/>

/>

/>

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weird Crime: Supernatural Road Trip to Walmart




Panama City, Florida

In the early morning hours of June 24, 2014, employees of an area Walmart called police to report that a vehicle was awkwardly moving through their parking lot. This normally wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary (especially at a Walmart in Florida), but in this summertime instance, the vehicle was school bus.

When police arrived on the scene, they pulled up behind the bus and turned on their emergency lights. To their amazement, a 12-year-old kid named Michael Wade Propst exited the vehicle. He quickly explained to the officers that the driver was actually a man named 'Constantine' and they were just stopping for gas.


...along with some cigarettes...and maybe few mystical artifacts.


After that story didn't hold up, the boy finally admitted to stealing the bus, which he found at a bus driver's home 14 miles away (with the keys still inside it). Security footage from the bus also showed that the kid was a pro at driving the thing...except for the $2,000 worth of damage he caused during his trip.

Michael Wade Propst was arrested and charged with grand theft over $100,000 and felony criminal mischief. He was taken to the department of Juvenile Justice for processing. When his mother was contacted by the police, she asked them to talk to her son because "she was not having any impact on him."



Hopefully, his time in juvie includes
lots of important life lessons...and a haircut.



Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a kid bored during the summer decides to read a book instead of steal a school bus.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Weird Crime: Shoot Me Once, Shame On Me




Port Charlotte, Florida

To say that Florida resident Peter James Bonfiglio has a checkered past would be a gross understatement.

- In 2005, Peter was arrested for making threats against the life of then President George W. Bush. Then in 2006, the 19-year-old was busted for manufacturing false secret service credentials...including one that bore the likeness of the very agent who arrested him.



- 2008 saw Peter losing the sideburns while gaining an arrest for larceny.


- In 2009, Peter went from making threats to actually carrying them out. After a three hour standoff with police, he threw a lit bottle at a police cruiser and pointed a gun at them. The standoff resulted in him getting shot and arrested.

- In 2011, Peter brings back the sideburns while getting in trouble with the feds again




...twice.



In 2013, he was busted for violating his parole while operating a comb over.



His most recent arrests, however, may actually be the most absurd of them all. In 2013, Peter called police to report that someone hiding in the woods had shot him. The shooter turned out to be him.

The on June 18, 2014, Peter decided to try his luck at deceiving the police again. This time, he claimed that a woman he knew and a man he didn't had robbed jewelry from him at gunpoint before shooting him in the foot.

When the police interviewed the woman, however, she was able to show them text messages proving that Peter had actually approached her about buying jewelry from her. They also found the cab driver who drove the woman over to Peter's home, who confirmed that she went there by herself (and should really be more careful about who she visits alone).

As if all that wasn't bad enough, the woman also said that Peter's foot was already shot/injured when she got there. Once again, the old "shoot yourself and call the police to blame it on someone else" trick had failed.

Peter Bonfiglio was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. There were probably some other things they could've/should've tacked on as well (probation violation, illegal possession of a firearm, etc), but the mugshot below might show why they didn't.


Holy hell...I'm not saying I've aged all that well, but the change from 19 to 27 for Peter is like something from a really bad (or particularly bad) episode of Cold Case.

Either the police just felt bad for him or they've given up charging him with stuff. But the fact that he somehow keeps getting access to guns is yet another reason that The Bugs Bunny plan for Florida looks like a better idea every day.





Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 


To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, Florida gets a little bit closer to breaking free of the southeastern United States.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Not in My Write Mind: Rumble in The Writer's Arena, Part 3



'Not In My Write Mind' features trials and tales from my quest to go from a mediocre writer to a published mediocre writer. Please feel free to share in my struggle and laugh at my pain.



As my day in the Human Echoes Podcast Writer's Arena edges closer, I have finally begun to construct my story. There are a few key elements, both large and small, that will go into creating my masterpiece and/or polishing this turd.

Let's start with the small stuff, first:

1. Coffee and isolation

I tend to write a lot at Starbucks. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a douchey walking cliche, but they do have great coffee. They also provide a place where I can shut off the rest of the world without feeling badly about it.

When I write at home, I tend to shut out my wonderful wife Karen and our three very needy dogs. I can get very prickly when Karen dares to do such things as ask me how my day was or if I feel like going out for dinner. This makes me feel like a worse person than I already am. At Starbucks, however, I don't mind shutting out the hipsters, weird old dudes, or other wannabe writers like myself.

2. Music

Music can be a great help for pushing you through a small creative slump. The particular effectiveness of various musical genres, however, tends to vary greatly from person to person (I came up with the idea for my current story when 'California Love' by 2pac came up on Pandora, for what it's worth).

The two main sources of 'writing music' I like most are:

-Two Steps from Hell. Composers of incredibly epic orchestral music that you have probably heard in a million different movie trailers. Below is one of my favorites.



