Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Timber Hawkeye: It's Not You, It's Me

(Buy this book now. Seriously. Do it.)

Have you ever noticed that the same things you consider irritatating are actually pleasant or even soothing for other people? Hot weather, classical music, laughing children, long drives, thunder storms, data entry, gardening, and so on... Those things are not the problem, you are. Someone is looking forward to what you regularly try to avoid, and what you see as the solution, someone else thinks is the complication.

When I get annoyed by someone blasting their car's stereo in a residential neighborhood, I remind myself that I used to do the same thing when I was younger. And when cigarette smoke grosses me out, I recall my own Marlboro Days until my judgy-wudgy attitude dissolves. It's important to keep ourselves in check so that we don't start thinking our way of being is somehow superior or ought to be universally practiced by everyone else.

I often say you will only be surrounded by annoying people and frustrating situations until you learn not to get annoyed or frustrated. We need to stop blaming outside forces for our own lack of internal peace. It's our personal responsibility to remain peaceful regardless of what's going on around us (not try to control everyone to live in accordance with what we think is right). 

When I talk about personal responsibility, it's not just accountability for the way our life has turned out so far, but also for the perspective from which we continue viewing the world. We need to stop expecting perfection from others because we can't possibly offer it in return. Have you considered the likelihood that someone finds your own attempts at mindfulness extremely frustrating or annoying? The windchime in your zen garden might be perceived as inconsiderate and presumptuous by a neighbor who hates the sound, or maybe your idea of "normal" is ridiculously absurd to someone else. Never assume that you are any less irritating than the people you try to avoid.

If I get aggrevated, it's because I'm the one who hasn't yet learned not to get annoyed. It's not you, it's me. You are actually my greatest teacher, and from the moment I start looking at you from that perspective, all I want to do is thank you, not kick you in the teeth :)

So let's join Rumi in that field beyond "right" and "wrong." You have your way, I have mine, and the wheels of the bus go 'round and 'round.--Timber Hawkeye

319 Comedic Fantasy Books That Are Awesome

(Should've been at least 320...just sayin'...)

I found this list on Goodreads. It's user-generated and is the top 319 comedy fantasy novels of ever, at least to this user. There are definitely some inconsistencies (all the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books are listed, but so are the anthologies; same with Robert Asprin's MYTH books), but it's still a very solid wishlist of some of the best comedic fantasy novels ever written.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

300 (Seconds)!

(Tonight, we write in Hell!)

Today, it's 300 seconds of writing! Or, you know, the usual five minutes. Either way. Let's do it.

---

Batman sat quietly on the fire escape, not quite sure what he was seeing.

Two men had just arrived in the alley, quickly getting down to business. The first one to talk looked to be about 5'8", 150 lbs; a skinny guy with a rat face and some serious acne scars. The other was easily 6'5" at three bills. They both spoke in rapid, hushed tones before the big one nodded and reached into his pocket.

His hand emerged and he thrust it at his smaller cohort. When he opened his mitt, there was a small rectangular piece of cardboard, almost like a baseball card. Based on his friend's smile, this was what the little guy was looking for.

The Dark Knight used the advanced optics in his helmet to look closer. It was a Pikachu Illustrator card. He knew what it meant. It meant Pokemon had come to Gotham.

---

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Jennifer Sweet Problem

(My story isn't nearly as interesting as this picture's origin. For reals.)

This fuckin’ kid, man.

Christ.

Look, I know my job isn’t very kid-friendly and I know they have a right to defend themselves, but man, this kid is too much.

My name’s Kevin and I work at an odd place. We provide childrens' monsters with living quarters, which happen to be under those childrens’ beds. I barely graduated high school, haven’t cracked a book since then, and I’m making almost $50 grand a year at a job I’m not even sure how I got. Seriously. I went to a strip mall a couple blocks from my house to see about a temp job or even joining the military and now I’ve been here eight months.

It was a great gig until Jennifer. Jennifer Sweet, or Jennifer Fuckin’ Sweet, as we call her here. Granted, eight months isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things, but at a job like this, it’s almost tenure. So I’ve seen a lot. And little of it good.

We’re putting monsters under kids’ beds. This ain't a Pixar movie. They’re legit terrified when these things show up, which is intentional since the monsters (an alien race referring to itself with a series of clicks that requires two tongues to recreate) feed off the energy created when the youngins are scared. The monsters take almost all the energy, so the kids only remember the incidents as vague nightmares.

We, on the other hand, see it all. Each monster has an implant behind their left eye acting as a camera. It gives us a perfect view of what they’re seeing. No idea why we do it and I can’t imagine it’s for anything good. But the company pays well, they have great insurance, and they don’t drug test. I think they pick people like me who aren’t real bright and smoke a lot of weed so there aren’t a lot of mental health issues. Seeing kids screaming in horror because of what just crawled out from under their beds isn’t the best way to make a living, but enough pot and enough PS4 and that shit just leaves your mind.

