Category Archives: Just For Fun

Making Up Horoscopes

I discovered the other day an assignment I had done for a poetry class. The assignment was to create a new Zodiac sign and write a horoscope for it. I present to you, Arugula.

Leafy green aruglua plant

Photo by Eric Bear Albrecht [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics of an Arugula:

Arugulas are healthy, earthy, and have a strong will to do what is right. They love the natural world and strive for harmony in their lives and actions. Arugulas love strongly and seek to better the lives of those around them, often with great success.

On the other hand, arugulas’ strong will often puts them at odds with others, and their desire to do the right thing can lead to a false sense of superiority. Arugulas are often tasteless to the point of boorishness, and though they naturally exert a strong influence on those around them, they can be heavy handed and overbearing. In addition, arugulas’ earthy nature may lend them a pleasant odor on first contact, but can quickly grow stale and moldy.


Storms darken the horizon and may easily overwhelm you. Remember, snow is a natural part of the Earth. However, just because your life is drenched and stormy, it does not excuse you from bathing. A sudden frost is about to ruin your love life. My advice: Try adding some croutons to your salad, preferably garlic. Newly single people can afford to have horrendous breath. Maybe go watch The Hobbit and root for Smaug this time.

Watch for shooting stars. If you see one, run. Run far far away and contemplate the nature of a vast universe that is constantly trying to destroy you. Pray, if it makes you feel better. Nothing can save you in the end.

Not Quite Christmas (The Real Best Time of Year)

The Holiday Season is almost upon us. I personally really like this time of year, from September all the way through the New Year. I like the creepy Halloween stuff, but I like the time after Halloween just as much, and I’m referring to more than just the traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff. These few weeks between Halloween and Turkey Fever get short shrift usually. At best they’re ignored. But I like it. I like the days getting shorter and the air getting colder. I like the hints of snow and promise of misery. Of course, by the second week of January the magic has worn off and it’s all dirty slush and inconvenient ice. For now though, it’s a time of constant change, and I like that.

For me, this time of year is a promise of things to come. My life is in that weird place after adolescence but before ‘real’ adulthood. (Of course, I’m developing a sneaking suspicion that ‘real’ adulthood never really arrives until you’re the oldest person alive and no one is around to tell you how young you still are.) I haven’t got a solid career yet, or children. I still have friends that like to go out at 11pm on Friday night. I still join them occasionally, though I usually regret it. I’m living the life of a full grown-up without all the resources. I don’t have to live on ramen noodles, but I still can’t afford health insurance. Basically, things are unsettled, much like the early November season that can’t decide if it’s Winter or Fall or how long either will last.

The promise, though, is there. The promise that soon all the trees will be lit with twinkling, artificial life and the snow will be soft and cold but not freezing as it falls. The promise that comfort is only a steaming mug away. It’s that promise I cling to. It’s honestly the best part of life. Anticipation is often greater than the reward, though I don’t think that diminishes the rewards. I’m still young enough that I can anticipate my life ahead. I can plan for better things, though I’ll have to slog through some blackened slush to get there. And when I do reach things like stability and regular dental visits, I’m sure it won’t be nearly as lovely as I have it in my head. Not that healthy teeth are a bad thing, but I’m sure I’ll still have unattained desires and worrisome trivialities and the kids will be sending the world to hell with their darned techno-folk music and silver jumpsuits and AI partners. Of course, that means I also get to have my anticipation of better things to come.

The lovely thing about this time of year is that it goes by so quickly. Soon it will be the Holiday Season for real with its Christmas Wars and Hobbitses and travel plans. Then we’ll have piles of dirty ice in all the parking lots and then the lovely green of Spring. Soon, the anticipation will be gone, but for a few brief days I get the thrill of imagining all the fun and joy laid out ahead of me. And I’m okay with that.