- Sam Cardon, specifically his work on the movie The Work and the Glory: American Zion. It's a pro-Mormon movie about Joseph Smith...so yeah, not something I expected to ever watch or enjoy. But a student of mine had a role in it and their family asked me to attend the premiere with them.

Not only was the film surprisingly good, but the quick track below caught my attention and led me to listen to more of Cardon's work.





Now onto the big stuff:

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a HUGE fan of author Chuck Wendig. Not only do I absolutely love his work, but he is constantly dispensing valuable writing advice in various books, his Twitter account, and his blog, Terribleminds.com.

I don't consider myself a good writer yet, but do think that I suck a whole lot less than I used to thanks to much of Wendig's indirect tutelage. When I'm not reading one of his excellent, urban fantasy novels, I am often reading his advice on how to continue improving my craft through disciplined methods rather than just 'trying harder.'

In essence, Chuck Wendig is my writing Yoda.




















"Excuses for not finishing your work, you must stop making."


There's lots of his advice I'll be using (along with various other tools of the trade), but here are two of my favorite nuggets of Wendig Wisdom:

1. A theme

 Your work must have a theme. I know that seems simple, but you'd be surprised how much stuff we watch or read doesn't have any real theme at all. It's just a bunch of actions scenes smashed together. If you want your writing to be something that people actually remember, it needs to have a primary message or idea behind plot and characters. It can be subtle or at the very forefront of the story. It can develop as you work on the tale or it can be your starting point. But it absolutely must be there.

Reaching the end of the universe (which is the story prompt for this battle in The Writer's Arena) is rife with good thematic material, so that shouldn't be a problem.

2. Question-driven plotting.

Your story should constantly have the reader asking 'And then what happened?' as they move from scene to scene. The 'end of the universe' presents a small problem since it's 'the end' and all, but I think I'll be able to manage it.

There's lots more good stuff to learn from Mr. Wendig (especially on character creation), but all this talk about writing stories has me actually wanting to...you know...write a story. Go check out his words of wisdom for yourself; you'll thank me when you're done in a few months.

As for me, it's time to crank up the music and get this story crackin'.


...while hoping that this man doesn't 
kill me for my horrible MS Paint skills.


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, I get one step closer to breaking down and purchasing Photoshop.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Weird Crime: Paying By Lobster...How Does That Work?




Deland, Florida

Around 2:00 PM on June 11, 2014, 30-year-old Nichole Reed attempted a daring heist. She entered a nearby Publix grocery store, went back to the seafood section, and proceeded to shove 7 lobster tails (valued at $11.99 a piece) down the front of her pants.

I refer to her theft as "daring" because she did it in full view of Publix employees and Publix security cameras...which gives us the chance to watch the crime (and marvel at an over-sized pair of jean shorts) in the embedded video below.




Reed walked out of the store without paying, prompting the Publix loss prevention officer to bravely charge towards a telephone and call the police. ALLEGEDLY, his description of her somehow led officers to Nichole Reed's home, where the loss prevention officer positively identified Nichole as the lobster looter. My guess, however, is that she already had a bit of a reputations in the area from her six prior arrests.

At least Nichole was honest, though. She immediately confessed to the crime, explaining to the police that she'd intended to trade the lobster tails for dilauded (prescription painkillers) or food from a Chinese buffet.

It's at this point that the story really throws me for a loop. I can almost understand someone trading delicious seafood for drugs. But just how shady is a Chinese restaurant that will exchange all the General Tso's chicken you can eat for stolen lobster tails? I mean, seriously...how does that deal even get set up in first place? 

And by the way, Nichole...YOU'VE GOT (or had) FREAKING LOBSTER TAILS! Boil some water and skip the MSG-pedaling middleman.

The whole incident had gone from desperate to downright weird, so I began looking for more information about Nichole. I eventually found her Facebook page, where Nichole lists her occupation as 'eating them' at The Dark Carnival....which is the annual gathering of Juggalos...which actually causes all of this to make a lot more sense.

Pictured: People who would probably trade lobster tails for magnets.

Nichole Reed was arrested and charged with theft from a merchant. As of Thursday, she was still a resident of the Volusia County Branch Jail.


That's the face of a woman who definitely does not believe in miracles.


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a woman looking to score pain pills with a side of pot stickers decides to go out for seafood, instead.




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Not In My Write Mind: Rumble In the Writers Arena, Part 2



'Not In My Write Mind' features trials and tales from my quest to go from a mediocre writer to a published mediocre writer. Please feel free to share in my struggle and laugh at my pain.


Today, I began the process (again) of trying to figure out what my story for The Writer's Arena would be. As you might recall, the prompt for it read:

..this challenge asks the question, what happens when you reach the edge? What happens when you stare beyond the bounds of reality and find something else staring back at you?

