For more ethereal art, visit ShadowArtFinds.
Grown-ups aren’t supposed to make Christmas lists…
Having hit middle-age, being a single dad, having a house already stuffed full of Legos, action figures, and foam swords, I’m not sure I could fit anything new between my bachelor pad’s four little walls.
But a guy can dream.
And so I shall…
A Christmas List for a Nerd-Geek-Jock-Artsy-Fartsy Dad Guy
A new Alienware Desktop Computer
My gaming days (at least my PC gaming days) are long, long dead. That said, I use my computer daily, hourly, by the minute. And to maximize time, I need max efficiency paired with high-rez graphics to support my work. My current computer is…ohhhh…roughly twelve years old. It still works, but it’s slow and clunky.
Gosh…sure would be nice to unbox this baby on Christmas morning.
To sleep…perchance to dream.
An Art Table fit for the Gods
Anymore, all I do is draw, draw, draw, and paint, paint, paint. I hunch over my kitchen counter for hours (sometimes days) on end, creating whatever comes to mind.
And ohhhhhhhhhh, my aching back. My strained neck. My forty-something bones.
An artist needs an art table. Preferably something adjustable. Preferably not two wooden crates stacked atop one another.
A Bose Bluetooth Speaker System
At my house, we don’t watch TV. Ever. No cable. No satellite. No sitcoms.
What do we do to fill the void? Music. At all times.
Now…I love my itty bitty Bluetooth sound box, but it’s a decade old and made for a much smaller space. It lacks the power to pump out heavy metal and the mid-range sharpness to make melancholy cello solos flow through the house.
This should probably be the top item on my list to Santa. Music is my god, and I’d like to worship harder.
Canon Eos Rebel T6 Camera
What’s the hardest part of being an artist? Is it learning to draw hands? Mastering the human eye? Blending abstract and realistic elements to create the perfect painting?
Nope. It’s photographing the art afterward.
I’m exaggerating, of course, but only a little. My greatest art struggles begin after a painting is finished. Seems my little compact camera never quite does the job of snapping a decent picture without subtle flaws.
Maybe I’m a crappy photographer. (Ok, probably.) But I figure an awesome camera could only help the situation.
A Case of Balvenie Scotch
Anyone who knows me knows I might have a little problem.
Anyways, artists (and dads) require lubrication now and then. Balvenie scotch is just the thing. It hits the spot without dulling the wits, and comes in a variety of flavors. With one or two glasses, the day’s worries melt away and the paint flows freely.
All I ask is that Santa mix it up and surprise me.
Thanks, Santa. It’s not too much to ask, is it?
A Viking Sword
I need it for research?
As a painting reference?
To keep my unruly fan-base out of my yard?
Whatever. It looks cool. And it’s real. And it could join the other swords on my already cluttered wall.
Klask – the Magnetic Board Game
Rather than asking me to explain, just check it out here.
Looks cool, right?
I’ll also need a friend with which to play. It’d be best if the friend wasn’t gift-wrapped.
Giant Stretched Canvasses
Small paintings are nice. Medium paintings are neat-o.
But I want BIG. I want to paint gods and goddesses so huge they eat the room in which they hang.
These are hard to find, and Santa will probably be challenged to fit them down the chimney (might want to use the garage.)
Whatever. I don’t just want these. I need them.
A Trip to the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland
Where better to worship the gods than in Valhalla?
Ok, so it’s not in Norway, but it’s still home to my favorite artist of all time.
Just look at this room and tell me you don’t want to sleep there.
Who’s coming with me?
At least 17 of these hoodies. (Because it gets cold in winter writing dark fantasy novels.)
Two sets of these things.
A Playstation 4 Pro (I’m still playing my ancient XBox 360.)
My Facebook feed to suddenly become politics-free.
Until next time,
Author, Artist, & Dad
On a blustery Tuesday morning late in November, not moments after the sun peeked over the Atlanta skyline, my seven-year old son and I hopped in the truck…
…and began our long voyage to northern Illinois.
The November chill had already conquered much of the southeast. The still-green leaves in Atlanta belied the fact temperatures had already scraped the bottom of the low-30’s barrel just one night earlier. Ill-prepared citizens hurried in hoodies and cargo shorts into their cars. Everyone had expected the usual late-year heatwave to hit.
No such luck.
It didn’t much matter to me and the G Man. With a fistful of snacks and a fully-charged Nintendo Switch, my son climbed in the backseat, buried his knees beneath a winter blanket, and settled in for the long haul without complaint. His was the best spot from which to enjoy a road-trip, and he knew it. As for me, I began our little adventure steeping in the fumes of two hours’ sleep, no dinner the night before, and a headache straight out of Hades.
No matter. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
And so we began.
Like a stone shot from a cannon, we tore up the highway.
We were flying, making great time towards…
…a huge traffic wreck just ten minutes removed from our starting point.
“Dad, what’s that?” the G Man looked up from his game.
“An upside-down tractor-trailer on fire beneath a bridge.” I stared at the awful accident.
“Oh. Neat.” G Man returned to playing Mega Man 11 (or 11-million, whichever.)
Well. I figured if he could be nonchalant about spending the next hour sitting in a huge traffic jam, so could I.
Traffic cleared. Cars moved. And after a long wait, again we flew.
- Toward Chattanooga, TN, home of the best aquarium in the south (sorry, Atlanta.)
- Toward Nashville, in whose Cracker Barrel my son proudly declared his disdain for country music
- Toward Louisville, whose skyline looked stunning in the crispy cold sunset
- In the dark toward Indianapolis, where the highways have no apparent traffic during rush hour
- Up the dark roads to Chicago, whose mighty towers were invisible behind the high walls of Hwy 80
- And finally to a little country town known as Minooka, only about ten minutes away from the very spot I was born
Twelve hours, we drove. Two pit stops. Two gas refills. One bag of Twizzlers. A giant orange Fanta. Thousands of slow cars passed in the pitch-black of the Indiana expressways.
And there we slept, in a neat, new Hampton Inn tucked away in the modest commercial heart of Minooka, IL.
Side-note: it’s only fair to mention that while I had mighty plans for the G Man and I to collide with family, friends, and entirely too much Thanksgiving food, I actually had a secret side-agenda in mind upon traveling to the north. We’ll get to that later. (This is what we call ‘a tease.’)
Day 1 Begins…
The G Man and I awoke late in the morning, feeling almost jet-lagged by the long drive. Sure, we’d gained an hour by crossing into the Central Time Zone, but who knew how exhausting sitting in the car for seven-hundred fifty miles would make us? A little spacey, a lot hungry, we jetted over to meet our much-beloved Aunt Patty for breakfast at a little diner known as The Crispy Waffle.
