J’s DadHacks – Made up games for the Single Father

A few weeks ago, I gave a shout out to my son (The G Man) for his skill in inventing new Lego bad guys.

This week I’m taking it a bit further.

We have a lot of free time, he and I. And we’re pretty much identical twins, him being 34 years younger notwithstanding. We find ourselves in constant need of self-entertainment. At all hours. TV isn’t allowed in the house. Nor are more than a tiny sampling of video games.

So what’s left to do?

Pretty. Much. Everything.

Marble WarsMarble Wars

Cost – About $5 / Entertainment Value – Priceless. Plus your child learns all about collateral damage

So far the lil’ guy and I have logged approx. 7,421 hours playing this game. No shit. You need 21 marbles to play Marble Wars. Your kid puts ten in a straight line, and you do likewise. Make the lines parallel about 2′ from each other, and leave 2″ between each allied marble to make them harder to hit. To play, each player takes turns shooting the ‘bomb’ marble at his opponent’s line. Every time you hit an enemy marble (directly or via ricochet) remove it. Whoever nukes all of his opponent’s marbles first, wins. The catch: You can’t shoot from any closer than your own marble line, and you have to shoot from the ends of your own troops.

Lifetime Marble Wars record against my son: 3-477

Paper TowersPaper Towers

Cost – About $8 in posterboard, Elmer’s glue, popsicle sticks, and scotch tape. / Entertainment Value – Hey, at least it’s cheap

Junior said he wanted the $200 Lord of the Rings Lego Set. I said, “You can kiss my black ass.” Ok, no. I didn’t really say that. But seriously, he wanted a ‘realm’ in which his Legos could get together and knock the ever-loving hell out of each other. So we bought some multi-colored posterboard, curled it up into towers, laid the towers over a ‘floor’ of glued-down popsicle sticks, and stuck the whole damn thing atop a slab of cardboard. Now, whenever his Lego armies want to dismember one another, he uses our homemade castle as a battleground. He never even mentions the LOTR mega-set anymore. Except every other day. Twice. Forever.

CastleLegoSkull

The finished product. Aka: The Hall of Infinite Death

 

 

images Real-Life Minecraft

Cost – Free…unless you live in a vacuum. / Entertainment Value – So fun you’ll need new drywall

It all started with:

“Dad, can I play Minecraft?”

“Fuck no.”

“Please?”

“Ok. Go get your sword and some pillows.”

Like every child between 2 and 90, Junior loves him some Minecraft. Crushing green, phallus-like Creepers and digging down into the underworld is fun. Only problem is that it’s a video game. And after about 4% of one session of playing it, I decided, “Hell no. We’re not getting addicted to this crap.” So what to do? Well. Junior received a Minecraft foam sword over the holidays this year. So instead of annihilating pixels, we arrange pillows like Minecraft bricks. And he goes nuts. I mean, like…seriously aggro. He knocks down wave after wave of stacked pillows, couch cushions, and cats painted like Creepers (kidding). Then he builds it all up again. The true value of this game is…I never knew we had so many f’ing pillows.

BalloonBattleBalloon Battle

Cost – About $2.99 / Entertainment Value – Good for humans…better for cats

In a house packed with multiple kids and an angry, hormonal mom, this game would never work. Too messy. Too loud. But in a cavernous man-void occupied by a 40 year-old hermit and his son, it’s perfect. What you’ll need: 1 bag of balloons, 1 decent-sized laundry basket. How to play: Divide up the balloons by color into two equal-sized piles. Put the laundry basket in the room’s center. While sitting approx. 6′ from the basket, you and your lil’ one hurl balloons forth from your pile. The point is to get as many of your balloons into the basket as you can, while occasionally knocking your enemy’s (I mean adorable loin-spawn’s) out of the way. When all your balloon ammo is depleted, determine a winner by counting how many of each side’s balloons made it into the basket. This game is especially good for white people, since no jumping, running, or actual ball skills are required.

Caution: If your cats decide to play, the game will only last one or two rounds.

WeedNGWeed Slaughter

Cost – A few bucks / Entertainment Value – Mild, but serves a purpose

The rules: I offer the G Man one penny per weed pulled. He goes nuts and butchers hundreds of weeds while I do tequila shots on the porch. Relax. I’m kidding. (The shots are Jager.) Anyway, teaching work ethics and shit is cool, right? So is watching a five-year old commit genocide on all the crabgrass, clover, and poison ivy in your yard. Would I actually let him pull poison ivy? Sure. Though I’d probably offer two pennies for each vine.

*  *  *

 See you next week.

Sink your teeth into my party-plundering coffee table series here.

J Edward Neill

Objects and the Stories they Tell

This guy is super cool. I love all sorts of objects, from natural objects like feathers, stones, and nests to random antique bottles and keys. I have a horse bit from the Civil War. Why? Why not? More often than not, objects from my collection do end up in my paintings. When I saw this TEDTalk from Adam Savage on his obsession with objects and the stories they tell I couldn’t resist sharing!

Adam Savage

I also didn’t have a blog post planned for today…

The 7 Facebook Personalities

FlamingF2

On Feb 4th, 2004, Skynet Facebook launched a volley of nuclear warheads, forever altering the human landscape.

Millions of years of normal, healthy socialization were undone.

Entire cultures were annihilated.

Men’s bathroom selfies creeped the world out.

Women’s bathroom selfies became infinitely more accessible.

Cheating became 1,000% easier.

From the ashes of this terrifying event arose seven (yes seven, because I said so) Facebook personalities. We all know them. We’ve all seen them. We all ARE at least one of them.

The 7 Prime Facebook Personalities

*  *  *

Catmeme  THE NORMAL – Your everyday, ordinary Facebook user. She doesn’t post all that often. When she does, it’s usually a mildly funny meme, a photo of her better-looking-than-your kids, or a picture of her dog, her cat, and her hamster. You’re rarely lucky enough to get any controversy from the Normal, which is a shame, because everyone loves it when a Facebooker’s life implodes.

 

Sharer

THE SHARER – Now we’re getting somewhere. We all know Sharers. Actually, we all probably know several. This is the lady who seldom posts any actual life statuses. Instead, 4-6 times per day (every day) she posts a big pile of snarky eCard memes or links to other sites. The links and pics usually involve drinking wine, hating Mondays, tormenting their spouses, or drinking wine. On the rare occasion the Sharer posts something about their actual life, it’s usually about, you guessed it, drinking wine.

 

Politics

THE POLITICIAN – Oh yeah, you know you’ve got one of these friends. Or maybe you ARE this guy. You know, the one who really, really, really, really, really hates Obama. Or who really, really, really, really, really thinks Fox News is the vilest thing ever.  Honestly, a good rant is fun to read. It persuades no one (ever) but even so… At least we know the Politician hates approx. half his own Facebook friends. Fastest way to get un-friended: contradict this guy. Go ahead. Try it.

*

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Instagram GirlTHE SELFIE-IST – Ok, in all fairness, this archetype is probably better looking than the rest of us. They’ve got better abs and an ass that won’t quit. If the lights are down and our girlfriends are asleep, we’d consider getting off to one of their photos, but would be too ashamed (so instead we visit Pornhub.) How do we know the SELFIE-IST is hotter? Easy. Because every single day they post at least ten pictures of themselves in halter tops, yoga pants, and muscle shirts. Sometimes in the mirror. Sometimes not. But always holding up their cell phone. Go ahead. Enjoy it. ‘Like’ their pics. Every time you do, you bring them at least 2 seconds of happiness.

LeavingTHE QUITTER – The picture pretty much says it. Personally, I know at least two people among my friends who quit Facebook twice a week only to pop right back up.  It’s always, “I’m done! I can’t handle the drama! Someone said something mean! This world isn’t for me!” But three hours later, all is forgotten. As in literally. No one will likely ever know why they quit in the first place.

And no one will ever care.

 

VagueTHE VAGUEBOOKER – Oh boy. This one’s trouble. The Vaguebooker takes many forms, all of them nefarious. Sometimes they’ll post something short and simple, such as, “Tough day. Not feelin’ it,” thus fish-hooking a pile of sympathetic responses. And then there’s the, “To that sumbitch who said that thing about me and my family. We ALL know who you are. And we hate you.” Except no one’s really sure who the sumbitch is or what they did. Plus it’s obvious they’re not that big of a sumbitch, because the Vaguebooker didn’t actually un-friend them. They remained friends so the sumbitch in question might read the Vaguebooker’s vicious, scathing post and be forever humbled. My one request to the VB’er: be specific. Call a muthafucker out on the carpet by name. Start a real flamewar. It’s much more entertaining for the rest of us.

Morpheus THE GAMER –  Candy Crush, anyone? Game of War? City of Losers? War of Noodles? (Ok, I made up the last two.) In all fairness, the Gamer probably doesn’t know he just spammed all his friends with game requests. He’s probably amazing at Game of Kate Upton’s Boobs, but still hasn’t mastered the art of changing Facebook notification settings. What’s a faster way to get unfriended than contradicting a Politician? Repeatedly sending game invites to every single one of your friends. Find the settings button, people. Find it, and use it. Or even better…write your quick status post, ‘Like’ something, and get the F@#k off Facebook before it eats your soul.

Runners-up

THE SALESMAN (I’m guilty as charged)

THE TMI’er (When NORMALS go rogue)

THE TAGGER (Quit tagging me. Or die)

THE NOMAD (Makes one post every 3-6 months, then vanishes)

*  *  *

That’s it.

I’m done.

I’ll be seriously disappointed if I don’t get un-friended by at least 3 people after they read this.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Check out my party-bombing Coffee Table Philosophy series here.

Keeping things in Check

I’m one of those people that believes in Karma–cause and effect. I believe that our Dharma plays a huge role in how we confront life’s challenges. I also believe there is a balance to everything. The world around us is always attempting to balance itself, to keep things in check, and when we live as close to this balance as we can life is good to us. I’m using words associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, but I’m not affiliated with either. This is something I’ve believed and thought about for the last 20+ years. It’s my brand of common sense. Is my life always stress free, full of serenity and enlightenment? Ha! I wish.

But there are moments when I see the dominoes falling into place and I know why. My gut tells me this was meant to be.

