The War against Clickbait

MouseHelmet

 

“When you see what happens next, your jaw will drop!”

“You won’t believe what she’s wearing! Or what happens next!”

“Refi your mortgage and get a FREE Miley Cyrus blowup sex doll!”

You’ve seen these before. You know what I’m talking about. You’re surfing to Amazon to buy my latest book, but there are just too many distractions. Ten thousand mousetraps filled with Kim Kardashian-shaped cheese lie between you and your objective. Fall into any of these click-holes (Not Clickhole, the awesome parody site) and you’ve pretty much fucked over the internet for the day.

You just had to see Miley’s boobs, didn’t you?

You needed to find out how to lose thirty pounds in twelve seconds.

The list of top ten ways to kill your husband was irresistible.

Truth is; every time you follow one of these links, you give an asshole money. Spend 30 clicks in an ad-riddled article, and a dickwad spammer gets richer. Follow some stupid link on Upworthy you only sorta kinda cared about in the first place, and the douches win. And when you’re feeling particularly sadistic and you share clickbait on Facebook or Twitter…congratulations…you just spread feces all over your friends.

A few hints:

If you see a picture of someone famous with a quote attributed to them, that person probably didn’t say that thing. It’s made up, and the site the pic links to is usually bullshit. It’s clickbait.

When you see a link claiming your jaw will drop, your panties will fall off, or you won’t believe what happens next, it’s crap. Click the link, and the only thing that’ll drop will be your IQ. Clickbait.

See all those little links at the bottom of the boring article you just read on CNN? All of them, clickbait.

Buzzfeed…Upworthy…90% of all internet articles related to celebrity worship…you guessed it…clickbait.

Every time you share a meme about being a drunken housewife or take a quiz that tells the world how much you know about Star Wars, you’re being a clickbait slave. The assholes just got richer.

And if the grammar is shitty, it’s clickbait. The article was probably written in a spam-farm in Kazakhstan. (Though if it’s only slightly crappily-spelled, there’s also a chance you’re just on CNN, Fox, or Huffpost…) 

* * *

The thing is; the people who create this crap content are getting better at it. They’ve figured out what headers you’ll ignore. They’re stepping up their game. If you’re gonna avoid clickbait, you need to get better. And you need to do it quickly.

So let’s take a test. In the list below, three of the headers are from clickbait sites, and three are either legitimate articles or parodies. Answers are all the way at the bottom. If you get even one wrong, you’re obviously a terrible person and you probably flood your social media feeds with misspelled memes about being a likeable but mentally-deranged alcoholic. But seriously. Take the test.

Which three are clickbait? And which three are either legit or parodies?

1. Going The Extra Mile: This Heroic Ambulance Driver Drove For An Extra 2 Hours To Find A Hospital With 4.5 Stars On Yelp

2. When these Nigerians are asked what their country is like, their answers come easily.

3. Fifteen Little Things that are Oddly Addictive

4. Baby Sheep walks on the back of Adult

5.  This Teen Died After A 911 Dispatcher Hung Up On A Caller Who Swore At Him      

6. Man Races Against Time To Take Out Trash Bag With Widening Puncture 

* * *

– Scroll to the end to get the answers – 

Look, we all probably realize that by clicking and sharing a few bullshit articles with weak content, we’re not exactly committing mass murder. If a few shady people rack up a few pennies for our foolishness, it’s not the end of the world. But life is short, and if we’re gonna make genuine use of our leisure time, maybe we’d all get more out of it by avoiding the internet altogether not falling down the rabbit-holes the web has laid for us. Maybe we should visit sites populated with real content, shit that’ll make us laugh, or at least elicit something other than a profound roll of our eyes.

I mean, there’s tons of cool stuff out there. Like here and here. And if you love really dark stuff, here.

Fight the good fight. Don’t follow garbage. Stop trailing celebrities. Don’t click on lists unless they’re like this one:  FlamingF2 Join us in the war against clickbait.

* * *

Ok. Your test answers:

First off…I lied.

Only 2 of the 6 headers are non-clickbait. I checked out the other 4 and found them to have pathetic, meek, and/or bullshit content.

The other 2 are parodies.

None of the headers are for legitimate articles.

 If you figured out my trick and guessed the 4 clickbait articles, congrats; your training is complete.

But otherwise you’re fucked.

Headers 1 and 6 are parody articles. Both are pretty funny, and both are designed to mock clickbait content.

Headers 2, 3, 4, and 5 are complete clickbait. Complete with shallow content, specious factoids, and tons of links to more trash.

* * * 

Catch you later.

J Edward Neill

Author of tons of @#($%&

My First Digital Painting #TBT

In 2010, I created my first digital painting in Photoshop CS4, with only a mouse. The painting began as pencil sketches I meant to refine and then use for a watercolor, but everything was put on hold when I needed surgery to remove my gall bladder. As oftentimes happens, my gall bladder woes were sudden and severe. I went to the doctor in pain on a Thursday and ended up in surgery on Monday. Let me say too, just because it’s a simple surgery doesn’t mean you’re ready to run a marathon afterward. Surgery is mega painful. Maybe more so in my case because I cannot take those wonderful pain medications everyone loves. Hydrocodone and anything similar to it or more strong triggers intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo. The day of my surgery they nearly kept me overnight because I was sick–from the damn pills. I convinced them I was okay, that I could go home and of course they gave me a prescription for the pills. But I didn’t take them. So the day after my surgery and the weeks after were difficult (that’s an understatement if you weren’t sure). I couldn’t take anything but Tylenol. I spent a lot of time in my recliner and that’s where I created this painting for the EBSQ Spam and Trout Show.

Green Eggs and Spam?

 

After a long day of chasing leads, all P.I. Terry Trout wants is his green ham! Did the Seuss Lounge really think they could disguise Spam with a green sauce and nobody would know?