Ah, Aunt Patty. My favorite person in the-
But wait. What’s this? As we set off into the morning, it hit me. We weren’t in the south any longer. No, it wasn’t particularly cold. No, the wind wasn’t as vicious as we’d expected. It was something else entirely. It was the sky, slate grey forever in each direction. It was the stillness of everything, the endless fallow cornfields, the trees looking far more brittle than any southern boy could comprehend. It was…home. In the town in which I grew up (Joliet, a few minutes southwest of Chicago) entire autumns and winters passed in this cold, grey atmosphere. I took one skyward glance on our first morning, and I remembered.
At night in the Midwest, you can gaze across the fields and see lights from houses many miles away.
During late autumn afternoons, the world always feels five minutes from dusk. Whether it’s 1PM or 5PM, twilight is just around the corner.
And sometimes, if you step outside alone at night, you hear nothing. Not the wind. Nor a stray cricket. Nor the everlasting rustles of southern wildlife. You hear nothing. It’s both eerie and invigorating.
So…The Crispy Waffle. Five-thousand pancakes. Two-billion strips of bacon. Many hugs with Aunt Patty. It was G Man’s first encounter with this part of our family, and his usual shyness was absent. Our first reunion…a success. Aunts are wonderful creatures to be loved and cherished. And Aunts named Patty? Solid. Friggin’. Gold.
Our first afternoon, with bellies full of food, we drove through the cold. It seemed to get colder as the day aged. The wind picked up and the clouds gathered into great grey masses. Every moment we spent outside, I continued to recall the long days of my youth. I went back in time, so to speak.
But wait…where was I?
After our pleasant-to-the-bone breakfast, the G Man and I treated ourselves to a movie – Ralph Breaks the Internet. To be fair, it wasn’t as epic as the original. But somehow, watching a movie with a laughing, smiling seven-year old makes ALL movies good. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Despite the near-freezing temps, we next visited a park. We were the only ones outside. Absolutely, the only souls in sight. Another silent moment hit us. Even Garrett felt it, standing there in the soundless dirt, hiding from me atop a four-story high slide…he knew it. I saw him understand the difference between Atlanta and Chicago.
We left the park behind. And next came a truly heart-rending experience. See, not far from yon park lay a street – Lilac Lane. And it’s there on Lilac Lane I had once (thirty-five years ago) spent the most glorious days of my youth. I could write whole volumes of my love for that little street. (If you really want to read about it, go here.) I just had to take G Man for a drive-by, however brief, and look upon the house between whose walls I lived for many a perfect season. We drove slowly up Lilac Lane and crawled to a stop not twenty feet from the driveway I’d run up and down a thousand times.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stop and get out to look at the house. I couldn’t look upon it for longer than one fleeting moment. The G Man must’ve wondered what was wrong when I tapped the gas pedal and announced we were going back to the hotel ‘for a break.’ It was a moment…and then it was gone.
I can’t say more about that part of the trip except to note the house on Lilac Lane was once my grandparents’, both of whom are gone now, and both of whom I loved to pieces. It was a hard thing to do, stopping by for a look, and most unexpectedly it hurt.
Our first night was quite a bit less somber than the afternoon. We headed to an old, old friend’s house, the best of friends, and we sipped scotch, ate Italian food, and sat before a sizzling fireplace. At one point, my friend’s wife snatched up a glass of unattended (and powerful) 14-year scotch, and simply destroyed it. The world felt right.
And yes…it was good to be among friends again.
The plan was simple: Wake up late. Eat no breakfast. Head to Aunt Patty’s house for about ten hours of football, whiskey, laughter, and food.
And boy did we live it up. Despite the G Man waking up a bit groggy, we headed once more across the grey-shrouded lands and arrived at a house I hadn’t set foot in for decades. The G Man arrived to a box full of gifts (because that’s what family does to kids – spoil them) and I arrived to such hospitality I’d rarely experienced.
Scotch (which I love)
Mounds of turkey, dressing, buttered peas, ham-stuffed biscuits, pies, cakes, cranberry sauce…
Let’s be honest. Day 2 was a blur from which our stomachs will likely never quite recover. We were again reminded what it’s like to be among family. And while some families may war and bicker, on this day ours was at peace.
…except for that one time my uncle sucker punched me in the back of the head.
We knew as we awoke this would be our final day in the north.
And so we knew we had to enjoy it.
And yet…as I awoke, something felt off. See, long before hatching the plan to come north, I’d been thinking of a way to encounter…a girl.
Yes. A girl. My secret reason for driving so far in the cold.
A girl from the north.
A girl who happened to live in Minooka…not five minutes from our hotel.
I hadn’t told the G Man. In fact, I hadn’t told anyone. It was a long-shot from the beginning, a heart-achy plan half-baked over the course of what felt like centuries.
Even as I dressed for our third night of trouble-making, I must’ve looked distracted. Torn. Absent from thought. And yet, it so happened my plans to collide with the heartache-inducing lady completely collapsed. Died on the vine. She either didn’t want to see me…or couldn’t. This is how it went, how it always goes, and how I knew all along it would go.
But as I stood there in the hotel room, padding myself in clothes to ward off the increasing feel of Midwestern cold, I made a choice:
Have fun tonight. It’s your last night here. Be present.
And for the most part, I was.
And so, in a rare mood, we drove out to another friends’ house. It was a short journey, only minutes from our hotel.
A log cabin surrounded by fields.
A warm living room filled with laughter, bottles of wine (and juice boxes for the kids.)
Several friends I hadn’t seen in eons.
What a night it was. The finest fried chicken chef in the north stood not ten feet away, preparing buckets of chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, rolls…and more. Someone kept topping off my wine. Someone else brought me a shot of bourbon…and delivered unto the G Man a fistful of sweets.
I ate more food than I’d ever eaten in one sitting. Afterward, with a beard tainted by pumpkin pie, I visited my friend’s father’s workshop. I discussed heartbreak with the ladies. I topped off one final glass of wine. And I distributed a few small gifts to the warmest crowd the world has ever known.
Sometimes, home isn’t home because of the place. It’s the people. And for one night, I thought nothing of grey skies, fallow fields, and daydreams of romance. I sat among my life’s best companions and remembered for one small moment what it felt like to be loved.
Day 4…the trip home…
We woke early. Too early. We wanted to drive fast and make it home in time for relaxation.
And so we did, blazing back down to the south using the exact same roads we’d used just a few days earlier.
We saw giant wind farms. Empty stretches of nothing. Old barns. Older churches. And cows…lots of cows.
