50 Things the Universe probably doesn’t care about

Take a nice deep breath.

Promise yourself you won’t get offended.

Accept the smallness of everyone and everything.

And enjoy…

50 Things the Universe probably doesn’t care about

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All the stars, galaxies, and interstellar dust in the universe probably don’t care about politics.

Or which party you voted for.

Or why you voted for them.

Actually, the universe probably doesn’t care even if you didn’t vote at all.

The infinite cosmos likely doesn’t mind whether people are fat or thin, introverted or extroverted, hot or not.

…though it might just care a tiny bit about its occupants being smart or stupid. Maybe.

The immense void in which we live doesn’t care what sports team we like, which TV shows we watch, or what brand clothing we buy.

…but it’s possible judgmental people are more likely to get hit by meteors. (May or may not be a factual statement.)

If the universe is careless enough to let millions of humans starve, suffer awful diseases, and endure being torn apart by war, it definitely doesn’t care about celebrities, fashion, or the complaints of wealthy people.

The galaxy isn’t much affected by humans making fun of the leaders and politicians they don’t like – it knows those same people probably aren’t doing anything about it.

The interstellar abyss doesn’t care who you sleep with.

Or why.

Or where.

Unless that person didn’t consent.

In which case the universe will probably f**k you over during your next life.

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I’m totally watching YOU.

If the universe is cruel enough to guarantee Earth’s sun will die and utterly annihilate everyone within a few billion years, it definitely won’t mind if you have another glass of wine tonight.

…as long as you take a walk outside to admire the stars afterward.

While it’s true several epic-level disasters in Earth’s history extinguished nearly all life on the planet, it doesn’t mean mass extinctions need humanity’s help. (That species you just trampled to death might’ve been the one to survive the next disaster.)

If it takes light millions and millions of years to cross the Milky Way, there’s no way our galaxy gives a rip about the five extra seconds you waited in traffic today.

…though it’s possible the person in front of you will get cancer for making you miss a light while they were checking Facebook on their phone.

Speaking of which…

The universe doesn’t pay any attention to Instagram.

Or Twitter.

Or Facebook.

But the cosmos is especially disinterested in Snapchat. Actually, whenever a human uses a Snapchat filter to add dog ears to themselves, the universe might just nudge all of us closer to death.

Nothing in the void cares about whether or not we believe in science. It knows the laws of physics better than we do, and it’s fully aware we prefer using science to make weapons and iPhones more than food and shelter.

It’s possible the universe doesn’t care one bit about all of humanity. But it definitely won’t care if we destroy ourselves before we even escape our lonely little solar system.

All the galaxies combined aren’t particularly interested in what skin color humans are. They know we all die the same in the cold dark vacuum of space. 🙂

The great cosmos is unlikely to be concerned with whichever god or goddess people worship. However, it’s probably amused at humanity’s hubris in assuming we know anything about how we came to exist.

Realistically, the universe won’t much mind if you:

Kill someone.

Steal things.

Or abuse your fellow humans.

But nor will it care when those same humans turn the tables and abuse you, steal from you, and stamp you out.

In its infinite wisdom, the universe saw fit to teach humanity about fire, agriculture, and beer.

…but it stopped paying attention after it saw people burning themselves with fireworks while drunk and eating corndogs.

The multiverse and every dimension between don’t care about your comfort, your lifestyle, or your money. Those things all burn the same in the fires of a star.

The cosmos is only mildly bothered that ships in the Star Wars movies still make sounds in the airless void of space. Actually, it stopped being offended right about the time it saw Jar Jar Binks.

The universe doesn’t care about how sexy people think they look when they take selfies. It knows it’s prettier.

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Honestly, the great dark cosmos doesn’t mind anything any one particular person does. It knows humans only live to be 0.000000000001% as old as stars.

Nothing in the universe cares what we call ourselves: kings, queens, poets, popes, warriors, saints, presidents, or fuhrers. The universe is patient enough to know titles and positions are just make-believe things.

Although the universe probably knows a good scientist when it sees one.

If the Milky Way and its other galactic buddies were to admit twenty things they liked about Earth, none of them would be you.

But one might be your kid.

Nah, probably not. 🙂

Since we’re all made of the leftovers of stars dying, we’re all pretty much stepchildren (since our sun isn’t the one who made us.) Which means the universe would probably feel bad for us. If it cared.

…which it doesn’t.

None of the vast powers in all of creation care how many marathons you’ve run, how much you can bench press, or how smart you think your dog is. It knows all your bumper stickers fade and crack in the sunlight.

If the universe overheard you talking at the water cooler about how well the local sports team played last night, it would probably interrupt you to say, “But did you see that supernova last night?! Pretty cool, huh?”

The only human device to make it completely out of our solar system is the Voyager I spacecraft, which happens to contain music, film, and culture all from an era older than most people on Earth. Meaning, even if something outside our solar system one day discovers Voyager, it’ll think we all like jazz music and don’t know about cool things like modern civil rights and Netflix.

Or, in an even worse scenario, since the first radio wave images sent from Earth originated from Nazi Germany, any aliens out there catching our signal will likely be horrified by us.

And the universe will just shrug.

Because it knows us better than we know ourselves.

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I was inspired to write this when I finished this.

Which in turn inspired this.

Remember…don’t take things so seriously. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got it pretty good.

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – How you gonna roll?

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, we look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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In the modern world we live in, many different people have many different ideas about how to be romantic, whether or not to get married, and how to handle intimate relationships.

If you asked a room of 100 different people, you might get 99 different opinions regarding the ‘right’ way to do things.

What if we simplified the equation?

What if we asked you how you like to get around…?

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Getting Around

 

From the following scenarios, choose the most appealing to you:

  • Be happily married to one person for your entire life. Never once have an affair
  • Be happily married for twenty happy years, but also enjoy a twenty-year period of single-dom, during which you have sex with at least ten different partners
  • Never be married. Have as much freedom and as many different sex partners as you desire
  • Insert a different answer here _________________

Well?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Painting with Darkness – Part XII

I like to paint trees.

A lot

Sometimes, even when I start a new canvas with every intention of painting a castle, a spooky city, or some other dark imagery, my brain misfires and takes control of my brush. Before I know it, I’ve painted yet another tree. I can’t help it. I’m a slave to impulse.

Knowing this, I decided to do a series of paintings to get all the trees out of my system.

And along came four little paintings, one for each season:

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Deep – for warm, green spring

 

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Dusklight – for cold, cold winter

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Umber – for autumn’s arrival

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Midnight – for the longest night of summer

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I thoroughly enjoyed painting this series. These simple, yet fun paintings have a way of calming me. After working on them, I sleep better, I’m relaxed, and life feels easy.

You should try it sometime…

For previous Painting with Darkness entries: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VIVIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII

J Edward Neill

Cover Reveal – Darkness Between the Stars

A young boy will journey into the Darkness Between the Stars.  And he may never return…

I’ll have 20 softcover editions to give away as ARC’s (advance review copies.)  If you’d like one, and if you’re willing write an honest review, look me up on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.

And now, the amazing Amanda Makepeace cover art:

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A free preview (the entire first chapter) is here.

Darkness Between the Starsnow available via Amazon

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J Edward Neill

Author of sci-fi hit, A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

A Thought for Every Thursday – Consequences, consequences

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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The Fear of Consequence

Morality is a slippery concept.

Good and evil have shaky foundations.

The point is: what’s considered good and noble in one culture isn’t always viewed likewise in another culture.

Moreover, left without supervision, individuals tend to take a lot more liberties with morality. If the authorities aren’t around, people will assault, loot, and murder more than if there’s a police car nearby with its lights blazing.

Which begs the question:

Are people ‘moral’ only because they fear punishment if they’re not?

If the concepts of authority and law didn’t exist, and no punishment awaited disturbers of the peace, would the world gravitate toward violence and entropy?

If so, does that mean morality only exists beneath the fear of consequence?