My determination pushed me to finish this painting in time for the online exhibit and that hard work paid off. My painting, Green Eggs and Spam?, won Member’s Choice. Looking at this painting, I can’t help but snicker. I’ve come along way with my digital skills since 2010.

http://amandamakepeace.com

20 Crazy Things my 4-Year Old Said

For the last year, I’ve kept an impromptu record of all the nutty stuff my kid, the G Man, has dropped on me. Whenever he asks a deep question, makes an innocent faux pas, accidentally crushes someone’s ego, or just plain blurts out something hilarious, I take a mental snapshot and write it down.

These are the funniest of his quotes. They’re verbatim.

Enjoy.

* * *

Dad, when I turn your age, I want to be fat. Like you.”

If that kid on the slide slaps me again, I’m going to punch him in the nose. But if the big kid…see him, Daddy?…if he slaps me, you have to fight him.”

Can we play Legos? I want us to build a huuuuuge tower together. And a dragon. And a green Creeper from Minecraft. I’ll build it all. You have to sit still and watch me.” – Oooo boy. Can’t wait!

For $106 dollars, you’re allowed to have another beer.” – He held out his hand, expecting immediate cash.

Cutler 1

Hi. I’m ‘G’ Cutler, QB for the Bears. I’ve cornered the market on disdain. And I didn’t even have to throw 25 interceptions.

Can we look down into the sewers, Daddy? That’s where the monsters pee!”

Can you make the pancake look like a Metroid? No, Daddy. They have three teeth. Like this!” – Rips his pancake to tatters.

No, Daddy. I’m not Superman. I’m not a good guy. I’m Zod. I just blasted you with my laser eyes. And now you’re cooked.”

See that little girl across the street? Yes, her. That’s my girlfriend. I’m going swimming with her.”

If you die, everything melts except your skeleton. Your skeleton lasts forever. And if you’re a magic skeleton, you can still move around.”

I had a dream, Daddy. The moon was right there. (points out the window to the front yard) It had a lot of gravity. And then it went Boom!”

I can’t eat this chicken. It has spikes in it. Only dogs can eat spikes.”

Cutler 2

I told you, Dad. I’m the King. My shirt even says it.

 “The frogs make all that noise at night because they’re having a birthday party. When they ribbit, they’re singing Happy Birthday to the baby frogs.”

I wish Mellow Mushroom brought pizza to our house just like Papa Johns.” – We all wish that, G Man. Every last one of us.

Our spider friend is gone, dad. I think a bird ate him. Actually, no. He just moved to a new apartment.”

Sticky (the cat) went blind because you yelled at her. And then she ran into the wall. Now she can only see shadows.” – Apparently he’s into dark fiction…just like me.

Lobster 1

Yeah, the lobster suit is funny. But the truth here lies in what the shirt says…

 “Daddy, I’m trying to tell you something. Look at me when I’m talking to you.” – Wait…I thought it worked the other way around.

Remember that one time when I barfed on your face? That was funny.”

Ugh. I’m tired, Daddy. I’m out of gas. Can I have some ice cream? Ice cream will fill up my tank.” – Not sure that’s how it works, but ok.

I’ll hit more home runs if I tell my feet to keep quiet.” – In response to me correcting his baseball footwork.

Daddy, put your shirt back on please. No one wants to see that.”

Lobster 2

Ok. Close it down. We’re done.

* * *

Four years old…the best age ever.

Like epic, not-at-all-for-kids stories? Click here.

Want something to make your coffee table look awesome? Go here.

J Edward Neill

There’s no such thing as ‘indie’

The Accolade by Edmund Blair Leighton
Be like this guy…and afterward stand up and take the damn sword.
 The Accolade –
Neo-Gothic – Edmund Blair Leighton

 

Disclaimer: This article was written with artists, authors, and musicians in mind, but I think it applies to everyone

….

Humility – A modest or low view of one’s importance; diffidence

Confidence – The feeling or belief that one can rely on something; especially one’s self

….

There’s a famous saying. It goes something like: “Confidence without humility is better known as arrogance. Yet humility without confidence will ever be viewed as cowardice.”

Ok. That’s not a real famous saying. I just made it up.

But it feels true.

Anymore, seems there are two sorts of people trolling the earth. On one hand you’ve got your Narcissists. Yeah. You know ’em. I’m convinced these folks don’t even know about their self-centeredness. Maybe when they were three years old, mommy and daddy didn’t teach them how to think; they taught the poor kid what to think. And now they’ve got it all figured out. They talk in absolutes, oblivious to the idea that their point-of-view is but one of billions. Narcissists are everywhere. We’ve seen them, heard them, bumped into them, and probably at one point or several during our lives, we’ve been them. It’s ok. No big deal. Kinda the world we live in now.

On the other hand, you’ve got your Humblists (Yeah, made that up, too.) This is the group we should care about. These are well-meaning people. They don’t assume they know everything. In fact, they’re fine with not knowing everything. Odds are, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably a Humblist. You think stuff. You know stuff. You do stuff. And yet somehow you’re pretty positive the world doesn’t revolve around you.

But perhaps, Lord and Lady Humblist, it should.

…once in a while.

And so…

I give you:

The Little List of Artists’ ‘Humble‘ Habits I Want to Stop Seeing Forever:

All uses of the word aspiring. If you’ve written something, you’re not an aspiring writer; you’re a writer. If you’ve painted something, you’re not an aspiring artist; you’re an artist. To call yourself aspiring implies that even though you’ve started to do something, you’re somehow unworthy. That’s nonsense.

Procrastination due to self-doubt. If you’re going to not do something, find a better reason than self-doubt. It’s miniature suicide. Every time you convince yourself you can’t do something, you kill 367 of your own brain cells…and 30 of everyone else’s, too.

Tweeting or Facebooking motivational memes (aka: cat posters.) Let’s face it; no one who’s really gonna create kickass art, write novels, or make beautiful music needs that kind of motivation. Words compel nothing. Passionate, self-lit fires in people’s souls compel everything.