Notes of our return trip:
In the Deep South, especially southern Georgia, there exist billboards by the hundred. Billboards for Jesus. Billboards for the Lion’s Den (a creepy truck stop with naked girls…we think.) Billboards for peanuts, pecans, and the end of the world.
In the Midwest, the billboards are much, much fewer. And so I think the journey though the north, while not exactly stuffed with exciting views, is better for it. Because really…who needs to see one-hundred consecutive billboards regarding humanity’s descent into Hell?
A few Southern billboard examples:
Thankfully the Midwest has fewer of these.
…though I’m not exactly sure why.
And so our Midwestern adventure came to a quiet end. At 8PM Saturday night, we rolled into our familiar driveway. The leaves had browned and fallen in great number during our brief absence, and the cold had moved in.
Our cats were happy to see us.
Our house was clean and warm.
The G Man, having never once asked ‘Are we there yet’ during twenty-two hours of driving, was rewarded with a movie.
As for me, I suppose I must’ve sat quietly for nearly an hour after arriving. The Midwest was gone again, and the skies were back to their familiar southern haze. I missed the girl, but I’ll always remember the family and friends.
Perhaps we’ll go back again soon.
And maybe it won’t be as huge a culture shock to return to the land I once knew and loved.
I write plenty of stories that aren’t about cornfields, clouds, and overeating.
Find them here.
To illustrate the pain and suffering of writing blurbs (and query letters…and synopses) I’ve challenged myself to write one-sentence descriptions of ALL my books.
Here we go…
BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO – 303 STRANGERS TELL CRAZY, FUNNY, AND SCARY STORIES OF THEIR BREAKUPS.
LORDS OF THE BLACK SANDS – FIVE CENTURIES AFTER EARTH SUFFERS A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, THREE IMMORTALS VIE FOR CONTROL OF THE PLANET.
101 QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – THE ORIGINAL ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS SHORT, SIMPLE QUESTIONS WITH THE AIM OF PROVOKING THOUGHTFUL ANSWERS.
DARKNESS BETWEEN THE STARS – WHILE GAZING AT THE NIGHT SKY, THE WORLD’S LONELIEST BOY SEES THE STARS BEGIN TO DISAPPEAR.
SHADOW OF FOREVER – AFTER EARTH’S DESTRUCTION, A BROKEN MAN AND HIS AI COMPANION SEEK VENGEANCE AMONG THE STARS.
EATERS OF THE LIGHT – CALLISTA LIGHTBRINGER, A SENTIENT AI HOUSED IN A HUMAN BODY, JOURNEYS TO A DISTANT GALAXY IN ORDER TO DESTROY A RACE OF STAR-EATING SPACE VAMPIRES.
REALITY IS BEST SERVED WITH RED WINE – WHILE GULPING DOWN VARIOUS BOTTLES OF WINE, AN AUTHOR REMINISCES ON HIS CHILDHOOD, HIS DATING LIFE, AND THE STATE OF MODERN SOCIETY.
LIFE & DARK LIQUOR – WHILE SERVING HIMSELF SCOTCH AND OTHER POTENT COCKTAILS, A WRITER DWELLS IN THE DARKNESS OF HIS BASEMENT AND OPENS UP ABOUT THE SKELETONS IN HIS CLOSET.
101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PARENTS – TWO SINGLE PARENTS POSE SOMETIMES TOUGH/SOMETIMES FUNNY QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS OF ALL AGES TO CONSIDER.
THE ULTIMATE GET TO KNOW SOMEONE QUIZ – A DELIGHTFUL CRASH COURSE OF FUN QUESTIONS TO ASK SPOUSES, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS.
LYS & THE HEART STOPPER – AN IMPRISONED YOUNG GIRL ESCAPES HER BONDAGE. ALONE, SHE JOURNEYS TO FIND THE DEADLIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD, THE HEART-STOPPER, THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP HER EARN HER VENGEANCE.
NADYA THE DEATHLESS – AN IMMORTAL WOMAN DEFIES A POWERFUL ARISTOCRACY AND IGNITES AN ILL-FATED REBELLION AGAINST THE PONTIFF OF VHUR.
HOLLOW EMPIRE – NIGHT OF KNIVES – AFTER A PLAGUE WIPES OUT MOST OF A MEDIEVAL NATION’S POPULATION, FIVE LOST SOULS MUST SURVIVE THE HORRORS THAT FOLLOW.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK I – A YOUNG WOMAN LEAVES HOME TO MAKE A BETTER LIFE FOR HERSELF, ONLY TO WANDER INTO THE HEART OF A HORRIFIC, WORLD-CONSUMING WAR.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK II – A DESPERATE WOMAN FOLLOWS HER LOVER INTO A BATTLE HE CAN NEVER HOPE TO WIN.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK III – AFTER INVADING AND CRUSHING HIS RIVAL’S HOMELAND, A WAR-CRAZED EMPEROR SENDS HIS CRUELEST WARLORD TO BUTCHER THE LAST OF HIS ENEMIES.
DOWN THE DARK PATH – BOOK IV – AS A WORLD-ENDING CONFLICT REACHES ITS CLIMAX, A YOUNG WOMAN MUST CHOOSE WHETHER TO JOIN THE WINNING SIDE AND BECOME QUEEN OR SACRIFICE EVERYTHING TO BETRAY HER KIDNAPPERS.
OLD MAN OF TESSERA – THE LONE SURVIVOR OF A DEADLY STORM STUMBLES INTO THE CITY OF TESSERA, IN WHICH NOTHING AND NO ONE ARE WHAT THEY SEEM.
THE HECATOMB – A GHOULISH MONSTER AND ITS OFFSPRING STALK CITIES AT NIGHT WITH THE AIM OF KILLING EVERY LAST HUMAN IN THE WORLD.
A DOOR NEVER DREAMED OF – IN A DISTANT EARTH FUTURE, TWO YOUNG MEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN APOCALYPTIC WAR COLLIDE.
101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN – WRITTEN WITH WOMEN IN MIND BUT ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE, 101 QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN FOCUSES ON LOVE, LUST, AND THE BREAKDOWN OF TRADITIONAL GENDER ROLES.
101 QUESTIONS FOR MEN – GEARED FOR MEN, THIS ENTRY IN THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT SEX, RELATIONSHIPS, AND MUCH MORE.
101 QUESTIONS FOR MIDNIGHT – THE STAKES ARE RAISED AND THE QUESTIONS DARKER THAN EVER IN THIS FUN, ENGAGING ICE-BREAKER BOOK. PUT IT ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE AND WATCH THE CONVERSATIONS IGNITE!
THE SLEEPERS – A WEALTHY STUDENT IN A FAR-DISTANT FUTURE IS TASKED WITH DESTROYING AN ALIEN WORLD TO SAVE HUMANITY.