To help spur me on in my pursuit of glory, I got a very artfully crafted and quasi-threatening letter in the mail from Tony Southcotte himself.




It was basically a repeating of the prompt/challenge, but this time in a physical (i.e. real) form. It's always nice to get mail, especially when its something cool like this.

Unfortunately, I still wasn't sure about what tale I was going to tell. It was time take a walk with the dogs and think things over. After about two miles, a few ideas had popped into my head...most of them terrible. The good ones, on the other hand, all appeared to have been previously taken.

Me: What if the a spaceship goes to the end of the galaxy and finds some sort of hellish dimension...or even hell itself...which causes the entire crew to go crazy?
Brain: That's basically the plot to 'Event Horizon.'

Me: Crap! Alright, what if I go in a completely different direction? Maybe it could be a comedy about some sort of bar or rest stop at the end of the universe...
Brain: Second Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book.

Me: SON OF A...okay, this might be a little out of my wheelhouse, but perhaps I should go with a bigger scope. A spaceship gets to the end of the universe and is greeted by God or some type of god-like entity. The spaceship's crew grapple with how their view an all powerful creator differs with what is before them...or if it really is a 'god' at all.
Brain: Yeah...Star Trek V and Star Trek: The Next Generation S1, E8.






Maybe my ideas aren't exactly like those, but they still felt far too derivative. It's perfectly fine to take inspiration from something, but at the end of the day, you need to tell your own story. 

I'm also struggling with the fact that the vastness of space isn't an area in which I'm very comfortable setting a story. I prefer urban and claustrophobic over contained expanse. How the heck can I tell a story about the end of the universe and still create that type of environment. I mean, I guess they could *redacted for story secrecy*. That would actually make for a pretty cool movie or book, especially if they added in *redacted for story secrecy.* Oh, and it would be so cool if *redacted for story secrecy*. Man, I would love to read that...

...wait a second. I think an idea idea just officially popped into my head. Bits a pieces from different basic/generic plot points begin to pull together with a mix of my own characters, story arc desires, and direction. I stop walking as scenes of a story I haven't read or seen before...a story I would very much like to read or see...begin to take shape inside my brain.

It's nestled there in my head now, inspired by a number of factors:

1.) Previous stories I have enjoyed and experienced.
2.) The fact that I haven't seen a story exactly like it (and if I wasn't writing it, I would really want to read it).
3.) A looming deadline.

Now for all I know, this story idea could be complete crap. That's not me trying to be graciously self-deprecating, by the way. This thing may very well suck; I've had plenty of bad ideas (and resulting stories) before. But it's my idea, gosh darn it, and I'm going to see it through.

Time to head over to Starbucks, order a venti cup of delicious liquid inspiration, and hope that the old guy who watches Youtube videos on his phone with the sound turned up finally bought a set of headphones.


Let's do this.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, I get a new story idea (which may or may not be complete rubbish).



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not In My Write Mind: Rumble In the Writers Arena, Part 1




'Not In My Write Mind' features trials and tales from my quest to go from a mediocre writer to a published mediocre writer. Please feel free to share in my struggle and laugh at my pain.



One of the many places that I send off my stories to be viciously savaged by editors is the Human Echoes Podcast. They have periodic prompts for 1,000 word stories, the winner of which will have their tale turned into a fantastic audio broadcast, published on their site, paid $10, and bask in self affirming glory.

Human Echoes also has an excellent and enjoyable podcast that people actually listen to. This means that when they offer 'exposure', people will actually read/see your work rather than what other publishers mean with the dreaded 'e-word' (i.e. getting 'exposed' to the ass end of the publishing business).

Their prompts also tend to be the type that really get me going. I love to create worlds and characters, but I often find that I need some sort of spark to get jump started into it. Maybe I'm just not good enough at coming up with things, but I prefer to think of my problem as being more in line with the illustration below by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.




That comic is pretty accurate, but Inman is comparing the creative process to regular work, while I'm comparing to the creative process to my own feeble limitations. I also don't consider creative writing to be 'soul sucking' (quite the opposite, actually) and it's definitely not easy.

But when I get cool prompts like 'What if earth was invaded by aliens in ancient times' or 'What do the monsters of our nightmares fear themselves'....or the current one, DINOPUNK DEATHMATCH!...my imagination goes into overdrive with possibilities. 



Yeah...I can work with that.


As of May 8, 2014, I had submitted to them twice...and been rejected. Both times, however, I was contacted personally and told that my story made the finals and was greatly enjoyed by their staff.

For any publishers out there, you have no idea how much a personal letter (especially one with some kind words and/or constructive criticism) can go towards lessening the sting of rejection. Look, $10 isn't a lot, but those letters made me want to submit to Human Echoes again more than some other higher paying markets that repeatedly punch my soul with form notices.