What say you?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

The Specter Ship

My first painting of the new year…

It all started with a challenge when a good friend dared me to:

A. Painting something using a rainbow theme

B. Don’t include any trees (which is kind of my calling card)

When I started, I had no idea what I’d end up with. I slathered a canvas with a full spectrum of watercolors…

…and went from there.

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And some more action shots:

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Specter Ship

36″ x 12″ watercolor on deep-edge canvas

For more of my (slightly less cheerful) art, go here.

For a little something to keep the mood lively this year, hit this.

Until next time,

J Edward Neill

My life as a single dad (while making art)

Let’s be clear about one thing: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But with that said, single dad art-making ain’t always easy.

Almost six years ago, my son (the G Man) burst into my life. He was the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the brick wall of me. Upon his arrival, I prepared myself for sleepless nights, hours upon hours of crying, and the end of all my life’s plans. But as it turned out, none of that really happened. The G Man slept astoundingly well. He rarely cried. And as for my life’s plans, they turned off the path by a few degrees, but were hardly shattered.

Surprise, surprise.

But there were two things I didn’t count on.  The first, me almost immediately becoming a single dad after G Man burst onto the scene. The second, finding out my son was also my best bro, my comrade-in-arms, and someone who never wanted to leave my side.

Which, as a writer, painter, and 1,000 mph blogger, wasn’t something I was fully prepared for.

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We destroy our turkey legs as a team.

Yeah…so…while it turns out my writing and painting didn’t slam to a halt, they changed. A lot. Let’s start by talking about sleep. As a young dad, I’d always had this notion that my son’s bedtime would be…oh I don’t know…8:30ish. Nah. Not so much. I admit when I meet other people’s kids, I’m alllllllll about them being in bed early. But with the G Man, I find myself allowing him to stay up late. Like late, late. So instead of waging war over arbitrary bedtimes, I dim the lights, turn on the music, and dive deep into conversations I never thought I’d have with a five-year old.

Things like:

What will happen when the sun runs out of hydrogen to burn

Why didn’t Sauron from Lord of the Rings make a second One Ring

And why didn’t evolution grant sharks the ability to fly

And so the months went by. G Man turned 3, 4, and 5. 8:30ish bedtimes became 9:30ish. 9:30 became 10:30. Chunks of late-night time I’d once devoted to painting, writing deep, dark novels, and meditating morphed into something else, something just as sacred yet completely different. While I’d never judge other parents for putting their kids to bed early, I just couldn’t do it with the G Man. I begun to crave playing silly games, watching kids’ movies, and teaching him how to master Zelda – Twilight Princess. “I’ll just sleep less,” I told myself. “I’ll start writing at midnight. That’ll work. Right?”

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Trying on lobster costumes at approx 11PM at Target. Who needs sleep anyway??

Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all roses all the time. By staying up all hours with the G Man, my production eventually took a hard hit. I started writing fewer than half the words per night than I used to. I finished maybe four paintings per month instead of ten. My sleep suffered, not because of staying up late building Lego armies, but because I still pushed my output to punishing depths. I swore off sleep in favor of creating things. Later and later, I stayed awake each night.

But it turns out the human body has its limits. I couldn’t keep pace forever. My mind and my work begun to crumble. I suppose a more reasonable person might’ve said, “Hey, it’s ok. You’ve earned a break. Be at peace with creating less in favor of more face-time with junior.”

F that. I want it all. 🙂

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That’s me running on zero sleep (and margaritas.)

There’s an everyday equation we all must follow in life. It’s something like X + Y + Z = 24 hours. X is made up of the stuff we have to do each day. It’s work, chores, commuting, and other obligations. X is the hardest to change. Most of the time, it is what it is. The weekday value of my X is approximately 13. That’s a lot, but I’m aware some people have it much worse. As for Z, it’s exactly what you think it is: sleep. Some people can get by on 4-5 hours. Others need 8-9. The more sleep one gets, the better one’s mind functions. Therefore, Z can directly influence the quality of the rest of the equation. My Z value is about 7 hours.

That means, on any given weekday, my X + Z value is somewhere in the 20 range.

Which means I have about 4 hours left over for Y.

What is Y, you ask? Y is free time. Y is options and choices. Y can be consumed by entertainment, exercise, planning fancy meals, et cetera. Or, as in my case, Y can be reserved for art. For writing. For creating. In any artist’s life, having a kid complicates the value of Y. It’s a complication I’m grateful for, and yet it remains. My single dad Y isn’t the same as a lot of other artists’ Y. Even when I’m free to embrace Y, I’m not really. G Man is always at my side, tugging, talking, wanting to listen to music together, needing to engage in conversation.

So I’ve made a compromise. During Y time, we paint together.

And if I need to write, he reads.

It’s a solution I stumbled upon about a year ago. And it was completely by accident. One day, as I tried to paint while G Man was discussing the anatomy of stumpy T-Rex arms, we stopped talking long enough for him to ask a simple question:

Can I paint, too?”

Yes. Hell yes. In that instant, I became a tornado of movement, laying out a dropcloth, handing him a palette, splashing out some colors to paint with. It took a few times for him to acclimate, but after a few weeks – and ever since – he’s been a painting machine. He even painted the cover of one of my books. Yes…seriously!

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Are they tropical trees? Wind turbines? Monsters’ hands reaching skyward? Hell if I know. It’s still better than anything I’ve painted.

The painting problem: solved. A full 1-2 hours every day of Y value: freed up.

But what about writing?

Figuring out a way to write during G Man’s waking hours was more challenging. And yet…  The solution conveniently turned up mere months removed from the painting revelation. Four words: Goosebumps, Deep Space, and Ninjas. Into his hands, I poured R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, National Geographic magazines with lots of Hubble deep space images, and that silly series of ninjas-in-the-6th-grade books. Boom. Just like that, my Y time was defragmented. My painting output doubled. My writing was back on track.

And at the same time, G Man’s creativity soared. His reading skills improved drastically. His paintbrush moved with a mind of its own. (Only two spills so far.) He started asking for quiet time instead of demanding father-son Lego time. I was able to earn a tiny slice of Y freedom without planting my kid in front of a TV or kicking him outside.

Parenting is hard. This, I understand. What works today for me (and everyone else) might not work tomorrow. Soon enough, things like Little League, sleepovers with friends, and learning to drive will force some Y time to become X time. Ultimately, whatever becomes of my freedom, however small the slice gets, I’m ok with it. Because I’ll only ever get one chance to have a five-year old punch a sombrero off my face.

And that’s pretty cool.

Here’s some of the stuff G Man allowed me to paint.

And here’s the book I finished on his watch.

Love,

J Edward Neill

 

The death of 2016 – It wasn’t ALL bad

From the staff at Tessera Guild, we’d like to wish you a…

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2016 was one helluva ride, right?

Almost everyone famous ever passed away.

A reality TV guy became the U.S. president-elect.

And the best Star Wars film ever came out.

Meanwhile, the team at Tessera Guild punched out hundreds of articles on art, books, creativity, philosophy, and life, some of which you liked…and others you loved. 🙂

Here’s our top seven picks for 2016’s best, most engaging Guild articles:

My Mother – The Horse Diver

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

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Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Overused Words

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Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge & Luminous Echo

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Inside One Artist’s Mind

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Three Little Sunsets in Florida

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Interview with Brandon Easton, screenwriter for Marvel’s Agent Carter, Part 1

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And finally, included because it’s totally ridiculous (and totally true)…

Porn searches leading to our (totally) non-porn website!

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Here’s to everyone having an amazing 2017!

The Tessera Guild Team

J Edward Neill

John McGuire

Egg Embry

Robert Jeffrey II

 Amanda Makepeace

Chad J Shonk

A Thought for Every Thursday – Soul Food

Welcome to my weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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Soul Food

First, a few definitions:

Soul – sōl/ (noun) – the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.

Mind – mīnd/ the component of a human being or animal that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences.

Despite our many technological advances, one thing science has yet to define and/or locate proof for is the existence of souls.

Also hard to define are the processes of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

So which is more likely?

Souls and consciousness are physics-based, and will one day be completely explainable by science?