Why I Believe in Santa Claus

Yes, I believe in Santa Claus. Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I know Santa isn’t real. And Yes, all those statements are true. Mostly. I had a conversation about Santa Claus  with a friend the other day, and in this conversation we discussed belief in said magical Arctic dwelling whatever he is. Is he a person? I suppose person and human aren’t necessarily the same thing, so fine: Santa is a person. Anyway, in this discussion we talked about the different reasons and arguments for telling children that Santa Claus is real or just being open with them or whatever. I don’t mean to get into that too much. Suffice it to say that if I ever become a father I will be the kind of  parent who is going to lie his ass off to his kids about probably almost everything. But in a nice way. The better discussion, I believe, isn’t about lying to children. It’s about lying to yourself. I believe in Santa Claus, and I will defend that belief forever. (I was going to say to the death, but if we’re believing in Santa Claus, we’re going for an afterlife too.) Now, I know there’s no Santa Claus, just as I know there’s probably not an afterlife. The evidence simply suggests otherwise. But just because I know something isn’t real, doesn’t mean I can’t believe in it. This all started when I was fourteen years old. I was in junior high school, and it was near Christmas time. Somehow my friends got into a discussion about Santa Clause. When someone casually mentioned that Santa wasn’t real, I flipped out. “What do you mean? Of course Santa’s real!” I said. “If he’s not real, then how do you explain all the presents you get on Christmas morning?” They responded with mixtures of confusion and pity and arrogance. “Umm, your parents put the presents there.” “And I suppose you think your parents fill your stockings too,” I shot back. “Yeah. Of course.” The most confusing part of this exchange for those poor, brave teenage souls was that I was not speaking in a sarcastic tone, but rather as one who really believed and stood by these convictions. Now, by this point I had known for some years that Santa wasn’t real, and I assumed my friends would take my joke for what it was. What I have never realized is that when you act serious, people will assume you are serious. It makes the joke better, but also harder to perceive as a joke. Alas, against my better judgment I was drawn into a debate about the reality of a supernatural character, and I was supposed to argue the losing side. I couldn’t just give in to reality. That would have been too easy. So I played it out. And I discovered something in the process: It’s more fun to believe. There is a terrific scene in the terrific movie “Secondhand Lions” wherein a boy tells his uncle he needs to know if the stories he’s been hearing about his two uncles’ youthful adventures are true. The uncle responds with a short speech about belief:

Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

A false notion is that belief and knowledge have anything to do with each other. They don’t. Belief is in fact the very antithesis of knowledge. It is impossible to both know and believe something at the same time. But far from destroying the foundations of belief, this thrusts belief into a very special realm all its own, where it’s possible to both know something isn’t true but believe it all the same. I choose to believe in Santa Clause because the world seems a more magical place that way. And no I will never allow that belief to cloud my judgment regarding whether or not I need to fill my possible future children’s stockings. That would just be irresponsible. And I will never trust magic or crystals or prayer to heal me when medicine has been proven to do the trick far better and more reliably. But I will continue to believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny and magic and The Doctor because even though reality is pretty awesome, a little magic still goes a long way.

Doctor Santa

Pictures by a 26-year-old

I’ve gotten into the habit of writing letters with a few people lately. Some out of pleasure, and some out of necessity. One thing that’s been fun is to include little drawings with each letter. I am intensely proud of these drawings, in the way only someone acutely aware of their own lack of talent can be. And because I’m proud of these, and because they are hilarious and awesome, I decided to share them with you.

Pro tip: You might enjoy these more if you just pretend they were drawn by a 6-year-old instead of a 26-year-old full grown man.

This one is a black unicorn. Because unicorns are awesome, and I didn’t have any other colors. Black Unicorn

I wrote this letter on Halloween, so here’s a ghost and a pumpkin and a bloody sign.Happy Halloween

Then I realized, if I wrote it on Halloween, the recipient wouldn’t get it until it was Thanksgiving season. So I compensated.Happy Thanksgiving

Finally, because The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is coming out soon, and because I’m a fantasy nerd, I’ve had dragons on the brain lately. But because I got tired of drawing legs, this one turned into Homer the bisexual, avidly anti-tobacco chickendragon.Dragon's Are Awesome

You’re welcome.