Within my second rejection letter, Tony Southcotte, the mastermind behind HEP, asked me about taking part in a new project on their site. I expressed my interest with the usual flair and professionalism that many have come to expect from me.




He gave me the pitch for The Writer's Arena, which is what this week's series of blog posts will be about. Here it is in Tony's words (read through a Darth Vader mask).

I want to offer you a consolation prize though. Something that is new, fun, and possibly right up your alley. We've been building and piloting a new competition called The Writers Arena. thewritersarena.com is now up, and though we are tweeking it and making the art, it will be chugging along here soon. We will be having a weekly head to head match to see who can make a better short story off of an unknown prompt.

You would be going up against one of the podcast crew, which is Al, Joseph, Danny, and Tony (myself). I've been impressed with your writing. I've seen your ability to hit deadlines and be persistent. You've been on the cusp of winning more times than I can even remember. I think you have what it takes for this contest.

We would give a few weeks warning, then you would have around 10 days to finish the prompt. It would be judged by our editors for the first two votes, and the third would be from the audience.

We would want you document your trials, tribulations, etc, in coming up with a story. Just a few tweets or a blog post. In the end, there would be a winner, but we want to keep it gracious and friendly.

Let me know if this is something you want to be a part of.

I said yes, of course...AND submitted what I think/hope is a great story for their 'DinoPunk DeathMatch' submission call.

A few weeks later, I was informed that I'd be going up against Joseph Devon in early June. We'd have up to 4,000 words to write a tale, which will then be voted on by the editorial team and the readers.

I've never met Joseph, but I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy. As far as this contest goes, however, I plan to smack him so hard that his momma feels it.

See the blood on your logo there, Joseph? That's gonna be yours...

Yesterday evening, I got the prompt. It reads:

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

Or, at least, so we've been led to believe. But this challenge asks the question, what happens when you reach the edge? What happens when you stare beyond the bounds of reality and find something else staring back at you?

This is a contest that came from the humble beginnings of the Human Echoes Podcast, and unfortunately we couldn't crown a winner. I've always wanted to see this one redone, and the Arena is the perfect place for it.

You have 4,000 words or less. Use them wisely!

You have until June 18th to complete this, and one edit after that due on the 23rd.

Now begins the fun part...mostly. As soon as I received the prompt, my brain began what I like to call The Writer's Dance. In this instance, the steps were as follows:

- OH, I'VE SO GOT THIS! End of the world, cosmic entities...that stuff is write up my Lovecraftian alley!

- Heh...'up my Lovecraftian alley'. That made me laugh....but come to think of it, I do use Lovecraftian elements in my stories quite a lot. Maybe I should try branching out.

- Why am I so dependent on another author's work for my world building? Maybe it's because I suck.

- No, I don't suck. I can totally come up with something fresh and original. And even if I do use Lovecraftian elements, I can still make it good.

- *Stares at the computer screen for a few minutes*

- I'm a terrible writer...maybe I'll just go see what's on Netflix or take a nap.

This violent collision of conflicting emotions and thoughts can be summed up quite nicely in the following graph:



So yeah...still not sure what I'm going to write about. But you can be darn sure that the looming deadline will spur me into squeezing something out of my brain soon.

Join me here next time as the idea for my story (hopefully) takes shape. Maybe it will still end up being something steeped Lovecraft mythos. Perhaps it will be piece that deals with the intersection of religion and science. 

Or I might just write a story about farts...who knows...


"I better get royalties for this one, earth dweller!"


Click here for Part 2


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, I get a new idea for a story...or find another show I need to catch up on with Netflix.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weird Crime: Hog Wild and Hopelessly Lost

(photo @ wikipeida)


Chuluota, Florida

In the early morning hours of May 29, 2014, 24-year-old Andrew Joffe was lost on a dark highway (on foot) and being chased by pigs. That wasn't a derogatory term for the police, by the way...he was allegedly being pursued by wild boars.

Fortunately, Andrew had a cell phone he could use to call the police for assistance. After dialing 911, officers converged on his location and presumably chased off the rampaging bacon. They also discovered that Andrew had an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

Now at this point, Andrew's decision to call the authorities while being a wanted man might still make sense. Even if Andrew wasn't actually being chased by wild animals, he was lost on a dark highway in the middle of the night. I mean sure, he had a phone, but maybe it didn't have a GPS function.

When the police officers searched his backpack, however, they found a plethora of stolen items....including a handheld GPS system.




Andrew Joffe was arrested and taken to jail in Bartow, Florida. No charges are listed, but one can assume they included theft along with being a complete dumbass.


....but at least he'll be safe from the deadly pigs of the night.


Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a stupid criminal decides to live a more kosher lifestyle.