Last week I received word that I did not pass the DragonCon Art Show Jury. Was I upset? Not at all. I know that may sound crazy, but I had been giving some thought to not applying this year. What????

I’d just finished a painting called Renascentia (Latin for Rebirth). This painting… THIS painting.

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

I began working on this painting in 2014. I sketched her out over the course of a week and then set her aside while I worked on a commission. Then the Christmas holiday season hit, my daughter was home from school, and not a whole lot got done. But even so, each time I returned to the first stages of the painting my heart would beat a little faster. It was clear not everyone was as thrilled by this work in progress as I was, but I couldn’t let her go. Before the painting was even finished I had decided she would be on the cover of my sketchbook, Daydreams and Wanderings.

Daydream and Wanderings Funded!

It was in the weeks just before JordanCon, when my Kickstarter funded, that I knew Renascentia was the start of something new in my creative path. She is the beginning. So when the call came from DragonCon, I was not crushed because I’d already begun thinking that I wanted to focus on painting this summer, to follow this new path and see where it takes me. If I’d passed the jury, preparing for the art show would have consumed everything. It’s a lot of work! Plus, I was already going to JordanCon; where I would have to chance to meet some artists I admire, sell some of my own art and make some new connections.

However, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a tiny voice in the back of my head saying, “You suck. You got into DragonCon last year but not this year because you suck.” LOL

And then, Renascentia was awarded Judges’ Choice for JordanCon 2015.

I wrote a blog post on my website about my JordanCon experiences. If you want the full scoop, click through! But I will share the comment Todd Lockwood wrote in response to that post:

The pleasure was all mine, Amanda! I don’t often get the opportunity to influence the choice of “Best in Show” or “Judges’ Choice,” but when I do, it’s the one painting in the show that I most wish -I- might have painted. That was yours. It was unexpected and compelling. Most worthy.

Dominoes falling into place…

I like to swim… into the mosh…

Tonight I’ll be on my way to see Breaking Benjamin in concert for the second time ever… the first being about a decade ago when they randomly opened for Evanescence. In fact, had they not switched the order of who was coming on first (I believe 3 Days Grace was supposed to be the second band of the night, but had to go on first for some reason) I would have never even seen them.

I love concerts. I love going and watching people, and sometimes seeing old friends from concerts long passed. When I was younger I loved jumping in the midst of the craziness and feel the beat rip through us.

With this impending concert adventure, I’m reminded of a few of my favorite shows:

Korn-Korn

Korn with Helmet and Limp Bizkit – Athens, Georgia 1997

I think I saw Korn 6 times for their first album. I swear every 2 months they came through Atlanta… first playing a small club, then the next larger one, and then the next one, and so on. But this show was a chance to not only see them, but to see Helmet – who were one of my top 10 bands at that time. A band I’d managed to miss previously  because of misplaced tickets.

But the biggest reason I remember this show is for the opening band – Limp Bizkit. I couldn’t tell you much about their show. The songs didn’t wow, but I didn’t dislike them either.

And then they launched into Faith… and we laughed… and then they started screaming the lyrics and we stopped laughing.

After the show, Fred Durst (and probably others) were outside the venue handing out their sampler tapes to anyone who would take them. On my next trip to Richmond we wore that tape out (all 2 songs of it). By the time they put their cd out, we were ready.

The Misfits – Dragon Con, Atlanta, Georgia 2000

This one gets a mention only because it has two events that I’ve never seen before happen during a concert.

For those that don’t know, the Misfits are a punk band from the late 70s-early 80s (originally fronted by Glenn Danzig) which reformed in the late 90s. I’ve liked them since before I knew what punk music really meant (not that I’m 100% on that even today). So getting a chance to randomly see them at Dragon Con of all places was too good to pass up.

My roommate, Scott, accompanied me down to whatever room it was they were playing. And a decent crowd had formed. Now, this type of music is far from Scott’s scene (he likes the Lilith Fair types), but he settled in the back of the room, eager to rest his feet from the full day of walking one does at Dragon Con.

After a few songs, I take a glance back and see my good friend, head thrown back, mouth slightly open… asleep in the chair. While this angry, fast, loud music is pumping through the speakers… there he is sleeping.

Sadly, the other thing I remember about this concert is watching a girl crowd surf for a few minutes and then crash down to the floor more or less on her head. A few seconds later she’s twitching… having a seizure. Luckily most concert goers are good about not trampling someone on the ground and her friends managed to get her out of there.

Pantera – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1994

We had row 9 or 13 for this show, no lawn tickets for us. And I know what you are thinking – a Pantera show that you have seats for, how on earth would that be any good. And if I hadn’t been there I would have agreed with you. I don’t know why it worked so well. I think Phil (the lead singer) was in a good mood as he talked to the audience after every other song… but not just the BS singer do, I felt like he was eager to share his stories.

And while we couldn’t get into the pit back on the lawn, that might have been for the best. I’ve been in a Slayer pit before and barely survived… I might not have made it out of a Pantera one.

1994-04-03-Fox-Theater-Atlanta-Georgia-USA

Pearl Jam – Fox Theater (2nd Night – The Radio Broadcast), Atlanta, Georgia 1994

Somehow we managed to get tickets to this concert. Impossible to believe nowadays, my friend Lee – who happened to work an intership or something which allowed him to leave school early – contacted me as soon as I got home. Told me that the tickets were on sale, and I needed to get my ass to Turtles to stand in line.

Somehow I made it to the line, and then magically it sold out… two people after me.

To see this show at the Fox, to be one of the lucky ones who got to see it unfold was a thing I’ll never forget. And even though people offered Courtney and I hundreds to buy our tickets – I never regret seeing them. And since the show was broadcast, it was the first concert I got to relive back at home keeping my memories much more vivid and crisp than they might be now.

Sadly, we did not see the entire concert. When Pearl Jam finished their last song, the house lights went up and slowly we all started to file out of the building. Courtney and I had ridden with Chad and Lee, so after about 10 minutes of waiting in the car, they finally showed up.

“Wow that last song was great. I can’t believe they played Indifference.”

“Uhm, they didn’t play Indifference.”

“Sure they did. With the house lights on. <sees the look on my face> “Did you leave before they played it?”

Sigh.

1218391997_3db942d251

Lollapalooza – Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, Georgia 1993

I consider this my first concert even if it isn’t. I’d attended a couple of “Oldies” concerts with the parents throughout the years, I’d managed to see Janet Jackson (I think it was the Rhythm Nation Tour), but this was my baptism by fire.

I didn’t know any of the bands. I didn’t even have a ticket prior to maybe 2 days before the event as one of my Kroger workmates had an extra ticket. I didn’t know any of the bands who were playing (I was only beginning to learn exactly what Grunge was). But it was a concert and I actually had the day off, so Rebecca and I climbed into my Sunbird and off we went into Atlanta.

Now in the days before GPS and phones that yell the directions at you, we were forced to use heresay and sonar or something to find these places. Somehow we missed the exit (it actually says Lakewood, so to this day I’m unsure how that happened). We drove for about 30 minutes, and were soon far south of Atlanta. It was at this point we decided we MIGHT have missed the turn, stopped and tried to get some directions, and finally made it to the show for the last 2-3 songs in Pearl Jam’s set. And while I wasn’t destined to really hear them for another couple of months when Chad left his cd at my house… I do wonder what might have happened if we’d got there earlier.

As the day progressed, we hung out on the lawn area, soaking up the sights and sounds of these bands I still didn’t know, but I didn’t care. The sun began to set, and darkness rolled in, and a band named Ministry took the stage.

Within seconds the entire lawn area began a mad scramble to their feet. Bodies pushed against each other. Men and women shoved each other. Still others were hoisted upward. The mosh pit breathed as a creature unlike any I’d ever seen before. And while Rebecca abandoned all “sense’ and dove right in, I took a few steps back trying to figure it out.

My first mosh pit was one I never actually got into… but there would be many, many more.

 

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Surprise Book Release – 101 Questions for Women

Surprise!

Book III in the Coffee Table Philosophy series is here!

The most challenging entry yet in the Coffee Table Philosophy series, 101 Questions for Women picks up right where its predecessors left off. Designed with women in mind, but consumable by everyone, it’s the perfect companion book for small get-togethers, huge parties, and quiet nights under the stars.

Once you taste one Question, you’ll want to devour them all.
For 10 preview Questions, click here.

101 Questions for Women

Available now in softcover format and for Kindles galaxy-wide.

Front Cover 101 Questions for Women

Just one book left in the series…

…101 Questions for Darkness

J Edward Neill

Five Things I Don’t Paint or Draw

All artists have a list like this right? It’s a list comprised of things they just don’t care for, have no innate ability to create, or something they feel strongly about–in my case the representation of women. These are my big five. Sorry (not sorry) if you were planning to ask me to paint one of these. 😉

1. Manga/Anime – I love the style, but it’s just not in my bones. Can’t do it. Not going to try. But like said, I do love the style and much to the horror of a few of my friends I love Anime. Yes, I’m one of those Studio Ghibli fans and I passed this love onto my daughter.

Howls Moving Castle

Howls Moving Castle

2. Caricatures – I don’t like them. Some people find caricatures amusing. I’ve always found them disturbing and in some cases scary. They make my insides cringe. However, I can acknowledge the skill behind them. Artists who can pull this off are amazing. I’m not one of them.

George Lucas by Jason Seiler

George Lucas by Jason Seiler

3. Women with enormous breasts and slender figures. – Need I elaborate? Add sexy armor to this too, because it’s ridiculous. If that’s your thing then there are other artists who will fulfill your warped dream. Damn… Did I just type that? Yeah. I did.

Imagine an image here….. You all know what I’m talking about.

4. Your favorite superhero. – Sorry. Not going to happen. Sure, I might draw and paint my favorite Marvel villain occasionally, when the urge hits, but that’s something I do for me. Good or bad, it’s fan art. Now, if you’re an art director or just someone with a lot of money that wants to commission a painting from me, that’s a different story. 😉

5. Space Ships, Cars, Mechanized Vehicles – Really not my thing. I could paint them (with a ton of practice) but I prefer focusing on fauna, flora, faces– flesh and bone. The clouds are so much cooler than the airship in this painting, don’t you think?