All Hallow’s Read

Hey everybody! It’s October now, and you know what that means. It’s time for All Hallow’s Read! (Hooray!!!!!! Cheers!!!!! What in the hell is All Hallow’s Read?!)

I’m glad you asked Mr. Pessimist who hates fun. All Hallow’s Read is a holiday tradition thought up by Neil Gaiman in 2010. Basically the idea is, you know what? I’ll just let him explain it.


If that doesn’t get you excited, check out this year’s posters from Introverted Wife:





So get your bookshopping done and find someone you love to scare the pants off of this year. Happy Hallowe’en!

More information at

Short and Sweet

I want to post my new short story soon. I finished writing it, and I sent it to a few people to read. I’ve gotten some good feedback so far, but I’m still waiting for a couple people to get back to me. Then it’s just editing then posting. Anyway, this post isn’t about that story. This post is about another very short thing I wrote and want to share with you. I like it a lot, and I hope you do too.


Water, the Fish

Image courtesy of SOMMAI /

Image courtesy of SOMMAI /



Thank you.


Fine I guess.






Oh. I’m not sure. I was swimming around and then I felt hot and then I woke up here.


Beg your pardon?


Shouldn’t YOU know?


I’m sorry. I haven’t got a name.


Oh yes. They did.


The little one called me Water.


Thank you. Can I ask you a question?


Who are you?


You don’t look like me.


But you’re my father?


I am really confused.


Okay. So, where am I?


Am I going to stay here forever?


It was hot then I woke up here.


I think so.




Sorry Mac, but you’re the one who gave me a five-second memory. Obviously you could have done better because here we are having a real conversation longer than ‘Hello.’ The way I see it, this is your fault.


You’re the Big Cheese.


Abra——— Are you kidding me? Hello? Hello! Where am I? And why is the water steaming?

In the Shadow of the Gods (working title)

The sun shone brightly through cracks between tall buildings as a town car made its way through the city. It wasn’t a particularly noticeable vehicle. It was hardly the only gentleman’s wagon on the street, but it was clean and respectable with no scratches or blemishes. The body was waxed and polished until the green paint, dark enough to be almost black, shone with a respectable lustre.  The man sitting in the back fit the car perfectly. The consummate gentleman, he wore a respectable suit with a plain, clean tie of modest design bearing the family colors; green for the eyes and red for the hair. He kept his dark, rusty brown hair long enough to toy with if the occasion called for it, but short enough to be manageable. Today it hung loose except for two braids over his forehead to match the braids of his moustache. A cane of dark rosewood lay on the seat next to him, and his gloved hands lay clasped in his lap. Today was a special day.

Months of planning and negotiations were coming to a head today. Jacob, the man in the car was nervous about the meeting. It was an uncomfortable feeling and one with which he wasn’t familiar. He’d been to many business meetings before, and each was the same as the next. But today was different. It felt like his first time. Butterflies churned in his stomach, his breath was short and small beads of perspiration broke on his forehead. For all that, he kept his features smooth. It wouldn’t do to show weakness today.

The town car stopped in front of a café on 7th Street. The street of the Gods, they called it, though nobody understood why. Stories abounded verifying some reason or other why the street deserved the name. In Jacob’s mind the street bore the name because of the attention the city’s industry captains lavished upon it. There were no businesses, in the pure sense of the word, on 7th. It was made up entirely of entertainments: restaurants, cafés, parks, sport halls and other establishments providing physical recreation. There was a minor temple in the middle of the street which all the captains blessed when they passed it, but that was just good business. It wouldn’t do to be seen not respecting the traditions, even if the gods themselves were no longer bound to humanity. Even so, Jacob whispered a quiet prayer as he entered the café.

