Verb Vixen

I read. I listen. I watch. I write.
Wednesday, February 19
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I really love this. Yes please. Want.

(Source: digitalash)


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I’ve read too many books to believe what I am told
— (via concreaterose)

Tags:   #quotes #books


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Monday, February 17
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ebookfriendly:

Gorgeous animated literary Valentines (pictures) http://ebks.to/My1cIV

A little late but still lovely


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Wednesday, February 12
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When we assume that boys won’t read books with girls on the cover, and then institutionalize that assumption by leaving the “girlie” books out of award nominations (as well as school wide reads, story times, etc.), we insult them. By suggesting that on the whole our boys have a limited capacity for empathy, an inability to imagine a world beyond their own most obvious understanding, and an unwillingness to stretch.

In the same stroke, we neglect our girls. Not because they can’t read “boy books” (they do and will). But because when they see those awards, they also learn something —to accept a world in which they are rarely the central players. They learn, at a formative age, that the “best” books are the ones about boys.

It’s a problem. And when we play into it, when we accept it as THE TRUTH, we’re reaching for the simplest solution, not the best one. Because the best solution would require us to push against the gender bias in the world, and in ourselves. It’s easier to say, “Boys naturally gravitate to these things, and we want them to read, don’t we?” - Laurel Snyder

Boys Will Be Boys, and Girls Will Be Accomodating — Open Ticket — Medium / The amazing Laurel Snyder NAILING IT with nuance and empathy and smarts. Read the whole thing. Share it. Yes. (via gwendabond)

This. SO. much.


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Saturday, February 8
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thechesterfield:

YES!  This is what made me burst into tears. OMFG. That first GIf where he…holy mary mother of all that is…..!!!!!  

I love ballet and this sequence. Breath taking.

(Source: annushka622)


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Thursday, January 23
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Devil’s Frost (Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County) by Heidi R. Kling

If this series were a movie, Devil’s Frost would be the summer action blockbuster. It has everything you want—-deadly action, sizzling romance, and lots of plot twists. The Gleaning ended with a hell of a cliffhanger and Devil’s Frost picks up right where things start getting good left off. This book is very Lily-centric and so we hear her version of events first, followed by Logan’s account. Kling nails the emotions—-the betrayal, the loss, the fear, the love, and most of all the confusion that both Lily and Logan are grappling with. There’s also a hot morally ambiguous bad boy, Jude, a frenemy to end all frenemies in Orchid, a complex parental situation, a Jafar like warlock villain, this looming tyrranical council and a major prophesy to fulfill. Not enough for you? Let’s go back to the romance then because that’s where Kling shines. I will never tire of Lily and Logan, not in eucalpytus groves, not in caves and certainly not on questing adventures in the next book.

The plot in Devil’s Frost moves quickly, the fastest of all three books so far and it ends in an interesting place. You can see the reprecussions coming like a tidal wave that will crush everything and everyone in the way. Unfortunately we have to wait for the next book to see who will be swept away.

Overall: A
Devil’s Frost is out now from Coliloquy. Get your copy here or get Books 1-3 here!

eArc provided gratis via Coliloquy.

Devil’s Frost (Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County) by Heidi R. Kling

If this series were a movie, Devil’s Frost would be the summer action blockbuster. It has everything you want—-deadly action, sizzling romance, and lots of plot twists. The Gleaning ended with a hell of a cliffhanger and Devil’s Frost picks up right where things start getting good left off. This book is very Lily-centric and so we hear her version of events first, followed by Logan’s account. Kling nails the emotions—-the betrayal, the loss, the fear, the love, and most of all the confusion that both Lily and Logan are grappling with. There’s also a hot morally ambiguous bad boy, Jude, a frenemy to end all frenemies in Orchid, a complex parental situation, a Jafar like warlock villain, this looming tyrranical council and a major prophesy to fulfill. Not enough for you? Let’s go back to the romance then because that’s where Kling shines. I will never tire of Lily and Logan, not in eucalpytus groves, not in caves and certainly not on questing adventures in the next book.

The plot in Devil’s Frost moves quickly, the fastest of all three books so far and it ends in an interesting place. You can see the reprecussions coming like a tidal wave that will crush everything and everyone in the way. Unfortunately we have to wait for the next book to see who will be swept away.

Overall: A

Devil’s Frost is out now from Coliloquy. Get your copy here or get Books 1-3 here!

eArc provided gratis via Coliloquy.

Tags:   #i read #books #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #publishing #coliloquy #kindle #witch's brew #the gleaning #heidi r kling #devil's frost #witches #warlocks #romeo and juliet



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Tuesday, December 31
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Guys. This Cover. I Die. 
1. I love the blue! It matches my summer hair.
2. There’s something sinister here, perhaps the evil red eye that whispers of the darkness that this book promises.
3. I mean, is there a better way to end a year then with a magical read? I think not.
4. Is there a better way to start a year then with a magical read? I think not.
5. I love how it’s sort of reflective of the current state of the world. When winter’s darkness descends, I want to see something reflect that desolation and despondency. I’m constantly thinking about Queen Mab and winter courts, but now perhaps I’ll think of witches who are being a bit wicked.
Anyway, this cover makes me super excited Devil’s Frost. Devil’s Frost is the third book in Heidi R. Kling’s #sexymagic series…The Spellspinners of Melas County. To celebrate the cover reveal, there’s a witchy giveaway you can enter via the rafflecopter here.
xoxo,
V.V.