LET THE BODIES – A LITTLE GIRL SUFFERS ALONE WHILE EVERYONE IN HER CITY VANISHES.
101 DEEPER, DARKER QUESTIONS FOR HUMANITY – 101 TOUGH & FUN QUESTIONS TO TEST YOUR MORALITY, CHALLENGE YOUR ETHICS, AND ENTERTAIN YOUR FRIENDS.
101 SEX QUESTIONS – LOVERS AND LAUGH-SEEKERS ALIKE WILL FIND ENTERTAINMENT IN THIS SEXY SIDEKICK TO THE COFFEE TABLE PHILOSOPHY SERIES.
DARK MOON DAUGHTER – YOUNG ANDELUSIA ANDERAE IS SEDUCED BY A MESSENGER AND CONVINCED THAT HER BUDDING BLACK MAGIC IS THE KEY TO SAVING THOUSANDS OF LIVES.
NETHER KINGDOM – AT THE WORLD’S EDGE, A SORCERESS AWAKENS TO THE TERRIBLE REALIZATION THAT SHE ALONE CAN STOP AN INVASION OF OTHERWORLDLY HORRORS.
444 QUESTIONS FOR THE UNIVERSE – MEANT TO ENTERTAIN FOR HOURS, 444 QUESTIONS IS A GRAND COMPILATION OF SERIOUS YET FUN QUESTIONS.
THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG QUESTIONS – SCIENCE AND MORALITY COLLIDE IN THE ULTIMATE CONVERSATION-STARTING BOOK FOR SMART PEOPLE.
101 WAYS TO FIGHT ABOUT POLITICS – LOADED QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRATION, THE PRESIDENCY, AMERICAN CULTURE, AND OTHER HOT-TOPICS. FOR SELF-REFLECTION, READERS CAN TACKLE IT ALONE, BUT THOSE WHO PREFER HEATED DISCUSSIONS WILL WANT TO READ IT IN MIXED COMPANY.
101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE – IN THE MODERN WORLD OF SWIPING LEFT AND NEVER LOOKING BACK, 101 QUESTIONS FOR SINGLE PEOPLE ASKS READERS ABOUT EVERY FACET OF LOVE, LUST, AND HUMAN ROMANTIC CONNECTION.
MACHINA OBSCURUM – A COLLECTION OF SMALL SHADOWS – A LEPER DEDICATES HIS LIFE TO SAVING CHILDREN, A WOMAN ACCEPTS THE RAREST OF ALL MURDER CONTRACTS, A GIRL SUFFERS INSANITY IN A SPACE COLONY, A TRAIN-HOPPING DUO CROSSES THROUGH DIMENSIONS, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE…
See? Blurbs are fun, right?
There’s no better way to grab a reader’s attention than through a good, quick description.
…and no easier way to lose it with a bad one.
See you on the flip side.
19 Questions for Humanity
THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE
If revealed to you, and if they challenged everything you thought you knew, could you discard all of your previous beliefs?
IN THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND MEANINGFULNESS
Is it better to participate in the grand human social machine or seek contentment alone?
If and when scientists perfect a method to extend life indefinitely, would you take the plunge?
IN THE REALM OF CURRENT EVENTS
Beyond money, why do people choose to be Police Officers? Attorneys? Politicians?
THAT THING CALLED LOVE
Purely bio-chemical? A genuine spiritual event? Or a survival mechanism to overcome the perils of being utterly alone?
WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED ROADS
If, long from now, the world is completely mechanized, thus eliminating the need for most people to work, what will we do with our lives?
EVERYONE HAS ONE
Which one rules the roost: Opinions? Or facts?
THINK HARD ON THIS ONE
Does every single human life…have value?
A MOMENT OF OMNISCIENCE
If you could ask ONE question of the universe and have it answered utterly and completely, what would it be?
THIS ONE’S RHETORICAL
Why do so many people get so angry about politics?
NO JUDGMENTS, I PROMISE
From the following, choose the worst thing you could possibly be addicted to: Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Gambling…or TV…
UFC 666: JESUS VERSUS SUPERMAN
If you could lock any two historical figures (dead or alive) in a cage for a fight to the death, which two would you pick?
THAT SONG BY THE CLASH
A fascinating new planet is discovered far from Earth. You can journey there safely and live out your life, but it’s a one-way ticket for you and whomever you take. Do you stay or go?
STEPFORD WIVES (AND HUSBANDS)
Let’s say science perfects an absolutely lifelike robot for use as a spouse. And let’s say this beautiful, intelligent, customized-to-you robot will do anything and everything you ask. You buying one?
CONTINUING THE SHALLOW THEME
Perfect body? Perfect face? Or perfect intellect?
CRIMES AGAINST OURSELVES
Considering everything, does humanity deserve to exist?
IN THE BATTLE BETWEEN
Is there any such thing as absolute good or evil?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
You’ve built a time machine. It only goes one direction in time. Do you want to see how it all began? Or how it all will end?
AND A BONUS QUESTION (WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU IF YOU’RE A GOD, YOU SAY ____)
Pretend you’re a deity for a day. What’s the first thing you do to the world?
Want to argue about the answers? Good. Try this.
Or for something smarter, go here.
Trees. Underwater gardens. Deep, dark caves…
All paintings – J Edward Neill – 2018
View more here.
For more fantasy and sci-fi art, go here.
Take these to your next family gathering.
Or to the bar.
Or to lunch with friends.
I dare you.
7 Questions to Start a Fight Among Friends
Awesome! Malevolent! Superfluous!
Preferably in the company of at least one other person, use exactly three words to describe the current Congress (or Parliament) which exists in your country.
Up a Creek…
There’s been a terrible war overseas.
Your nation isn’t directly involved.
Two-hundred thousand refugees have fled this war.
They speak no English.
Their skill sets are unknown.
They need a place to live, or else most of them will die of starvation and disease.
What percentage of these refugees would you invite to live in your nation?
In ten words or fewer, state what you want your government to do for you.
The Right to Arm Bears
You’ve been selected by your government to create a brand-new modern-day Bill of Rights.
In this bill, you’ll decide what basic rights are legally granted to each and every citizen of your nation.
What are the first three items you’ll add to the bill?
Juggle Three Flags while Kissing a Baby
List the top five things every potential immigrant should have to know or do in order to be granted full citizenship in your nation.
For each of the items below, say the first word that comes to your mind upon reading it:
Black Lives Matter
The Wage Gauge
The national minimum-wage for full-time workers should be:
If you feel like arguing even more, go here.
If you prefer to keep the peace, go here.
For more art like this, go here.