But Jennifer Fuckin’ Sweet, man. Good Lord. We’ve never had a monster reject a child. Ever. Jennifer, though, has managed to send every monster we’ve assigned back to us as an emotional wreck. One of them is still under medical observation for trying to kill itself. Suicide is unheard of to these creatures, but Jennifer managed to get in their heads and create absolute havoc. Depression, anxiety, paranoia…she’s turning them into my dad, only without the ability to use ice cream and bourbon to self-medicate.

And I know. We’re probably doing some really shady shit here. I mean, our job is to scare children so an alien race can eat their fear. On paper it sounds pretty bad. OK, it sounds bad when you say it out loud, too. This kid is probably a damn super hero or the next Hitler or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that she’s fucking with my job and frightening a lot of two-tongued, orange-haired, terrible-smelling monsters.

The first time was about a month ago. We sent one of our clients down there (they all look/sound/smell the same and I have no idea to tell them apart; identifying them is above my pay grade) and he came back two days later making some odd noises (even for them) and shedding heavily all around my desk. Fun fact: their fur not only smells faintly of catfish bait but is also sticky. That means when they shed, you can’t just wipe the fur off your desk or run the vacuum. It’s a whole thing.

From then on, it became a daily event. We’d send a monster to Jennifer’s bed and they’d come back the next morning, terrified. We’d send another monster down there, same day, and the next day, the process repeated itself. Sixteen straight days, sixteen straight monsters returning and refusing not only to not go back, but they also wouldn’t let me reassign them. This is literally the only time this has happened and now I’m monster poison because it’s a kid in my section.

My manager has been pretty cool about it. Todd said he gets it’s not my fault, but the monsters we’re dealing with tend to be pretty superstitious and there’s a rumor they have some kind of hive mind, so if one of them doesn’t want to work with me, it’s a sure bet none of them do. I heard we’re working with the alien leadership to get them to work with me again, but I also heard it’s not going well.

What is it about this girl? I mean, all I’m doing is just to live my life and save a little money. That’s it. And God forbid it happen to Andy, that fuckin’ douche. This kind of shit always happens to me. The monsters don’t complain much, but when they do, it seems like it’s the ones I’m working with. The kid’s room smells funny, there isn’t much room under the bed, the kid’s going through puberty and experimenting with their bodies, both loudly and vigorously. Look, I’m not here to provide a five-star experience. I’m here to get you in front of a scared kid so you can do what you have to do. What they do in bed after the lights are turned out ain’t my problem.

“Hey, Kev, Corporate told me to give you this.”

Todd slides a folder across my keyboard.

“Thanks, man. So what’s up with Jen—“

“Just read it.”

Todd turns around and leaves. My stomach is feeling kinda squirty. It’s a fucked-up job, but I don't mind it and like I said, the money’s sweet.

I open the folder to see a single sheet of paper with my name at the top, followed by four sentences. In those four sentences, two words stand out and I instantly understand. The other words tell me I’m no longer responsible for Jennifer (Fuckin’) Sweet’s “Monster Situation” and that the monsters will still work with me. But those two words let me know we’ve stumbled onto something bad, something we’re not going to escape anytime soon.

Umbrella Academy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Five Minutes of Funk, er, Writing!

(Add Whodini to anything to make the funk happen.)

I can't promise it'll be funky, but I can promise the following words were written in five minutes.

Hit that timer.

---

The timer went off and Tony came out of his daze.

Shit. The cookies are done.

The cookies represented everything that was Tony's life at the moment. If they came out fresh, soft, and warm, they would allow him to continue along the path of his life similarly. If not, well, his destiny was wrapped up with that of those cookies.

He didn't smell anything burning, just the heavenly smell of fresh, chocolaty baked goods. As he was about to open the oven door, another chime erupted. This time, it was his doorbell.

Tony's life also revolved around answering the door before the unknown bell ringer was able to push the button twice. He knew he was in danger. Cookies or door? Burnt to a crisp or his family suffering five years of mediocre inconvenience because he was unable to answer the door in time?

By the way, if you're thinking this is about his being afflicted with OCD or a similar mental illness, it's not. Tony was cursed by a witch seven years ago and even now, is realizing he's more annoyed with the fact that witch was an asshole rather than the fear of a practicer of dark arts.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Father of Hansel & Gretal Indicted on Child Endangerment Charge

(The father of Hansel and Gretal, seen here hugging Gretal after their escape from the witch, was indicted on two charges of child endangerment Tuesday at The Hague.)