Guys. This Cover. I Die. 

1. I love the blue! It matches my summer hair.

2. There’s something sinister here, perhaps the evil red eye that whispers of the darkness that this book promises.

3. I mean, is there a better way to end a year then with a magical read? I think not.

4. Is there a better way to start a year then with a magical read? I think not.

5. I love how it’s sort of reflective of the current state of the world. When winter’s darkness descends, I want to see something reflect that desolation and despondency. I’m constantly thinking about Queen Mab and winter courts, but now perhaps I’ll think of witches who are being a bit wicked.

Anyway, this cover makes me super excited Devil’s Frost. Devil’s Frost is the third book in Heidi R. Kling’s #sexymagic series…The Spellspinners of Melas County. To celebrate the cover reveal, there’s a witchy giveaway you can enter via the rafflecopter here.

xoxo,

V.V.

Tags:   #i read #books #reading #ya #young adult #ya lit #young adult fiction #coliloquy #devils frost #spellspinners of melas county #heidi r kling #sea #witch's brew #the gleaning #witches #warlocks #magic #cover reveal #giveaway



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Monday, December 30
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Tags:   #writing #write #books #ya #young adult #heroines #female protagonists #fiction


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Thursday, December 26
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Christmas is Over, Our Next Countdown is

to #SexyMagic times. Book 3 of Spellspinners of Melas County by Heidi Kling is out 1/21!


Tags:   #countdown #widget #spellspinners #book 3 #heidi r kling #coliloquy #ya #books #young adult



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Friday, December 20
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Sam Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs
Book 2 in the Samantha Sutton series is a brilliant blend of archeology, history, action, adventure, mystery, and fun. Jacobs writes compelling action, heart palpitating danger and an entwined history and present in a delightful way for any reader regardless of age. The Winter of the Warrior Queen is not merely a mystery or history, it’s a coming of age story as well, as much about a young girl finding herself and navigativing the shades of gray of life as anything else. With parents who don’t understand her, an uncle who can’t manage to keep her safe, and an archnemesis by the age of 12, Samantha has a lot to contend with.
Throughout the book there is a constant juxtaposition between civilization and nature and the interesting reversal of expectations that Jacobs presents with civilization often times being the more barberous setting. This juxtaposition is one of my favorite topics of thought so I really reveled in the experience of this book. 
And I haven’t even mentioned Boudica yet. I’m a medievalist (my masters is in medieval history and literature with an emphasis on gender) so when someone says Boudica, I practically become Pavlov’s dog hearing a bell. Immediately you have my attention. For Sam Sutton, Boudica becomes this icon —the very image of what women could be, both warrior and queen, leader and hero, rebel and last bastion of a way of life. Interestinly, she is contrasted with the masculine ways of Cambridge and it’s boy-centric anti-girl society as well as the mighty Rome (again can we talk about which is more barbaric?!). When I wrote history papers, I always used to dedicate the papers to my sisters, “that they may always have strong women to look up to.” Boudica is a strong woman and I’m glad to see her story being told to an audience who could use such an example. 
Lastly, there is this question of traditions not needing a reason. In the book, it’s an excuse for excluding women, but it poses an interesting question. What traditions, particularly at this time of year do we perform without a reason? 
I love books that make me think like this, that make me question civilization and nature and tradition. That being said, a younger me would have loved this book too. Sam Sutton is one part Nancy Drew, one part Bones, and one part Goosebumps, and I highly recommend it for readers of all ages!
Overall: A+
Get your copies of Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen today!
I’m also delighted that I got to have Jordan Jacobs on the blog to answer a quick Fast Five for us! He’s got some GREAT answers and one of my favorite christmas songs to boot!
FAST 5:

1. Favorite Word?
“Thicket.” (Could there be a more satisfying word to say?)

Least Favorite Word?
“Mealy.”  (Ugh.  It’s even unpleasant to type!)

2. Favorite Sound?
My toddler daughter’s wonderfully frequent belly laughs.

3. What profession other than author would you like to attempt?
Film director.

4.Favorite historical item?
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cuneiform tablets I saw on display at Istanbul’s Museum of the Ancient Orient. I’m a sucker for any ancient text—the more mundane the better.  What were people thinking about 3300 years ago?  Same things we do, it turns out. Taxes, petty disputes, love.  

5. If there was a theme song for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen what would it be?

I tend to listen to music when I write – especially when I edit.  Movie soundtracks work well, and so does classical guitar.  But there are some times where I need a region-specific playlist to keep the spirit of the setting in mind.
For my first book, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, it was Andean folk music. My limited knowledge of the genre made song selection easy.  But for a book set in England, how to even begin?  Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen takes place in the present and explores events that occurred two thousand years ago, giving me centuries of British music to work with: from Handel to the Stones, from the Beatles to Purcell.
What worked was a little bit of everything.
Recent British music brings me back to my time in the UK– to the college bops, society swaps, cheesy nightclubs and fun, frenetic London. But, in writing, I leaned mostly on the Anglican choral tradition - the most English of English music, at least for me. I used to love attending Evensong services at Oxford and Cambridge, and hearing that music today puts me again in those hard-backed pews.  