Sunward Bound by Amanda Makepeace

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Spring Cleaning

This is one of those weeks where I’m a bit scattered. I’m trying to get back into the proper groove with writing after having life stuff (mostly good, if a pain in the ass) interfere. We’ve gotten new floors put in the house which required us to effectively move all our belongings into the garage or various closets and bathrooms while the work was done.

Now we do Spring cleaning twice a year (yes, I understand that would make it Fall cleaning), so I cannot help but be amazed at how much stuff we gather up to ourselves during those 6 or so months. So much clutter, so much things that never filled their proper place or filled their need.

free-moving-boxes

And I’m the pack rat, so it is against my nature to throw things out. Even when I know that some item no longer really has any real need in the house anymore. Many times those are some of the hardest ones to get rid of… I mean, who knows when that box of computer cords from the late 90s is going to come and save the day.

So these are a few of the things that I tend to keep no matter what when we go through this process. And here’s the thing, I know, in my brain what I should do, but the heart becomes a different matter.

Old VCR Tapes

S-VHS-cassette-tape

I know what you are saying, but we actually have a VCR. That works. That I haven’t watched in the better part of a year (at least). So why do I keep those old movies?

The only thing I can think of is that since I paid money for them, if I were to simply throw them out, it would be like I’d burned that money (I need to understand sunk costs I believe). In fact, the only way that I can really see myself doing such a thing is if I had those movies in a DVD or Digital format. Then, maybe I could get rid of the remaining ones (save for Star Wars – I gotta keep some kind of evidence that Han shot first!).

Old Books that I’ve long since read

I’m actually not horrible about this one in that I have traded in a fair share of books to the used book store nearby. But there is still 2+ bookshelves in use with various unread or partially read (or in this case, completely read).

The lie here that I tell myself is that I’m going to reread these books. With all the free time that I seem to have, and all the new books taking up more physical space in my house or on my Kindle… well, I should no better.

Mementos

Meaning, various mementos to events in the past that really may or may not actually have some kind of emotional connection with. Sometimes these are gifts or they could be a college yearbook in which I don’t appear… so why not get rid of it?

And the answer is that I don’t know. I just don’t have a logical mind when it comes to such things. So by having an annual that will never really be looked at again (as opposed to High School yearbooks and the messages they seem to contain).

Random notebooks

documents

They are full of paperwork and printed out manuals for D&D. Something that if I really needed it for gaming, I could print out again. Something that has not been looked at in over a decade.

Yet, I moved the folders to a safe place and then when everything was done I put them back in their home on the shelf.

And that’s not all of it… I have old cassettes too that I really don’t need. Yet I cannot throw them out.

Yes, I know that I should seek help.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

10 Questions for Women

The following 10 questions are from my Coffee Table Philosophy book, 101 Questions for Women.

Books I and II in the series can be found here and here.

10 Questions for Women:

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Feminism 

A cultural way of existing everyone should embrace?

An over-simplified method of pitting men and women against one another?

Or a concept you personally don’t put much thought into?

No Dating Until You’re 50

 What is the most valuable life lesson a mother can teach her daughter?

What about her son?

Explain the differences, if any, in the lessons you’d teach one or the other.

 The Matriarchy 

Suppose you were queen of the world and everyone in it.

Name three cultural/ideological changes you’d put into place.

Global Fight Club 

In your opinion, are men inherently more violent than women?

If yes, is it due to:

The environment we live in?

Testosterone?

Human instinct?

If women were, on average, physically stronger than men, would they be more violent than men?

But will he take out the Garbage? 

Whenever you meet an attractive man for the very first time, what is your first and most instinctive thought?

 The Few and the Many 

Imagine the world will end in five years.

The government’s plan is to construct one spacecraft for each family. Each ship can hold a family of four. The ships will fly to a nearby star system and drop you off on a habitable planet.

The problem: You and your spouse have four children.

 Stay on earth and wait for the end? Leave two kids behind?

Or convince your spouse to send the kids alone without you?

Back to the Beginning 

In your estimation, for how many years after your death will the memory of you and all that you’ve done linger in the world?

In other words, considering the way you’ve lived your life, how long will people remember you?

What about the residual effects of knowing you? How long will those last?

Consider that the lessons you taught others might be retaught…forever.

The Laminated List 

Imagine you and a significant other have an agreement allowing you each to make a list five names long.

Each name must be a celebrity. If either of you meets someone on of your list, you’re allowed to have sex with them.

Suppose your mate actually meets a celebrity on his list. Are you really ok with him sleeping with her?

What if you met someone on your list? What then?

No Pink Bullets Here 

Pretend you’ve been given the authority to rewrite the rules of warfare. In other words, the power is yours to decide how armies engage, how prisoners are treated, and which weapons are lawful and unlawful to use.

Now describe how you think the next World War would go down with your rules in place.

The Object of Everyone’s Desire

If you could be the last woman alive in a world fully populated by men, would you?

***

101 Questions for Women

Front Cover 101 Questions for Women

Available now!

J Edward Neill

101 Questions for Men Cover101 Questions for Humanity

What shapes your creativity?

We’ve all been shaped by our experiences in life, our past and our present. We probably don’t think about it enough, but as creative individuals those experiences play an important role in what we create. Though I’m conscious of this fact, I’m not sure how closely I’ve ever explored the little bits that have shaped me. Artist Meredith Dillman invited me and other artists to create an Influence Map. If you’re a member of deviantART, you’ve probably seen one of these:


Influence Map Template by fox-orian on DeviantArt

The creator mentions in his description that, you might discover some things about yourself doing this, and he’s right! I’ve decided I’m going to make two Influence Maps. This first map (below) contains my pre-2006 (when I turned 30 years old) influences that clearly still play a role.

Influence Map 1Art Inspired by Fantasy, Nature and Myth — that’s what I have printed on my business cards and it’s no lie. If I had to add anything I’d say there’s also a touch of darkness.

From the top (left to right):

Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory by Georgia O’Keeffe

O’Keeffe is the first artist I remember from childhood. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. The cover of the book features one of her skull paintings. Skulls. I don’t think I need elaborate any further.

American Crow

I decided to feature the crow, but let’s just say he represents all birds and nature.

The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse

Again, let’s just assume all the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Magic, Fantasy, Nature…. But also the tone of the paintings, the introspection, the colors.

H.R. Giger

Everyone close to me knows my quiet obsession with his xenomorphs, but all of his art was (and still is) mesmerizing. The darkness!

The Black Unicorn by Michael Parkes

I’ve been a fan of Parkes’ paintings since my early 20’s and I have a few prints rolled up in my closet still. His dream worlds infused with myths and fairy tales are a delight.

The Unicorn Tapestries

I’ve loved these for a long time, longer than I even realized. It wasn’t until last year, when I saw a special screening of  Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn did it become clear. When I traveled to Paris in 2004 seeing the tapestries was on my list, but the museum was closed for maintenance.

Beauty and the Beast (with Laura Hamilton and Ron Perlman)

I’m not embarrassed at all to say I was obsessed with this tv show. There were many teenage tears shed when this show came to an end. I’ve been consumed with many television characters over the years, but only a few brought me a tears when the networks cancelled them. But hysterical fangirling aside, I loved the underground world in this story and the rich costumes. I wanted to live there!

Natural History 

That’s a photo of just a few things in my collection today. I’ve always loved collecting feathers, nests, rocks, bones, shells, etc. I had an impressive collection as a child and it’s still something I do today and incorporate into my art.

Jareth, the Goblin King

There are several movies I identify with from my childhood, movies that I would obsessively watch over and over again. Labyrinth is just one, but out of all of those I feel as if it left the most obvious mark. The movie even has a barn owl! Fantasy with a touch of darkness. I really wanted Sarah to stay with Jareth.

I’d been thinking a lot about where I’m going with my personal work, what makes my heart sing, even before making this influence map. I feel as if much of what I’ve been painting the last two years are just starter paintings. I’ve been exploring and learning a new medium, opening up my creativity–giving myself permission to be myself.

Renascentia by Amanda Makepeace

I think having a style is not something you discover, it’s more about being true to your self when you paint.

Discover More:  Facebook | Twitter | Convention Schedule  | Shop | Quarterly Newsletter

amandamakepeace.com

The Junk Press

2015.

AKA: The busiest year ever.

Painting. Writing. Editing. Publishing. Not Sleeping.

Let’s start with the painting. I got it in my big, fat head that I could all-of-the-sudden graduate from creating terrifying landscapes and up my game to painting beautiful women. In a single bound. Bad idea, right? Previously I’ve painted stuff like this. Wish me luck?

So after about two weeks of drawing, brushing, agonizing, and touching up, I’m about 70% finished with my huge canvas, Andelusia. Lots left to be done. I’m terrible. But I figure, to Hell with it. Here’s the breakdown:

AndeP1

About three hours in.

AndeP2

Ridiculously tight corset? Sorry, ladies.

AndeP3

Background mostly complete. Hair undertones finished. Whew.

AndeP4

About seven hours in. Skin undertones started. Hardest part is making it look realistic.

AndeP5

About ten hours in. Hair started. Skirt started. Beginnings of black magic on her fingertips. Exhausting!

I figure 30-40 more hours and I’ll be done. Kidding. 4-5 more hours, tops. And then I’ll spend a lifetime kicking myself for every imperfection.

Such is art.

Next up: 101 Questions for Men – Part II in the Coffee Table Philosophy series, is due to hit bookshelves about 30 seconds from now.  My inspiration to write these evolved from a party I went to during which everyone was nose-deep in their cell phones. I tried to break the ice by asking philosophy questions…and lo, it worked! Just a few questions lasted us the entire night. And now I can’t stop writing them.

101 Questions for Men Cover

Due out in a few days. The cover is bit more aggressive than Book I.

Book III in the series, 101 Questions for Women, is also due out this month. It’s been the hardest to write. And the most fun. If these things keep earning interest, I’ll expand the series even more. 101 Questions for…anything you can think of. So check the series out. Seriously. I think there’s something for everyone in it.

And now for the real meat. The coup de gras. The sword on the world’s throat.

NK Book in Hand

The final proof copy. The culmination of 14 years of candlelit writing, shadow worshipping, and bad, bad dreams.

After a few mild post-production struggles and an overhaul to the ending, the moment is almost here. Nether Kingdom, Book III in the Tyrants of the Dead series, and darkest of all dark fantasy epics, will cover the world in shadows. Any. Day. Now. I hope you’ll love it. Big time.