Or

Souls and consciousness operate under separate parameters and are not bound by any known laws of physics?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

The Ultimate Video Game Quiz

So you think you know video games?

Or maybe you know someone who claims to be a video game god(dess)?

In my new book, The Ultimate Video Game Quiz, I put gaming know-it-alls to the test. The idea came from my son, who proudly proclaimed he knew everything there was to know about video games. Only…when I hit him up with obscure Metal Gear questions, requested the location of every heart piece in Twilight Princess, and asked him how to find all the 1-up mushrooms in the original Super Mario Bros, he fell silent.

Um…errrrr…can I think about it?” he said.

And that got me to thinking.

What if I made a book to test the full breadth of knowledge possessed by gamers? What if I crammed my geek experience together with that of all my buddies? And what if I tested the entire world to see who’s the most knowledgeable video gamer ever?

So here we are – 114 questions deep.

Don’t worry. In the Ultimate Video Game Quiz, I don’t get obnoxiously obscure, and I try to stick to mostly classic games. Though of course I’ve sprinkled a few off-the-grid questions around. I’ve got gamer friends who wouldn’t let me off the hook if this book were too easy. They’d go all Ganondorf, Ridley, and Bowser on me.

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The idea is this:

Each page contains one, two, or three questions.

The next page has the answers.

There are four sections, with each section containing progressively harder trivia.

Except for the final section, each question answered correctly is worth one point, no matter how easy or difficult.

After you (or your friends) get through the whole book, add up all your points.

1-15 points – You’re not a hardcore gamer. Thanks for playing! J

16-30 points – You’re pretty slick, but you haven’t quite cracked gamer god status. Go play Witcher, Metroid Prime, Grand Theft Auto 5,000, and Dark Souls III. Then we’ll talk.

31-50 points – Most impressive. All I’m sayin’.

51-70 points – You are a true gaming scholar. Or you used Google extensively to cheat. Either way, your dedication is commendable. Let’s hang out sometime.

71+ points – First of all, no person to whom I’ve administered this quiz has ever scored higher than sixty-something. Second of all, if you actually, legitimately scored this high, you’re probably a pro gamer or own every single gaming system ever made. Congrats. You win.

I encourage readers of The Ultimate Video Game Quiz to write their answers and point totals in this book. After all, it’s only a few bucks, a far cry from some of the enormous novels I’ve written. It’s light. It’s fun. It’s for every level of gamer.

And that’s exactly why I wrote it.

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Buy the Ultimate Video Game Quiz for only $5.99 right here.

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If you like it, leave a review! 🙂

If you like books chock full of interesting questions, you’ll probably like this.

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – Angels vs Demons

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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For this week’s thought, let’s get a little personal. In modern society, there’s a tendency to label things (and people) as good or evil. No shades of grey. Just good or bad with little leeway.

Only…that’s silly.

It’s likely that in the history of humanity, no one has ever been 100% good or 100% evil. Even the best of us have done questionable things, while even the lowest and most corrupted of us have probably (even if accidentally) done something to help another person.

Now the question is: which of your voices is stronger?

How good and evil are you?

To solve this riddle, I designed a simple exercise called ‘voices.’

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Voices

Imagine a little angelic version of you lives on your right shoulder. This mini-you represents all that is good, wise, and optimistic in your life.

Now imagine a devilish version lives on your left shoulder. This little demon represents your impulsive, dark side.

Give each one a voice.

If they could talk, what would they say?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Rogue One – A non-fanboy Movie Review

* Disclaimer: This review is spoiler-lite. No plot specifics, deaths, easter eggs, or other direct moments from the movie will appear. However, themes and atmosphere will be discussed.

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Before we begin, I have a confession. I want to let you know I’m going to deliver a particularly unbiased, un-fanboyish review…because I can. You see, I’ve never been a big Star Wars guy. While the first movie intrigued me and The Empire Strikes Back fascinated me, the rest of the movies (except mayyyyybe the final Darth Maul fight in Phantom Menace) bored me to tears. It’s for this reason I feel I’m able to give an extra-fair review. Because while some went into the theater with high or low expectations, I was in the unique situation of going in with neutral expectations. Rogue One is just one more movie to me, not another in a canonical series.

And so it began. On a frigid December night, I wandered alone into a packed theater. Modest cheers erupted when the opening credits rolled, and then everyone fell into reverent silence.

…as is to be expected at a new Star Wars film.

Mads Mikkelsen, the excellent actor of Casino Royale fame, opens up the action as Galen Erso, a character I’d never heard of. There’s a certain stillness to his opening scenes, and right from the start it became apparent this wasn’t like the other Star Wars films. The music cues were slightly familiar, but also somewhat new (and almost jarring.) The conversations were less stiff, and the atmosphere more mature. After all these years of watching (and reading…and discussing) Star Wars, one of my complaints has always been that the Empire felt rather unimposing. The stormtroopers couldn’t hit anything, the bad guys overacted, and my dread was never really inspired.

But in Rogue One, I finally found the fear I’ve been looking for.

The Empire doesn’t pull any punches. The stormtroopers’ aim is 1,000% improved. The rebels find a few foes (other than Vader) worth being terrified of.

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These guys especially…

Early on, we’re introduced to Jyn Erso (played very capably by Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (played just as well by Diego Luna.) These aren’t the Lukes, Hans, and C3PO’s of the early, almost goofball Star Wars realm. These characters are deeper. They give us a taste of the true suffering endured under the Emperor’s Imperial reign. Their dialogue is a cut above the other Star Wars’ films, and while each scene pays loving homage to George Lucas’s vision, there’s no plagiarism here. There’s no ‘we’ve got to fit this cornball one-liner’ in. Sure, we see several familiar faces, but only one scene (I won’t even mention it) felt forced on the audience.

After the early scenes, the action starts moving fast. Things jump from planet to planet. You’ve got to be sharp to keep up with it.

We’re treated to an excellent performance of the reviled Grand Moff Tarkin (played superbly by Guy Henry.) His is a standout role, and deliciously evil. While the main antagonist is somewhat obnoxious, Tarkin is better.

We get a taste of some truly vicious space battles. No cornball Hayden Chistensen & Ewan McGregor banter while slaughtering TIE fighters. Just dudes and chicks fighting to the death with some awesome space hardware.

And we finally get a sidekick (he’s a droid) who’s actually funny. He helps us forget Jar-Jar Binks ever existed. Thanks especially for that, Gareth Edwards (the director.)

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Our nemesis. He whines a bit, but works a solid amount of evil.

Now let’s talk atmosphere. Whereas previous Star Wars (and action films in general) force action scenes that tend to be juuuuust a bit too long, Rogue One gets it right. In the quiet spaces between the action, we get a little more than just a dusty desert scene or bars filled with aliens. There’s rain, beaches, canyons, and beauty. The music gets even better as the movie progresses, and in the latter half, the familiar John Williams score fires up in earnest. More importantly, we get to see the Death Star like never before. No more garbage chutes and incompetent stormtroopers here, ladies and gents. When the D Star rolls over the horizon, the effect is more powerful than all its previous viewings.

So let’s summarize. Does Rogue One have a good plot? Yes, it’s solid. Are the villains the most terrifying (and talented) we’ve seen in a Star Wars’ film? Yes, without a doubt. Do we get to glimpse our favorite historical characters without them being an obnoxious throw-in? Definitely. And is the ending good? Yes….the best I’ve ever seen out of Star Wars. I’ll be a little cryptic so as not to spoil it, but let’s just say fairy-tale endings are dull, and I wish more films had the guts to end like Rogue One.

So…did I love it? Maybe. I’m not sure yet. I will admit it had a few ‘oh come on…that’s unrealistic’ moments. And of course it has the typical Star Wars non-science science.

But…

I really, really liked it. And I will go see it again.

And I haven’t been able to say that about a Star Wars movie since a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

If this it what Star Wars will bring the table in the future, count me in.

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Read more of my movie reviews here.

And get into some seriously deep sci-fi action right here.