Welcome to the All Hallows Book Sale. For the next two days I’ve decided to offer nearly ALL my books (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Coffee Table Party Philosophy) either FREE or deeply discounted.
Go here to view my entire catalog, including everything I’ve slashed for this event.
To get a feel for what I’m offering, check out some of my cover art right here:
Browser-based gaming platform CrazyGames juuuuuuuuust launched a new portal for browser video games.
And it looks friggin’ awesome.
The new portal allows independent game developers to publish browser games and grab a share of the cash. On the surface, it feels kind of like Spotify for video games. Pretty cool, right?
During October and November, all uploaded games will be enrolled in a contest organized to celebrate the launch. A panel of game experts will choose the best game and award a $2000 prize!
Also, read the big FAQ on CrazyGames dev site right here.
Get to gaming, people!
– Your friends at Tessera Guild – hub for gamers, readers, artists, and more.
For more art like this, go here.
For more artwork like this, visit here.
The massive epic Down the Dark Path (Book One in the Tyrants of the Dead series) is now available as four mini-novellas.
At 200 pages each, these new editions are lighter and easier to consume than the original epic. Plus they ship with sexy matte black covers, featuring all new art.
Now it’s easier than ever to start your journey Down the Dark Path.
For more art like this, go here.
After a long, long wait, the merger of Createspace and Amazon’s KDP softcover printing service is at hand.
It affected me greatly, moving more than 40 titles during the transfer.
I’m pleased to say the transition was smooth, efficient, and resulted in none of the disaster scenarios I feared. Yes, the switch-over is mandatory. No, it’s not the end of the world.
Rather than ramble on, here’s the full scoop from KDP’s home page. Included is the full walkthrough of how to make the switch.
I recommend not waiting. Do the switch now…and don’t let KDP do it for you.
* * *
CreateSpace and KDP to Become One Service
CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are becoming one service–making KDP the single place to publish and manage your print and digital books. To learn more about the move, see the topics below.
Before you move
See our list of tips for preparing your CreateSpace account for the move to KDP.
How to move
In a few weeks, we’ll automatically move all accounts to KDP. If you’d like to get a head start, you can move your entire catalog yourself in a few steps. To ensure a quality experience, we’ll enable the ability to move your CreateSpace books to KDP in phases, so authors may see it at different times. See an overview of the process.
See frequently asked questions for general information about the move, as well as details about moving your books and royalty payments, sales rank, distribution, and taxes.
Join us for a live webinar and have our experts introduce you to the KDP website. Registration is hosted by Adobe Connect, so you’ll visit their site to sign up. Can’t join us for the live event? Watch the webinar recordings here.
Before you move your books to KDP
Our tips for preparing for the move:
- Make your book available on Amazon. This will allow you to enable Expanded Distribution and order author copies on KDP.
- Check your payment information. Make sure your bank and tax details are up to date because this information will also move to KDP. If you have an existing account with complete payment and tax information, we’ll use that information going forward.
- Make any changes to your Cover Creator cover. If you designed your cover using Cover Creator on CreateSpace and want to update it, do so before moving to KDP. Why? CreateSpace Cover Creator designs aren’t compatible with Cover Creator on KDP. If you want to update your cover after the move to KDP, you’re welcome to design a new one using KDP’s Cover Creator. You can also use our cover templates.
- Finish setting up books in the statuses “awaiting proof” or “proof review.” We recommend doing this on CreateSpace so you don’t have to resubmit them on KDP. Books that aren’t live on CreateSpace will move to KDP and appear there in “draft” status. The statuses “awaiting proof” and “proof review” don’t exist on KDP. If needed, changes can be made on KDP after the move is complete. After you submit your book for publication on KDP, we’ll check your files for quality issues.
- Make any changes to books written in languages KDP doesn’t support. CreateSpace supports some languages that KDP doesn’t. After your books are moved, you won’t be able to make any changes to books written in languages KDP doesn’t support.
- Download any CreateSpace files you want to keep. If you want to download files stored in your Project Tool box or any CreateSpace reports, we recommend that you do so before you move to KDP. After the move, you won’t be able to access these files on CreateSpace.
How to move your books to KDP
You’ll be able to move your entire catalog to KDP in a few steps.
To ensure you’re moving the right books to KDP, confirm the CreateSpace account you want to transfer from.
To ensure you’re moving your CreateSpace books to the right KDP account, confirm that it’s the account you want to transfer to. If you don’t have a KDP account, you need to create one during the transfer.
Once you’ve made sure you’re transferring from and to the right account, click Start your move. When we’re done preparing your account for the move, you’ll be redirected to your KDP Bookshelf, where the transfer will be finalized.
To ensure a quality experience, we’ll enable the ability to move your CreateSpace books to KDP in phases, so authors may see it at different times. This quick video shows you what the move will look like.
Video: Moving your books to KDP
Kids are like sponges.
They soak up every imaginable piece of information.
And we all know how smart sponges are, right?
Growing up in rural Illinois had its benefits. The whole world was my playground. In winters, I had endless fields in which to stomp, sled, and build snowmen armies. In the summer, the entire state served as my personal baseball diamond.
For all the fun I had, and for all the places my imagination took me, I was an idiot.
How big of an idiot?
Let’s find out…
I used to believe animals could never make mistakes. I guess I probably watched too many National Geographic nature shows, because for many years I thought it was impossible for any creature other than a human to fall down, trip, stumble, or make any slight error in movement. Then one day I saw my cat jump for…and miss…the stairs. And a light bulb flickered on inside my head.
I assumed women’s breasts were for amusement purposes only. I mean, I guess they kind of are. Babies seem pretty happy to encounter them. I didn’t figure out the whole milk thing until I hit about ten years old.
I knew Santa was fake (sorry, kids.) But I believed in the tooth fairy. And the Easter Bunny. Not really sure how I didn’t connect the dots.
My grandfather (dude was mean sometimes) explained to me the pizza delivery guy didn’t need tips because he got paid too much already. Don’t worry, I got over this one rather quickly. I overtip now.
One of my family members convinced me that because I hadn’t been baptized, touching holy water in church would burn me. Actually, now that I think about it, they might be right. I’m not brave enough to test the theory.
I believed cicadas were pretty much the deadliest creature alive.
But I happily chased bees with reckless abandon.
A cousin once convinced me that baseball pitchers threw the ball so hard, the ball would literally pass through the hitter’s bat if they didn’t swing hard enough.
I was pretty sure that if I couldn’t see the bottom of a particular body of water (even if it was only a few feet deep) the water’s depth was thousands of feet.
Also, I believed sharks lurked in the freshwater quarry in which we used to swim.
And Jaws definitely lived in the swimming pool’s deep end.