So…

Thanks for clicking. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being here. If you’ve the time, check out my ever expanding library on Amazon. Come back soon to see the finished Andelusia painting. Stick around to catch the new cover of 101 Questions for Women. And keep your eyes peeled for the press release of my upcoming two-book series, Darkness Between the Stars.

Until next time.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

New Release – Kindle Version of 101 Questions for Humanity!

Out today for e-readers planet-wide:

101 Questions for Humanity

Kindle version via Amazon – Only $2.99!!

101Kindle

 

101 Questions for Humanity – The supreme coffee table book for armchair philosophers. Designed to provoke, question, and challenge. Crack it open during big parties, small gatherings, or lonely nights on the couch.

Once you taste one question, you’ll want to devour them all.

 

 

 

Get your philosophy on. Right. Now.

J Edward Neill

Whatnot Strikes Again

Whatnot is code for Amanda doesn’t have a blog post today. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Whatnot usually means I’m busy in the studio and that’s a good thing! Here’s a run down of everything keeping me busy inside and outside the studio.

1. Preparing for the Jordan Con Art Show probably counts for at least three slots on this list. I’ll be displaying a mix of original works and matted prints. Yesterday I ordered a bunch of prints for their Print Shop. I’m working on three originals that I want to take with me next month. Here’s a peek at one I finished yesterday–Heart of the Forest in a beautiful frame.

Heart of the Forest Framed

2. There are 12 days left in my Kickstarter campaign for Daydreams and Wanderings. I’ve promoted more online this month than I have for my Etsy shop in the last 6 months. At this point I feel like I’m spamming everyone, but my artists friends say keep doing it! I’m so close at this point. There are 12 days left and I’m 91% funded. I’m terrified I won’t reach my goal.

3. Drusilla. She’s nearly 11 months old now and still a handful. Lately she’s become obsessed with carrots. I kid you not. I can’t open the veggie drawer in the fridge without her getting excited. She loves playing with the end of a baby carrot. She carries it all over the house, batting and playing. She also likes to hide them in boots, pockets and plastic bags. Carrot time is usually in the evenings so I can keep her occupied while we eat dinner. The rest of the day is a mixed bag. Earlier this week I caught her gnawing on Loki’s shoulder. She acts out when she wants attention or food. Here she is looking innocent. Don’t be fooled.

Drusilla and (Cardboard) Loki

4. I’m also in the early stages of a new commission for a book cover. That’s all I can say about that. 😉

5. I’ve also been working on various drawings, sketches and ideas for paintings to come. Some are ideas I’m returning to and rethinking. This has led to me really evaluate my art–where I want to go and what I want to paint. Many of the pieces I’ve created in the last two years were part of a learning journey, but though I tried to branch out and create specific types of fantasy art for my portfolio I kept being pulled to what moves me–the face. I’m not certain where I’m going, but I know it’s no use to fight the current.

Peek at a new drawing you'll see in my sketchbook

6. Reciprocal. It’s a funny story. Over the holidays I met a fiber artist at a UGA alumni event. She talked me into joining OCAF, which is less than a mile from my house. OCAF – Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation – is an arts organization located in downtown Watkinsville, GA. Oconee County is a rural county. I was hesitant to join because I didn’t think my art would be a good fit. I still believe that. Soon after joining there was a call for entries for a juried exhibit at UNG (University of North Georgia) only for OCAF members. There was no entry fee, so I said, what the hell. I entered my painting Electryone. Sixty artists entered and only 15 were selected, including me! I was blown away. The exhibit is on display till April 2nd. Check it out if you’re in the area, it’s only 15 minutes from Athens.

Opening Night of Reciprocal at UNG

7. Women in Fantastical Art. I recently joined a secret group on Facebook for Women in Fantasy Illustration. It goes on a short list of the best things I’ve done. I needed this group and I have a feeling the benefits will continue to follow in the months and I hope years to come. I’ve made new friends and I’ve touched base with another artist in the Jordan Con Art Show. Yay! I’ve gained support that I honestly can’t get from anyone else but artists who can relate. I’ve gained knowledge! And I’ve been included in an amazing gallery, the one I linked to at the start–Women in Fantastical Art:

The best contemporary female illustrators & concept artists working in fantasy & science fiction

Wow… Yeah. My art is included in this new website built by Leesha Hannigan. To top things off, 24 hours after we made our debut to the world, the web gallery was featured on Tor.com. Wowsers!!

Women in Fantastical Art

I could probably add a few more things to this Whatnot post, but I think I’ll stop here. March has been an incredible month. INCREDIBLE. I really I hope I haven’t jinxed April…

Southern Culture on the Skids

Or What it means to me to be from the South (specifically Georgia)

1 – It means being made fun of both far and wide.

How many times does a comedian or a late night talk show or radio DJ or whomever use “The South” as a punchline to some joke? When the stereotype of where you were born is almost never positive… it makes for an interesting experience.

2 – It means making fun of Yankees, no matter if they are from New York or the Midwest or just “north” of wherever we currently are standing.

Because of #1’s abuse, we have to try and poke fun back. It is a moral imperative.

3 – It means that so many times your sports teams end up underachieving. And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about the Braves or the Falcons or the Bulldogs or Yellow Jackets or Hawks or…

Yes, it is depressing to see those other teams win on our fields. Please stop bringing it up.

4 – It also means that no matter how many people show up for any given game (regardless of the sport) someone will make an issue of it by saying that we don’t support our teams.

Hey, stop trying to spend my money for me!

5 – It means that you definitely shouldn’t get into hockey, because they will just take your toys away from you and move them to somewhere in Canada (The North-North).

Atlanta is kinda like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football with this one.

6 – It means that winter is normally only bad for a couple of weeks… even if we do freak out at the first snowflake.

snow

Though I contend that we get ICE more than snow and show me anyone who can really drive on ICE.

7 – Though our Fall weather is the envy of everyone (or it should be) by not only ushering in football season, but just being the nicest days ever (seriously, ever).

Really, the weather is amazing from September to late November.

8 – It means that most of the people you end up meeting seem to be from somewhere else. Which is odd to me that since it stinks to be from the South that so many people would leave their homes and relocate here.

Could it be that it is secretly awesome here after all?

9 – It currently means that we might be the most prepared for the potential Zombie Apocalypse with the Walking Dead being filmed here.

Or at least we know what Atlanta will look like when it happens.

10 – It means that traffic will be awful (in Atlanta), but because people are from various other places originally, they will gripe all the more about it (we know, we know). And it really means scratching your head when New Yorkers tell you that you drive crazy (after you’ve ridden in a NYC taxi cab!).

atl-traffic

Seriously, just use your turn signal, and we’d all be so much better off (this is for everyone that loves to cut me off regardless of where you originally come from).

11 – It means that other people question why we don’t take the train more places without realizing that our subway only goes from north to south and east to west and doesn’t always have a stop at the place you actually want to go (Turner Field anyone?).

We just like our cars… a lot.

12 – It means having really good food… that will probably end up killing you (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country-fried steak, biscuits, sweet tea).

 

southern-food-1

Excuse me while I go have a heart attack from this gravy.

13 – It means that we call it having a Coke no matter what you are actually drinking.

Not soda or pop, you whacky Northerners!

14 – Finally, it means trying to convince your wife, who’s lived here for all but 3 years of her life, that she is actually Southern at this point.

And failing… 🙂

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Painting, Prepping and Promoting

Those three words sum up life in my studio right now. If I thought I was busy last year, this year is blowing 2014 out of the water. Here’s a snapshot of my creative life this month.

Painting:

I’m working on three pieces. They are in various stages of completion and they will all be finished before the end of the month.

Prepping:

Jordan Con 2015 is next month! I’m in the Art Show this year. Need I say more? Prepping paintings. Prepping prints. Prepping business cards.

I’m also preparing to apply to the Dragon Con Art Show again this year.

Promoting:

Two big events this month!

Reciprocal – a juried exhibit at the University of North Georgia Art Gallery (Oconee). Opening reception is tonight. I will be there!

Reciprocal at UNG

 

Daydreams & Wanderings Kickstarter – You all know about this right? I’m 70% of the way to my goal. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, if I don’t reach my goal, the kickstarter fails and I don’t get any of the funds raised. So help me reach 100% by sharing my campaign with your friends and family!

http://kck.st/1AOtpk6

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The Walking Dead returned a couple of weeks ago.

But I’ll get to that in a second. And actually this is not specifically about the Walking Dead, it is just one of the latest “things” to get this treatment. I’m probably going to be all over the place with this post. Apologies in advance.

I want to talk about this thing that we all do. Well, I’m not 100% on that stat, but let’s say a fair number of internet people do and it drives me nuts.

The people who want to say one of the following:

“This show is not as good as it used to be.”

“This show isn’t as good as everyone says it is (effectively saying you are all sheep who are watching it).”

I know it is human nature to compare something to something else. We do it because it helps us identify things. Comparing helps us understand what it is we are watching. We think – this is kinda like X thing, and I really liked X thing, so I’m probably going to like this Y thing.

I do it too. There are certain shows, movies, books, songs, etc. that I am much more likely to enjoy than someone else. Time travel, zombies, anything dealing with alternate worlds, and Groundhog Day style movies/TV shows are all in that wheelhouse for me. If you have some aspect of those things I’m going to probably check you out.

****

Back in college I didn’t necessarily go to see every movie that came out. I’m not saying this as a statement of pride or anything else. It just was a fact. Even without going every week I saw a good number of movies. But by trying to narrow down a little bit, be a little bit discriminate meant that I missed a lot of bad movies. And I know this to be the case because if you’ve ever been up at 2 in the morning you see plenty of the “Bad” movies on HBO or TBS or TNT or… The flip side of that was, of course, I also missed out on a lot of good movies. That was the trade-off I was willing to make because I KNEW if something was really good a friend would let me know. And if something was only “OK”, well maybe I didn’t need to see that one.

1024px-Fox_Theater_night

Choosing that path meant that I saw movies that, most of the time, I didn’t have much bad things to say. Oh, maybe I wasn’t floored by the latest Tom Cruise movie, but it wasn’t necessarily a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. As time went on, those bad movies got forgotten or just relegated to the status of “Eh, it was ok I guess”.