Undervaluing your artistic work. First, I understand if artists want to pitch a one-time sale or freebie offer. That’s part of the bizniz. And I also understand artists who want to do it all for the love and never make a dime. That’s cool, too. But I’m talking about you, starving artist. Yeah…you. If you’re going to sell your stuff, sell it. Charge more than $0.99 for your f’ing awesome fantasy novel. Earn more than $50 on that amazing painting that took you three weeks to finish. If you’re in it to win it, tell discounting to suck your ____.  Charge what it’s worth, and not a penny less.

Posting crap tons of other authors’ quotes. Make up your own quotes. They’ll mean more to you…I promise.

The phrase self-published. Lose it. If you’re published in any form, you’re legit. Whether you blurted out a tiny lil’ book of poems via Amazon or you’re J.K. Rowling blasting our faces with more Harry Potter-ness, you’re the real deal. The words self-published sag beneath the suggestion that if you did it yourself, you’re somehow not legitimate. BS.

And finally…any reference to the word indie. Indie authors, musicians, painters, f’ing flag-football players. You’re not indie. You’re the real deal. If you’ve done anything in life, anything at all, you didn’t do it indie. You didn’t indie mow your lawn, did you? You didn’t indie cook dinner. Your work is just as valid as those getting paid to do it professionally. It might lack the polish or talent of well-marketed artists, but then again, it might be way fucking better.

I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’m done.

* * *

Like treacherous, not-at-all-for-kids fantasy? Check this.

Like fun, quizzy, party books you can leave on your coffee table forever? Check this.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Art Advice to my Younger Self

Me, in KindergartenWe all have our own path to follow, but the rate at which we reach various checkpoints in our lives is influenced by our determination, perseverance, and sometimes events we cannot control. I’ll be honest. I’m not where I’d like to be in my life. I try my best not to dwell on that, instead I focus on pushing forward. But here are the facts:

Cancer at 17 (and the fallout after) was out of my control. The health issues that followed after were and are out of my control. They set me back. When I was a senior in high school I didn’t have time to focus on applying to colleges. I was fighting for my life. With or without those obstacles, there are some pieces of advice I wish I could have told my younger self.

1. Don’t let one bad experience stop you from learning and growing.

I had an awful teacher for art in middle school. This woman should not have been teaching, let alone spreading her ugliness to impressionable minds. The experience soured me to art classes. I loved art, but stayed away from classes till my senior year high school, when I needed an easy class I could take while on chemotherapy. When I graduated, that teacher lectured me on not taking art all 4 years–not what I needed either. But it was my choice to let those experiences stop me from growing as an artist. I did eventually get over that chip on my shoulder.

2. Don’t avoid drawing the things that scare you, tackle them head first.

When I was a kid I loved drawing horses and after that any and all animals. I avoided drawing people like it was the plague. I recall thinking, I’ll never be able to drawing a human face. Never. So I avoided doing it and then I took drawing in college and was faced with a self-portrait a week (on top of our regular assignments). I did it and realized it wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be. I could have saved myself a lot of stress and anxiety if I’d just given it a try earlier.

Micky and I - 1986/87

3. Don’t paint from just the surface of yourself, but from your entire soul.

I’ve always had a passion for nature, fantasy and horror. I grew up on Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit (animated) as well as, Alien, Terminator and old Vampire films. I spent a lot of time riding horses and wandering the woods in our neighborhood. I kept snakes, salamanders and toads for a day in my aquarium. I loved all these things but for many years my art rarely touched anything fantastic. I’m still not quite sure why fantasy was not part of the equation, but once it was, I felt complete and my art began to be something more. Don’t limit yourself!

The Young Artist in 1985/864. Don’t listen to people that know nothing about art.

We’ve all come across the person on Facebook who feels they have to inject their unqualified opinion into a conversation. Those people exist offline too. Always be careful who you let sway your path. Are they giving you a valid critique or are they toxic? Good advice from a professional is invaluable, but bad advice you didn’t even ask for can set you back.

5. Don’t ever think it’s too late and don’t make the mistake the comparing yourself to other artists.

Everyone seems to be in a race these days. I’m 39 and there are times when I feel anxious that I’m not farther along. But I know a few artists in their 20’s that feel this way too. We spend too much time comparing our art and our careers to our peers. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s never to late to make art your career. Keep pushing ahead. Keep growing. Keep creating.

amandamakepeace.com

Half Way There, Again

It’s the little slap of reality. It’s a progress report. It’s my road map.

It’s an excuse for my cat to block me from writing.

Most of the time I’m writing the blog to share some idea or thought (random many times), a favorite movie or book or whatever. This blog is more for me. A way to mark how I’m doing on my own (at times) uphill struggle to be a writer in the way I want to be. At the beginning of the year I wrote a “to do list” and now it is time to check in.

To-Do-List_604

Prose

The Edge of the World – So close yet so far away. I feel like I’m stuck in the mud on this one. Not because of any story difficulties, but because of the way I wrote the thing. I jumped around a fair bit and now have decided to fill in the gaps that I left myself. So at times I’m half in editing mode and half in writing mode (I know, I’m not supposed to do that). So the word count goes up a little slower than normal because I’m tweaking and trimming and writing and…

It’s going to be done, but it is not yet. Sigh.

The White Effect – Nothing yet. I’ve wanted to finish up The Edge of the World 1st. But my plans have not changed: Revise the current draft with all the Beta Reader notes I have. Identify potential Editors/Agents to Query. Draft query letter. Start that process.

Short Stories – Aha! Finally got some more done. 3 more to be exact. I took much of May and sat down to write some shorts… that need to be able to write the words: The End being the most blissful thing. I have 1 more to write to reach my goal for the year, but I’m extremely happy how this has gone. I have also received my first reject for publishing one of them, so I’m taking that as a sign of progress as well (as in, at least I am trying!).