J Edward Neill

Dark new cover art for a Collection of Shadows

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Shadows

Earlier this year, authors J Edward Neill, Chad J Shonk, River Fairchild, John R McGuire, Phil Elmore, JL Clayton, Robert Jeffrey II, F Charles Murdock, and Roy T Dodd gathered to create a collection of flash fiction and short, grim tales.

It went a little something this:

Tread lightly into ancient, forbidden realms.  Wander into the futures of apocalyptic worlds. Know what it feels like to face the darkness alone. 

Today we’re introducing new cover art for the book.

It goes a little something like:

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Machina Obscurum contains:

The Stiletto

Appetite

My Ears Rang 

The Sleepers

Phoenix

The Jupiter Event

Proxy: Fontane Di Roma

Til the Last Candle Flickers

Old Man of Tessera

Let the Bodies

Crispin

Murgul

And I Feel Fine

The Crossing: Moonlit Skies

Ice Cream

The Journal

The Sound of Silence

By the Time I get to Arizona

The Dark That Follows

Herald of Tessera

Crawl 

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This book took shape due to the The Write or Die Project.

Check it out tonight…

J Edward Neill

The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Trivia

So you say you want to know your friends and significant others better?

You say you want to understand them?

Easy.

Just make them answer all the questions below. And then, after they reply, send them all your answers.

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It’s The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz

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What is your favorite nickname?

And your least favorite nickname?

Were you bullied in high school? Or were you the bully? Explain.

How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage? And what was it?

Have you ever been arrested? If so, why?

And if not, why not?

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the thing you’ve done you’re proudest of?

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Ever won a fight?

Ever lost one?

Ever wanted to fight someone really badly, but walked away? (Details!)

Pretend you have to explain human reproduction to a ten-year old. How would you do it?

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

How upset would you be if a friend told you a harsh truth about you? (About your appearance or your personality.)

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever done?

And what’s the most badass thing?

Ever done something truly charitable?

And how did it feel?

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Is it ok to lust after someone?

To what degree?

What’s the sickest you’ve ever been?

If you could fight anyone in the world to the death, who would it be?

Be honest. Would you win?

As a little kid, what was your favorite pet’s name?

And how did they die?

Describe how you feel about sports in three words or fewer.

Describe how you feel about video games in five words or fewer.

Coffee or tea?

Beer or wine?

On a scale of one to ten, how artistic are you?

If higher than a 7, explain.

What was the last concert you went to and how much did you enjoy it?

Name your least favorite food of all time.

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In how many minutes could you run one mile?

What about a kilometer?

…yes, those were actually math questions.

Name a historic war whose purpose and outcome you would have supported.

If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, state how many days (realistically) you would survive.

Justify your answer. ^^^

How many TV shows do you need to watch every week?

On a scale of 1-10, how emotionally involved in politics do you get?

Also on a scale of 1-10, how much are you willing to discuss your religious (or non-religious) affiliation?

Are you a humble person?

Explain. ^^^

What’s your personal comfort food?

How many countries in the world have you visited?

Can you say a curse word in a language other than your own?

Do you believe in luck? Good? Bad? Or both?

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If you can, name two awesome things about your home town.

And two not-so-awesome things.

What one law you’d like to see repealed?

Who’s one person you’d like to see brought back to life?

Have you ever won a contest, a sporting event, or a televised game show?

What’s one word you’d feeling very uncomfortable saying out loud? (use asterisks if you don’t want to type it.)

What skill do you possess that you’re probably better at than most people?

If someone wanted to corrupt you, what’s something they could offer to turn you to the dark side?

If you can, name one thing you’d like to see banned in your home country.

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You’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. Name it and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

Do you think you’re smarter than the average person?

Stronger? Faster?

Is it sometimes ok to be loyal to someone even when they’re doing wrong?

How long (in minutes) do you spend in your average shower or bath?

Describe the perfect day in terms of temperature, climate, wind, and appearance of the sky.

If you could afford to hire a maid to do most of your cleaning, laundry, and cooking, would you?

Is it ok to judge someone’s character based on one or two of their deeds?

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

If you could master one skill (any skill in the world) in just one day of study, what skill would it be?

Name one thing that disgusts you.

Which of your family members is most likely to embarrass you?

Name one item on your personal bucket list.

If a famous author wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

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The Ultimate Get-to-Know-Someone Quiz is now a book released under the same name.

If you prefer deeper, darker questions, satisfy your quiz & questions fetish right here.

J Edward Neill

Replacing Createspace – A huge change for KDP authors?

Authors who use Amazon’s Createspace or KDP services might want to take a look at the new option just released today.

Apparently Amazon has decided to consolidate some of their print-by-demand services by offering softcover book sales via KDP.

What does it mean? Situation: not quite certain

Right now the KDP softcover print option is in beta mode, meaning Amazon is testing its viability. But if it takes off, and if it expands print services to include non-standard book trim sizes, (right now it doesn’t) one wonders if the shift in focus away from Createspace will benefit authors. Will KDP-like marketing services (similar to Kindle Countdown) be made available? Does Amazon have additional marketing services in mind?

Here’s the basics straight from Amazon’s help page:

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Move Your CreateSpace Paperback to KDP (Beta):

Moving your CreateSpace paperback to KDP will consolidate your paperback and eBook publishing on a single website. You will receive combined royalty payments for the marketplaces you sell your eBooks and paperbacks to. You do not need to do anything extra – your current account settings, payment information and tax details do not need updates. With KDP, you can distribute to Japan in addition to the US and European marketplaces. We also offer a multilingual user interface and customer support in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Japanese.Although KDP doesn’t yet offer author copies, proof copies, or expanded distribution, we will be adding those features in the future.KDP’s print features won’t affect any existing CreateSpace titles unless you choose to republish them on KDP. It’s up to you whether you want to start publishing new paperbacks on KDP.

KDP and CreateSpace feature comparison chart

Feature KDP CreateSpace
Distribution to Amazon.com (US) Yes Yes
Distribution to Europe (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es) Yes Yes
Distribution to Japan (Amazon.co.jp) Yes No
Order physical proof copies Not yet Yes
Order wholesale author copies Not yet Yes
Expanded distribution to bookstores and non-Amazon websites Not yet Yes

How to publish your CreateSpace paperback on KDP

  1. Set up a new paperback title on your KDP Bookshelf.
  2. On the Paperback Details page, enter the same metadata used for your CreateSpace book.
  3. Select “Yes” when asked whether this book was previously published on CreateSpace.
  4. Click “Save and Continue” to move on to the Paperback Content page.
  5. Under the ISBN header, enter the same 13-digit ISBN used to publish your book on CreateSpace. If you have a 10-digit ISBN issued by CreateSpace, use the ISBN converter to find your 13-digit ISBN equivalent.
  6. Click “Continue” to sign in to your CreateSpace account and validate your ownership of the title.

Once you’re redirected back to KDP, you’ll want to enter the same book details (publication date, trim size, paper type, cover finish) and upload the same manuscript and cover files you used to publish on CreateSpace. KDP’s print specifications are similar to CreateSpace, except we don’t support custom CreateSpace trim sizes. See the trim sizes KDP supports

With our Online Previewer, you can proofread your paperback manuscript online or download it to view offline.

After you publish your CreateSpace book on KDP, we’ll automatically remove your CreateSpace paperback from sale, and your KDP sales will be tracked in your KDP sales and royalty reports. You can still access historical sales reports on CreateSpace but you will not need to take any additional action there.

Files made with CreateSpace templates

In most circumstances, if you used a CreateSpace template to format your cover or manuscript file, you can reuse the same files to publish your CreateSpace paperback on KDP. See exceptions where you’ll need to edit your Cover files and Manuscript files below. If you paid for a CreateSpace cover or interior service, contact CreateSpace customer support to get your files.

If Online Previewer finds errors in your uploaded files, you’ll want to correct the formatting and reupload the files. Troubleshooting tips follow below, and you can also see our KDP Print Publishing Guidelines for detailed help with formatting errors.

Cover files
Some older CreateSpace cover templates include white space around the edges that trigger errors on KDP’s Online Previewer. If you used a CreateSpace template to create your cover, make sure it matches your book’s intended trim size and remove any extra white space. Learn more about KDP’s cover size requirements.