Immediately upon entering Jacob was greeted by Lawrence Courney, the café’s owner. After exchanging pleasantries, Lawrence led Jacob to the back of the establishment. This was highly irregular. It was customary for captains to meet in the sunlight near the broad windows which decorated the front of every business along the street of the Gods. After all, there was an image to be maintained. Jacob would have been incredibly insulted had he not seen his associate already seated. Evidently, she had asked for privacy. That or Lawrence was retiring from the life business, but either way it was Alicia’s responsibility to deal with any perceived slight. Jacob eyed her as they walked to the table. Alicia was a pretty woman, not beautiful, but pleasantly attractive for a woman in her late forties with long honey colored hair and striking eyes. Her eyes were the first thing people noticed about her not because of their color, a dull green, but because of their intensity. One look at Alicia’s eyes and anybody worth their salt knew they were not dealing with an average woman, even for the nobility. She was clever and ruthless, and she reportedly took great pleasure in manipulating those who were supposed to be her betters. Jacob had avoided business with her for just such reasons, but in her line of work she was absolutely the best and he needed the best.

Arriving at the table, Jacob thanked Lawrence for his service and gave him a generous tip before seating himself and propping his cane on his leg. He and Alicia refrained from speaking until their cakes and coffee arrived. The server wouldn’t come back unless they called. This was why they had chosen the Café de Lune; the staff understood propriety. Once they had tested the coffee, perfect as always, and each taken a bite or two of cake the meeting officially began.

“So,” Alicia’s voice came out smooth and confident, “I understand you have a proposal for me.”

“Indeed Madame. I believe you understand the basic terms of the deal. Am I correct?”

“Yes, but I am told you want something special. Special orders always contain inconsistencies with the paperwork. I’d like to hear straight from your mouth exactly what you want.”

“Green eyes. I need green eyes to match the family, and she needs to be well bred.”

“Green eyes I have aplenty, but define for me ‘well bred.’”

“Oh, you know. Finest stock. First class. Proper training. All that.”

Alicia shook her head slightly and fixed Jacob with her intense gaze. “Maestro Goosebaum, I am a very busy woman, so I will only say this once. When I say I want to hear exactly what you want, I mean exactly. No games. No suppositions. I don’t know what your twisted little mind considers proper training. Do you want a musician? Bodyguard? Dancer? Lover? Daughter? All of the above? These things matter in selection. So I will ask you one more time, what exactly what do you want?”

Jacob felt the sweat bead on his forehead and his voice shook as he answered. “I want a female. Solidly muscled, but still able to properly wear a suit. She should have green eyes, as I stated, and a full head of hair. She should dislike onions. I want her to dance adequately, not well. She should have a menacing glare, but no combat training. She is to be an ornament, not a thug. She must be plain looking for a noble, but not so ugly as a peasant. I wish to pass her off as family, but not close family. She should not embarrass me, but neither need she impress. If you can fulfill these conditions I am willing to offer you one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.”

“Pounds of what?”

“I would not like to say out loud. I understood you read the proposal?”

“Oh I am aware of your documents, but as you well know writing is fluid. I want assurance. I need to hear it from your mouth with your word attached to it.”

Jacob gulped nervously. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to give such assurances. Not that he was a liar, even on paper, but still once a word was given it couldn’t be rescinded for anything. He had never given his in public. Too much chance of someone overhearing. Still, if she could provide, he would pay the price, but not without assurances of his own. “Very well Madame Bartlett. I will give my word, but before I do, I wish to hear from your mouth that you can provide what I need.”

“Ha. You wish a word from me in return? Do you take me for a fool? I will not be so easily manipulated, my dear, sweet man. I am sorry, but you must try harder than that.”

“I believe, Madame,” Jacob said stiffly, “that your cleverness is leading you to gold. Shiny and smart, but ultimately worthless.” Alicia recoiled at the insult. Good, that should teach her. “If you had listened carefully, you would have noted that I did not ask for your word. I simply wished an assurance from your own mouth.”