And as for a specific song? Modern software makes this easy, tracking the number of plays.  The winner, it seems, was Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter—an English poem set to music by an English composer.  It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s sad—the perfect theme song for the Warrior Queen’s quieter moments.
Thanks so much Jordan for stopping by! Come back anytime you’d like!
To all my lovely V.V. readers, If you haven’t heard In the Bleak Midwinter before check it out here and be sure to pick up Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen for yourself or those young readers of yours for Christmas!

Sam Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs

Book 2 in the Samantha Sutton series is a brilliant blend of archeology, history, action, adventure, mystery, and fun. Jacobs writes compelling action, heart palpitating danger and an entwined history and present in a delightful way for any reader regardless of age. The Winter of the Warrior Queen is not merely a mystery or history, it’s a coming of age story as well, as much about a young girl finding herself and navigativing the shades of gray of life as anything else. With parents who don’t understand her, an uncle who can’t manage to keep her safe, and an archnemesis by the age of 12, Samantha has a lot to contend with.

Throughout the book there is a constant juxtaposition between civilization and nature and the interesting reversal of expectations that Jacobs presents with civilization often times being the more barberous setting. This juxtaposition is one of my favorite topics of thought so I really reveled in the experience of this book. 

And I haven’t even mentioned Boudica yet. I’m a medievalist (my masters is in medieval history and literature with an emphasis on gender) so when someone says Boudica, I practically become Pavlov’s dog hearing a bell. Immediately you have my attention. For Sam Sutton, Boudica becomes this icon —the very image of what women could be, both warrior and queen, leader and hero, rebel and last bastion of a way of life. Interestinly, she is contrasted with the masculine ways of Cambridge and it’s boy-centric anti-girl society as well as the mighty Rome (again can we talk about which is more barbaric?!). When I wrote history papers, I always used to dedicate the papers to my sisters, “that they may always have strong women to look up to.” Boudica is a strong woman and I’m glad to see her story being told to an audience who could use such an example. 

Lastly, there is this question of traditions not needing a reason. In the book, it’s an excuse for excluding women, but it poses an interesting question. What traditions, particularly at this time of year do we perform without a reason? 

I love books that make me think like this, that make me question civilization and nature and tradition. That being said, a younger me would have loved this book too. Sam Sutton is one part Nancy Drew, one part Bones, and one part Goosebumps, and I highly recommend it for readers of all ages!

Overall: A+

Get your copies of Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen today!

I’m also delighted that I got to have Jordan Jacobs on the blog to answer a quick Fast Five for us! He’s got some GREAT answers and one of my favorite christmas songs to boot!

FAST 5:

1. Favorite Word?

“Thicket.” (Could there be a more satisfying word to say?)

Least Favorite Word?

“Mealy.”  (Ugh.  It’s even unpleasant to type!)

2. Favorite Sound?

My toddler daughter’s wonderfully frequent belly laughs.

3. What profession other than author would you like to attempt?

Film director.

4.Favorite historical item?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cuneiform tablets I saw on display at Istanbul’s Museum of the Ancient Orient. I’m a sucker for any ancient text—the more mundane the better.  What were people thinking about 3300 years ago?  Same things we do, it turns out. Taxes, petty disputes, love.  

5. If there was a theme song for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen what would it be?

I tend to listen to music when I write – especially when I edit.  Movie soundtracks work well, and so does classical guitar.  But there are some times where I need a region-specific playlist to keep the spirit of the setting in mind.

For my first book, Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies, it was Andean folk music. My limited knowledge of the genre made song selection easy.  But for a book set in England, how to even begin?  Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen takes place in the present and explores events that occurred two thousand years ago, giving me centuries of British music to work with: from Handel to the Stones, from the Beatles to Purcell.

What worked was a little bit of everything.

Recent British music brings me back to my time in the UK– to the college bops, society swaps, cheesy nightclubs and fun, frenetic London. But, in writing, I leaned mostly on the Anglican choral tradition - the most English of English music, at least for me. I used to love attending Evensong services at Oxford and Cambridge, and hearing that music today puts me again in those hard-backed pews.  

And as for a specific song? Modern software makes this easy, tracking the number of plays.  The winner, it seems, was Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter—an English poem set to music by an English composer.  It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, and it’s sad—the perfect theme song for the Warrior Queen’s quieter moments.

Thanks so much Jordan for stopping by! Come back anytime you’d like!

To all my lovely V.V. readers, If you haven’t heard In the Bleak Midwinter before check it out here and be sure to pick up Samantha Sutton and the Labrynth of Lies and Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen for yourself or those young readers of yours for Christmas!


Tags:   #i read #middle grade #young adult #ya #books #publishing #sourcebooks #samantha sutton #mystery #history #action #adventure #archeology #the winter of the warrior queen #labrynth of lies #jordan jacobs


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Thursday, December 19
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We are extremely excited to be able to share with you the cover for Heather Lyons’ THE DEEP END OF THE SEA!! The cover alone is giving us chills! You can buy THE DEEP END OF THE SEA February 13, 2014!!     