Manuscript files
KDP does not support custom CreateSpace trim sizes. If you used a CreateSpace interior template to create your manuscript file, make sure it’s in a trim size that KDP supports. If not, reset the trim size and reformat your manuscript file to match your new trim size.

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I’m intrigued (and maybe a little bit hopeful) about this move.

Although, considering the huge issues with Amazon’s reporting of page-reads via the Kindle Unlimited program, maybe I shouldn’t be so optimistic.

What do you think?

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J Edward Neill

Author of sci-fi hit A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy

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Review my deep, dark fantasy – Nether Kingdom

I’m hunting for honest reviews of my deepest, darkest fantasy novel yet, Nether Kingdom.

At the world’s edge, Andelusia awakens to the terrible realization that all her dreams have come to nothing. No matter that her father, the warlock, has fallen into exile. No matter that the enemies of mankind have retreated into darkness. When the shadows in her heart cause the seasons to change and deadly storms to sweep across Thillria, she knows what will come:

Nether Kingdom

Click here to buy and review!

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Nether Kingdom is the third and final book in the Tyrants of the Dead trilogy.

It can be read as a standalone novel.

Books I and II are here:

Soul Orb New DDP Cover Second Try Dark_Moon_Daughter-InitialCover

J Edward Neill

Master of sci-fi and fantasy

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy

A Thought for Every Thursday – How far are you willing to believe?

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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Two Worlds

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Human beings experience some pretty strange phenomena.

Things like déjà vu, synchronicity, placebo effects.

Despite the belief (or hope) that these effects are spiritual or otherwise outside the realm of explanation, most of them have causes rooted in science.

And yet…

A few phenomena exist that have yet to be fully explained.

Things like ghosts, past-life memory, ESP.

Which leaves us with three distinct possibilities:

These things don’t really exist. People make them up.

These things do exist, but have scientific reasons we’ve yet to find.

These things do exist, but have causes outside the realm of science.

Which one do you think is most likely?

And why?

Walk to the light

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Arrival movie review

* Disclaimer – this review is largely spoiler free. A few small plot points and themes are revealed.

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On a cold night in early December, I saw Arrival in a nearly empty theater. Now, the theater being almost vacant isn’t a commentary on Arrival’s quality. The hour was late, the weather was frigid, and everyone (besides me) was probably huddled inside their homes, still stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers.

I’ll confess; the only reasons I went to see this movie is that I’m writing a sci-fi novel and I’m hungry for inspiration…and I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that the movie was right up my alley.

I’ll start by saying this: it didn’t disappoint.

From the first moment Amy Adams (as Louise, an expert linguist) appears, it’ s obvious Arrival is a character piece. The title suggests maybe an Independence Day-ish alien invasion or a Bodysnatchers-esque creep-fest. Nope. While the opening scenes share a sense of “what are these huge ships doing in our sky?” dread, every moment thereafter is unique to Arrival.

Mostly.

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What’s the heck is that?? …I’m not telling.

Turns out, Arrival is a thinking-person’s movie. Maybe a splash of Jodie Foster’s Contact mixed with a tiny dash of Interstellar, but with even less action. Let me repeat that: Arrival has almost no action scenes. That’s not to say nothing’s happening, but if you walk in expecting cities full of people to die and xenomorphs strutting around with murder on the mind, this movie probably isn’t for you. Like I said, I went in purely to do a little sci-fi research, and I got exactly what I expected. A mind game. A voyage of intellect and emotion, not of violence.

Amy Adams’ Louise is the key to the movie. And when I say she’s the key, I mean she’s the only character of substance. Sure, you’ve got competent performances by Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner, but Arrival is one of those films in which you get to know one person and one person only. Louise is a linguist, and her job is to find a way to communicate with some pretty cool looking extraterrestrials. Her conversations with humans are short and to the point. It’s really all about what’s going on between her and the aliens, and what’s happening in her head.

Which, as it happens, is a lot.

In pretty much every aliens-on-Earth movie ever made, the real question is: Why are they here? And in pretty much every aliens-on-Earth movie not named Arrival, movie-goers know within 45 minutes whether they’re going to be killed (Independence Day) hunted (Predator) or hugged (E.T.) But Arrival makes a point of stretching the question of why until the very end. In fact, having only seen it once (so far) I’m not entirely sure director Denis Villeneuve ever actually reveals the aliens’ true intent. Which is fine if you can appreciate subtlety, but perhaps less than ideal if you prefer nice, tidy endings.

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But…does it have guns?

I will say this: if Arrival’s intent was to show the meaning of hope and the power of human perseverance, both messages ultimately faded for me. And that’s not meant as a criticism, but more a commentary on the strange turn of events near the film’s end. If you’ve seen the excellent sci-fi flick, Ex Machina, maybe you’ll understand my meaning. Things get a little dark and morally murky at Arrival’s terminus. It’s something I personally enjoyed, but not something all movie-goers will appreciate. Or even notice.

So what you’ve got is a movie that moves at a measured pace, a movie that’s sprinkled with small reveals, and a movie whose ending might leave some scratching their heads…and others a little perplexed. The themes go way beyond meeting aliens. Some moviegoers might think it’s too slow, and that’s not a point I can really contest. It is slow at times. And that’s just fine with me.

Final verdict: I didn’t love Arrival, but I really liked it. And for my part, the science behind the aliens’ reason for coming to Earth and the weird/dark situation Amy Adams grapples with at the end made it a worthwhile film. If you like thinking movies, go see it. If not, download Edge of Tomorrow to squeeze in your action fix.

It’s worth mentioning the Jóhann Jóhannsson music score (mostly strings and piano) is haunting and excellent. I’ll be adding it to my soundtrack collection.

Oh, and it’s also worth mentioning (again) the aliens in Arrival are pretty awesome. I’d take them in a fight against pretty much any other movie xenomorph…ever.

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My other movie reviews are here.

And for a book I want to make a movie out of, go here.

J Edward Neill

Three Splashes of Darkness

Finally…

I’ve settled in my new house long enough to reboot my creative engine and slather up some new paintings.

I’ve got new lighting, a cabinet stocked with all manner of deep, dark colors, and a set of brushes sharper than any sword…

Please enjoy:

sylpha

Sylpha – 12″ x 12″

Sylpha is a character from my upcoming novel, Darkness Between the Stars. Here, I give her the abstract treatment. She cuts a sad figure, doesn’t she?

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forlorn

Forlorn – 12″ x 32″

Forlorn is the first painting I finished in my new setup. The colors are powerful, and the effect really strong in rooms with low light.

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lake-of-longing

Lake of Longing – 24″ x 48″

After I finished Lake of Longing’s red companion (Forlorn, shown above) I knew I had to paint a bigger, darker version. Lake of Longing is epic-level huge, and dominates my gloomy man-cave, just the way I love it.

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If you enjoyed these, you’ll probably also like these.

Until next time…

J Edward Neill

How to spot and ignore fake news stories

Can we talk?

Look…

I don’t know whether or not fake news influenced the election.

I don’t know…and I don’t care.

But what I do know is this: an incredible amount of otherwise intelligent-seeming people have started a trend on the internet: posting (and believing) news stories that are so obviously false, it injures everyone’s eyes to see. They’re doing it at a higher rate than ever. It’s gone from one fake story per week to several every day. It’s obnoxious. And more than that, it’s sad.

No, Conor McGregor didn’t retire due to some random scandal.

Will Smith didn’t assassinate Trump.

The President didn’t ban the Star Spangled Banner at all sporting events.

All the stay-at-home moms in Connecticut didn’t rake in $20,000 per week using some ‘weird trick.’

It’s getting exhausting. And embarrassing. And by embarrassing I don’t mean for the people and sites who post the fake drivel. Those people, classless as they are, are just trying to earn money. No, by embarrassing I’m talking about the people who believe in clickbait and fake news stories. The people who click on it. The people who share it and try to spread it as though it were gospel.

