How Jesus Christ Helped Me Beat THE LEGEND OF ZELDA


My cousin got an NES before I did, and we used to argue all the time while playing Super Mario, Kung Fu, and that game where you were a penguin on the ice (an actual game?). I remember he was paranoid that the games would melt inside the console, and he would make me play with a shirt covering the controller in order to keep it free of bacterial contamination. I’m sure I had bizarre shit that I did, too, but who notices their own weird habits? We rarely cooperated. I even bit him once when things got really heated.


But The Legend of Zelda had a memory that kept track of your progress, so I think we had a sense that we might be able to beat this game. We got stumped on finding the raft (I think). We had no conscience (too young) so we cheated every way we could – mostly reading Nintendo Power, which told you everything. We found out we had to bomb a certain wall in a certain dungeon to get to the raft. Unfortunately, we found out the next room was full of ass-beating knights. All they did was wander around the room waiting to kill anyone looking for a raft. Time and again we got our asses handed to us. I think we even cried once. It was so unfair! We cheated so hard… how could this happen to us?!

My cousin sat before the TV with a look of determination on his face. “We’re going to do it this time,” he said. He went in the room and… now, looking back on it, I can’t imagine why we had so much trouble. The knights just ambled around, and as long as you stayed away from their front, you could hit them in the back without any problem. But as soon as he went in, we both started screaming like absolute bitches, and the knights took turns casually beating the shit out of him. He collapsed in front of the TV.


But something about his determination made me want to try one more time. I took up the remote and trekked all the way back to the dungeon. I bombed the wall and walked back into the Mouth of Hell Itself.

“God,” I whispered, “help me.”

Instead of making fun of me, like any normal kid would do, he whispered, “Please, God. Help us do this.”

“Help us get the raft, dear God,” I said.


I ran around the room barely stifling my panic. The deadly knights shuffled around, sniffing the air, their swords ready to end my life. I took a swing at one.

“God, help us!” I said.

“God in heaven!” my cousin cried. “Jesus, please, please, help us!”

I kept swinging, hitting one knight after another. “Jesus! Jesus Christ! Please, please come to our aid!”

“OH JESUS! DEAR SWEET JESUS!” my cousin cried, both hands in the air. “HELP US, JESUS! MIGHTY JESUS, GLORIOUS JESUS!”


As the fight wore on our intensity grew until we were no different from backwoods snake handlers lost in rapture, speaking in tongues, crying out to the Almighty, waving the controller like a Bible or an angelic sword of flames. If his parents had been around, even being devout Christians they would have been alarmed by what was surely an exorcism or even the final battle prophesied in Revelations. Our cries of “JESUS! JESUS! GOD! JESUS!” surely echoed throughout the cosmos. Here was power far greater than anything in Nintendo Power magazine. In that madness I ceased to be a child and became a divine agent of the will of God, my own anxieties and fear and sense of self erased as I became a vessel through which the holy ghost operated.

Sword of Gilead

And then, finally, the knights lay dead. Only I remained. The final war against evil had been won, and the raft was ours.

After that, we paused the game and ate a bunch of Fig Newtons because Voltron reruns came on in the afternoon, and we got into a big fight over which TV we should watch it on.


Years later, long after my formative years of heroic journeying, I wrote a bunch of books. They can be found HERE.

CONTRA: The Great American Novel


I just remembered something ridiculous from my childhood.

I was a little kid when the NES game Contra came out. Maybe it’s not safe to assume everyone knows about Contra… it was about two shirtless military guys who go to a remote island to shoot a bunch of alien invaders. These guys could do flips in the air, so they were pretty hot shit, even compared to “regular” special forces soldiers. I could only beat it using the “thirty lives” cheat code, but I think most people who claimed to beat Contra without using it were lying anyway.


Anyway, I tried to write a lot, even as a kid. I heard the term “Great American Novel” somewhere, and I was pretty dumb back then, so it stuck with me. Because I was really into Contra, and because I was a pretty balls-out kind of kid, I knew that Contra would make the perfect Great American Novel. So I had to do it.

I pulled a few books off the shelves and looked at them. They were freaking enormous. I started to doubt myself. Surely it was impossible for a human being to write an entire book… but I knew that I couldn’t let the guys from Contra down. They never backed down, never, even if you killed them twenty-nine times, they would still kick ass for America. I had to do the same.


I pulled out my parents’ piece of shit typewriter. I’ve never understood people who are romantic about typewriters. I spend a lot of my life getting angry at my computer, but a typewriter is even worse. It weighed as much as I did, plus I had to wind a ribbon through it that made my hands look like a coal miner’s corpse. I had to jam paper in there and nothing was ever even.

As I was messing with this awful machine, I realized I couldn’t just write down the events of the game itself. Everyone already knew that story. Plus the thing that intrigued me about the game was wondering who those guys were, why they were chosen to take down an alien invasion force without any backup, why they were capable of flipping through the air, why they wore red and blue pants rather than normal military gear, etc. So I decided that the Great American Contra Novel would have to be a prequel. Keep in mind that “prequel” wasn’t a term commonly thrown around in the 80s, so I was really being a pioneer.



I started writing. Chapter one started with… and don’t worry, I think I got only a paragraph or so into the Great American Contra Novel… it started with the guy in the blue pants sitting in an air plane. I’m assuming he had his shirt off. But a terrorist got up and started making a real shit-show out of everything. “Not on my watch,” the guy in blue pants and no shirt probably said out loud, then he stood up and walked toward the terrorist… and then… and then…

That’s about as far as I got. As stupid as this story sounds, I saw it recreated in a popular military-thriller while browsing a book store. I was in my twenties. The book opened with a military guy sitting on a plane (I think he had his shirt on in this version) when a terrorist started causing a real ruckus. The military guy was like, “Not on my watch,” and stood up. He made his way over to the terrorist… and then… and then… I quit reading.


It was pretty bad, but at least that famous writer finished his awful book. I never finished Contra: A Tale of Two Dudes (or whatever it was called). I ended up figuring out that if you slammed your entire palm onto as many keys as you could, it would make all of the metal bits of the typewriter move at once. They would get hooked on each other in mid-air and it was super fun to flip them back down. Oh man, it was great!

Who wants to write a shitty book when you got that kind of action goin’ on?!


I did end up writing some books, though. They can be found HERE. And one of them is free! Can you believe that?