Other Prose (Novels, novellas) – Aside from adding more notes to Unstuck’s file and Lightning’s file and The Dark That Follows II’s file, nothing concrete has happened.

comics-495258_1280

Comics

Gilded Age – Issue 2’s colors are 1/2 done. Issue 3’s pencils and inks are done (barring a minor tweak). Issue 4 has not been begun. However, I did finish both issue 3 & 4’s scripts, so another success. Fingers crossed these comics get done in the near future.

The Crossing – A tiny bit of movement. Robert and my project needs to have a sitdown just to get the pitch up and running.

Blogging – Still haven’t missed a week (though I must admit that last week I almost forgot… the beach does strange things to the brain!).

concept-345541_1280

Mystery Short Film Project – Finished. Can’t say much more about this one other than it kinda came out of nowhere and I feel really good about the final draft I delivered. And as soon as the client is ready to make it public, I will do a blog on what exactly it is. Just very excited about that opportunity. And it is yet another example of how I don’t always know what the next months are going to bring… what opportunities they will provide.

So that’s it so far, and honestly, aside from Edge of the World not being done, I’m decently happy about my progress so far this year. I definitely don’t have that kick in the gut feeling like I wasted 6 months or anything, which is exceptionally nice.

Now I just need to make sure I don’t waste the next six either.

 

***

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.

I know nothing…

The older I get, the more I realize that…much like Jon Snow…I know nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Age, experience, intuition…all out the window.

Waiting for boom

See that tall building? I’m standing on it. I’m waiting for something useful to pop in my head before the meteor hits me in the face.

If that game from the 90’s, You Don’t Know Jack, applied to real-life, I’d lose. Badly.

Want a few good examples of my know-nothingness?

Glad you asked:

* * *

I don’t understand why anyone gets offended by anything. Ever.

I don’t know a damn thing about women. Or men, for that matter. Hell, I don’t even see eye-to-eye with my cat. Probably because she’s blind. Whatever.

I can’t grasp why pizza, cake, beer, ice cream, and butter-slathered steaks are bad for people. I mean…on a scientific level maybe. But with all this science, I don’t get why we haven’t invented perfectly healthy triple-chocolate ganache cake. What the hell, science?

I don’t understand superhero movies. At all. Especially the dudes (and girls) who wear capes and garish costumes. Wouldn’t a cape just trip you up when the worst shit was about to go down? Wouldn’t a bright red leotard just make you easier to hit? Hell if I know.

Skulhed Face

My superhero mask. Note the easy-to-hit face.

 I can’t wrap my head around procrastination. Isn’t doing something right fucking now a better idea than waiting?

I guess that means I don’t understand waiting.

 I really don’t get the whole introvert vs extrovert discussion. Does it matter? Help me understand please.

I can’t understand dogs. As in how they’ve managed to enslave so many people to their weird walking, pooping, and biting things rituals.

No one understands cats. I think you’re all with me on this one.

I don’t have a clue why some babies cry through the night. Isn’t that counter-intuitive to survival? Did ancient civilizations go all Sparta on the loud babies and hurl them over cliffs just to silence them? I dunno.

I don’t get cell phones. Specifically texting a lot. Nor do I get the iWatch. Or the Fitbit. Or why runners wear heart-monitors/biometric space-time distortion devices around their chests. Jesus dude, just fucking run.

 I definitely don’t get having political allegiances.

Or online dating.

Or dating at all. (Just have sex with your friends.)

I never understood classroom learning. Or professors lecturing. Or 30 kids squirming in their seats listening to teachers talk. Most people learn best by actually doing shit, right? I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about.

I don’t get runway modeling. No one wears that stuff. I mean…ok…the girls are gorgeous. Maybe it’s just about watching hot woman strut around nearly naked. I suppose I understand that. Maybe.

 Never grasped watching a ton of TV. It’s 97% commercials, isn’t it? But even commercial-free, that shit zombifies people.

Speaking of zombies, I don’t get the zombie craze. It looks cool, but I still don’t get it.

Someone explain cosplaying to me. Is it just the hoping-to-see-a-hot-girl thing again? No idea.

I don’t get bae.

Or selfie sticks.

Or duck face.

I definitely don’t know a damn thing about Bieber, Miley, Selena, Beyoncé, or Lil Wayne. In fact, I don’t get modern music at all. I’m not even really that old. Why is this stuff still popular? No clue.

I can’t understand how sex and nudity are both glorified and taboo.

I don’t comprehend super sensitive people. Or social anxiety. I kinda wish I did, but I don’t.

I fail to see why anyone who’s not becoming a doctor, lawyer, or scientist would want to go to college (in the US.) Soaking up tons of debt to begin your life doesn’t feel right. But what do I know? Nothing, obviously.

 I’ve never understood church.

Or the IRS.

Or lacrosse.

I don’t get speed traps.

Or racism.

Or child-abuse.

Narcissism has always eluded me. Along with Desperate Housewives, Antiques Roadshow, and the Miss America/World/Universe pageants.

Or any pageant for that matter.

I don’t understand why everyone who says they hate drama actually swims in it.

Or potential dates who scream about ‘hating games’ being the biggest game-players of all.

I don’t see why I can’t have a margarita at work.

I’ll never grasp why some people are humble and others arrogant. But then the next day it’s vice versa.

And I’m utterly clueless why some workers don’t take all their vacation. Screw that.

But most of all, more than any of this stuff, I really have no idea why I’m here.

Or maybe I do.

Maybe I actually understand most of this stuff.

Maybe I just don’t want to.

* * *

Want more existential, slap-you-in-the-faceness?

 Check this out.

J Edward Neill

 Follow me on Twitter: icon-twitter-64

Losing Power

Sometimes in the day to day portions of our lives we become too much of a slave to the things that need to be done. Job, family, friends, hobbies… the time can slip through without much notice. Praying for the weekend each and every week only to have that limited time seemingly gone before you can even really enjoy it.

Burning that candle at both ends and then wonder why we are exhausted. Why are we so frazzled by the world we have created for ourselves.

Beach at twilight

If we’re not careful months and years will pass by in those moments between the real moments we want to have. Those moments that we should be having.