Not the strongest endorsement, and I’m sure I had friends who thought that there were no movies I hated, but they didn’t realize I’d already done some level of weeding before I ever entered the theater. I mean, unless you are watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, there is little reason to watch a bad movie (note, however, I do not say there are no reasons – get enough people together and the worst movies can be the best experiences).

****

But what I don’t understand is this need to tear down things that other people like. That other people enjoy. Those people who are just waiting in the weeds… they want to tell you why something sucks or that Season 1 was soooo much better, the first movie was better, book 3 was the best and everything after those things were just absolute garbage.

Note, this isn’t about discussions where something isn’t exactly to another’s tastes. I love to talk about and dissect various movies, books, tv shows, etc. A back and forth about how maybe one thing was a little bit better than something else. A talk in which you are thinking about the things you liked and the things that you didn’t like.

As a writer I love trying to figure why something was done a certain way. As a fan of the form(s) I love to think about what might have worked better from that angle as well. Sometimes those things line up and sometimes they don’t.

I’m not stupid, I know that not everyone likes everything they see.

Why do we need to tear something down? Why do we have to nitpick things?

I notice this more due to the Internet forums. And yes, I understand I should just avoid bothering with them, but I’m clearly a glutton for punishment. And I’m always floored by venom being thrown at certain things because other people like them.

When do you just get to enjoy it?

****

Everything we consume has some kind of flaw. Nothing is 100% perfect. But why nitpick every last detail?

It seems like the only time this doesn’t apply is with shows that most people come in late on. Something like Breaking Bad. These things are done or almost done and we’ve consumed them in a way that maybe doesn’t allow for complete introspection. To put it another way, when you are binge watching something, you are more worried about getting to the next episode more than wondering why Walter White reacted in the way he did.

By watching a character arc in a matter of hours instead of weeks or years, everything has more weight and less weight at the same time. It means that maybe those tweaks and changes seem a bit more flawed than they need to be… because that true time to watch over the course of years is no longer needed.

****

Case in point: LOST. I am unapologetic about my love for this show. Is it perfect? No, of course not, but I’m willing to live with a few warts for one of the better shows on the tv screen (at least as far as I’m concerned).

Lost-season1

So many of the genre shows sometimes take the brunt of it. I remember that when Lost was heading towards the end of Season 1. Mysteries were being laid out, shit was getting real, and I remember reading a blog where the guy said that he’s not watching Lost because he feels like it is going to do to him what X-Files did to him (not solve the mysteries they laid out). Hey, that’s fine don’t watch, but then when don’t sit there and tell everyone else why they are dumb for watching and enjoying.

Because you know you’ve seen it. That sadistic glee where someone says they aren’t going to bother with something because of some reason. But then spends the next X number of years bashing that TV show because it can’t be any good (if it was, they would like it).

But this is Season 1 we’re talking about and you’ve condemned it, without having watched, because you don’t trust the writers to answer all the questions they are asking (it is an entirely different blog post that would be needed to answer what did or didn’t get answered).

I guess what bothers me is it feels so much like the crap that we are supposed to be over. We’d rather complain about something versus just turning the channel. We sit around and hope to be right about something being bad. What the hell kind of sense does that make? Does the ability to tell someone “I told you so” outweigh everything else in your life? Is that the only bit of joy left to you is to take away someone else’s joy so that they can join you in the pit of despair?

****

I’m not sure what part of the human condition this belongs to, but it has always bugged me. I don’t understand people who watch a TV show, read a comic series, and to a lesser extent watch movies or read novels who seem to take pleasure when something popular gets taken down a peg.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a critique of when a show has jumped the shark. We’ve all seen that happen, and many times I realize it and still watch because of the investment in the characters outweighs some of the BS.

I’m talking more about those people who lay in the weeds to tell you “haha! I told you it was terrible and now you have to think it too!”

Maybe this sensitivity comes from being a writer and trying to see where something might have went wrong is a part of the process, but when you are giving feedback you are supposed to give “Constructive Critiques”. The people I’m talking about wouldn’t know how to do much more than “It’s stupid and so are you!”.

****

Why do we need to hate something? Wouldn’t it just be easier to love something different? Why can’t we change the channel?

Of course the flip-side to all of this is that desperate want for someone to agree with you that something is the BEST THING EVER!

****

This phenomenon is something I see mentioned in conjunction with the Walking Dead currently. It gets these monster ratings and that only seems to enrage certain people out there. But it isn’t the only thing.

Doctor-Who-logo

I decided to get into Doctor Who this season. Yes, I realize that there have been 25+ seasons and 11 Doctors, but with a new incarnation I thought this would be the best time to maybe give it a try. So imagine my horror when everyone was talking about ending their own viewing of the show with the demise of Matt Smith’s Doctor. So many people were on Facebook talking about stopping, and I wanted to write each of them to say “Hey, I’m finally ready to fall in love with something you love and… hey where are you going?”

Why does it matter? Why does it matter to me that everyone who was watching (and I assuming loving the show) still continue with the new Doctor? What does it matter to me? And why would I even allow it to possibly affect my own enjoyment of the show?

It doesn’t. And yet, just tonight I read a blog post where the writer just had a passing slam about the new version of the show. Literally 2 sentences in a blog completely unrelated to Doctor Who in any way possible. Talking about how this version is just terrible.

And then it occured to me. That little shot at something that I like, without any explanation, feels like (whether it is or not) a personal shot at me. That by me saying “I like this thing” anytime someone else comes along and says “Well I hate that thing” it must mean that they hate something about me. And I’d rather not be hated, but somehow there is nothing I can do about it.

What is wrong with me? Why should I care?

I wish I knew.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

No Delusions of Grandeur

Polish SkullsSkulls. Sand. Shadows.

Three of my favorite things.

As I near the release of this, and thus slam the door shut on a too-long writing project, I sit in a rotting leather chair, my feet propped on a destroyed-by-cats ottoman, and reflect on my existence. I should be happier, I think. I should shimmer like Twilight’s vampires and bounce like Barney the fucking dinosaur after a line of coke. Throw a party, I tell myself. Celebrate it. Relish it. Savor it.

Fuck it.

 I’m not in the mood.

It’s not that I don’t feel a sublime sense of satisfaction. Or oceans of relief. It’s just that tonight, with the wind battering my windows and my candle sputtering its final breaths, I feel a little bit pointless. Self-satisfaction, I tell myself, is for the narcissistic. Get your ass back to work, my brain commands. Right. Now. And I will. There won’t be a party. Or a fist pump. Or even a celebratory glass of wine.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yes.

If I finish a book and only a few thousand people read it, does it matter?

Yes.

Maybe.

As I gloom in my writing cave, I’m reminded of a poem from the 70’s. The Deteriorata is a prose-form poem written to both mock and celebrate 1927’s Desiderata. It pretty well summates my feelings, my ‘F it’ mood, my devotion to sarcasm, cynicism, and indifference, and my awareness that a few quick breaths from now, the fleeting afterglow of publishing a million words will vanish into the air. As though it had never been.

Here it is:

Deteriorata 

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here
Deteriorata. Deteriorata

Go placidly amid the noise and waste
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep
Rotate your tires
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys
Know what to kiss, and when
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do
Wherever possible, put people on hold
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time
There is always a big future in computer maintenance

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Remember The Pueblo
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate
Know yourself
If you need help, call the FBI
Exercise caution in your daily affairs
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch
Hire people with hooks
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee

You are a fluke of the universe
You have no right to be here
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate
Give up

(Tony Hendra, National Lampoon Radio Dinner, 1972)

And so I’ll close up shop tonight, contented but not. I’ll eat some Ramen, knock back a Scorsese film, and plot new beginnings tomorrow. There’s no glory in finishing one book…nor six…nor likely a hundred. There’s no party long enough to satisfy me nor a woman cold and cruel enough to fascinate me.

It doesn’t matter.

I’m not giving up.

Love,

J Edward Neill

The End of Office Life

DeadOffice

 

As children, who among us dreamed of being an office worker when we grew up?

None of us.

Say it again slowly: None. Of. Us.

Office work? Pshhhh. We kids had huger ideas. We dreamed of being astronauts, doctors, fighter jet pilots, quarterbacks, world travelers, and movie stars. We imagined big things, challenging things, awesome things. Now…some of us actually realized our dreams. Some of us went to school, nurtured our talent, and climbed mountains to reach the top. And I salute those people. Well played. Well done.

On the flip side, some of us ended up like this dude up above. Sticks and bones. Eyes glued to a screen. Cogs in the corporate machine. And are completely fine with it. Do a job. Get a paycheck. Go home and forget work even exists. Equally admirable.

But still more of us (the majority, I bet) lie somewhere in-between. We who exist at work, but don’t thrive in it. We who kick ass at our jobs, but ache for something more. We who do what needs to be done, but know in our hearts happiness lies in some other place beyond our desks, our computers, and our monolithic stacks of paper, files, and utter boredom.

Ever seen Office Space? Of course you have. Everyone’s seen Office Space. I mean, c’mon! Remember what Peter says while pondering his corporate enslavement? Goes something like:

“It’s not just about me and my dream of doing nothing. It’s about all of us. I don’t know what happened to me at that hypnotherapist and…I don’t know…maybe it was just shock and it’s wearing off now, but when I saw that fat man keel over and die – Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.”

It’s a funny movie. But between the jokes lies a grave truth. The world of soul-sucking, mind-numbing, keyboard-pounding office life is real. I know. I live it.

And I want out. Many of us do, I wager.

They say that in life if someone wants something badly enough, one can have it. With hard work, perseverance, and blah, blah, blah, one can throw off the shackles of one’s past and forge a newer, sharper, more satisfying existence. I’ve read books on it. Every other Facebook post hints at it. I hear people talk about it. Cat posters everywhere scream it.

And yet.

The longer I sit here.

The more I feel myself becoming this guy:

Yeeeaaahhh

Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhh…

It doesn’t matter that I forget about work the moment I leave. Or that I remind myself life could be much, much worse. Doesn’t matter one bit. Every dawn I march to work, I die a little bit inside. I fear someday I’ll wake up wearing an ugly tie and suspenders. Or that I’ll make guest appearances in my employees’ dreams…banging their wives and girlfriends with a cup of coffee in hand. I don’t even drink coffee.