About THE DEEP END OF THE SEA:   What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong? Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age. But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.   
About Heather Lyons: Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.    
Links: Website: http://www.heatherlyons.net
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/heatherlyons
THE DEEP END OF THE SEA Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18844839-the-deep-end-of-the-sea?ac=1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hymheather
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherlyonsbooks?fref=ts  

We are extremely excited to be able to share with you the cover for Heather Lyons’ THE DEEP END OF THE SEA!! The cover alone is giving us chills! You can buy THE DEEP END OF THE SEA February 13, 2014!!   Deep End Of The Sea - Front Cover  


About THE DEEP END OF THE SEA:   What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong? Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age. But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.   

About Heather Lyons: Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.    

Links: Website: http://www.heatherlyons.net

Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/heatherlyons

THE DEEP END OF THE SEA Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18844839-the-deep-end-of-the-sea?ac=1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hymheather

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherlyonsbooks?fref=ts  

Tags:   #i read #books #cover reveal #inkslinger pr #the deep end of the sea #mythology #heather lyons #publishing #ya


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Monday, December 16
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Love this

Love this


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Saturday, December 14
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It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing, a restlessness sometimes, but not inevitably, played out romantically, or sexually. Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it at all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment – the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims towards it, it backs away.

Louise Glück, Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (with thanks to Whiskey River)

I love Louis Glück’s poetry, especially The Wild Iris, and I think she captures something important about the creative spirit here that can be applied to all creative endeavors whether it’s art, music, literature.

(Source: litverve)

Tags:   #quotes #poetry #louise gluck #art #create #creative #make something


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Tuesday, December 10
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littlebrown:

kiyanawraps:

Christmas inspirationt Via design-dautore.com

Celebrating the holidays in bookish style.

Love this!

littlebrown:

kiyanawraps:

Christmas inspirationt Via design-dautore.com

Celebrating the holidays in bookish style.

Love this!