Those words will no longer flow from our fingertips. Stale combinations of letters will introduce themselves into our manuscripts. What is normally a joy, a great distraction from the real, becomes this quagmire that sucks us under.

And while it can’t be play time always, those days long since passed us by as adulthood somehow took hold… it also means that we should take the time for our friends when they do something special. And if you have family, to really be in that moment and enjoy that time as well.

Because this is the time when the lasting memories are made, not just the fleeting images of Monday disappearing into Friday. Those days when if we are not careful the job becomes all consuming. When it threatens to dominate our very soul… you have to get away and recharge whatever batteries you may still have left. Sleep in, stay up late, watch terrible movies, discover the early morning hours with friends as your conversations range from and to anything, call a friend you haven’t heard from in a while

We don’t have to be this thing that we are. We can be so much more than that. We can still have time to pursue whatever that dream is. That deep secret we keep locked up inside… it doesn’t have to remain that way..

I find myself at the beach trying to do just that.

Recharge.

 

***

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.

The 7 Twitter Personalities

TwitBird

If you’ve never had a Twitter account, good on you.

If you’ve currently got an open Twitter account, I’m sorry. I really am. Let’s hug it out.

A few weeks ago, we gave you the Top 7 Facebook Personalities. We thought it was funny, yet entirely true.

But Twitter’s a different monster entirely.

Don’t believe me? Just sample my Twitter feed here.  140 characters changes a person into something…unknowable.

The 7 Prime Twitter Personalities

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UnIronic Tweeter The Un-Ironic Tweeter – If there’s a such thing as normal on Twitter, this is probably it. The Un-Ironic Tweeter doesn’t try to annoy, inundate, or advertise. She’s probably just a normal gal with a few interesting things to say. Such as, “Doing laundry and look, the dog crapped in the basket,” or “Yay. Husband left me…again.” I’m mostly kidding. I’m 99% sure most of this archetype are good people. They say genuine things, are polite and generally engaging. My only trouble is that most people go to Twitter looking for at least a little bit of trouble (or money.) You say you want to be completely reasonable, honest, and not try to sell me shit? I believe the highway you’re looking for is called Facebook. It’s a few exits back.

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The RetweeterThe ReTweeter – Everyone loves this person. And I mean…everyone. Just try and say something bad about them. It’s hard, right? You pour your soul into a perfect 140-character Tweet detailing the horrors of ebola-infected chipmunks, and ReTweeters click a button and spread the word, epidemic-like, across the globe. Sure, they don’t create anything themselves. And no, they probably didn’t follow your link or give two shits about you as a person. Who cares? You RT for them, they RT for you, and the whole fucking world is happy. I hate happy endings. 😐

Starving Artist The Starving Artist – I’m guilty as charged. My bad. Literally 80% of my followers are this archetype. They’re definitely starving, though as for the artist part, I’m not so sure. With the boom in self-publishing and printed art outlets, the Twitterverse has erupted with painters, sketchers, and writers. In a matter of a few years, my competition went from other published authors to every human being in the entire fucking universe. Anymore, it’s rarer for someone not to have published something. But seriously. Most of the Starving Artist Twitter crowd are good people. Talent or no, they’re genuine. But I would like to schedule a class called ‘When Tweeting About Your Book, Shitty Grammar and Clunky Blurbs will Annihilate Your Writing Career.

 

The ReQuoter The Re-Quoter – Yeah. This guy. The one who Tweets about the soulfulness of writing, the drowning emotional awesomeness of reading, and the spiritual connectedness of ejaculating paint onto paper. But that’s not really the trouble. It’s the memes, the #AmWritings, and the quotes…the damn quotes. Yes, I know what Stephen King said. Something like, “If you do shit, other shit will happen. And if you don’t do shit, no shit will happen.” You know what I’m talking about: Picture of celebrity + quote that celebrity may or may not have actually said = half your Twitter feed. Also, some Re-Quoters like to regurgitate boring quotes about life and love. Shit-tons of quotes. Things like, “My life will never be complete without you,” or “Someday you’ll come back for your toothbrush…and my vagina will be waiting.” I’m convinced most of these secondary type of Re-Quotes are bots, but it’s hard to tell. Hopefully it’ll all soon die. But if it doesn’t, the world needs to end.

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Anchor The News Anchor – I’m fine with this type of Twitter archetype. Mostly. Although he’ll never post anything original or creative, at least you’ll be informed the very instant a celebrity dies, a politician farts, or King Jong Un is spotted picking his nose. I’m kidding. Sort of. At least the sources the News Anchor links to are completely legit all the time. Aren’t they??

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The SpammerThe Spammer – This Twitter dweller probably isn’t even human. Or if it is, it’s 150 humans living in a Bangladesh hut (with better wifi than anyone.) If you’ve been on Twitter for longer than 30 seconds, you’ve rubbed elbows with a Spammer. Yep. The sexy girl pitching how you can increase your Twitter followers by 7 million. The smiling dude flooding your feed with bit.ly links leading to crappy click-bait lists. The douchey lists with names like ‘The 7 Twitter Personalities.’  Wait…what?

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The pRon star The Porn Starlet – Unlike Facebook, Twitter isn’t really regulated.  Meaning if your five year-old son types in ‘boobies,’ he’ll get flooded with hundreds of images of girls getting Kool-Whipped in the chest region. Being a guy, if I scan my new followers on a daily basis, I find that at least a third of them are naked women. Some just want more followers. Others offer ‘no credit card needed’ links to…you guessed it…sites that use your credit card to let you watch cam girls impale themselves on cucumbers and farm equipment. I suppose it’s harmless. I mean, nuthin’ wrong with half my Twitter feed being teenage girls bending themselves into positions I didn’t know were possible. Nuthin’ at all. Right? See you tonight, Sasha.