Normally this would be the part where I beg you, my readers, to buy all my books and rescue me from this life. But no, not today. Today I just wanna vent. To wage a mini-war against my inner Bill Lumbergh, and to call for solidarity amongst my office slave by day/creative warlord by night brethren.

Keep battling. Keep creating. Keep training, fighting, painting, writing, and kicking ass.

It will happen for you. You will defeat your office life.

Ok. No you probably won’t. But even so…

That’s why they invented wine.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Co -Author of Hollow Empire – Night of Knives

 

Once Upon a Time…

I once brought a dagger on a plane.

And this wasn’t pre-9/11, and it wasn’t a domestic flight, no this was an international flight to Atlanta via New York.

And it was just over 1 year (by a handful of days) after the tragedy.

Yes, apparently I am that dumb.

I also believe that memories connected to items and objects are more likely to be stronger than those that we only rely on pure memory for. It isn’t 100% fool-proof, but more than one time I’ve come across something that triggered a memory long since lost.

For our honeymoon, my wife and I did a cruise of the western Mediterranean which included, among Spain, France, and Italy, a little country off the coast of Italy called Malta. And while we were there I saw this dagger.

Malta Dagger

I don’t know exactly why, and honestly, if I had given it more thought I would have talked myself out of buying it in the first place. The logistics of having a weapon on a cruise trip, trying to bring a weapon onto a plane in any capacity much less in the world we were then living in. But my analytic brain was on vacation as well. So I paid for the piece of memory and we went back to our sight-seeing.

It wasn’t until we were getting back on the ship that I thought anything of it.

“Oh, how are we supposed to handle this?”

I spoke to one of the cruise employees who informed me that they would have the Master of Arms for the ship take it and secure it in a vault until we finally left the ship for good.

Again, it should have occurred to me that this might be a problem when we finally got to the Barcelona airport.

But it didn’t, not until we were packing on that final day. I had the blade wrapped up… it wasn’t sharp, but it was still a big knife and I didn’t want it to tear anything else in the suitcase. I think we placed it near the top in case we needed to show it to someone in charge.

So they did the whole thing of the standard questions:

“Has your bags been with you the whole time?”

“Had anyone asked you to blah blah?”

I think she asked something else, but it was at that point I knew I should speak up.

“I have a decorative dagger in the luggage I’m about to check.”

Her face told me that she wasn’t sure if I had really spoken English to her in that moment. Her brain flew through its various calculations about how to ask me “What the Hell?” without saying those specific words.

english

“I’m sorry?”

“In my luggage, I have a decorative dagger. We bought it in Malta as a souvenir, but I’m not sure how we are supposed to handle it.” Never mind the fact that decorative might not be the correct adjective to use, I thought just saying dagger all by itself would prove more troublesome.

Again her brain whirled and buzzed, perhaps her eyes rolled up inside her brain as the little women who controlled her brain began scrambling for the proper response. Finally after what seemed like minutes but was probably only a couple of seconds she held up a finger. “Let me call someone.”

Courtney and I waited off to the side for her superior to show up. When he did they stepped away and had a discussion. Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not entirely sure what specifics were uttered, but after a minute or so the superior came over to me.

“What is the issue?”

It’s that feeling you get when you have been on the phone with a Help Desk and they are passing you along to someone else. They’ve been taking notes this whole time… you hear them tapping away at their keyboard, but as soon as you get transferred the next person asks you THE EXACT SAME QUESTIONS. I always think, “Why even write it down if you aren’t going to look at it.”

In this case I figured I’d give them the benefit of the doubt with the language difference and whatnot.

“We have a decorative dagger… a souvenir in our luggage.”

“Let me see it.”

So I unzipped our bag and carefully unwrapped the dagger on the counter. He may have lifted it to inspect it, if he did it was a very brief inspection. Either way he stepped aside with the original lady and they began discussing it. This conversation lasted a little longer (maybe 2 minutes), and then he came back, told me to wrap it up and put it in the bag and then they took the bag. No problem.

“Oh, they probably just said ‘Let the Americans deal with it in New York.'”

And that’s what I thought. I cursed the idea we were flying into New York instead of Atlanta. There is no way we’re getting that Dagger back home. Money completely wasted. Why didn’t I think this through?

We arrived in New York…

and no one said anything to us. Nobody pulled us aside to say they had gotten a note about the weapon, there was no detention, there was nothing. Now, granted, it wasn’t in our carry-on or anything, but still… I wasn’t expecting nothing.

Again in Atlanta there was nothing said. I began to wonder if we had said nothing in Barcelona would they have even noticed. So either clearly it wasn’t deemed important enough for them to bother with. To this day, whenever I look at the dagger I’m shocked that it is sitting on the mantle rather than in some storage bin in Spain or New York.

But no, they didn’t keep that memory and for that I am grateful.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Love is a battlefield

Truth2

Undeniable modern truth ^

Ok.

I admit it.

This article has nothing to do with books, art, movies, comics, or skulls. It’s not a quiz. It’s not philosophical. It’s not even this. I promise I’m not gonna try to sell you anything.

…except the truth.

The cold hard facts are these: Dating is nothing like it once was. Nor will it ever be again. That’s not to say it was easy in the past. (It wasn’t.) But in the modern technological era, the challenges of connecting with another human go way beyond working up the courage to approach them. Approaching is now the easy part. It’s everything else that’s a minefield.

Used to be, as recently as the early 2000’s, Americans would date almost exclusively within their circle of friends. In other words: lack of access to a huge pool of people restricted dating options to a few hundred potential mates…at most. If you didn’t have a wide range of friends, didn’t go out much, or didn’t work at a large company with hundreds of employees, chances are your options were extremely limited.

Throw all of that out the window.

Today, dating options are nearly unlimited. In less than the span of a single generation, Americans have completely flipped the culture upside-down. Now, instead of a few hundred potential mates (if you were lucky) we singles have access to millions. Instead of happy hour or singles night at the club, we have all that and dozens of dating sites, ie; Match, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, EHarmony, as well as the dreaded Tinder. Hell, even married people have it easier to cheat with creeptastic sites like Ashley Madison. In literally five minutes, one can make a profile, weed out millions of potentials with a few clicks, and set up a date. Add in Uber’s new black car service, and you, yes you, are only about ten minutes removed from an amazing night out.

…or an utterly mediocre one.

Truth1

…along with 1,000 other weird things we humans do.

Enter: the dark side of complete dating freedom.

The obvious truth is that with the ease of finding new partners via huge available dating pools, daters have too…many…choices. If Guy A and Woman B meet via Match.com, hit it off well, and enjoy several steamy dates, that’s all well and good. Prior to 2000, this neat little couple might have willingly closed the door to other potentials and moved on into a serious, meaningful relationship. But in the modern era, what happens when Guy A observes some small fault in Woman B or when Woman B realizes Guy A just isn’t as tall as her usual crop? Way too often…it’s back to the drawing board. The modern dating culture allows it, so why not? Why not seek utter perfection? Why shouldn’t every woman have their 6’3″, chiseled-abs, wealthy, handsome, funny, fastidious, college-educated, well-cultured man? And why shouldn’t every guy have a level-headed, successful, highly intelligent supermodel? If love (or at least a three-night stand) lies only a few clicks away, why not?

Because there is no perfection.

Consider these facts from several recent dating studies:

-Algorithms can’t predict whether two people are compatible-

A group of U.S. psychology professors collaborated, describing the faults of online dating, which was published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Professors stated that the sites couldn’t predict whether a relationship would last just because two people had similar interests and personalities. According to Professor Eli Finkel, who worked on the report, “They do not [work].”

-Couples who meet online are more likely to break up-

 Researchers from Stanford University and Michigan State University surveyed more than 4,000 people. They learned that breakups were far more common in couples who met online versus offline. They claim that the phenomenon holds true for both married and unmarried couples.

-81% of people lie about their height, weight, or age in their online dating profiles-

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers weighed and measured subjects in addition to checking their driver’s licenses for their actual ages, and then looked at their subjects’ online dating profiles. Women tended to claim that they were 8.5 pounds lighter than they actually were. Men lied by less—only two pounds—but rounded up their height by a half inch more often. (mentalfloss.com – Merideth Danko)

***

Ultimately, the trend is unlikely to stop. Much like Google opened up a planet’s worth of previously difficult-to-find information, Amazon allowed travel-free shopping, and porn sites across the world eliminated any apparent need to talk birds and bees with any kid over the age of 8, so too does online dating change the game completely and forever. This is where we’re at now. Total. Dating. Freedom. Let’s be clear, it’s unfair to judge people using dating sites. I’ve tried them myself, several times, with varying levels of success. And yet, deep down in my heart, I came to understand that total freedom paired with the almost cruel reduction of people to photos and profile blurbs wasn’t necessarily the ticket to happiness. And so I stopped. Cold turkey.

Look, it’s true that the past was far from ideal. It’s not like dating in the 50’s, 80’s, and 90’s wasn’t clunky and unpredictable. But anymore, singles have wandered into a warzone. For every one couple the creepy EHarmony guys brags about bringing together, oceans of people are drowning in disappointment. The internet promises plenty. But how often does it really deliver? Because let’s face it, most of us don’t want to date endlessly or swim down rivers of one-night stands. Most of us probably don’t even want the statistical perfection online dating appears to offer. We just want to find someone cool. Someone who gets us. Someone who won’t leave after an awesome date only to start clicking through more profiles the moment they get home.

I’m just sayin’.

The grass ain’t always greener.

Use your intuition, not your impulse.

Back to skulls and dark fantasy novels next week, I promise.

J Edward Neill

Author of this: 101 Sex Questions

And co-author of this.

10 Things – Cats in the Studio

I’ve lived with a cat in my art studio since 2006 when Shadow was still shy of a year old and we lived near the Dorset coast in England. Initially, I tried to keep her out of the studio, but her cries were relentless. Over the years I’ve come to learn some valuable lessons and hard truths.

1. Cats love to be involved in the creative process.

Hunter inspected my Prismacolor Pencils

Yessss, these are the colors.

2. If you can’t find that certain pad of paper chances are, they are sitting on it.

I haven't seen your watercolor paper.