“Very, very clever Maestro Goosebaum. I see now why your family elected you Captain. Very well, you have my assurance. I tell you with my own mouth: I will provide for you exactly as you desire, and I will be held to the Laws of Confirmation in this matter.”

“Very good. Now then, I propose to offer you payment of one hundred thousand pounds of green plants and fifty thousand pounds of eatable meats, from animals of my own making. As assurance and sealant of this bargain I offer you my word: Barnyard. Is it acceptable?”

“A powerful word. You will have what you need Jacob.”

With that Jacob drained his coffee and left the Café de Lune, nodding to Lawrence as he passed. He stepped into his town car, and hoped he had made a wise choice. At the table, Alicia smiled.

Because I wrote things and want you to read them because I feel really drained and need somebody to read what I wrote and tell me it’s good.

WARNING: Continuing with the theme created by the title here, this post will feature run-on sentences. English teachers, you may wish to avert your eyes.

So here’s the thing, I go through periods of depression in my life, much like all the other people ever. Usually, there is some catalyst which makes me feel like my life is going nowhere and then I get into a funk where I don’t do anything thereby making this feeling completely accurate. After a week or two of moping around I get back to work for some reason, and I write things. I try to work hard on my novel, which sometimes works out. Today I wrote about 400 words, then I wrote an email to my wife with the title of this post as the subject line and sent her what I wrote. Sometimes that’s what happens. Some days I write thousands of words. Literally. More than double one thousand. Those are really good days. Today isn’t one of them. Not that I feel bad. 400 words is 400 times better than no words,(Technically speaking 0x400=0, but this is more of a principle thing.), so I feel pretty good about that.

Today though, after 400 words I feel completely exhausted, which is weird. It’s possible my strange work schedule and daylight savings have something to do with that as well, but I’m going to blame it on the writing. It’s hard to write without any guarantee of reward. It’s hard to put in the effort while other things in life aren’t going exactly as you want them. Hell, life’s just hard. Sometimes, you just need a pick-me-up. So today, I’m putting something online I wrote in a notebook the other night while I was trying to sleep but couldn’t. It started with the first two sentences, then I didn’t know what to do, so I drew a picture and that inspired me to write something, then that inspired me to read some Neil Gaiman, so I downloaded an e-book of Coraline from my local library and read half of it before falling asleep and having strange dreams that only scared me after I woke up. More on that later. For now, here’s a picture and a thing.

When I say, 'drew a picture', I don't mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

When I say, ‘drew a picture’, I don’t mean to suggest I am in any way talented.

Brockway stumbled in the early morning darkness. That stone shouldn’t have been there. He looked behind him again, but saw only black. That wasn’t right either. The Bakers’ house should have been lit up even at this hour. They always had parties stretching through the night since the old woman discovered that cache of Spirits. But it wasn’t there. Nothing was, not even darkness. It was just…empty.

Turning back, Brockway started to run. He didn’t build speed gradually, as during his evening workout. He went from shambling to sprinting in the blink of an eye. It was pointless, he told himself. He knew the Ancients would take him when they wanted, no matter where he was or how fast he ran, but the fear had hold of him. He couldn’t help his actions any more than they would save his life. So he ran.

He knew these streets as well as anyone alive or dead. He knew them better than he knew his own mother. Yet today they didn’t obey his knowledge. He turned familiar corners into uncharted territory. Stones and walls rose up from the ground to greet his erratic feet. Houses were gone, or bigger, or where they shouldn’t be.

Nothing stirred in the village. The sun refused to rise. The nothing behind him edged closer and closer. A faint laugh rose in the nothing, growing louder until it consumed his brain. As the nothing reached him, Brockway realized the laughter was his own.

A Little Comedic Gold

I was about to write this big philosophical piece when I realized, ‘Nobody cares about that crap! Do you know what’s better than philosophy? Comedy!’