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Thursday, December 5
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I’m so excited to bring you the cover and a sneak peek at Geoff Herbach’s new book, Fat Boys vs The Cheerleader! It’s not just a war against the “in-crowd,” it’s a revolution! It’s going to be an awesome read! Check out the exercept below and pre-order your copy here!xoxo
V.V.
Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
by Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks Fire
MEMORANDUM
From: Henry P. Rodriguez, Attorney at Law
Submitted To: Seventh District Court, Otter County
Re: Case No. 1745321—Gardener et al v. MLA Independent School District
SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 15, GABRIEL JOHNSON, A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD FROM MINNEKOTA, MN, WAS APPREHENDED OUTSIDE CUB FOODS BY OFFICER REX McCOY. JOHNSON POSSESSED $17.75 IN SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE, WHICH HE CONFIRMED HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE VENDING MACHINE AT MINNEKOTA LAKE AREA HIGH SCHOOL.
POLICE SUGGESTED THE ALLEGED ROBBERY WAS RELATED TO A LARGER CONFLICT INVOLVING ASSAULT, VANDALISM, AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER THAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SPUNK RIVER WAR.
THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT IS GABRIEL’S VERBATIM ACCOUNT, RECORDED IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT THE MINNEKOTA POLICE DEPARTMENT BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 5:40 P.M. ON JUNE 16.
WE SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT AS CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE NOTED CASE. THERE IS A SPECIFIC HUMAN COST WHEN THOSE IN POWER WIELD POWER ARROGANTLY. THIS CASE SUPPORTS A TEENAGER’S FIGHT FOR DIGNITY, OPPORTUNITY, AND FAIRNESS.
Chapter 1
Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in school, because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?
Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?
I did it myself. I robbed the machine all by myself.
There were sheep in the school this morning? Real sheep?
How—? Oh, wait, I remember now. I must’ve let them in there by accident. Whoops. Like, left the door open after I robbed the machine and all those sheep wandered in by themselves.
No, it’s not funny, sir. Really.
I’m telling you, I’m the one who stole the money. It was eighteen dollars, but I lost a quarter when Officer McCoy roughed me up. Look at my chin! I have scrapes all over my stomach and knees, too.
That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop! It all started with that stupid…
Yeah I hate that machine! For so many reasons.
For instance, in May, me, Justin Cornell and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. The study was Camille’s idea, because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year (they grew like two tomatoes and a one giant zucchini—they’re not the best farmers). Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for student health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.
Big, bad study, sir. Mr. Luken, our Health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and “others” (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.
Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.
This pop project was eye-opening, sir.
After school that day, me, Camille and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.
“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.
“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.
“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.
“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.
“Oh Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.
Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.
Justin shook his head, sucked his latte and was all like, “Whoa.”
Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”
I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories, by the way.
Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for second rounds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple, fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you, but not make you fat on the calories.
What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?
I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.
“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”
“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.
“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.
“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.
Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell-ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).
I knew it, too, knew pop was part of my issue. But, see, I also thought it was part of my success! I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.
No. Stupid.
The truth is, I’ve gained a load of weight in the last couple of years. Kids call me fat ass, sausages, fudge balls, butter balls, cake balls, lard ass, 8 Butt Johnson. All kinds of names. I laugh and go along with it, but those names hurt my feelings.
Even my stupid gym teacher calls me names!
The day after our pop study, I was depressed, so it took me a long time to get to school, so I was late to gym class, so Mr. McCartney ordered me to “orbit,” which means run laps. I didn’t want to get detention (McCartney had been threatening me with detention, because I make jokes and I’m quote unquote mouthy). So I did what I was told.
While I was jogging around the gym, Seth Sellers shouted, “Planet turd in orbit!”
I smiled. “Yeah, watch out, planet earth. This shit ball might crash out of the night sky!” I faked being out of control and weaved off course like I was crashing.
McCartney got pissed. “This isn’t a joke, Chunk,” he said. “This is a punishment.”
“Okay,” I said. “Sorry.” I jogged on, but when I got to the far end of the gym, Janessa Rogers, this nasty cheerleader, said, “Shake it, Chunk! Shake it!”
I puckered my lips duck-face style and started shaking my ass while I jogged.
Everybody laughed.
Everybody except McCartney. He freaked. Way out of control. His face turned dark red and sweat streamed down his forehead. He started yelling, “You wanna be a clown, Chunk? You wanna disrupt my class? Oh, you’re real hilarious!”
I stopped my ass shaking,
“God, I’m sick of it,” McCartney shouted.
I stopped jogging all together. Stared at him, because he was screaming. Everyone else stopped whacking their birds (we were in a badminton unit).
McCartney walked toward me fast. “I’m so sick of your baloney. Sick of your face.”
“My face?” I asked, because I was surprised, because I always thought McCartney sort of liked me, even if I annoyed him.
“Your fat face! Get out of my gym, you sack of shit. Get your fat ass out of here.”
Everybody stared. Everybody’s mouth hung open.
I swallowed hard. Stared at McCartney for a second. Then said, “Okay.” I put my head down and bumbled out of there as fast as my fat legs could carry me.
Terrible. Teacher verbally assaults you like that?
Hey. Why are we talking about this, Mr. Rodriguez? Shouldn’t we be talking about how…how you’re going to keep me from going to jail or something? I’m a little nervous about my crime.
The whole story, huh? Okay. You asked for it. I can talk forever.
Pop. The night after I was kicked out of gym, I pulled five empty bottles of Code Red Mountain Dew out of my backpack (there isn’t recycling at school, so I bring my empties home). One bottle didn’t have a cap on it. A little Code Red dribbled out onto my bedroom rug. It made a little stain. I squinted at it and my heart beat hard.
This stain reminded me of Doris our cleaning lady back when Dad was trying to pick up the pieces after Mom hit the road (Mom ran away to Japan while I was in eighth grade, by the way).
Doris was a tiny old lady. She spilled dirty mop water on the carpet. She said, “Better laugh than cry.” She broke a lamp when she whacked it off a side table with the duster. “Better laugh than cry.”
Poor Doris! She was terrible. She could barely lift a broom, she was so old. Dad had to fire her, which made him cry (serious sobbing breakdown, which he did a lot back then), but what was he going to do? She plugged the toilet with Clorox wipes. She broke a whole set of plates. She fell off a stool and ripped down our shower curtain. Dad had no choice. But when the taxi dropped her off at our place on the day he actually fired her, he broke down like a weak-ass baby. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I’m so sorry, Doris.”
Doris shrugged and smiled and put her coat back on. I was so nervous about how she would react. What if Doris cried about getting fired? What would we do then? But she didn’t seem to care at all. “Better laugh than cry,” she said. Then Dad drove her home.
And I exhaled. I relaxed. And I thought: Doris has it right, right? Better laugh than cry. I don’t want to be a fool sobbing mess like my dumb dad, who can’t deal with his wife leaving him (my mom left me, too, and I wanted to cry, but seriously, better laugh than cry). That became my whole way of dealing.
A couple years later, there I was, ass dancing in the high school hallway while Seth Sellers mocked me with fart sounds. Laughing all the way, man.
But I stared at that Code Red stain on my rug and my heart beat and I thought, that’s not funny. For the first time, sir, it occurred to me that my total lack of dignity is not remotely funny.
That feeling continued into the night.
Grandpa, who you met this morning, moved in with me and Dad last summer to help us out. He cooks really well and sort of cleans—better than Doris, I guess. After he got too old to be a professional body builder, Grandpa ran a diner in town and the dude can make comfort food like nobody’s business.
Yes, you heard me right, body-builder.
Why are you laughing?
Everybody in town knows about Grandpa. He was Mr. Minnesota 1977, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m serious. The ladies loved him. Grandpa was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s main competition back in the day.
That’s what he told me and I believe him.
Long story short, sir, that night Grandpa cooked up some steaks and a bunch of mushrooms in butter sauce and mashed potatoes and green beans and fixed us salads. The deal is I never ate the green beans or the salad part. I doubled up on mashed potatoes, because oh balls, yes, do I love the awesome flavor of my grandpa’s cream cheese infused mashed potatoes.
While I was sucking down the potatoes, Grandpa stared at me. He said, “Boy, the lack of roughage in your diet accounts for that big gut of yours.”
I looked up, stared back at Grandpa’s pinched face. I remembered Mr. McCartney calling me a fat ass in gym. My heart sank. My chin quivered. “Big gut?” I asked.
"You heard me," he said.
I swallowed hard, thought I might cry, because all these names… But then my Doris philosophy kicked in. I said, “I’m out of here!” I put the rest of the potatoes in my mouth—a giant wad—jumped up from my chair and ass-danced out of the dining room.
“Sure love the spuds, don’t ya, ya Chunk,” Grandpa called after me.
“Ha ha ha!” my dad laughed.
Back downstairs in my room, I stared at the stain again. What the hell is so funny? Am I really just a joke? I pictured Doris’s quivery arms and unsteady gaze and her wrinkled old face.
Then it hit me! Oh man, I thought. Crap! You’re not Doris, you idiot. 
Total realization, sir. Doris couldn’t help it that she was so old. What was she going to do? Cry about living so long she no longer had control of her body? Better laugh than cry makes sense for her. I, on the other hand, have a choice. I’m a powerful young buck. Ass dancing isn’t the only option, right?
Don’t get me wrong, sir, I like being funny. But I don’t like…
You asked for it! The whole story! This totally has to do with the pop machine.
See, I was already pretty crabby that last week of school. Because I tried to limit my Code Red intake to three bottles a day, because I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, didn’t want to just laugh it all off. I wanted to do something for myself. I’d become dependent on the sugar and caffeine in the freaking pop, okay?
 Justin and Camille both commented on my bad mood.
“Why so sad?” Justin asked while driving me to school.
“Someone hit you with the sad stick?” Camille asked during chemistry.
“Bah,” I replied to both of them. “Screw everything.”
See? I was already evolving the attitude that caused me to become the criminal I am today.
Then, Wednesday that last week of school we had the first tiny event of what has since come to be known as the Spunk River War.
What a stupid name. Spunk. That’s a bonehead name.
Sure thing, sir. Go ahead and get coffee. I’ll be here when you get back. Not like I can go anywhere.