I haven’t seen your watercolor paper.

3. Never leave works in progress unattended. Remember, they like to be involved.

It needs my special touch.

It needs my special touch.

4. Learn to incorporate cat hair into your paintings. Chances are there are more than a few strands of fur in this painting. It is what it is.

Sticking with the theme...

Sticking with the theme…

5. Cats will attempt to sway your creative decisions.

Drusilla

Are you sure you want to draw that?

6. Everything is for climbing. Everything.

Mom, look what I can do!

Mom, look what I can do!

7. A warm lap must be made available at all times, no matter what you’re doing.

Oh, you're painting?

Oh, you’re painting?

8. They are never too young to begin disrupting learning what you do.

I want to try!

I want to try!

9. You may feel like working through lunch, but they won’t. Ever.

Drusilla trying to get my Attention

Are you done working yet?

10. All of the above rules apply both inside and outside the studio.

I'm going to sit on your art till you pay attention to me.

I’m going to sit on your art till you pay attention to me.

Instagram: Inside (and Outside) the Artist’s Studio

Instagram has become one of my favorite social media outlets. I love following my favorite artists (and art directors) for a peek into their lives and studio adventures. Photos from exhibitions and conventions I can’t attend are a special treat. I even follow a few authors too! Instagram’s unobtrusiveness is what attracts me most. There’s a lot to see, but it’s not being thrown in your face. There are no obligations to like everything that scrolls across your dashboard, nor to write a monologue. For someone as visual as I am, posting a photo with only a few words is perfect and it keeps the introvert in me happy. Instagram is also a great marketing tool. Sharing works in progress and sketches are popular posts, plus the app is able to share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr all at the same time. Perfect.

Below is a taste of the types of images I post. I usually tell people I post photos of art, trees and cats.

http://instagram.com/amandamakepeace/

Instagram Tips:

1. Hashtags are your friend. This is a hashtag –> #art #catsofinstagram #dragoncon. Posting a few, as they relate to your photo, help others find your posts. If I want to see who else is posting photos from Dragon Con I can click on the hashtag in the app and see all the photos being posted with that tag.

2. If someone comments on your photo be sure to respond by placing a @ in front of their username (ex. @amandamakepeace), otherwise they won’t see your response.

3. Fill out your profile completely and don’t forget to add a link to your website or shop!

4. If someone leaves you a spam comment you can block them. Go to their profile and click on the rectangular icon with the arrow (top right corner in the iOS app) and choose to block or report.

5. Building a following takes time. Be consistent with your posts, don’t over post, and interact by leaving comments on photos your love.

Ten MORE Questions for Humanity

PaperTigerChasing

For the original 10 Questions for Humanity, go HERE.

For my new philosophy book, 101 Questions for Humanityclick here!

As for today, you get ten MORE questions. Because…thought provoking.

***

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?

***

Disclaimer 1: In observance of Tessera’s no politics, no religion policy, please eat salt after reading this

Disclaimer 2: I know the answers. I’m more interested in what you have to say

To support all of my bad habits, check this out:

Love,

J Edward Neill

Tips for dating a writer

…Tips For Dating a Writer…

A sarcastic (mostly) blog about the dangers of sleeping with word-nerds.  

DeadLapTop

#1. Don’t.

#2. Say everything twice. Your special significant other won’t be listening the first time. (On the plus side, this means you get to take free shots at them when starting up conversations.)   

#3.  Adjust your expectations. Your days of being numero uno are over. Once the computer starts humming or the pencil starts moving, you’re just dust in the wind. I recommend getting a pet. Or a second job. Or maybe even a backup guy/girl. Just don’t date two writers simultaneously. (If they ever meet, the world will end.)

#4. Spill their coffee, fine. Break their phone, ok. But F up their computer or damage their manuscript, and it’s time to prep the couch for a long winter. Of you. Sleeping on it.

#5. Don’t ever offer to read their stuff. If they force you to (and they will,) never lie about its quality. Be brutally, cruelly honest. Always. (This one really isn’t sarcastic.)

Pointless

Probably a good call…

#6. Always pay the internet bill.

#7. Sex after they’re done writing for the day will always be better than before they’ve started. (The exception: erotica writers. They need source material.)

#8. Flash drives. The perfect holiday/birthday gift.

#9. Writing time isn’t talking time, TV time, washing dishes time, or making any audible sound within fifty feet of your special writer…time. It’s best to go grocery shopping alone. Or even better, break up immediately.

#10. Ask at least once every single day how their latest manifesto project is going. Research similar artistic material beforehand to better offer constructive criticism. Get at least mildly drunk before each of these little talks. (Or…alternatively…see tip #1.)

JustDont

…or books. Or blogging. Or…

#11. When they start the hated editing phase, remove all sources of alcohol from the area, including but not limited to: wine, beer, mini bottles of Fireball, big bottles of Fireball, Scotch, vodka, rum, mouthwash, isopropyl alcohol, Nyquil, and Dayquil. Write drunk. Edit sober-ish.

#12. If you see your special lil’ guy/girl haunting Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Pornhub during ‘writing time,’ do not disturb them. This is called marketing and/or research. Riiiiiiight.

#13. In defiance of all the other tips, forcibly remove them from writing once in a while. (Preferably for naked showering.)

#14. Whenever you start to get lonely (and you will) remember that there will come a day when it all gets better, when finally their minds stop convulsing with ideas, when finally you can lie next to them and be at peace. Yes. That’s right. It won’t happen until they’re dead.

But so what?

Now go get some. Or not.

And while we’re talking about dating…

101QSP

And…

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

J Edward Neill

The Truth about Introverts

Below is a blog post I wrote back in 2011 on a subject I am familiar with–the life of an introvert. Are you an introvert? What type? I’m a Social Introvert, meaning I need a lot of alone time, but I have no trouble interacting with groups of people. I thought my fellow introverts might find this enlightening!

****

Idle Moment Sketch by Amanda Makepeace

Scrolling through my feed reader this morning I stumbled upon Theodora Goss’ post Introversion: Part 1; which is a response to Carl King’s post 10 Myths about Introverts. As an introvert, I thought I’d see how King’s response to these myths compares to my own experiences.

 

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

 

I can confirm King’s argument. No, I don’t talk a lot with just anyone. But if it happens to be a topic I’m passionate about I have been known to jump into a conversation whether I know people or not (this is how I met artist Charles Urbach and ended up in the Dragon Con Art Show last year). That said I’m always more comfortable with close friends and I can talk for hours and hours with them.

 

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

 

I use to be very shy as a child and young teen, but not so much anymore. Even so, as Myth 1 pointed out I’m not super chatty unless its warranted. I can definitely do without the pleasantries. If I’m in a group of people and not talking much, it’s because I don’t have anything to say, or I’m keeping my mouth shut for a good reason, or I’m more interested in observing everyone around me. Now you know.

 

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

 

I’ve never had any desire to fit in with the herd, but as a teenager I did feel extremely out-of-place, to point that I thought something was wrong with me. I learned later there was nothing wrong with me and since then I’ve been at one with my introverted self. I still have no desire to play the game, but I can pull it off in situations where its required.

 

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

 

I do value my very few close friends and I’ve always been the type to have just a small set of friends. Usually out of that small group I have someone who I am uber close with, someone that knows all my secrets, but I haven’t had a friend like that in years. Sounds kinda sad, doesn’t it? If I’m honest, I know it should seem sad, but I’m not really bothered by it.

 

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

 

I wouldn’t be able to survive if I didn’t have my down time, a.k.a. recharging time. The rest is spot on too. I like to go out, but on my own terms. For example, you won’t find me at a sports event but you might catch me at a book store, coffee shop, museum, etc. I go to ginormous SFF Conventions, strange buildings to be trapped in a room with a zombie, dinners with friends, and I have fun but I do feel drained afterwards. That’s just how I am.

 

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

 

True again. I am alone most of the time and I’m fine with that, in fact I’m content with that–most of the time. Whenever I start feeling antsy I know I need to meet up with a friend to talk for hours, catch a movie, etc. I have limits to how much time I can spend alone, just as I have limits to how much time I can spend with a group of people.

 

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

 

To quote Eddie Vedder: “I change, by not changing at all.” I like what I like. Sometimes that may make me stylish other times not. I don’t give it a lot of thought. I’d rather be painting.

 

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

 

Yes and I also happen to be one of those people that will laugh out loud about something I’m thinking, whether I’m alone or not. I easily become lost in thought. Sometimes it happens when I’m in the middle of a movie or reading a book. I can sit for hours just staring at the fields and birds, imagining a dragon coming over the hill.

 

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

 

True. But now you’re thinking, how does she handle Dragon Con? It’s a different type of crowd and I’m surrounded by people who love the same things I do. If you want to see me shut down, send me to a shopping mall for the entire day or a Walmart with those awful florescent lights–grocery stores for that matter too. I can handle those in small doses, not hours on end with loud people. Sometimes even an hour food shopping can put me in a foul mood.

 

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

 

Even if I could, would I want to “fix myself?” I don’t think there’s anything to fix. A world without Introverts…. No.

I’ve never sat down and talked about being an introvert with another introvert. I’d be curious to know how my responses compare. Any takers? Are you an introvert? What type?

The elegant art of cynicism

RockPaperCynic1

Sometimes when I walk outside on a sunny day, I feel the sunlight weaken.

When I show up at a party, the mood takes a southward dip.

And when I see a red door, I want to paint it black.

Do I exaggerate? If so, it’s only to make sure you get the point.

That there is beauty in hope, optimism, and faith, I do not doubt. The glory of a freely happy mind is something I enjoy vicariously through others. In their music. In their warmth. In their smiles. I witness cheerful people every day. Kids. Couples. Dogs. Friends. Old folks enjoying lemonade on the porch. It’s all peachy. It’s all grand.

But ultimately, these things are not for me.

I’m here today not to whine about being the world’s worst cynical bastard. But to explain how being this way can bring great contentment to one’s life. It’s true. I’m not joking. I’m completely serious.

Let’s begin with a simple chart:

hope and doubt

Are you upper left? Sweet. Lower right? Let’s hang out…

I think the above pretty much sums up the difference between skeptics and cynics. Most people, depending on what day of the week it is, probably fall somewhere in the middle of the Hope/Doubt chart. Maybe they’re happy-ish one day, a little down the next, and just kind of existing the next. Feelings are fluid things for most people. They move as the mood wills. As for me, I’ve a confession. I’m about two inches to the right of ‘Cynic‘ and another two below ‘Doubt.’ Every day. Always.