Once, I tried to dig to China. With a plastic yellow shovel. Literally. I got about three feet down before I gave up and went inside for lemonade.
I thought holding my breath made me harder to see while playing hide & seek.
And I still kind of believe turning the music down while driving helps me when I’m driving downtown.
For a brief time in second grade, I thought kissing girls was enough to get them pregnant. So naturally I chased every girl down on the playground and kissed them. Sadly, no one got pregnant, but I did earn a week’s after-school study (Detention for little kids.)
Someone convinced me squirrels were carnivorous.
Alligators definitely came from toilets.
Quicksand was something to be feared. It could’ve happened anywhere.
King Cobra snakes littered the cornfields of northern Illinois.
And Eagles only lived on the tops of the highest mountains in the world.
I really didn’t understand how the chain-reaction caused by dropping atomic weapons didn’t destroy the entire planet. When we had nuke drills in the early 80’s, the teachers would make us hide under our desks. As if THAT would help.
Root beer definitely contained real beer.
I was absolutely sure girls could never smell bad in any way.
My worst fear was throwing up so much my entire stomach might come out.
I believed people could be resurrected. As in, raised from the dead. I didn’t quite grasp the concept of permanent death. Oops.
And…while going through her New Age phase, my aunt briefly convinced me reincarnation was real. C’mon, auntie.
One of my earliest childhood memories? A week or two during which I tried to run faster than light. At dawn at my grandparents’ house, I sprinted outside and tried to run fast enough to catch up to the night again. I’m pretty sure I got close. Or not.
Until just before high school, I believed women gave birth to babies via their butt. No one had bothered to explain proper anatomy to me, and so I worried that if a mom-to-be was using the bathroom, she stood a reasonable chance of ejecting the baby into the toilet, where it would drown.
I told you.
I was an idiot.
Be smarter than me. Read this.
The 100 Most Important Definitions in the English Language
RBF – (Resting B***h Face) The expression on a woman’s face when she’s looking at anything other than her puppy.
Uber – A transportation system designed to rescue alcoholics.
Lyft – Definition unknown.
Meme – A limited-scope comedic device employed to populate 97.6% of every social media feed.
Ghosting – Abandoning your toothbrush in order to avoid a narcissist.
Social Media – Where happiness goes to die.
Internet Dating – What people do when they’re in the mood to rapidly judge strangers.
Creepy – When someone to whom you’re not attracted tries to flirt with you.
“I know, right?” – A reply meaning, “Can we talk about something else now?”
Catfishing – Subtracting 30 lbs. while adding 2 inches.
Sale – The same price as before, but with a ‘Sale’ sign affixed above the product.
Clearance Sale – “No one wanted to buy this s**t.”
Salt Life – A sticker adhered to the vehicle of a person who has visited the ocean once.
13.1 – The distance between narcissism and a mediocre level of fitness.
Millennial – A person born between 1980-2000 who simultaneously possesses more luxuries and fewer opportunities than any other generation in the world’s history. (This word’s definition subject to change based on the age of the person defining it.)
BFF (Best friends forever) – An acronym used to define a friendship that will last 2-6 months before abruptly ending.
Diet Soda – A beverage consumed by people pretending to be on a diet. Usually paired with large fries and a double cheeseburger.
Kale – A solid form of diet soda.
Skinny Margarita – A drink created by combining water and crushed ice.
Vegetarian – A word spoken to make waitresses cry.
Vegan – A word spoken to make waitresses commit suicide.
Crossfit – Intentionally blowing out your joints for the purpose of looking good in a bathing suit.
Politics – A cultural phenomena in which citizens argue vehemently about which sociopathic millionaire is most fit to rule a given nation.
Climate Change – The act of intentionally increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in order to generate cash.
Capital Punishment – The moment one realizes they accidentally used all-caps in a message, email, or Facebook post, and now their friends are all upset about it.
Passive-Aggressive – When your wife says, “Oh, nothing.”
Gun Control – The act of pretending it’s physically possible to disarm three-hundred million people.
Terrorism – The act of fighting a war while not in possession of tanks, planes, and nuclear weapons.
“It is what it is.” – A phrase uttered by someone who no longer wants to participate in meaningful conversation.
“You do you.” – A phrase said by someone who strongly dislikes the person to whom they say it. (e.g. “I heard you don’t like bacon. That’s okay. You do you.“)
“Off the chain.” – A phrase spoken by white people while sipping champagne at a yacht club.
Unicorn – A reasonably attractive woman who allows her boyfriend or husband to enjoy more than one beer.
Triggering – Purposely antagonizing stupid people.
Gentrification – The act of raising property taxes to bleach neighborhoods.
Feminism – Depends on whom you ask.
News Media – A large gathering of opinions.
Fake News – Possibly real news.
Homophobia – A powerful fear of penises.
Bae – The name one assigns to their future ex.
Fitbit – A device worn to trick onlookers into assuming its wearer possesses an interest in physical fitness.
Jealousy – Becoming angry in the belief that another person is not in fact a real person, but a piece of property.
‘Self-Made’ – A claim made by a ‘successful’ person when no one else is aware of their privileged upbringing.
DUI – The act of plucking one tipsy driver from an ocean of thousands.
Lactose Intolerance – The act of avoiding milk and cheese on date nights.
Monday Night Football – A television show capable of stretching a 60-minute game to 4 hours.
Soccer – Faking injuries with the intent of winning on penalty kicks.
NBA Basketball – A league of thirty teams in which only three teams have any chance of competing for a championship.
MLB Baseball – A sporting event people attend when they want to pay $400 for two hot dogs & two beers, and then watch the game on the jumbo-tron.
Golf – Long-distance beer pong.
Pornhub – Where married people go for sex.
Politician – A wealthy, elderly white person participating in a system in which popularity determines the right to make extremely important societal decisions.
Immigration – One or more people crossing an imaginary line while in possession of paperwork.
Illegal Immigration – Like immigration, but without paperwork.
Marriage – The act of sacrificing one’s long-term financial future in order to secure 3-5 years of consistent sex.
Gay Marriage – Marriage.
Divorce – The act of giving away most of one’s money.
Hipster – A person who sneers while mocking mainstream music.
Facebook – A place one goes to view advertisements for something they purchased yesterday.
Music – A cultural phenomenon beginning in roughly 4000 B.C. and ending in 2000 A.D.
Government – A large gathering of wealthy lunatics.
Tariffs – A method of fighting wars using cash instead of bullets.
Tweeting – A recently-developed method of governing.
Electoral College – A political point-keeping system designed to empower flyover states.
Public Schools – A 12-year program designed to babysit children and teenagers until they’re old enough to hate their lives.