It feels like some of us are able to spot fake news at a glance, but others have no idea that they’re getting worked up by stories that aren’t even close to being true. People are gobbling this stuff up. And while it’s not as if lies and propaganda are new things, the existence of the internet changes the game. It means everyone is exposed. Always.

More importantly…

Facebook and other sites aren’t going to meaningfully crack down on fake stuff. See, Facebook gets paid to run these ads, and the content doesn’t appear to matter. For example, I sponsor business ads on Facebook and Twitter to promote my books, art, and other materials. But when I flip over to my personal page and glimpse the kinds of ads that appear, it isn’t cool, creative stuff I see. It isn’t interesting at all. It’s spam. It’s how some douchey guy made millions because of his non-existent genius. It’s how some celebrity died tragically (they didn’t) or some congressman murdered his dog (his dog is fine.) It’s fake news, usually some politically polarizing junk or straight up scammy garbage designed to get a click, spread a lie, and earn the offending website cash.

It kills me that people believe this stuff. It hurts my human sensibilities. How are we this dumb, this unable to see through super transparent BS? How is it people aren’t able to distinguish between satirical articles and maliciously fake trash?  I think I secretly know the answer (some of us want the fake news articles to be true, particularly the political stuff) but I’m willing to reserve judgment.

No. Actually I’m not. I’m totally judging.

Here’s just a splash of recent fake news headlines people actually believed: (These are the actual headlines, some of which have 10,000 or more Facebook ‘shares.’)

BREAKING: Hillary Clinton files for divorce.”

Remember the voting days: Republicans vote on Tuesday, 11/8 and Democrats vote on Wednesday, 11/9!”

Tens of Thousands of Scientists Declare Climate Change a HOAX!”

“President Obama Signs Executive Order Banning the Sale of Assault Weapons!”

“IT BEGINS: Watch Cops Drag Girl out of NC Bathroom for not Looking Like a Woman.”

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Presently, there’s an article out there listing 130 sites that either promote fake news or use misleading, clickbait-ish headlines. Whether or not every single site listed is actually fake or not isn’t important. What’s important is that from several of these sites, dozens or even hundreds of articles are poured into the internet every day. Misleading articles. Biased articles. Editorials masquerading as journalistic truth. Fake stuff that people you know have read and consumed as if it’s 100% factual.

Here’s what’s up:

You can’t rely on the internet to week out fake news.

It’s not going to stop. It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.

It’s on you to stop it, not Mark Zuckerberg.

There are several articles out there (here’s one) discussing methods of outsmarting fake news. They’re good articles in spirit, but ultimately they’re not simple enough. The kind of people who need to learn how to spot fake news aren’t going to read an ad-riddled, image-filled epic novel about the topic.

It’s really not that complicated.

It’s actually pretty easy.

To eliminate fake news from your consciousness, what you need to do is:

Stop getting your news from Facebook and Twitter. Just stop. Right now

Be automatically skeptical of anything (not just news) you read anywhere on the internet

If something is obviously inflammatory toward a public figure, assume it’s BS until proven otherwise

Especially when using social media, assume anything other than cat pictures and cute photos of your friends’ kids is fake

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Being an honest, conscientious citizen in the modern world involves more than just basic knowledge of how to click through the internet.  You need to step up your game and double down on your critical thinking skills. It isn’t being pessimistic or paranoid. It’s not cynicism. The skills you need to defeat fake news are skills you probably already possess.

Do your homework.

Trust your gut.

Seeing is believing.

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I don’t know what else to say. While I’m aware there are plenty of people who either don’t care about fake news or actually think it’s cool to spread lies, I want to believe in my heart most of us want it to end. If that’s true, if that’s really true, people need to stop looking to others to solve the problem. Crushing this problem isn’t the internet’s problem. It’s not Facebook’s fault, nor Twitter’s.

It’s on YOU. 100% on YOU. Always has been. Always will be.

Now…

Go forth and click less. I’m counting on you, yes YOU, to never share another fake news headline again.

🙂

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I usually never write about this ^^^ kind of stuff. I write about this kind of stuff.

And stuff like this, too.

J Edward Neill

 

 

A Thought for Every Thanksgiving!

 

It’s holiday season here in the USA. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s, and blah, blah, blah…

For various reasons, families are gathering, football is being watched, and liquor is being poured.

Suppose you had a little more control over this whole thing.

Imagine you’ve been put in charge of creating a new national holiday. You can call it whatever you want. You can use it to celebrate anything you like. It’ll be a national paid holiday, observed by the government and appearing on every calendar.

So…

Name your new holiday, tell us what it’s all about, and assign one day of the year you want it to be observed.

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

What’s the best way to get to know someone?

It’s obvious. Get my book. Available now

It’s the very first of my books with cover art straight from the paintbrush of my five-year old son. (<<< That’s actually true.)

It’s…

The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz

The most entertainment you can squeeze into 101 pages.

Pass it around to friends and family. Bring a copy to your breakroom at work. Crash a party with a few copies in hand.

Inside you’ll find a ton of fun, quick (and ridiculous) questions designed to shine a light on your friends’ and loved ones’ hearts and minds.

The best part? It’s only $5.99. Snag your copy today!

gtksq-front-cover

With cover art by Garrett Alexander Neill.

And questions by me…

J Edward Neill

Ten Courses Every College Should Offer

I’ve been thinking.

Dangerous, I know.

In universities across the globe, professors teach math, science, language, and philosophy. Trade schools give students the gift of mastering a specific skill. Liberal arts universities offer so-called ‘well-rounded’ class structure. Schools teach many things, most of which are probably forgotten the moment a student walks out the door.

Let’s be honest. In most cases, college isn’t really about learning stuff. It’s about socializing and introducing students to a way of life they’ll never actually live outside of school. Unless a student learns a very specific skill-set, college seems to be mostly not worth the money we pour into it.

And so…

I propose a different kind of schooling altogether. One that teaches real-life skills. One that prepares students for the catastrophic transition from ‘living with Mom and Dad’ to ‘living in a one-bedroom flat with an obnoxious roommate who refuses to wash their dishes.’

I give you:

Ten Courses Every College Should Offer

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breaking-up

Breaking Up with Someone 101

We ALL have to do it at least 30 times a few times in our lives, so why not teach it in school? Ok, so there’s no super-easy way of dumping someone’s heart in the trash. But there are definitely ways not to do it, up to and including: stalking the other person, publicizing every detail on Facebook, or dumping them only to come crawling back for a second chance. This class is more about what to avoid doing during a breakup, which ex-lovers worldwide could probably stand to learn.

If just one little university would sponsor this class, I volunteer to teach it. For free.

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The Art of Floating Checks

Ah, newly-grads. No marketable skills. No direction in life. No money. When bills are due, but payday is still a week away, what’s a kid to do?

The answer: float that check. And do it well. This course will teach the ins and outs of researching which companies cash checks quickly, and which ones you have a little wiggle room to work with. With any luck, you’ll become an expert at just barely remaining financially alive.

For extra credit, students can also take the Paying Your Mortgage Late, But Not Getting Penalized elective.

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middle

 

#Winning at Social Media

These days, this class should probably be offered in early grade school. In it, students will learn when to post memes (never) when to use hashtags (almost never) and the best time of day to post relationship status changes on Facebook (never!)

For students who want to do something online other than annoy people and leave their friends scratching their heads, #WinningAtSocialMedia is the class to take!

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35-512

Advanced Emotional Distancing- Class 502

This class will almost surely be a mandatory addition to every college program. In it, students will learn advanced techniques to help them be happier via having nearly no emotions. Because honestly, the universe doesn’t care about feelings, especially those of young people.

The techniques studied will include:

Shrugging

Caring less

Caring less while not talking about caring less

Never complaining

Histrionics avoidance

Ego removal

How not to cry while everyone else around you falls to pieces

Students who hope to pass this class will intern for a minimum of three months in an emotionally unstable relationship while maintaining the facial expression shown above.