Runners-Up

The Uni-Linker (Posts the same one link over and over again. Forever)

The DM’er (Doesn’t know that no one reads direct messages)

The Hashtagger (#Hashtags #Every #Goddamn #Word)

 The Unfollower (Follow them back within a half hour, or else…)

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 Next week on Tessera Guild: Stalking Women on Instagram.

In the meantime, check out the only book you’ll ever want to put on your coffee table.

J Edward Neill

Why I’m Apolitical (And you should be, too)

At certain points during our lives, we choose paths unlikely to win us popularity points.

I should know. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not about to run afoul of Tessera’s policy regarding religion & politics. Being inflammatory only brings me joy in non-political forums. I’m not about to pick sides, lob stones, or name names. Nope. Not gonna do it.

And that’s kind of my whole point.

When I was a younger, more impressionable man, life was different. I believed in the power of opinions. I allowed myself to be flooded with hope for the world. I was un-jaded, un-corrupted. I belched rainbows and sweated sunshine. I was willing to pick sides and issue no apologies for it.

And then my third birthday rolled around.

And I woke the fuck up.

In this world we live in, Opinions are king and Perceptions queen. The meaning of truth is equivocated with facts (two totally different things.) Web, television, and radio media swirl around our heads, an infinite shitstorm of people talking, re-talking, threatening, screaming, offending, and apologizing-but-not-really-meaning-it. Politics feel pernicious, and yet unstoppable. Turn on one channel and you’ll hear one side murdering the other. Click onto any of ten thousand websites and you’ll see the other side get just as poisonous. Everyone feels everyone else is wrong…and that it’s their sacred duty to talk about it and post comments linking to it. And we soak it up, don’t we? We slurp up everyone else’s spaghetti of opinions as though words were sweet sustenance, as if talking were the same thing as doing, as if one side were any less in-it-for-themselves than the other.

Ever watched a political rally? If not, don’t start now. Generally speaking, it’s a big pile of people applauding one singular person. I don’t understand it. I’m dead serious. I legitimately want someone to explain what’s really going on during these things. Is the person on the podium heroic? Have they leapt into the future, delivered on all their promises, and Michael J Fox’d it back to the here and now with proof of their success? I can’t grasp what would drive a person to applaud someone standing on stage and promising things. Not these days. Not ever. These people say things that even the people clapping must surely know in their hearts aren’t going to happen. Things we all know are beautiful lies, and yet are willing to smile and dance for.

And every election season, it happens all over again.

My Hope on a Pole

That’s me on a pole, waiting for someone to NOT lie to me.

But by politics, I don’t only mean the selection of government officials and the exhausting narrative surrounding their rise and downfall. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, one raisin in the whole damn cookie. What I’m really talking about is people politics. The social media freight train, with all its #TheseLivesMatter and #Raise$$$forMyCause and #BashThisGuyOverHere. Know what I mean? Yeah…you do. But in case you’re like me and live under a rock, here are a few examples:

Video Game Girl Teaches Basement Dwellers a Lesson

Cops Lives Matter

And most especially I’m Still Calling You Bruce (Jenner.)

Yeah. Stuff like this. Does not compute.

Now. Let’s be clear. I’m not judging people who get involved in these discussions. I get the allure. I really do. People want to shout and be listened to. People want their opinions #ToMatter. People see a cause from a distance and want to support it. And to a certain degree, they want to post something relevant (and possibly witty) on Facebook and have their words become part of the larger discussion. It’s not exactly narcissism. But here’s what I need explained to me. And again, I’m serious. I want to know why hurling oneself around the web like a social media warhead is appealing. Why? Why do we need to be heard regarding issues that we’re powerless to affect? Why is the focus on other’s people’s opinions and not the truth? What is the purpose of engaging these issues using words, but rarely actions? If you’re not BFF’s with Caitlyn Jenner, if you’re not driving to Ferguson with guns-in-hand to support one side or the other, and if you’re not moved enough by feminist causes to actually treat the women in your life better, why do you care? Why are you involved? Why? I need to know.

Because let’s face it; the serious social and political issues of our day aren’t going to be solved or even legitimately addressed on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or Fox News. Nope. Not even close. Sorry. We can compromise or insult, be thoughtful or obnoxious, be funny and cute or dry and witty as death itself. Doesn’t matter. The deep, dark problems that live and breed in our world will only be solved with:

A. Shit-tons of money…meaning rich people will win

B. Violence. And lots of it. Meaning no one will win.

What does that mean?

It means 5,000 retweets of important social issues don’t matter.

It means thoughtful or incendiary commentary on why one political party is garbage (but not the other) is just dust in the wind.

It means the only way your government will experience swift change is if hundreds of thousands of people take up arms…and die.

It means all the anger, frustration, butthurt-ness, and feelings of powerlessness just aren’t compatible with anyone trying to achieve peace and happiness.

Is that too dark, too cynical? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Look. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve got just one real question:

Does being political make you happy?

Well? Does it?

If not, rock the boat…just not the vote.

If you want more philosophy like this in your life, read my latest book, 444 Questions for the Universe.

If not, have a nice day.

J Edward Neill

Goonie Adventures

The GooniesSpielberg’s classic The Goonies turned 30 this year. I was 9 years old when the movie was released. I can’t tell you whether I saw that movie on the big screen or not, but regardless of whether I did or did not, it left an impression. I wanted to be a Goonie.

There were many Saturday’s spent in the woods around our Maryland home, exploring and discovering. We called them our Goonie Adventures. We’d make pack lunches, hop on our bikes, and be gone most of the day. Some days it was a trip to a playground that was much farther than we should have been traveling by bike. Other days we played in the creek, walked across fallen trees, and made up our own adventure stories.

Looking back now, it’s amazing we came away from that time unscathed. I also wonder now, how many of kids from my generation had their own Goonie adventures? Were you a Goonie too?

Here are some fun links to celebrate:

20 Swashbuckling Facts about The Goonies

The Goonies Turns 30: Where are they now?

How Well do you Remember The Goonies? (Quiz)

I haven’t seen this movie in about 9 years, so I consider this a good score!

