Big moment here at Sophomore Undercover video game is officially launched. 



Man that was satisfying. 

And as an added incentive, I'm gonna throw out a little contest action. 

The Sophomore Undercover Video Game Challenge: 

Let me just start this by saying that I don't think you can clear all three levels of this game.  The difficulty of the third level is somewhere between Ninja Gaiden and arm wrestling the devil, but if by some miracle you are able to get all the little Dixies to avoid getting wedgies from any of the immaculately rendered jocks, and navigate your way through the flooded shower on the floating benches and toilet seats to the safety of the bathroom stall, well...

Well, first of all, you are insanely good at video games. 

And secondly, you have just earned yourself a prize mister. 

The first person to send some evidence of completing the third level of the video game (picture, screen capture, really well written and believable email, etc.) will get a special prize from me, Ben Esch. 

And just how special is this prize?  So special that I have no idea what it is yet.   But it will definitely be awesome. 

I'm gonna come across a little desperate during this next bit.  Just fair warning. 

Me being desperate: 

Please tell your friends about the Sophomore Undercover video game. 

End of me being desperate. 

Enjoy the game, guys.


The awesome folks at Disney-Hyperion are going to be shipping me out to Utah to hang out at the American Booksellers Association winter conference thing-a-ma-jig for the next few days. 

I've never really been to a conference before, so I don't really know what I'm supposed to do, but I got my lucky sweater packed and I'm ready to schmooze. 

So, I'm gonna try to do a running commentary from the weekend with updates and pictures and stuff...unless I get distracted by the hospitality suite or the beautiful sights in Salt Lake City. 

Anyway, I'm totally gonna write about this at some point or another. 

And while we're on the subject, does anyone have any ideas for fun things to do in Salt Lake City? 


Hey readers,

So, I had the first chapter of Sophomore Undercover up on the website a few months ago, realized I should probably ask the people who pay me whether I could do this, took the chapter down, forgot to ask the people who pay me about the chapter, some months passed, I got a haircut, thought about joining a yoga class, decided not to, and I just remembered about the chapter thing a few days ago.  

My bad. 

Anyway, the fine people at Disney-Hyperion gave their blessing, so without further ado, here is the first chapter of Sophomore Undercover.  Enjoy.


The very cool Katie Darby at the equally neat Katie Recommends is running a "write a haiku about rock stars" contest over at her blog.  I'd recommend you guys check it out and enter some poems. 

Still on the fence?  Well, here's some reasons to enter the contest anyway:

Reasons to enter the haiku contest:

1.  Contests are fun.
Just think of all the fun you guys had entering the Murph blog caption contest.  (Author's note: whoever wrote the "crap flat pennies" line deserves a hug and a handshake.  Bravo sir, bravo.)  Now, you guys can keep those good times rolling.  Just over at Katie's blog this time. 
2.  The prize is a t-shirt. 
And not just any t-shirt, but a fancy vintage-like t-shirt from the folks at
3.  Haikus are easy. 
Haiku = one line with five syllables, one line with seven syllables, one line with five syllables.  They're like the refrigerator magnet poems of ancient Japanese literature.
4.  You will be competing against me. 
That's right.  I am personally entering this contest, and any reader of that triumphs over me in the haiku contest is going to get a few special bonus prizes. 

The Bonus Prizes:

1.  My respect. 
2.  My fear. 
3.  A haiku written by me about how much better you are at writing poetry. 

But I must to warn you: I got some pretty tasty poems about Adam Duritz of Counting Crowes fame lined up and I play to win. 

Anyway, go check out the contest and good luck with your entries. 


Because the first copy of Sophomore Undercover came in the mail today. 

On the overall list of exciting things that have happened in my life, this ranks pretty high: 

Exciting things that have happened in Ben's life. 

1.   First (and only) time successfully dunking a basketball on a regulation hoop.  Don't listen to the haters; this totally happened. 
2.  Meeting (getting a hug from) the guy who played "Bubbles" on The Wire
3.   Winning the 1995 Turkey Trot at Sonora Elementary School. 

And now I get to add a new item to that distinguished list: 

4.  Seeing my book in print for the first time. 

Big ups to Jen Besser, Emily Schultz, Deborah Bass, Angus Killick, Andrew Sansone and everyone else over at Disney-Hyperion for putting together such a fine looking book.  You guys are a class act. 

Now, I'm off to go sit at a coffee shop with my copy of Sophomore Undercover and pretend-read until somebody notices me and asks what book I'm reading. 

This is awesome. 


For the record, I think that "Ong Bak" and "The Protector" are two of the most bad ass films in the history of cinema and both have considerably more flying knees to the face than "Citizen Kane" or "Chinatown." 

