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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Update and Muckwhip Exerpt

Been a while. But that should be good news, right? Very busy.

Yeah, I know. Any mention of a project OTHER than Tennis Shoes Vol. 12: Thorns of Glory makes my fans go nuts. But Thorn of Glory is a MONSTER work (and hopefully my MASTERwork)! And I got bills. I have to publish something this summer. BE COMFORTED! Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul was written more than a decade ago. I'm just polishing it off and prepping it, initially, for release as a Kindle download. Next as a hardcopy and audio. Yes, that does take time. But only minimal, and I remain committed to work on Vol. 12 everyday. The story in Thorns, by the way, is breathtaking (so far!). I'd love to reveal some of the more surprising twists, but then I'd have kill everyone. Which would be far too complex. Better just keep it all under wraps. I'm sure I'll discuss more of this in the near future.

Anyway, I always loved the Muckwhip project, but even a dozen years ago, my publisher turned a bit pale at the concept. A devil mentoring a novice devil on the best methods of destroying a Latter-day Saint??? REAL devils are no laughing matter. That's why I stick with fiction and symbolism, much in the same tradition as C.S. Lewis, Milton, and others. Thus, my collection of emails (I actually call them "h-mails") between these two twisted fiends is packed with satire and humor. Here's the opening of one h-mail:

Dear Frogknot,

I infer from your last communiquĂ© that you are of the conviction that we are pathetically lacking in employment incentives. Therefore I am presently offering an all-expense paid vacation to Nott Berry Fun—Hell’s recently inaugurated amusement park, sort of a devil's answer to Disneyland. As of yet there are no attractions, but plenty of lines...

Times have hopefully changed in the last decade--or so I hope. The adversary's success abounds, sometimes to our mystification. And so the point of this project--as with ALL my projects---is to inspire, enlighten and entertain. If that's your sincere object, I believe the Spirit is always present. Here's a full h-mail:

From: Muckwhip the Unmerciful 
To: frogknot the naif
Subject: trifecta


I received your initial bi-weekly report, and I must say that your overuse of servile phrases like “extraordinary skillset,” “wicked wit,” and “lofty intelligence," in describing my attributes are little more than vain and opprobrious attempts at kissing up. It reminded me of the tail-waggings of an abused puppy. In short, I liked it very much.

As you have asked my opinion regarding “the most advantageous angles of attack” upon a Mormon teenager, I affably offer my standard threefold retort: social insecurity, the itch for independence, and boredom. Actually, these are formidable fronts for enfeebling any adolescent, but there are certain subtleties that will make them especially effective against your Target.

First, regarding social insecurity, are you aware that Mr. Hansen is an absolute sucker for public opinion? Like all youth, he swallows upwards of everything that he is ever told about himself—particularly by his peers. At this crossroads of his carefree life he is a salivating slave to fad, fashion, and female foppery. Oh, he may fancy himself an independent illuminato—and should ever be enthusiastically encouraged to see himself as such—but in actuality at no other period is he more paranoid of his actions or utterances. He cringes at the classification of being “uncool” (or its fashionable synonyms). This he will glibly deny, but we are not so gullible. Tragically oversensitive and effortlessly offended, he will adjust to virtually any variance in that oh-so-overblown quest to “belong.” Of course, some young subjects will seek refuge within their families to circumvent such tripe, but not your Target. Thanks to the contention we've long cultivated in that environment, his “home” is the last place he seeks to inhabit, and the setting wherein he feels the least security. Your object, therefore, is to entangle him in just the right cliques and introduce him to a host of unctuously sycophantic friends—i.e., allies for our cause—collaborators who can convince him that any practiced virtue is positively boring--moreover embarrasing. The Organization itself must be viewed as uncool, uncollected, and uncouth. Or in more incisive terms: prejudiced, parochial, and asphyxiating. It's leaders are imbeciles. It's programs propped in place to pester. Hypocrites are ubiquitous. If you can bait him to embrace even one of these perspectives, cinching your mission's objectives will be all the more elementary.

Better yet, such efforts neatly segue into his second vulnerability—the impulse for independence. Ah, but this is a fertile arena for fostering advantage! Your Target is predisposed to wean himself not only from the influence of parents, but from all adults. He believes he is an adult, with all the stature and status this label implies. Milk this to its maximum advantage. Let him believe it. Buttress it. Ennoble it. Let anyone who opposes his self-proclaimed post-pubescence find themselves highlighted at the apex of his black list. He must be persuaded to impugn or impeach every precept he’s ever swallowed. This, in and of itself, is not precisely our objective, because often the ideas he questions are his own quixotic conclusions and wobbly worldviews. No, no, these we must encase in concrete. Whenever a young Target internalizes hostility or disgruntlement about the circumstances wherein life has placed them, we are infinitely freer to entice him with our more infatuating philosophies.

Finally, exploit Mr. Hansen’s incurable tendency toward boredom. This is the ad nauseam lament of all teenagers. Oh, how they wail and whine! Throughout their mortal probation they have held fast the opinion that it was the inflexible obligation of others—parents, pedagogues, and every other pulchritudinous personality—to entertain them. From infancy they've sought out fresh and unique stimulations to keep them enthralled. Now in the bloom of adolescence your Target is starting to inquire, “Is this it? Is there nothing more to mortality? Just pain and complexity? Loneliness and laundry?” Your answer is resoundingly “yes!” A gazillion times “YES!” In past eras, of course, we haven’t had the luxury of guiding such groveling self-indulgence. Most parents kept their nippers occupied by a solid day’s work. It was a matter of survival. But now is an age of affluence. Your Target is now as malodorously spoiled as summer compost. I assure you, however, he views the situation exactly the opposite, and this is outstanding. Persist in letting the world fall short of his expectations. Persevere in letting him secern deep disappointment in people and principles. Drive him absolutely berserk with boredom! Then strike with the obvious solution—SIN. And only the most delicious varieties. This, he will discover—with all the curiosity of a kitten with a ball of yarn—is his only unexplored enclave of stimulation. Through attrition, you will convince him that without it, he may even shrivel up and die. Oh, how I delight in observing this evolution! It’s so fundamental. So academic. So enthralling I generally request popcorn. 

Focus upon these three stratagems as your staging area for every sortie. Make it your alternating trifecta of assault. If human history and histrionics teaches us anything, young Mr. Hansen will find himself thoroughly helpless. You’ll have a smorgasbord of succulent temptations at your fingertips. Do not neglect a single hors-d'oeuvre!
Your Malignant Masterchef,


  1. This is going to be good. Can't wait for the next Tennis Shoes, but this will be great to hold me over until the real dinner. Wink, wink!

  2. I've been wondering for AGES why you never published the Muckwhip book. Thanks for the heads up that it'll come out soon!

  3. I'm looking forward to reading more!

  4. Looks like it has some great material, are these devils related to Screwtape and Wormwood? I do love the focus for LDS youth. I'll definitely have to pick this up for me and my kids.

  5. I enjoy this snippet of what you are currently working on. The command that you seem to have of the prose you write is phenomenal. I might just have to read it with a dictionary by my side.

    Chris Babcock

  6. I thouroughly enjoyed reading that taste of your ode to the Screwtape letters.
    The vocabulary you use sounds just like C.S. Lewis. What a fun book this is going to be. Thanks for posting this sample.