You got 9 out of 12 right!

  1. Well done

    Seems like you got tricked by a few booby traps, but you’ve definitely seen this movie more than a few times.

 

🙂

Further Tales From the Cubicle

The legend of Floody or how to have a stupid character in the Star Wars Online Game

When Star Wars got into the online gaming experience, many of my friends (me included) rushed out and bought a copy of the game. We loaded it up and tried to coordinate as best we could so that we might adventure together. And it was fun, for a while.

Eventually the fact that you couldn’t just be a Jedi drove many people away. And I slowed playing because when you can only play a couple of hours here or there while everyone else is spending hours upon hours on the game… well, you get left behind in a hurry.

That being said, two of my co-workers also played the game leading to many lunches where we would discuss (or they would discuss and I’d listen) how to do certain things, whether there was a mysterious “quest” you could go on and become a Jedi if only you found certain clues (as far as I know, you could not do this), and just how to make the most abusive characters in general.

One of those friends was able to make creatures for himself and others in the game. Basically allowing you to have a “buddy” with you at all times. Through gene-splicing and bio-something or other, you could make all sorts of super strong critters. One of which was a dinosaur looking guy who he named Floody.

Futurama - floody

To understand the meaning behind that name, you’d have to go and look at another of our co-workers. For some reason, which we could never comprehend, his pants were never quite long enough… and if 3 guys are noticing something like that, there probably was a problem. They were high enough that you might think he was expecting a flood (hence the name). So in casual conversation we started referring to him as Floody.

Now Floody was a strange bird. Peculiar. Nothing necessarily wrong with him, but he’d do things that’d make you scratch your head – ask questions about a project and then, after you answered him, go and find someone else “in the know” to answer the same question. He’d wander around the office looking for someone in power to talk to, not listening to your knowledge of the answer.

Kinda frustrating to say the least.

So when this dinosaur got the name Floody, we thought it funny. Then we realized that the dinosaur wouldn’t follow orders from a character. He’d wander around aimlessly, running into fences and getting stuck. In short, this was not one of the better creations to go adventuring with. But it was so damn funny to see that of all the creatures this guy created it was only Floody who he seemed to have any problems with.

Coincidence?

Probably.

Tripping Incident

At that same company a new sheriff eventually came to town and our corporate overlords decreed that we must have Safety Meetings to ensure that there were no accidents out in the field. And whether you were a field employee or stayed behind a desk most of the time… you needed to attend.

slip-up-709045_1280

And hey, it makes sense. We’re out there alongside traffic (high-speed traffic in many cases). We’re climbing down embankments to check out pipes. Places where snakes and spiders and all sorts of other animals might be living/hiding. So being told to wear your hard-hat and vest was a good thing. Being told to pay attention to your surroundings was a good thing.

I say all of this to now say – they went WAAAAAYYY overboard with all of this. We had to have monthly meetings (maybe they were bi-monthly, but they felt monthly) where we’d discuss office style accidents that could happen. And again I understood (though was annoyed), as there was a small possibility of maybe hurting yourself lifting an item that was too heavy.

But the final straw, the one that made me realize they’d lost their mind and traveled directly from a Dilbert dimension, was when we had an emergency Safety Meeting because one employee had tripped…

In her own office.

We had a meeting about that. I’m not kidding.

We had a meeting to try and address why it happened (she effectively tripped over her own feet – something I have done a hundred times if I’ve done it once). Something we’ve all done from time to time. It is called an accident for a reason!

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was listening as they tried to figure out ways that this could have been avoided.

Ugh!

(Not move once you are at work was the only sure-fire way I could see it working.)

So much time wasted.

 

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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.

Top 10 Songs to Drive at Night With

Night owl life.

Learn to embrace it.

I’ll be the first to admit: when the sun’s up, I’m pretty much a drone. I eat, I exercise, I work, I breathe, but sometimes it’s all so…passionless. Not to say there isn’t beauty during the day, but beneath it all I crave the stars, the Moon, the endless void. The night awakens me. It makes me rebel against my galactic insignificance. It makes me feel alive.

To get anywhere in this festering suburban miasma, one must drive. A lot. And if one must drive, one must have music. And if one must have music, one must have good music for driving at night with. For me, there are few things as serene as driving at night, alone or with someone beautiful beside me. Flying past streetlights, watching the Moon, devouring the emptiness of it all…

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Few.   Things.   Are.  Better.

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10 Songs for Driving at Night with:

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To Live is to Die

To Live is to Die – Metallica

The slow, chunky guitar riffs in this Metallica classic will have you tapping your non-gas pedal foot. It rises and fades like the Moon, and when it’s gone, you might just want to hit ‘Repeat.’

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Am I Not MercifulAm I not Merciful? – Hans Zimmer

If you’ve seen Gladiator, you probably remember the scene in which Commodus stabs Maximus moments before their epic fight. This song is as dark as the night is black. You’ll wish it lasted your entire drive.

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Bring on the Night

Bring on the Night – Sting

It’s lighter fare than the first two on this list, but even so…  Every word of it is true.

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I Don't Mind the Pain

I Don’t Mind the Pain – Danzig

Among the Lord of Deathy Blues’ best songs, this one has a great hook, superb guitars, and a dark little message to send you into the night.

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Black Sunshine

Black Sunshine – White Zombie

The whole album would work just as well. In fact, almost everything Rob Zombie ever did is solid for driving. At ALL hours.

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Invocation to a Continual OneInvocation to a Continual One – Morbid Angel

Ok, it’s got a weird title. And no, not everyone will appreciate most of Morbid Angel’s catalogue. But Invocation features guitar riffs that’ll send your mind reeling. And the solo at the end…probably the best heavy guitar work ever. Plus it’s nine minutes & forty-eight seconds long. Boom, goes the road.

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Rooster

Rooster – Alice in Chains

An instant classic the moment it hit the world, Rooster is probably good for all hours. I’ve riffed it at breakfast, in my office, wherever. But songs about suffering belong in the night. And so here it is.