THE HAGUE—The father of famed kidnap victims Hansel and Gretal was indicted this morning at the International Criminal Court here on charges of child endangerment in the case being built against his wife by the United Nations.

It is alleged she used various means and efforts against the woodsman hunter to have her stepchildren removed from the home due to jealousy and greed. It has been claimed by the prosecution she was vocal in her desire to claim the small inheritance guaranteed to her husband’s children as a result of the Fairy Tale Children’s Protection Act of 2013. The Act was passed by the UN after it was learned the majority of fairy tale children have been grossly abused with the fund providing guaranteed income for the children and an identification card allowing them entry to every nation on the planet.

The United States recently became the last nation to open their borders after former President Donald Trump closed his country to all fairy tale beings, apparently believing them to be an invasion of homosexuals. The claim was one of the final outrageous comments made by the former game show host who was eventually overthrown by a group of resistance fighters led by musician Dave Grohl.

(Dave Grohl received the International Medal of Fucking Badass by newly-elected U.S. President Joan Jett after his work in removing Donald Trump from office. Photo by Frances Bean Cobain-Grohl.)

As chronicled by the famous tale, their banishment led to the duo’s capture and confinement by, and eventual escape from, Agatha Joanne Gildersneeze, the leader of a forest-dwelling cult of cannibals who is also colloquially known as the Evil Witch. Gildersneeze was killed by the children during their escape and due to the circumstances, were not charged in her death.

The two official charges of child endangerment—one for each of his children—were read by Belgium justice Lucas Waffle, senior-most of the three-justice panel formed specifically for fairy tale-based crimes in 2007. Known as Shreck’s Law, it was mandated that all applicable court cases be run through the ICC or the International Court of Justice, as applicable, when it was discovered at the turn of the millennia that pocket dimensions exist where fairy tales are real.

The name of both the children’s father and stepmother are being withheld to protect the identities of Hansel and Gretal, not their actual names. The man—Caucasian in his early 40s—is being represented by Roy Cohn, the deceased attorney who infamously defended the owners of Studio 54 during their tax evasion trial as well as disgraced former President Trump. The latter is currently serving a life sentence in an unknown location due the guilty verdict in his crimes against humanity trial here two years ago.

“It is ridiculous to think this man—this good, strong man—would knowingly evict his children from their home,” Cohn said outside the courthouse in an impromptu press conference. When a reporter pointed out to Cohn the children’s father, not present for today’s session, had already admitted he had left them in the forest to perish allegedly at the behest of his wife, the corpse of the legendary barrister declared the interview over and vanished in a puff of smoke and brimstone.

Neither of the children’s parents have given statements, unusual given the massive press surrounding the case and the fact both are now currently under international indictment. The woman, mocked in some media accounts as an “evil stepmother,” long a slur used against any woman marrying a man with young children, has proclaimed her innocence since the story first broke more than 200 years ago. She repeated those claims in a profanity-laced outburst during her indictment on charges of first-degree murder in this same courtroom nearly six months ago.

Hansel and Gretal’s father married her after his first wife and the natural mother of the children died in a suspicious cupcake fire.

Neither trial is scheduled to start this year as jury selection, difficult in the best of times for fairy tale hearings, is expected to take nearly a year. This is considered by some of the top names in law to be one of the most well-known court case in the planet’s history and as such, makes the challenge to find objective jurists difficult.

Continue to refresh this page for updates to this story.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

If You Want Word Sprints, You Got It!

(What's better than a five-minute word sprint?)

An interview I had prepped for is actually in another hour because I don't understand time zones, so I have some time to tear into a five-minute word sprint like a honey badger eating Pop Tarts.

Start that timer.

---

The Penguin stared at the clock, anger making his face even more a caricature than normal. The contact was supposed to be here by now. Oswald Cobblepot was many things. Rich. Successful. Short. But tolerant of tardiness was nowhere on that particular list.

He had discovered a street hood who could finally bring Batman to his armored knees. Armor. Penguin remembered when Batman was just some guy prowling rooftops, beating up muggers. The Gotham cops would use him to solve some cases because he worked for free and they were (are) too stupid to do the jobs themselves.

He took on the wacky costumed criminals that seemed to appear weekly, of which, Cobblepott was more than a little ashamed to say, he was one. The great thing about rising through the ranks of the criminal underworld to its apex is that anyone who remembered him in that ridiculous top hat and tails are either too smart or too dead to mention it in Penguin's presence.

Nowadays, though, Batman was like some armored comic book super hero with any and every device he could think of not only there, but instantly available for use.

---

Decided to go with a comic book motif, as I've been reading a bungload of them lately. There you have it. Five minutes of a Penguin story that didn't exist until now. You're welcome.