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Understanding Satire 101

Think you know what satire is? If you’re asked to take this class, odds are you have no idea. Class US101 is designed to help clueless students gain a full grasp of reality. Ideal candidates for this class include students who believe everything they read on the internet, graduates who habitually share clickbait on Facebook, and students who have never heard of Snopes. While primarily for college enrollees, this class is also available as a vocational study group for angry, aging white men.

The final exam in US101 will involve a complete study of the website TheOnion.

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Honors Reading Between the Lines

While available to all students, Honors RBTL is geared for the student who has no idea what a woman means when she says, “Oh nothing’s the matter.” All males are encouraged to attend during their very first semester, while  females are encouraged to attend the similar class, Manipulating Men’s Feelings 101.

Both classes will instruct students in the eye-roll/disdain ratio, the true meaning of ‘nothing,’ and the length of time you should sleep on the couch. Male classes will focus on avoidance, while female classes will primarily teach advanced techniques to counter everything the men learn.

Good luck!

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Remedial Sarcasm

Due to the large influx of students who either don’t understand the true depth of sarcasm or are easily offended by it, universities across Americas have been asked to include a remedial class as a mandatory elective.

Because…honestly…we all know someone who can’t handle the ‘casm.

This class promises to eliminate all the negative aspects of not understanding sarcasm, including: crying, standing with your mouth wide-open, getting angry, getting butthurt, and not knowing what butthurt even means.

Remedial Sarcasm professors get paid at double the rate of other teachers. Sign up now!

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Metaphors and How to Use Them

Honestly, if students haven’t figured out what a metaphor is and how to use one, they probably shouldn’t go to college.

This class has been cancelled. It’s dust in the wind. It’s bones in a grave. Oh never mind.

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Urban Dictionary Study Hall

This class isn’t what you think it is.

Students will not be taught the meanings of various modern slang, insults, and acronyms. (It’s assumed students with any value already know these terms.) Rather, class attendees will be instructed in the prized technique of being able to distinguish which terms are funny or appropriate from terms that are…ahem…stupid.

Examples include:

How and when to use ‘bae’ – only when making fun of someone else using ‘bae.’

How a kitten dies anytime anyone uses the terms ‘LOL’ or ‘YOLO.’

The subtle difference between ‘WTF’ and ‘WTF?’ – I’m kidding; there is no difference.

For extra credit, students may also take the sub-course: Sounding Ignorant on Purpose to Appear Cool 101

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scammerIntroduction to Online Dating

If college life has one similarity to real life, it’s that people don’t actually talk face-to-face anymore. Cell phones are god and texting is all-powerful.

To help students face the nearly insurmountable task of finding easy hook-ups a long-term mate, Intro to Online Dating is now offered as an elective. Students will learn the finest methods of making themselves appear slimmer, taller, and less out-of-shape than they actually are. Male students will learn why it’s best to wait at least ten minutes before sending unsolicited d**k pics, while females will be instructed in the subtle techniques of ‘ghosting,’ ‘catfishing,’ and not starting every single conversation with, “Hey.”

Seriously though. This should actually be a class.

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Other classes soon to be added:

How NOT to use Tinder

Snapchat Filters and the End of the World

Why The Walking Dead Sucks

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*I’m thinking this book should be a standard college text.

This one, too.

Seriously.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – The Omega Project

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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The Omega Project

Imagine you’ve been elected to lead all of humanity.

Your goal: bring every living human together for the purpose of completing a singular, grand project.

The project can be anything imaginable, so long as it’s scientifically plausible.

What will you lead humanity to do?

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More pyramids?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Gift Books for the Holidays

Got a few stockings to stuff?

Have a friend you have no idea what to get for Christmas (or a birthday?)

Need something for under $10?

Solutions await thee.

Welcome to the Coffee Table Philosophy series. These slim, sexy coffee table books are full of fun questions and quizzes to keep anyone (or any gathering) entertained for hours. There’s something for everyone: women, men, couples, singles, et cetera!

The best part? Most of the books in the Coffee Table series are under $7.00!

Get some…

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101 Questions for Humanity – The original entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series asks short, simple questions with aim of provoking thoughtful answers. 101 pages – 101 questions.

Buy it here!

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101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

101 Questions for Midnight – The stakes are raised and the questions darker than ever in this fun, engaging ice-breaker book. Includes questions that are slightly more serious than other entries in the series.

Buy it here!

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101 Questions for Women Cover

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.

Buy it here!

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101 Questions for Men Cover

101 Questions for Men – Geared for men, this entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series asks questions about sex, relationships, war, politics, and much more.

Buy it here!

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444 Questions for the Universe – Meant to entertain for hours, 444 Questions is a grand compilation of serious yet fun questions. It includes four books worth of questions: Humanity, Midnight, Women, Men, plus 40 bonus ‘Questions from Beyond.’

Buy it here!

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101 Qs for the End of the World Front Cover

101 Questions for the End of the World – Definitely the most serious entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series, the questions in this volume challenge readers’ minds regarding science, philosophy, and the meaning of life.

Buy it here!

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101 Deeper Darker Cover

101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity – 101 dark questions to test your morality, challenge your ethics, and entertain your friends. The questions here are slightly longer and more in-depth than other entries.

Buy it here!

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The Little Book of BIG Questions – This one is a compilation of the most serious entries in the Coffee Table series. It includes the entire volumes 101 Questions for the End of the World and 101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity.

Buy it here!

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101 Qs for Couples Front Cover

101 Questions for Couples – Love and fun collide in this lighthearted collection of questions meant to turn up the heat between lovers. Want to get to know your partner better? This will help!

Buy it here!

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101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

101 Sex Questions – Lovers and laugh-seekers alike will find entertainment in this sexy sidekick to the Coffee Table Philosophy series. For adults only!

Buy it here!

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101QSP

101 Questions for Single People – In the modern world of swiping left and never looking back, 101 Questions for Single People explores every facet of love, lust, and human romantic connection. Includes questions about every aspect of dating!

Buy it here!

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Spread the love!

J Edward Neill

If you’re into more serious fare, click here. 🙂

A Thought for Every Thursday – Thunderbolts from Above

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

I call this little series of questions The Adversary.

In most major religions across the world, the primary god or goddess is typically a benevolent or sometimes even an actively good figure of power.

They care. They want the best for their creations. They have positive feelings toward humanity.

But…

What if that assumption is completely off-base? What if humanity, in its infinite fallibility, has mistaken the intentions of its creator(s)?

With that in mind:

If there is a god or gods responsible for the creation and guidance of the human race, do you suppose:

…it’s possible this being is less than the benevolent deity described in several major religions?

…it’s possible this being might not have humanity’s best interests in mind?

…it’s possible this being might one day reject its creations?

…it’s possible this being has a dark purpose in store for us?

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Well? What are your thoughts?

divine_vengence

Squish!

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

My Beef with all the Quotes on the Internet

Quotes, quotes…everywhere.

We see them on our Facebook feeds, on people’s T-shirts, on bumper stickers, and on the walls of houses and offices across the land.

Some are funny. Some are dull. Some have a grain of truth, while others are contradictory. And many quotes are credited to people who never said the quoted phrase to begin with. But no one really cares. If it sounds cool, it becomes cool. And that’s all people really want. Right?

I get it. I get the allure. People like mottos. They enjoy direct, easy-to-understand life-messages they feel are attainable. People want goals. They crave wisdom for themselves and their families. And maybe more than anything, they want something simple. The more bite-sized a quote, the better. Fewer words implies fewer opportunities for the meaning of something to be mistaken. Also, having a short and nifty quote really helps when you want to hang a framed version of it on your living room wall. Or stick an inspirational magnet on your fridge. Or stamp your Facebook feed with something awesome someone might have said.

But I’m here to tell you something:

Internet quotes suck.

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Actually, let me rephrase:

Almost all quotes suck.

Is that crude? Yeah, probably. Maybe, “Internet quotes suck,” is my internet quote. Whatever. I’m pretty sure no one will frame it and slap it above their fireplace, so it’s ok. Where was I? Oh, right. I was just about to explain why quotes suck and you shouldn’t try to live your life using words someone else said.