I’m so excited to bring you the cover and a sneak peek at Geoff Herbach’s new book, Fat Boys vs The Cheerleader! It’s not just a war against the “in-crowd,” it’s a revolution! It’s going to be an awesome read! Check out the exercept below and pre-order your copy here!
xoxo

V.V.

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

by Geoff Herbach

Sourcebooks Fire

MEMORANDUM

From: Henry P. Rodriguez, Attorney at Law

Submitted To: Seventh District Court, Otter County

Re: Case No. 1745321—Gardener et al v. MLA Independent School District

SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON JUNE 15, GABRIEL JOHNSON, A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD FROM MINNEKOTA, MN, WAS APPREHENDED OUTSIDE CUB FOODS BY OFFICER REX McCOY. JOHNSON POSSESSED $17.75 IN SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE, WHICH HE CONFIRMED HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE VENDING MACHINE AT MINNEKOTA LAKE AREA HIGH SCHOOL.

POLICE SUGGESTED THE ALLEGED ROBBERY WAS RELATED TO A LARGER CONFLICT INVOLVING ASSAULT, VANDALISM, AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER THAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS THE SPUNK RIVER WAR.

THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPT IS GABRIEL’S VERBATIM ACCOUNT, RECORDED IN A CONFERENCE ROOM AT THE MINNEKOTA POLICE DEPARTMENT BETWEEN 10 A.M. AND 5:40 P.M. ON JUNE 16.

WE SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT AS CONTEXT FOR THE ABOVE NOTED CASE. THERE IS A SPECIFIC HUMAN COST WHEN THOSE IN POWER WIELD POWER ARROGANTLY. THIS CASE SUPPORTS A TEENAGER’S FIGHT FOR DIGNITY, OPPORTUNITY, AND FAIRNESS.

Chapter 1

Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn’t meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners and oddballs in school, because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?

Why are you laughing, Mr. Rodriguez?

I did it myself. I robbed the machine all by myself.

There were sheep in the school this morning? Real sheep?

How—? Oh, wait, I remember now. I must’ve let them in there by accident. Whoops. Like, left the door open after I robbed the machine and all those sheep wandered in by themselves.

No, it’s not funny, sir. Really.

I’m telling you, I’m the one who stole the money. It was eighteen dollars, but I lost a quarter when Officer McCoy roughed me up. Look at my chin! I have scrapes all over my stomach and knees, too.

That stupid pop machine. Stupid pop! It all started with that stupid…

Yeah I hate that machine! For so many reasons.

For instance, in May, me, Justin Cornell and Camille Gardener did this pop study for health class. The study was Camille’s idea, because she turned into a health nut when her dad started organic farming last year (they grew like two tomatoes and a one giant zucchini—they’re not the best farmers). Anyway, out of Camille’s concern for student health, she got us to study usage of the pop machine, her theory being that unhealthy kids would be the heaviest users.