White Privilege – Not having to explain why you’re dating a white girl.
Anti-Vaxxer – A person refusing to immunize their children due to a misguided love of Jenny McCarthy.
RDF (Resting Dad Face) – The look a father gives his son to make him stop jumping on the couch.
Twerking – A swift method of securing single-motherhood.
Snapchat – Where fake dog-ear selfies and loneliness collide.
Cosplaying – The act of hyper-sexualizing an underage comic book or cartoon character.
Instagram – Where people go to obsess over cosplayers.
AirBNB – A super-convenient way to find a bed on which someone else had sex yesterday.
Introvert – A descriptive term for a person who dislikes everyone besides their cat, their dog, and their one friend who’s fine with hanging out just once per month.
Extrovert – A descriptive term for a somewhat likable asshole.
Gaslighting – A phrase uttered when highly emotional people become angry about colliding with rational thought.
Human Trafficking – A clogged interstate at 7:55 on a Monday morning.
Protest – A form of peaceful social criticism allowed only when it doesn’t interrupt flag-worship.
Children – What people create when they desire expensive, needy, emotionally-draining pets.
Social Justice Warrior (SJW) – A person who fights to change society via capitalized social media posts.
Cultural Appropriation – The act of pretending Taco Bell is real Mexican food.
‘Protect and Serve’ – It sounds way better than ‘Harass and Intimidate.’
Hashtag – A word or phrase preceded by the # symbol. Typically used to divide angry humans into separate (but equally angry) camps or by housewives to boast about their children.
Income Inequality – The act of owning three mansions and seventeen cars without any sense of irony.
LOL – An acronym used to deceive someone else into believing they might actually be funny.
Church – A building one visits to judge his or her fellow humans.
Religion – The large-scale rejection of science.
Socialism – A system of government which includes the pooling of resources to provide infrastructure, essential public services, joint armed-forces, and basic welfare for all people living in a given nation.
Communism – The same as socialism, but evil because it’s used in non-Western nations.
Helicopter Parenting – The act of imprisoning a child within an imaginary ten-foot diameter sphere.
THICC – Someone in possession of a giant ass. (e.g. “My cat is THICC.”)
Voting – A mass cultural event in which people click buttons in a booth, receive a sticker for a prize, and brag about it on the internet.
Lobbying – Investing large sums of money in political contests for the purpose of acquiring large sums of taxpayer dollars.
“Keep calm and…” – …shut the f**k up.
“Literally.” – Probably uttered regarding something not at all literal.
Craft Beer – Beer.
Reverse Racism – Racism.
GMO Food (Genetically-modified food.) – Food.
Organic Food – Food.
Gluten-Free – Lacking in flavor.
Satire – The act of intentionally triggering sensitive people.
Did this make you mad?
Good. Get even angrier while reading this.
Or take a deep breath and try this.
What a ride.
This year’s DragonCon Art Show was epic. A ton of great artists, a TON of great art.
To celebrate, I’m restocking my store with everything I didn’t sell.
AND I’m offering this coupon, which is good for 25% off everything.
Let’s start with the prints and original paintings I featured at the Art Show. Through the end of this month, use coupon code DRAGONCON to get 25% off the listed prices!
Just click the art you’re interested in and go nuts. 🙂
Also, the coupon (again, it’s DRAGONCON) applies each of the following original canvasses.
Visit my shop to learn more.
We all knew it was coming.
Createspace and KDP are ‘merging.’ If you’re a paperback publisher who uses either platform, you’ll want to review the following message, copy/pasted directly from Amazon’s KDP website:
We’re excited to announce that CreateSpace (CSP) and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will become one service, and in the coming days, we will give CreateSpace members the ability to move their account and titles. To ensure a quality experience, we will add links to the CreateSpace member dashboard in phases so authors may see it at different times. As a reminder, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) now offers Expanded Distribution to sell your paperbacks to physical bookstores in the US, as well as the ability to sell your paperback books on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.au (Amazon.mx coming soon). With these features, KDP’s paperback distribution will be on par with CreateSpace’s distribution. KDP also offers features that aren’t available on CreateSpace. These include the ability to purchase ads to promote paperbacks on Amazon.com and locally printed author copies in Europe.
As a result of these enhancements to KDP and our ongoing efforts to provide a more seamless experience for managing your paperback and digital books, CreateSpace and KDP will become one service. On KDP, your paperbacks will still be printed in the same facilities, on the same printers, and by the same people as they were on CreateSpace.
In a few weeks, we’ll start automatically moving your CreateSpace books to KDP. Your books will remain available for sale throughout the move and you’ll continue to earn royalties. Once we begin this process you’ll be unable to edit existing titles or create new titles on CreateSpace.
If you have a release planned soon or you would like to start the move yourself, we are making updates that will allow you to move your entire catalog in just a few steps. During this transition, you can contact KDP customer support by email and access phone support in English.
There are a few payment and printing fee differences associated with the move. Going forward you will be paid on KDP’s payment schedule. CreateSpace pays monthly royalties 30 days after the end of the month in which they were earned while KDP pays monthly royalties approximately 60 days after the end of the month in which they were earned. As a result, you’ll be paid in September for any royalties earned in August on CreateSpace and be paid in October for any royalties earned in August on KDP. In addition, some low-page count books will see an increase in printing fees when they are printed in the UK and EU. This affects a small number of titles. If your titles are affected by this change, you will receive a separate email on this topic. Learn more about KDP’s printing fees here.
To learn more about the move and review the latest, visit here. We’ll be in touch with more updates in the coming weeks.
It is still Day 1 for independent publishing. As Amazon’s recent shareholder letter noted, there are more than a 1,000 authors who earn more than a $100,000 a year from their work with us. We could not be more optimistic about the future of independent publishing and this change will allow us to innovate faster for you.
As a user of both platforms, it’s almost a relief to see this is finally happening. While the royalty payout time is not so great, KDP generally speaking has the better interface. It’s long past time to move forward with this merger.
He promises to drain one bottle per chapter. That’s the rule. There’s no breaking it.
And while deep in his cups, J Edward Neill takes readers on a sometimes funny, often poignant journey. Playful yet serious, humorous yet honest, his bounce between bottles delivers readers on a stroll through everything. It’s a lighthearted memoir blended with sharp philosophy. It’s social commentary blended with powerful cocktails.
Dating. Religion. Politics. That one time J Edward and his friend built a dam and met the world’s most relaxed water moccasin…
It’s all here.
One bottle per chapter.
One chapter every night…
This book is for you if…
…you’re a sleep-deprived single mom who can name at least 50 Pokémon but can’t keep your kids’ names straight or remember where you parked your car at the grocery store.