Let’s go over a few examples:

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Since no one really knows what the future will hold, it’s pretty much impossible to truly prepare for it. Yes, it’s possible to get ready for tomorrow’s day at work or to plan for a specific event a few weeks or months down the road. But sometimes, a lot of times, even the best-laid plans change drastically or fail miserably. And then what have all our preparations wrought? The answer: nothing. It’s a cool sounding quote, but until we perfect time-travel, the future will devour us all.

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Suppose someone is trying to become a man of value, whatever that is. If they achieve it, isn’t that success for them? Meaning, they tried to become a man of success after all?

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Thanks, Eminem. But what if you stood up for something awful? What if your enemies are people you’ve betrayed? What if the only reason you have these alleged enemies is because you’re an A-hole, not because you stood up for some greater cause?

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Maybe you see what I’m talking about. Maybe not. While some of these quotes might have virtue in specific situations for specific people, they’re hardly wisdom for the masses. Besides, how many people actually follow the quotes they slap on the internet, on their cars  and on their walls? Not many. People who get stuff done in life spend more time doing than talking. Right?

thomas-edison-famous-quotesYeah right. Tell that to slaves. To people who work three jobs for paltry pay. To the guy who cleans the toilets. To the teacher who busts her butt only to get cursed out by her students’ parents. Or just read the evil sign posted outside Auschwitz that once boasted Arbeit Macht Frei…aka ‘Work sets you free.’ I think I know what good old Edison meant (if he actually said this.) But then again, some people believe Edison stole several ideas from Tesla rather than work on them himself.

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While I’m not definitely hating on photographers (because it’s a beautiful art form) let’s be clear about something:

The camera made the photo. Nature made the photo. The universe made the photo.

The photographer may have captured it, but he didn’t create it.

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Nelson Mandela was an awesome dude who suffered immeasurably in life.

But this quote (if it was really his) really just bolsters the idea that humanity is innately powerful.

Here’s a hint: we’re not. We’re floating on a tiny blue dot in an ocean of darkness. Our fear is definitely that we’re inadequate. Because in so many ways, we are.

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Ok. So maybe I’m a little cynical. Or maybe I’m just having fun tearing down a few quotes. Or mayyyybe I’m just exhausted of seeing humanity speak a few eloquent words only to completely ignore the message in the end. Fine. Whatever. Since we’re already here, let’s do a few more.

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I know quite a few dedicated religious folks. And while I love and respect many of them, the terms unsinkable, undefeatable, and unshakeable are not the words I’d choose to describe them.

Plus, did anyone ever hear of the Crusades?

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Love ya, Harry. But that’s not what those two words mean. At all.

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What if you died? What if you’re flat broke and there’s no one to help you back on your feet? What if you honestly gave it your all, but were defeated utterly in the end?

It sounds poetic to say failure only happens when you quit. But sometimes people just fail because…life. And sometimes there’s no poetry to it.

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It’d be nice if the world worked this way. And sometimes it might.

But as long as such things as politics, war, and religion exist, there are just too many enemies who have no interest in ever becoming friends.

I mean, just consider this year’s election. Nuff said.

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Quotes, quotes…everywhere. But the fact is: life’s wisdom isn’t earned by a photo and a few clever words on the internet. It’s measured in terms of experience, knowledge, and a willingness to endure heartache, triumph, and change. It’s earned throughout the long, slow decades. It isn’t clicked on, retweeted, or posted on walls.

Our wisdom is inside us. And words, no matter how smart they sound, will never quite capture it.

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Want to coin your own quotes instead of using someone else’s? Try this.

Prefer to think before you speak? Go here.

J Edward Neill

 

 

A Thought for Every Thursday – Gotta Love It

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

* * *

This week, I’ve got two relationship questions for you. Both involve the complicated matter of people being hesitant when getting into new romances.

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Hey you! Slow down with the swipe-rights!

The first question:

You’ve met someone. You like them. A lot. So much so that you’re afraid of getting your heart broken.

The catch is; you’re not quite sure whether or not your feelings are mutual.

Which of the following are you most likely to do?

End the relationship now before they break your heart

Stay with them and take the risk

Try really hard to make them fall in love with you

Or _______________

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And the second question, which involves skeletons:

 We all have them in our closet. Maybe they’re childhood traumas, bad exes, fetishes, phobias, or *gasp* maybe even cats.

At what point during a relationship should someone let their skeletons out?

Immediately

After the 3rd date

Before things get serious

The very moment things get serious

Lock the closet door and throw away the key

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Well? What are your thoughts?

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Past ATFET’s are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

 

10 Questions for When You’re Tipsy

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It’s late. You’ve had a few adult beverages. You’re with a few friends. Or maybe you’re alone.

It’s time to break out ten questions you might not ask if you were sober.

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Let’s Get Physical

 Assuming one-on-one combat, what percentage of the world’s population could you handle in a fight?

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Unshackle the Chains 

Consider the laws in whichever country you call home.

Choose three things you want to no longer be illegal.

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Buying Love

 You have $10 with which to build your ideal romantic companion.

Spend wisely:

$5 – Fantastic in Bed                       $5 – A Great Parent

$3 -An Amazing Body           $3 – A Great Sense of Humor

$3 – Highly Intelligent         $2 – A Specific Skill ($2 per Skill)

$1 – Has ________ in Common With You ($1 Each)

$3 – Morally Solid             $5- Wealthy

$7 – Will Always Love You

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Silver Tongues

 What is the worst lie you’ve ever told? 

If you’re reluctant to answer, then…

…what is the worst lie someone has ever told you?

And why?

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The Heist 

If you could steal any one thing in the world and make it yours forever, what would it be?

It can be an object, a person, a life situation, a place.

You won’t get in any trouble for taking it.

No one will ever know.

Well?

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On a Scale of 0-10…

…in which 0 is ‘not at all’, 5 is average, and 10 means ‘highly’:

How intelligent are you?

How physically attractive are you?

How charming?

How artistic?

How generous?

 And how narcissistic?

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Three Drinks Too Many

 People in relationships can answer this one, too. (just make sure their significant other is cool…or not present.)

 So…

It’s Friday night.

You’re out with your friends, no date.

You’ve had a few drinks too many.

If you were to text or call any one person from your past, who would it be.

And why?

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Let’s Just Hope They Shave  

 Think about romance during previous generations.

The Roaring 20’s

The Sexual Revolution

The Renaissance

Suppose you got a chance to sample a bit of romantic life in one of these time periods.

Which one would you pick?

And why?

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Fight Club Time Machine

 Suppose you’re given the chance to travel back in time to fight any one historical figure to the death.

If you defeat them, the course of history will be changed in accordance with their absence.

The fight will be hand-to-hand. Your foe will be in their prime.

Whom will you fight?

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The Ultimate ‘What if?’

 If you could be a member of the opposite sex for one single day, would you?

Assume no one but you will ever know.

If yes, what would you like to experience?

What age would you want to be?

What situation would you want to be in?

If you’re not interested, why not?

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These ten questions were pried from the pages of my Coffee Table Philosophy series.

In these books, I pose more than 1,000 questions to people.

Some of which are here.

And sexier ones are here.

J Edward Neill

Giving away the Graveyard

That’s right.

I’m giving away four free softcover editions of my spooky novella, The Hecatomb.

All you have to do is click the creepy cover below. It’ll take you to Goodreads, where you can get clicky and enter to win a signed copy. There’s no catch. Entries are valid from Oct 25th – Nov 25th.

TheHecatombWeb

In a drowned village, on a dark shore, in a city of white stones, an ancient evil stalks. It has no name, no face, and no desire but to see the death of everything… …and everyone. Down through the ages it exists, sleepless and void, a relic from the world before humanity.
One dead.
Every night.
Forever.
Until nothing remains.

The Hecatomb includes four short stories, including previously published horror shorts Let the Bodies and Old Man of Tessera. Each story is set in the same world.
It’s up to readers to decide the order in which they happen…

If you’d like to straight-up buy or review The Hecatomb, follow the dark path here.

J Edward Neill