Charlie The Robot is out!

by Fernando J. Contreras After failing to attract the interest needed to launch the Hades United monthly publication, I decided to build a readership through a newsletter. I was fortunate to have grown a loyal audience, but eight months ago, I quit publishing because I realized that the newsletter alone was not going to help me evolve as an artist. My job demands for me to stand out and open up the sort of conversation that will help us grow, and to do [...]

King Trump!

by Fernando J. Contreras I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win easily, and the day after the election I discovered my impressions were based on the fact I hang out with a bunch of liberals. It's called 'confirmation bias': the act of surrounding yourself with only those ideas you already believe to be true. When we like only what makes us feel good and push away the rest, our worldview is distorted through a thick ideological filter. The Chinese government imposes a [...]

2016-12-09T22:35:10+00:00 Culture, Dark Humor, Essays, Newsletter|

Wrong Dylan

by Fernando J. Contreras After Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature, one of the Academy’s members compared him to Homer and Sappho. And if a prestigious representative of literature’s highest honor can establish such links without any substantiation, then why not also say that Bob Dylan is the Pepsi of Major League Baseball, or the iPhone 7 of American heroes? If you’re going to abuse standards to fit your ideology and, like a teenager, fill sentences with superlatives, then keep [...]

Nineteen Eighty Chicken – Part 3

  Dear Backer, Welcome to Draft 25! I want to start by thanking Jeff L., one of this project’s patrons, who came all the way from Wisconsin to help my wife carry her groceries outside of Whole Foods, and then kindly offered to off me, in a painless or painful way, her choice, in case she was tired of being married to me and wanted instead to lead a more plentiful life in a Wisconsin dairy farm, where, sure, winters are cold, but [...]

Nineteen Eighty Chicken – Part 2

by Fernando J. Contreras Dear Backer, Welcome to draft 18! Before continuing our story, I must use this space to address the YouTube video. I know it looks bad, but please, I didn’t know somebody planted a camera and filmed me and my wife in the privacy of our home. And well, sometimes, when we think nobody is watching, we say things that are not proper. But that doesn’t make them true. Ideas are like hand-made suits in that they both require tailoring [...]

Nineteen Eighty Chicken – Part 1

by Fernando J. Contreras Dear Backer, Welcome to Draft 14! Thanks for taking the time to submit your comments and for voting on this week’s survey. The amount of feedback has been overwhelming, and based on the new data, more changes must be made to our story. The changes are the following: When asked, What is the American Writer’s home state?, this week 61% of you said he should be from California, whereas last week 63% said Pennsylvania. So after adding these new [...]


by Fernando J. Contreras The day my father purchased a satellite dish marked the end of Mexican TV. I didn’t have to depend anymore on the six government-controlled channels, where comedy was achieved by ridiculing blacks, gays, housewives, and the uneducated poor. Sports analysts delivered a lengthy tirade of clichés while flanked by curvaceous women in bikinis and high heels whose job was to smile, hold a soccer ball, and turn to show their backsides when prompted. Drama was dispensed through soap operas, [...]

Smells of Whitney

by Fernando J. Contreras Famous Deaths, an art exhibition hosted at Montreal’s Phi Centre, immerses visitors in a sensory experience crafted around the last four minutes of life of either Whitney Houston or John F. Kennedy. Unlike most artworks, this is not the kind you orbit while you scratch your chin and adjust your turtleneck. This work cannot be experienced collectively, the way we huddle around, say, the Venus de Milo. This art installation is a coffin, and to get in you have [...]

The Wicked Machines

by Fernando J. Contreras We like to think that rationality lies behind our actions, but when it comes to night photography, logic falters. It appears to make sense: there’s not enough light, so let’s push the flash. But do you think the little light on your little camera is going to illuminate the Eiffel Tower standing across the river? Besides annoying the nearby tourists, the amateur photographer ends up capturing a spectral subject smiling in front of a huge darkness. It’s a metaphor [...]

2016-10-21T21:55:16+00:00 Art, Essays, Newsletter|

Fine Godless People

by Fernando J. Contreras The sermon of today is religion. I know, you probably already made up your mind, so why debate it? Ever since I can remember I’ve been concerned with big ideas, so it’s no surprise that I tackle them in my fiction. I address topics like aging in a society that glorifies youth, the problems with charitable work, the detriments of entertainment, the value (or lack thereof) of human life, and so on. But readers find some of my characters [...]

2016-10-21T21:55:16+00:00 Art, Essays, Newsletter|

On My Way – The Game of Thrones Issue

by Fernando J. Contreras For the past two weeks I’ve been working on a play: The Man With All The Answers (tentative title.) It’s shaping up, but I still have to figure out how far I can take it. My problem is that I don’t care much about plot, so it’s hard for me to find one. First I work on finding the subtext, the big philosophical questions I want to explore, and don’t care much if the story moves from Point A to Point B. [...]

The American Saints

by Fernando J. Contreras Faith in America, like its buildings and roads, mostly fulfills a practical purpose. The spiritual components of faith also exist, but the relationship between Americans and the supernatural, in comparison to other cultures, is very restrained. For Americans to think that the plane of reality is also populated with spirits is a thing that only happens in horror movies. In Mexico it’s very common to ask saints and virgins for all kinds of help. Even dead relatives are expected [...]

2016-10-21T21:55:16+00:00 Art, Creative, Culture, Essays, Newsletter|

The Neighborhood Meeting

by Fernando J. Contreras Recently, my wife asked me to go to a neighborhood meeting, and I said no. Then she asked why, and I told her that the part of the answer that mattered was the word “no,” that it was like asking me, Do you want to go to a Poultry Convention in Alabama? Do you want to go to a Feminist Beekeeping Seminar? Do you want to attend a course on how to do Mitt Romney impersonations? No. Why? Why [...]

The Artist and the Public.

by Fernando J. Contreras Note: Please SHARE this newsletter with a friend HERE. My mission is to gather a group of counter-mainstream thinkers and readers that believe there is a space for writing as artistic expression that confronts conventions and marks our place in the continuum. This newsletter will be published bi-weekly. I rarely receive feedback from readers, so one of the most interesting aspects of this Kickstarter campaign was to learn about the role art plays in their lives. After the campaign [...]

Pie Crust Recipe Using 88 ingredients from the 80’s

by FJ Contreras and Bobo the Dragon If you want to Thriller your guests All Night Long and take them on a Journey to Paradise City, you first have to think about preparing a crust that is Simply Irresistible, the kind that can be used for a Cherry Pie, or for something featuring the ingredients used in a Meatloaf. So the best way to go about it is to start from the Genesis and use my Madonna’s recipe. Stay away from the Red, [...]

2016-10-21T21:55:17+00:00 Fiction, Satire|

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