazon.

——

Bradley edited my manuscript with both a critical editor’s pen and reader’s eye and the improvement of my book because of his edits cannot be overstated. The feedback was critical but not harsh and exactly what my manuscript needed. I especially appreciated how Bradley was able to tighten up my writing, had many suggestions on how to make sentences and sections clearer for readers, and explained his edits throughout. Though my book, which is a humorous travel narrative, was outside Bradley’s typical genres, his edits preserved my voice and the tone of the book.

I appreciated that Bradley kept me abreast of how the editing was progressing as he went through the manuscript and completed his edits within his promised timeframe. Bradley was also great about explaining his edits when I was confused or disagreed, answering any question I had, and even was kind enough to give me feedback on titles and formatting decisions when I asked.

I highly recommend Bradley to any writer who has completed a book and is ready to take the next step of having an editor clarify the writing, give critical feedback, and make that draft into a manuscript you can be proud of. Bradley’s quality of work, pricing, and communication with you as an author make him stand out as an excellent editor for books of all genres.

– Bryanna Plog, author of Misspelled Paradise: A Year in a Reinvented Colombia

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Eraserhead Press’s New Bizarro Author Series 2013

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because typos are embarrassing (and embarrassment causes my head to explode).

It was my privilege to edit this year’s New Bizarro Author Series for the first time. I worked on 3 out of the 7 books. I want to write a little about each book and author.

The Cheat Code for God Mode by Andy de Fonseca

The book is about two friends who discover a video game that controls reality (it’s also about a whole lot more).

I met Andy when she took an online writing workshop that I taught with author Garrett Cook. Her writing really impressed me. I like to do a fight scene exercise since I’m easily bored by them (so I ask my students to write one that is extremely entertaining and unique). Andy wrote about a monk who decides to practice pandamancy (using magic to bring pandas back from the dead) and the terrible consequences that happen as a result of it. Her scene was the reason why I contacted her about writing a book.

Babes in Gangland by Bix Skahill

The book is about a gangster who gets murdered and is reincarnated as a baby. Of course, he remembers everything about his past life, so he wants to track down whoever killed him and get revenge.

When I asked Bix for an author bio, he sent this back: “Bix Skahill is.”

I responded with something like “Uh…are you sure?” He didn’t respond back to my question (at least I don’t think he did), so I just went with it. I suppose he’s a mystery. He’s also assured me that Bix Skahill is his real name. I know that he was in Fargo. I think Steve Buscemi shot him in the face, but I don’t know for sure. He also wrote and directed a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and Johnny Knoxville. I think Johnny Knoxville’s character was dead throughout most of it. He also wrote a movie starring Steve Zahn and was in another movie playing the part of “The Most Important Man in Film.” Maybe that’s the secret end to his author bio: “Bio Skahill is the most important man in film.”

8-Bit Apocalypse by Amanda Billings

The book is about Atari games like Space Invaders and Centipede coming alive and attacking Denver. Amanda was the perfect person to write it because she’s really into classic video games and goes to things like Donkey Kong tournaments. The writing is sort of like a cross between Tao Lin and Cormac McCarthy, but with content of a bizarro fiction nature. If you’ve seen the movie King of Kong, Amanda has met people like Walter Day, Billy Mitchell, and Steve Weibe. Here’s a photo of her with Billy Mitchell:

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