Big, bad study, sir. Mr. Luken, our Health teacher, gave us passes to hang out in the cafeteria all day. We made a chart of jocks, brains, music geeks, gamers, burners, and “others” (sad sacks who are hard to categorize because they have no social connections to anyone) and we took note of who purchased a product from the pop machine and what specific product they purchased.

Almost nobody paid attention to us while we took notes. Only a couple said stuff like, “What are you staring at, dorks?” Seth Sellers, a jock, made fart sounds when he saw me.

This pop project was eye-opening, sir.

After school that day, me, Camille and Justin went to Bitterroot Coffee Shop down on Main Street to tally things up.

“Nick, Gamer, purchased three Pepsis in four hours,” Justin said.

“Kendra, Burner, four different pops in five hours,” Camille said.

“She’s pretty overweight,” Justin said.

“Not as big as Tiff, Other, who bought four bottles of Sierra Mist,” Camille said.

“Oh Lord Mother of all Balls,” I said.

Camille plugged the data into a spreadsheet, squinting.

Justin shook his head, sucked his latte and was all like, “Whoa.”

Then Camille sat back, sipped her green tea and was all like, “Just as I suspected.”

I smiled and said, “Holy Mother of all Balls, right?” I drank a mocha with whipped cream, which has a million calories, by the way.

Here’s the scoop, sir: Purchasers of pop at Minnekota Lake Area High School are fat asses, trailer park kids, addicted gamers, and burner chicks who eat cigarettes for breakfast. Dozens and dozens of these kids. Most of them went for second rounds later in the day. Some for thirds. A couple, fourths (me, for instance). Very few jocks purchased pop from the machine. (Seth Sellers bought one bottle of Pepsi late in the afternoon, so he was able to greet me with the aforementioned fart sounds.) Two cheerleaders purchased from the machine, but they both bought diet. That diet stuff will kill you, but not make you fat on the calories.

What does that tell you, Mr. Rodriguez?

I tried not to show my concern, but Justin and Camille were clearly concerned.

“You drink a lot of pop, Chunk,” Justin said. “Could be part of the problem,”

“Oh, is there a problem?” I said. “I wasn’t aware of a problem!” I smiled big and raised my fat mocha like I was making a toast.

“There’s a problem, Chunk,” Camille said. “A big problem.” She didn’t smile. She didn’t toast me.

“I’m just sayin’,” Justin said.

Yeah. Really. A problem. I drank a hell-ton of Code Red Mountain Dew every day—four bottles, five bottles—and the only pants that fit me were stretchy pants (elastic waistband, sir).

I knew it, too, knew pop was part of my issue. But, see, I also thought it was part of my success! I was winning by buying all that pop! All the vending machine money went to fund the band! I’m a trombone player, you know? That’s one badass, hilarious instrument, right? Trombone! Awesome instrument. I love band so much so I figured I was paying myself by drinking all that pop. Winning it huge.

No. Stupid.

The truth is, I’ve gained a load of weight in the last couple of years. Kids call me fat ass, sausages, fudge balls, butter balls, cake balls, lard ass, 8 Butt Johnson. All kinds of names. I laugh and go along with it, but those names hurt my feelings.

Even my stupid gym teacher calls me names!

The day after our pop study, I was depressed, so it took me a long time to get to school, so I was late to gym class, so Mr. McCartney ordered me to “orbit,” which means run laps. I didn’t want to get detention (McCartney had been threatening me with detention, because I make jokes and I’m quote unquote mouthy). So I did what I was told.

While I was jogging around the gym, Seth Sellers shouted, “Planet turd in orbit!”

I smiled. “Yeah, watch out, planet earth. This shit ball might crash out of the night sky!” I faked being out of control and weaved off course like I was crashing.

McCartney got pissed. “This isn’t a joke, Chunk,” he said. “This is a punishment.”

“Okay,” I said. “Sorry.” I jogged on, but when I got to the far end of the gym, Janessa Rogers, this nasty cheerleader, said, “Shake it, Chunk! Shake it!”

I puckered my lips duck-face style and started shaking my ass while I jogged.

Everybody laughed.

Everybody except McCartney. He freaked. Way out of control. His face turned dark red and sweat streamed down his forehead. He started yelling, “You wanna be a clown, Chunk? You wanna disrupt my class? Oh, you’re real hilarious!”

I stopped my ass shaking,

“God, I’m sick of it,” McCartney shouted.

I stopped jogging all together. Stared at him, because he was screaming. Everyone else stopped whacking their birds (we were in a badminton unit).

McCartney walked toward me fast. “I’m so sick of your baloney. Sick of your face.”

“My face?” I asked, because I was surprised, because I always thought McCartney sort of liked me, even if I annoyed him.

“Your fat face! Get out of my gym, you sack of shit. Get your fat ass out of here.”

Everybody stared. Everybody’s mouth hung open.

I swallowed hard. Stared at McCartney for a second. Then said, “Okay.” I put my head down and bumbled out of there as fast as my fat legs could carry me.

Terrible. Teacher verbally assaults you like that?

Hey. Why are we talking about this, Mr. Rodriguez? Shouldn’t we be talking about how…how you’re going to keep me from going to jail or something? I’m a little nervous about my crime.