…you’re a single father who sits in a morning work meeting, waiting to give a monthly report presentation, when suddenly you realize you forgot to remove the polish your daughter had applied to your finger nails (and half your hand) the night before.
…you ‘re the grandparent who can’t retire because you’re raising your young grandson alone. After an eight-hour work day, your nights are filled with homework, constructing cities out of Legos, and answer 2AM calls to chase monsters out from under the bed.
…you are, know, love, or want to get to know a single parent. Here are 101 ways to dig deep into the challenges and the joys of single parenting. The following questions are sometimes fun, sometimes thought-provoking, and always enlightening.
For Single Parents
…or really any Parent
* * *
Timing is Everything
You’re a single parent, right?
(Even if you’re not, you can still answer this one.)
When dating a new person, how long should a single parent wait before allowing their new lover to meet the kid(s)?
Using one or two-word answers only, describe what you’d do in each of the following scenarios:
- Your child walks in after visiting your ex and claims they now believe the exact opposite of whatever your religious beliefs are
- Your ex withholds two months of child support, claiming a financial hardship
- Your two children (ages 10 and 15) announce they want to live exclusively with your ex-spouse
- Your one child (age 7) announces they want to live exclusively with you and never, ever see their other parent
The Answer is 84
At what age should a child have the legal right to choose to live solely with one parent?
Mecha-Ninja Tech-Savvy Godzilla Mom
From the following, choose one or more descriptions that would best fit your style of single-parenting:
Tiger (High discipline, emphasis on structure and academics)
Free-Spirited (Lower emphasis on structure. Let the kid do almost anything they want…within reason)
Soccer Mom/Dad (Athletics, exercise, and physical activity)
Techie (Video games & devices allowed. Emphasis on computer skills)
Skill Builder (Teach the kids to follow in your footsteps. i.e.; fixing cars, hunting, fishing, cooking, sewing, et cetera)
Culture Warrior (Teach the kids to become highly involved in society.)
You’re a single parent of two boys, ages 8 and 10.
You’ve had it with their constant bickering and sibling rivalry.
Your ex-spouse isn’t helping.
How do you handle their disputes?
- Every time a fight goes down, I break it up and dish out the appropriate punishment.
- I get involved in the serious conflicts, but let them handle the small stuff.
- Ignore them. What kids?
- I hand them each a sword and tell them to fight to the death!
All Fridays become National Holidays for Grocery Shopping and Mario Kart
Here’s your chance.
Create a new nationwide law that will apply only to single parents.
Your new law can be beneficial or punitive; it’s up to you.
If your law goes against single parents in any way, describe the penalty for breaking it.
Do single parents have the right to be extra-proud?
You like answering these kinds of questions? Go here.
Or maybe you’re tired of talking about your kids. In that case, go here.
You’re walking down a city street. All the cars speeding past you are grey and boxlike. They’re all the same, featureless, colorless, and they make no sound as they sweep down the streets.
You walk into a clothing store. There are no sections for men, women, and children. On every rack hang beige shirts, pants, and coats. The styles are drab and shapeless. There are no dressing rooms. There is no color. Other shoppers…even the cashier…are dressed in the same exact clothing. Everyone looks identical. You slap down your money and walk out with a grey bag full of the same clothes everyone else wears.
You’re hungry. Starving, actually. You walk into a restaurant without a name, a logo, or a menu. You step up to the counter and order the same thing everyone else is having. This is the city’s best place to eat, but you’re not impressed. All they offer are tasteless, watery noodles and flavorless bread. Everyone sits quietly and eats at grey tables. You can’t even remember why you picked this place.
At home, you’re ready to relax after a long day at work. Your house looks exactly like everyone else’s, but luckily you remember which one is yours. After all, it’s got a number. You park your grey car inside your grey garage, and you walk through grey doors into a grey room. Your walls are barren. No photos of loved ones. No paintings. No color. You sit on your couch and turn on your TV. There’s only one station. It’s the same two people wearing the same two suits talking about the same thing they did yesterday. There’s no Food Network, SyFy Channel, Game of Thrones, or Discovery Channel. It’s just two people discussing the value of nothing. What else is there to watch?
You’d like to go to the movies. But there’s no such thing.
You’re thinking of taking a stroll through a museum. But no one’s ever thought to build one.
You’re hungry for a gourmet pizza, a scrumptious slice of cake, and a nice cocktail. But there’s no chefs, no bakeries, and certainly no bartenders.
Perhaps I’ll just lie in bed and read a book, you think. It’s not like there’s anything else to do.
But there are no books. Because there are no authors. And even if there were, all the covers would look the same…grey and black. You wouldn’t know which one to read. It’d be impossible to choose. At this point, you’d settle for a magazine, a newspaper, or a funny website with cute comics on the internet. It sucks, because these things don’t exist. You’ve never heard of them. You can’t even want to want them.
You’re bored. You’re distraught. You step outside for a walk. It’s strange walking through your town. The houses, buildings, shops, and stores are all white boxes. No one bothers with windows…there’s nothing to see. You can’t tell the difference between the car repair shop and the bank. They look exactly the same. No one ever bothered to be an architect. No one knew it was possible.
There’s one thing left that’ll save you. You run back to your trusty radio. It’s a grey box like all the others. You flip the switch and turn the dial to your favorite station. The sound greeting your ears? Static. Dead, dry noise. There’s no rhythm in it. There’s no beat, no catchy hook. It’s just static.
Always crackling. Always the same.
And you’re emptier still.
That evening, your kid comes home from school.
“What did you do today?” you ask. “Learn anything interesting?”
He shrugs. He doesn’t care much about school. He learns the same things every day: math, chemistry, and science. That’s all well and good. But he never has any good stories. It’s because there aren’t any. He’s happy because he doesn’t have to write book reports, but sad because he’s never read a book. There’s not much going on at his school. No sports. No chess club. No band camp. Why have extracurricular activities if there’s no such thing?
He doesn’t even know what a crayon is.
Actually, neither do you.
You’re walking down a hall.
The walls are barren. Everyone you pass is wearing pale sackcloth. Everyone looks the same.
It’s silent in this place. The only sounds you hear are footsteps and your own breathing. They haven’t even bothered to pipe lame elevator music into this place. Why would they? There’s no such thing.
There’s no color here. There’s nothing to do but eat your noodles, sleep in your white bed, and drive to work in your simple grey box.
What is this place?
Where am I? you wonder.
This is a world without art. Without color. Without chefs, architects, or artisans. Without painters, writers, or musicians. Without photographers, sculptors, or comedians. Without gardeners. Without dance. Without movies.
Support an artist today.
Without them, we are nothing.