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard a rumor that the director of "Ong Bak" had a new movie coming out. 

About an autistic girl. 

Who is really good at kicking people in the face. 

And needs to fight the Yakuza for some reason. 

The movie is called "Chocolate" and it looks like a perfect mixture between "Rain Man," the best parts of 1980's Steven Segal movies and pure joy.  It was like the Ong Bak guy looked into my soul and decided to make me a personal gift of all of my favorite things. 

Here's the preview for "Chocolate."  If you watch this and don't immediately feel like flexing and jump kicking somebody in the head, well...I guess I just feel sorry for you. 

And just to show Tony Jaa some much deserved love, here is a six minute continuous shot from "The Protector" of him messing up like fifty dudes with Muay Thai and back flips.   Enjoy. 


Hey readers,

So, reader, blogger extraordinaire, and overall good guy Paul Michael Murphy is running a "fill in the caption" contest over at his blog. 

This looks like a really cool contest, and since he's giving away a copy of Sophomore Undercover as the prize, I really think you guys should click over and submit some entries.

Still need some convincing?  Here are some reasons that you guys should go to Paul's blog and enter the contest

1.  The prize is a copy of my book.  So, that saves you fifteen bucks right there. 

2.  This guy has a really funny blog and has been talking my book up quite a bit. 

3.  I am going to look like a real douche if nobody submits any entries to this thing. 

4.  From the quality of the comments you guys leave, I would venture to say that readers are perhaps the most clever/funny/awesome blog readers/commenters in the world and I think you guys should share that with the world.  

5.  I will owe one favor to all of you that can be redeemed at any point in the future.  Not like "pick you up at the airport" or "feed your fish when you're away" type favor, but I'll definitely do you a solid.  Cool?

Thanks guys.  And just to show that this blog writer to blog reader relationship we got going isn't a one way street, here's the Italian version of the Dinosaucer's theme song.  Enjoy. 

Author's note:  I used to be able to speak semi-fluent Italian but was only able to understand about a half dozen words in that song.  God, I'm depressed.  I never thought the Dinosaucers would bring me anything but joy.  Sigh. 


Hey readers,

You guys sent in some incredible cat jokes to help our friend D.J Fitzgerald with his book, and today I am pleased to announce the winner of the cat joke extravaganza.  Enjoy: 

Thanks to everyone for your submissions.  More contests/videos of me in sexy sweaters to be coming soon. 


Hey readers,

I offered free books, and it took a little prodding, but eventually one hundred of you responded. 

This is especially neat, since that's about ninety five more people than I thought read my blog. 

And though I'm positively giddy about the response to "Sophomore Undercover," we've run into a wee bit of a problem. 

The wee bit of a problem:  We only had a hundred books to give away. 

So, the free book promotion is closed.  If you didn't send me an email for your copy of "Sophomore Undercover," you're gonna have to wait and buy it in the store like everybody else.   Don't say i didn't warn you about this. 

I realize this is difficult news for some of you, but hopefully this video will help cheer you up: 

Author's note:  wait...the muppets were supposed to be monsters?   Was Big Bird a monster, too?  This is all very confusing to me. 

Still feeling blue? 

Author's note:  I wonder how many books I have to sell before I get asked to do a "Yo Gabba Gabba" dance cameo.  Because I would totally be into that. 

See?  The world's not such a bad place, after all. 

Now be sure and put in your advance order for "Sophomore Undercover" today so you can beat the crowds at the bookstores.  While you're at it, why not order two?  That's approximately twice as good as one.  


Hey readers,

I'm pretty sure we got all the kinks worked out on the switch to and I think that everything is working at full speed.  So, big ups to the fine technical support folks at and godaddy.  You guys are awesome. 

Now, as the title suggests, we got a lot of really exciting stuff coming up for the website.  Let me break it down: 

1.  "Sophomore Undercover" is coming out in 41 days! 

Actually that's a little more "Dear god I think I just pooped myself a little" scary than exciting, but still...the book release is going to be a pretty big moment for the website. 

2.  New videos. 

The cat joke video is getting edited by industry professionals/the LOL brother as we speak.

3.  The Dixie Nguyen video game. 

Yes, I just said the Dixie Nguyen video game.  This is really going to happen. 

Pretty cool, right?  How about a screen shot? 

I don't want to brag too much, but I'm gonna go ahead and do it anyway. 

Me bragging:  The Dixie Nguyen video game is the best promotional flash video game about a book in the history of the world. 

Yes, it's way better than the "Looking For Alaska" video game.   I feel very confident saying that. 

I think this game is awesome, and just as soon as I figure out how to post this  on my website (author's note: the internet is confusing) hopefully you guys will think it's pretty neat, too.