And I’ve never been happier.

I suppose it’s true that when imagining a cynic’s state of mind, the terms unhappy, hopeless, or miserable come to mind. Cynicism is equated with negativity, depression, or a general disgust with life. “Gloom and doom,” they’ll say. “A real Debbie downer.” or “A fly in the ointment.” It’s cool. I get it. Being a cynical sonofabitch isn’t for everyone.

But in reality, there’s an elegant art to cynicism. A true freedom of spirit. An approach that can bring absolute peace to one’s mind.

Consider this:

  • A contented cynic can never know disappointment
  • Nor despair for all the world’s ills
  • Nor feel the pain of broken dreams
  • Nor suffer the frailty of emotion over the hard truth of reality
  • Nor endure a broken heart
  • Nor succumb to the horrors of hatred
  • Nor fall so low as to never rise again

A lot of you are thinking: “Yeah maybe, but cynics will miss all the good stuff, too.”

Not true. We just take it all with several grains of salt.

But what about love?”

Piece of cake. We just don’t fall to pieces when it ends.

Doesn’t being a cynic make people…I don’t know…kind of heartless?”

Nope. Just entirely in control of their feelings. And aware of the difference between hopes, dreams, and reality. Because, let’s face it, hopes are hollow without action. Dreams are stone dead without dedication. Doubt (even self-doubt) is healthy. And reality always wins. Always.

Love,

J Edward Neill (Cynical bastard)

For even darker thoughts, read this.

This too.

 

How Undead are You?

 

Zombaby

A Happy Quiz for Everyone…

How Undead are YOU!

 

To determine just exactly how foul, creeping, and unholy you are, answer the following questions and keep track of your score. A’s are worth 1 point, B’s worth 3 points, and C’s worth a rotten, festering 5 points. Check your undead-ness at the bottom of the quiz!

* * *

What part of every day appeals the most to you?

A. Dawn. You just love waking up to the sun beating down on the world, melting all the shadows away.

B. Evening. Perhaps you’re at home watching a movie, sipping wine, or barbequing up some delicious man-flesh. Either way, you’re content to watch the day die slowly.

C. Late, late, late at night. Everyone else is asleep. You’re awake at Waffle House, flirting with some wonderful creature…or maybe you’re out on the town, closing down establishments that never close.

Which movie is closest to your heart?

A. Pearl Harbor. Because watching Cate Beckinsale corrupt and ruin a perfectly good Josh Hartnett sounds like fun.

B. The Lost Boys. Bloodsucking, soul-gobbling vampires are awesome, but only if they’re cute and wear leather.

C. 28 Days Later. Death. Misery. The end of the world.

 If you had to choose a song…?

A. Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. Who needs country music when you can just market sexy, bouncy pop?

B. Anything by Creed. Seriously, if you pick this answer, stop taking this quiz and get help.

C. Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. Music for when the earth cracks open and everything dies.

 When’s the last time you did anything meaningful outdoors? (Other than walk to and from your car)

A. Five minutes ago. Hell, you just did fifty pushups on the summit of Mount Doom.

B. Yesterday. You think you remember taking out the garbage. Or opening the door long enough to yell at the cat to come in.

C. More than two days ago. Sunshine hurts. I mean, oh gawd…you’ll burn away if you’re forced to put down the Xbox controller.

 How often do you eat dinner at a restaurant? In the presence of the living? And no, Golden Corral and Waffle House do NOT count.

A. Two or more times every week. Because people-watching is just as fun as gorging on those orange biscuits Red Lobster makes.

B. Once per week. You’d go more often, but that’d require moving more.

C. Hardly ever. Pizza and a movie are way cooler.

How many times have you had sex this year? (With someone else)

A. One hundred or more times. Congratulations, you’re lying!

B. Between ten and ninety-nine times. Sorry, married dudes.

C. Zero to nine times. Because in order to have sex, you’d have to stop eating brains for at least three minutes.

Ever watched a movie at a movie theater alone?

A. No way. People who do that are either stalkers, serial killers, or both.

B. Considered it, but haven’t pulled the trigger. Because kids. Or spouses. Or friends. Or the latest collection of garbage Hollywood has heaped upon your world.

C. Yes. Because sometimes being awesome requires being awesome alone.

When confronted with hostility (in the form of frienemies, strangers, significant others, or Wal Mart employees) you…?

A. Take the high road. Your chin is held high, your ego intact, and your knuckles only slightly white.

B. Boil inside. But ultimately refrain from dismembering the hostile party…and all his/her friends.

C. Fists. And profanity. But if no violence, then at the very least you plot the annihilation of the offender’s entire bloodline.

How relentless are you?

A. Not very. You’re laid back. You brush failure off and move along to the next thing.

B. You’re a skeleton. If hacked into a hundred pieces, you slowly reassembly your parts and clickity-clack back to work.

C. You’re a vampire. Oceans of time can’t stop you. If told, ‘no‘ at every possible access point to your goal, you sit in a coffin outside and wait for everyone holding you back to die.

 How intense are your dreams?

A. Moderate. You don’t dream much, and when you do it’s usually about falling, or sex, or money, or work. Or beer…

B. Creepy. You had night terrors once or twice. You swear you saw a ghost upon waking. You remember at least a handful of dreams that give you the chills.

C. Gravetastic. You dream and daydream terrible things. You’ve swam through rivers of blood, sat atop mountains of bones, fled from crimson-eyed spirits, and died thousands of times…only to rise again.

* * *

So about your score…

0-15 points – You’re safely mortal. Go back to your cubicle and keep a shotgun handy. Remember your cardio.

16-30 points – Your grandfather is probably a ghost. Your parents let you stay up to watch Evil Dead when you were five. But no…you’re still alive. Although graveyards are pretty cool. And your household pottery is haunted.

31-42 points – You’re clearly undead. Before going to work, you should probably make sure some of your skin isn’t falling off. Sleep isn’t sleep to you. It’s torpor, during which you regenerate your dark powers. How are you even able to read this, considering your eyeballs rotted out long ago?

43-50 points – In the caverns beneath your apartment, you collect skulls, mummies, and dolls that you’ve poked the eyes out of and sold to horror film directors. The sun hurts you…badly. Whenever you’re not alone, you’re spending time with others like you. And by others, I mean the team of thousand year-old ghouls you’ve assembled with the aim of global annihilation.

Look for more ridiculous quizzes in the future.

J Edward Neill

Author of this.

And this.

Ten Questions for Humanity

Ten Questions for Humanity

Regarding Music Lyrics

Is there anything that hasn’t already been said? Any topic at all?

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?

Immortality

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?

All About That Bass

Do boys really want a little more booty to hold at night?

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?

***

Disclaimer 1: In observance of Tessera’s no politics, no religion policy, please eat salt after reading this

Disclaimer 2: I know the answers. I’m more interested in what you have to say

Like questions like these? Get deeper dilemmas here.

***

J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Down the Dark Path

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

This cold has got me discombobulated, scattered, wondering if I’m getting sick or just need more sleep (like a bear).

I’m not a fan of winter. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the actual time of year in and of itself. I like the holidays, having time off, spending some of it with family, and using it as a good time to simply recharge.

But the cold… ugh. I cannot stand the cold. And yet I know that some people love it so that they can drink their hot chocolate and snuggle in front of the fire. It allows them to wear jackets and scarves and layer up until they don’t even know what to do with themselves.

1532_Randy_ICPMAD_40

And I live in Atlanta, so it pretty much never gets as bad as those in the north have it (seriously, why do you do that to yourselves… move south). But even a little bit of it where we are touching freezing at night is more than enough for me.

However, thanks to a wonderful wife, I spent this last weekend in warmth. I was able to wear shorts in December. A cool breeze whistled past me and I didn’t run for shelter from it, but embraced it as an old friend.

The benefits of being in Miami, apparently.

miami

On the list of items on my personal bucket list, if I actually took the time to write it out like Mr. Neill did a few weeks ago, would be to see a Miami Dolphins game in their home stadium. At 38 years old I finally got my chance to do just that.

I’ve been a Dolphins fan my entire life, yet it seems odd when people ask me if I am from Florida… as if I’d have to be from the place that the team resides to root for them. My old college roommate harassed me about that very thing many a weekend. Regardless, I always end up telling them the same thing. That when you live in south Georgia for much of your early life the one AFC team you get to see was the Dolphins. This was well before Jacksonville ever had a team, so week in and week out those were the games I got to see. Almost the same time I started watching the NFL, Dan Marino became the quarterback of the Dolphins which meant that most years they were in the playoffs – easy to root for. And the Atlanta Falcons were mostly awful during this time, so why bother with the team that was going to lose most of their games. I mean, today the NFL is the most popular it has ever been and much of that is due to the passing game – Marino was doing all of this 20 years ago.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

But that wasn’t the only story.

You see, in a parallel world to this one there is a version of me typing up this exact same blog, but with one startling difference – that version of me is a (hated) NY Jets fan.

How do I know that is happening in this other world? Because the very first game that I ever remember watching took place on January 23, 1983 when the Miami Dolphins placed the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game. In my world, the Dolphins won the game 14-0 and became MY team. A silly decision made over the course of a few hours one afternoon when I was 1 week before turning 8.

So I know that in the parallel world the Jets ended up winning. And I have nothing but sympathy for that version of me, because the Jets are a train wreck and pretty much have been since that day. They’ve made a couple of runs here or there, but it always seems they quickly slide back to being awful. And while I was watching Marino break records, that version probably couldn’t have watched very many of the Jets games in the first place – needing to be content with the small blurbs in the local papers to figure out who was even on the team.

Another little thing, another weird decision by a younger me, that caused me to fly south for the winter, even if only for a weekend.

Sadly the game didn’t turn out the way I would have liked it (with a Dolphins’ win), but I sat there in the stadium among my fellow Dolphin fans, yelling and even singing a little of the Dolphins song (a terrible thing that once you have it in your head can never be extracted). So I thank my wife for the gift.

Even if it did add another item to the old list: to see them Win at home.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.