The whole story, huh? Okay. You asked for it. I can talk forever.

Pop. The night after I was kicked out of gym, I pulled five empty bottles of Code Red Mountain Dew out of my backpack (there isn’t recycling at school, so I bring my empties home). One bottle didn’t have a cap on it. A little Code Red dribbled out onto my bedroom rug. It made a little stain. I squinted at it and my heart beat hard.

This stain reminded me of Doris our cleaning lady back when Dad was trying to pick up the pieces after Mom hit the road (Mom ran away to Japan while I was in eighth grade, by the way).

Doris was a tiny old lady. She spilled dirty mop water on the carpet. She said, “Better laugh than cry.” She broke a lamp when she whacked it off a side table with the duster. “Better laugh than cry.”

Poor Doris! She was terrible. She could barely lift a broom, she was so old. Dad had to fire her, which made him cry (serious sobbing breakdown, which he did a lot back then), but what was he going to do? She plugged the toilet with Clorox wipes. She broke a whole set of plates. She fell off a stool and ripped down our shower curtain. Dad had no choice. But when the taxi dropped her off at our place on the day he actually fired her, he broke down like a weak-ass baby. “I’m sorry,” he cried. “I’m so sorry, Doris.”

Doris shrugged and smiled and put her coat back on. I was so nervous about how she would react. What if Doris cried about getting fired? What would we do then? But she didn’t seem to care at all. “Better laugh than cry,” she said. Then Dad drove her home.

And I exhaled. I relaxed. And I thought: Doris has it right, right? Better laugh than cry. I don’t want to be a fool sobbing mess like my dumb dad, who can’t deal with his wife leaving him (my mom left me, too, and I wanted to cry, but seriously, better laugh than cry). That became my whole way of dealing.

A couple years later, there I was, ass dancing in the high school hallway while Seth Sellers mocked me with fart sounds. Laughing all the way, man.

But I stared at that Code Red stain on my rug and my heart beat and I thought, that’s not funny. For the first time, sir, it occurred to me that my total lack of dignity is not remotely funny.

That feeling continued into the night.

Grandpa, who you met this morning, moved in with me and Dad last summer to help us out. He cooks really well and sort of cleans—better than Doris, I guess. After he got too old to be a professional body builder, Grandpa ran a diner in town and the dude can make comfort food like nobody’s business.

Yes, you heard me right, body-builder.

Why are you laughing?

Everybody in town knows about Grandpa. He was Mr. Minnesota 1977, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m serious. The ladies loved him. Grandpa was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s main competition back in the day.

That’s what he told me and I believe him.

Long story short, sir, that night Grandpa cooked up some steaks and a bunch of mushrooms in butter sauce and mashed potatoes and green beans and fixed us salads. The deal is I never ate the green beans or the salad part. I doubled up on mashed potatoes, because oh balls, yes, do I love the awesome flavor of my grandpa’s cream cheese infused mashed potatoes.

While I was sucking down the potatoes, Grandpa stared at me. He said, “Boy, the lack of roughage in your diet accounts for that big gut of yours.”

I looked up, stared back at Grandpa’s pinched face. I remembered Mr. McCartney calling me a fat ass in gym. My heart sank. My chin quivered. “Big gut?” I asked.

"You heard me," he said.

I swallowed hard, thought I might cry, because all these names… But then my Doris philosophy kicked in. I said, “I’m out of here!” I put the rest of the potatoes in my mouth—a giant wad—jumped up from my chair and ass-danced out of the dining room.

“Sure love the spuds, don’t ya, ya Chunk,” Grandpa called after me.

“Ha ha ha!” my dad laughed.

Back downstairs in my room, I stared at the stain again. What the hell is so funny? Am I really just a joke? I pictured Doris’s quivery arms and unsteady gaze and her wrinkled old face.

Then it hit me! Oh man, I thought. Crap! You’re not Doris, you idiot.

Total realization, sir. Doris couldn’t help it that she was so old. What was she going to do? Cry about living so long she no longer had control of her body? Better laugh than cry makes sense for her. I, on the other hand, have a choice. I’m a powerful young buck. Ass dancing isn’t the only option, right?

Don’t get me wrong, sir, I like being funny. But I don’t like…

You asked for it! The whole story! This totally has to do with the pop machine.

See, I was already pretty crabby that last week of school. Because I tried to limit my Code Red intake to three bottles a day, because I didn’t want to be a victim anymore, didn’t want to just laugh it all off. I wanted to do something for myself. I’d become dependent on the sugar and caffeine in the freaking pop, okay?

 Justin and Camille both commented on my bad mood.

“Why so sad?” Justin asked while driving me to school.

“Someone hit you with the sad stick?” Camille asked during chemistry.

“Bah,” I replied to both of them. “Screw everything.”

See? I was already evolving the attitude that caused me to become the criminal I am today.

Then, Wednesday that last week of school we had the first tiny event of what has since come to be known as the Spunk River War.

What a stupid name. Spunk. That’s a bonehead name.

Sure thing, sir. Go ahead and get coffee. I’ll be here when you get back. Not like I can go anywhere.

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