Background: I was in this German class about a year ago, and I had to take this proficiency exam. One of the activities was to write an essay about a school experience, either real or imagined. This is what I wrote, translated into English so you can all read it too.

Professor Jones

Last year I studied Archaeology at Harvard. I had this one professor, Professor Jones. He was a nice man, but a terrible professor. He missed almost half of the lectures, with no warning given and no classes canceled. When he was there he only wanted to talk about golden crosses and holy grails. Sure, his stories were interesting, but they didn’t help at all on the tests.

One day, I’d just had enough of it. I went to his office to and waited. And waited. (He also wasn’t ever in his office during his posted office hours! I mean, give me a break Professor!) Well, I waited for hours, but eventually he showed up. I had to hide when I saw him because if he had seen me there he would have just ran. I barged into his office and told him, “I’ve had enough of this! You are a TEACHER! You have a responsibility to your students! I understand you’re busy, and sometimes you can’t make it to lecture, but could you at least send an email?! It’s not like we’re living in 1939. You can even send emails from your iPad or cell phone. There is just no excuse!”

He looked straight at me for a minute. Then he climbed out the window. He is absolutely the WORST professor in the history of ever!

Illegal Poetry Slam

So I’m writing a book, as I mentioned briefly in my last post. I’m very hesitant to share things from that on here. Partly it’s because not even the first draft is finished, and I want people to actually want to read it. Also I hope to eventually someday publish it, and I don’t want it to already be online for free. Greedy? Maybe. Stingy? Yes. But overall I think it’s practical. I’ll make you a deal though. If for some reason I can’t get it published, I’ll send a digital copy to anyone who wants it. Fair? I don’t care.

On that rhyme, let’s get to the real reason you’re here. Last night I wrote a scene in my book where the protagonist discovers an illegal poetry slam performed by aliens in Hell. I was going to assure you something about it all making sense in the larger context of the story, but that’s actually a perfect description of what I’m going for here. I decided to share the actual poems with you today. There aren’t many of them, and I’m not a great poet, but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

Like this fella!

Like this fella!

*A note on the alien races: The alien names are not what they call themselves. They are names the protagonist assigns them based on one single character trait. For example, ewoks are short and furry, but they’re much more akin to werewolves than teddy bears.

Poetry Slam

About ten people all stood in a group, so it was impossible from outside to tell who was talking. It was a very diverse group, with ewoks, a large lady hobbit, one morlock, a couple of the blue-skinned buddhists, and even one angel. It only excluded humans. Morty, like everyone else outside of Earth, was a little racist. At the moment a deep voice was speaking in low hum. It sounded like a giant bumblebee.

At the end of the day I struggle home under my own power

Artificial wings can’t lift the air, but they lift my body

I tower over the waves, I am master of the domain

If I had to fall I’d fall with style, but you know this because here I am.

The deep voice stopped. It was replaced by a quiet humming from the other participants, continuing in the same rhythm as the poem for a single minute before cutting off abruptly. As soon it stopped another voice sprang out of the crowd, this one just as deep but with a staccato quality.

Wings are only as good as the mud on their folds

Tracing around through the wrinkles of the swarm

The swarm is everything. All for the glory of swarm.

But then what purpose do prisons serve when all is the swarm?

What purpose is exile if it doesn’t serve?

What purpose is life if not to live?

The swarm rejected us, but we are not gone.

We are the swarm, we are our own. We are the future, they are the present.

If you wanted to cut us down, you’ll need a bigger serpent.

Again the low hum sprang up as soon as the voice ended, this time matching the staccato of the speaker. Another poet began, but this time the humming continued, changing to match the speaker’s own alto voice.

The prophets say at the end times the dragon will rise in the stars

The prophets declare the coming of doom

The prophets betray the Goed for their own pleasure

The prophets lie for their Cad,

In the end they shall watch us

In the end we will eat the red

Our end is soon. Our end is soon.

All sound from the group stopped. They began departing one by one, making as if they were just at a casual meeting of friends.