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Seasons in the Abyss

Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer

Seasons is the heaviest song on this list by far. And it’s probably Slayer’s best. If you like shredding guitars and thumpy drums that’ll make you drive fast, just queue this one up at the very end of your night.

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Little Wing Little Wing – Stevie Ray Vaughn

Among the best guitar solos ever, Little Wing takes off and never comes back to Earth. It may be a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s song, but with the vocals carved out and the length more than doubled, you’ll find it hard not to drive faster.

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Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms – Junkie XL

My newest favorite from Mad Max. Anytime you’re feeling aggressive or indestructible in traffic, plug Brothers in and smash.  It has a quality to it that’ll make you feel godlike on any highway.

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Rev up your engines and go.

And when you get home, finish the night with this.

J Edward Neill

And Here I Thought Dilbert Wasn’t True

I design roads during the day. Unlike Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker (who can run a multi-national company or take pictures for a newspaper), my day job is to sit in an office and (according to my wife) point, click, and write down numbers. That’s not entirely true, but probably truer than I’d like to admit.

Which means that, as much as my hermit self would rather avoid it, I have to interact with others. Or more to the point, sometimes people end up interacting with me. And of course, sometimes you have to scratch your head about what happens.

working_my_fingers_to_the_bone

Make a Saving Throw Versus Poison Gas

My first job out of school was with a company whose office space was in downtown Atlanta. We were on the 3rd or 4th floor (I no longer remember). It was a very simple and relatively small office: about 12-15 employees max could be set up in either offices (for the senior staff) or cubicles. For some reason the ceiling didn’t have tiles so you could see the duct-work and the piping for the sprinkler system. Not sure if the money ran out at some point when they were building the place or what. I do know that’s how things stayed from the day I started working there until we moved offices a couple of years later (to a place which actually had a ceiling!).

In the middle of the office was the printer and an old-school blue-line copying machine.

For those not in the “know”, the blue-line machine allowed us to make copies of our plans for submitting. For some reason in the early part of this century, something being “only” on White paper didn’t make it official enough for some jobs. Not a big deal though.

However, to make the copies the machine used Ammonia, yes that smell you might associate with cat pee. So when someone got the machine pumping and going good the smell would start to penetrate through the office. Luckily someone was forward thinking and put a vent directly above the exhaust of the machine to take most of the bad smell away.

And that should have been that. One day I was in the middle of a large job copying plans for the better part of an hour or two. I flipped on the vent immediately, but as the minutes ticked past the smell was beginning to get too great for me, and I had to take a break. My buddy came over to complain about the smell at one point, but I pointed to the vent above us.

Remember how I said we could see up into the ceiling? Turns out no one had really taken a long look at where the vent was actually… venting.

No where. It was collecting the ammonia smell and then effectively exhausting it right back into the ceiling where it would then seep right back down into the office.

Sigh.

If I end up with some ammonia-based problems later in life I know exactly what caused it.

flyleaf-imsosick

You Don’t Have to Tell Them What You Are Sick Of

Two of my co-workers got the short end of the stick when our Transportation Head moved on to a different company leaving the Office Head as the defacto leader of the group. And at some point there was a presentation needed to be done down at the Department of Transportation (DOT) about a project that our company had done in the past, but no one currently employed had worked on. That didn’t dissuade Office Head and he recruited my co-worker Nick to help with the presentation.

Nick realized immediately this was going to be a problem. Not only did Office Head not understand anything about the project, Nick knew that he’d just deflect all the questions onto Nick… making him look bad in front of DOT. So Nick hatched a scheme. He’d bail on the meeting in question by calling in sick… but not for him, for one of his daughters. And given that his “wife was out of town” he wouldn’t be able to come in, avoid the career crippling meeting, and not give it anymore thought.

James saw the flaw in this plan. Without Nick there (Beth Ann was out of the office that day for client work and I was doing Site work at the time), James would be the go-to guy to accompany Office Head to the meeting. And probably take all the blame.

“Hey, you can’t call in sick because he’ll make me go!”

“You could call in sick.”

“Hey! I could.”

I heard that the meeting went really well… if you wanted to laugh at how much someone didn’t know about a project. I’m just glad I wasn’t there.

problem-98377_1280

A Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

For some reason the power blipped from time to time in the early 2000s. Looking back I’d like to blame it on the Ghosts in the Machines left over from the Y2K mess, but I’m sure it was just “one of those things”. The thing is with blackouts in the modern age… well, I can’t do my cad work if I have no power. And no, we didn’t have work-station battery back-ups… we didn’t have ceiling tiles!

So when the power went out it was complete downtime for the office. Yeah, maybe you had some paperwork you could do, forms to fill out, notes to take, but when the outage lasted for longer than 15 minutes you sat around and talked to your co-workers. Most importantly though, you are not really billable when you aren’t working, but still at work… and that did not sit well with our Office Head Pooba. No, this was a chance to do some Spring Cleaning. Maybe organize some old plan sets, maybe throw out some things we no longer needed.

Me and my buddy James did a little of this, but it was difficult to see so both of us gave up after a few minutes. I believe our exact words were:

“I can’t see shit.”

“Screw this, I’m going back to my desk.”

Beth Ann didn’t give up so easily, but in dealing with old projects the last thing you wanted to do was throw out something that was still needed. So she approached the Office Head about just that.

“Beth Ann, you need to be apart of the solution and not the problem.” He spoke the words to her and then went back to his office.

The next thing I hear is the sound of many plan sets going into the recycle bins. Loudly. And then more and then more, until both James and I emerged from our cocoons to see what the ruckus was about. What we saw was a full bin and more plans being dropped into it by Beth Ann.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t you know? I’m being a part of the solution.” As another set was thrown down.

From that day forth we used that line as much as possible.

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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.

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.

*

*

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:

***

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.

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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.

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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).

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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?

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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!”.

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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!

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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.