Something Outside Your Interests, Yet Still Think It’s Great

I always enjoy getting positive feedback. Who doesn’t? Check out the following review of “Eat Fish And Die” at the Planetary Defense Command Blog.

The following comment impressed me greatly:

Normally, I would say that I don’t like humorous science fiction, and that I don’t care for a flippant writing style, but I really enjoyed this story. You know you’re reading work by a skilled author when you read something outside your interests, and still think it’s great.

Awesome! Of course, others may not like this quaint little story, some may downright despise it (no sense of humor obviously). But comments like this really make my day. Okay, hitting the Amazon top 100 list would be better. But hey! I’m not greedy.

Thank you Planetary Defense Commander!

Eat Fish And Die – Free on Kindle Select

Eat Fish and Die on KindleMy Mil SF short story, “Eat Fish And Die” will be FREE (all caps to get noticed by you tightwads out there) on Kindle this Saturday to celebrate Flag Day, Father’s Day and Bunker Hill Day. Do you even care about Bunker Hill Day? Neither do I, just don’t get it confused with Archie Bunker Day, where you sit around on your porch making rude remarks at people as they walk by. What could be more fun?

Anyway, save yourself a whopping 99 cents, and pat yourself on the back. You can even celebrate by going to the bar and drinking yourself into a royal stupor. You will of course have spent much more money chugging beers, but so many braincells will have died in the process, you won’t remember what happened.

NFL Fans Are Crazier Than Star Trek Fans!

klingonFan

A good friend recently called me up and asked if I wanted to go to a football game. I told him I couldn’t because I was going that particular weekend to a Star Trek con. He retorted with a mocking laugh: “Oh, I see you’re one of those crazy Star Trek fanatics, huh?”

That comment got me riled up. You see, I’m not an NFL fan, but I had recently attended a football game (the first one in my life, actually) just prior to my friend’s call. As I entered the stadium parking lot, I encountered NFL fan behavior so shocking it would make any battle-hardened Klingon run for his mama. There was face painting, unbridled screaming, unsafe barbecuing, out-of-control boozing, and rampant stupidity worthy of a Jackass movie.

I tried in vain to explain to my friend that football fans were crazier than Star Trek fans and that his derogatory comment was uncalled for.

He didn’t believe me.

I therefore came up with a way to prove my point. I decided to explain what the life of a Star Trek fan would be like in a world where Trek was as popular as the NFL. In this hypothetical world, a fan’s daily routine would go something like this:

6 AM – Our fan is awakened by an Andorian alarm clock. You know, the one that has two blue antennas smacking against the big alarm bell in the center.

6:15 AM – Shower and a shave. Naturally, he uses Brut aftershave. After seeing commercials with Bill Shatner smothered by Orion slave girls, he’s a believer.

6:30 AM – Gets dressed. Nice slacks, Andorian blue button-down shirt, and of course a Star Trek necktie.

6:45 AM – Grabs breakfast, where the fan eats Wheaties cereal with the face of Captain Kirk on the box. General Mills rotates the face of each captain from time to time, but the fan stocks up on Kirk because he’s everyone’s favorite. Duh!

6:50 AM – While stuffing his face with Wheaties, he turns on his ginormous flat-screen TV and switches to CNN. Of the 30-minute news update, 20 minutes is devoted to Trek news. He catches up on highlights from the previous night’s show. Headline news: the Klingons were intercepted in the neutral zone! What an episode!

7:00 AM – The fan jumps into his car and sits lethargically in traffic for an hour. He doesn’t mind, though, because the hour is spent happily listening to commentary on XM Radio’s Trek channel. Today’s discussion is about salary caps for leading Trek actors versus those of supporting cast members. Very interesting.

8:00 AM – Arrives at work and goes straight to the coffee machine. All his work buddies are there, talking about last night’s show. “Wasn’t that amazing? The Klingons were intercepted in the neutral zone during the last half, with 30 seconds remaining before the final credits! Great episode!” Oops! It’s almost 9:00 AM. They overdid the Star Trek talk, but nobody cares because their boss was chatting at the coffee machine too! No problemo!

9:00 AM – With Star Trek news on his computer desktop, the fan works apathetically. A steady stream of Trek trivia via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest helps multitask the time away.

10:00 AM – Zing! Back to the coffee machine. The conversation now centers on the average number of photon torpedoes fired during the first half of last night’s episode. Statistically speaking, most captains fire off 2.548439 more torpedoes against Klingon adversaries compared to Cardassians. Fascinating!

10:20 AM – Wasn’t that supposed to be a ten-minute break? Whoops! Back to work … sort of. Advertising on the Facebook Star Trek page keeps grabbing the fan’s attention. This week’s Trekker convention is already sold out! Good thing he has season tickets. Who’d wanna buy overpriced tickets from scalpers dressed like Ferengi? Those losers!

12:00 PM – Lunchtime! Everyone decides to go to Star-Trekhooters down the street. Andorian Ale and greasy Paraka wings go down easily while watching reruns of Trek on large panoramic screens. The large breasts on the Orion slave girl waitresses are always a nice distraction.

1:59 PM – Returns to work for three hours of mind-numbing labor. Even with a steady stream of calls, emails and meetings, the fan still manages to write three blog posts and 227 Twitter comments about Trek. And that’s on an off day.

5:00 PM – Makes a mad dash for his car, then it’s back into miles of traffic while listening to XM Radio’s Star Trek channel. Wheeee!

5:50 PM – Stops by the local 7-Eleven to pick up some snacks. One bag of potato chips and a case of beer. The chips are hasperat flavored. Awesome! The fan just loves Bajoran seasonings. Oh, and look at that: Budweiser has Star Trek collector’s cans this month! If he buys two cases, he’ll probably get cans with all of the supporting cast members as well as the stars. Way cool!

6:05 PM – While parking his car, the fan notices that he forgot to pick up the morning paper lying in his driveway. The front page has tire tracks on it. But who cares? The center Trek section makes up most of the paper anyway.

6:06 PM – Throws paper in the trash. Who reads papers these days?

6:15 PM – With only Wheaties to eat, the fan gives up on dinner and opens the bag of chips. With a six pack on his lap, he sits in front of his giant flat screen TV and tunes into the Star Trek channel. Like every other American-born couch potato, he watches hours of commentary and upcoming highlights for this week’s Sunday Trek convention. Ahhhhh!

Now what would you say about this hypothetical person? Most people would say he should be locked in a padded room. He’s a nut job. If he didn’t spend that much time preoccupied with Star Trek, he could really do something with his life. Why, without Trek he could get an MBA, become the Dalai Lama, write a novel, or do something else productive. Right?

Right?

So if it’s Star Trek, you’re a nut. But if it’s the NFL, baseball or the NBA, it’s perfectly okay. Hmm, I’d spend more time pondering all this, but there’s a Deep Space Nine marathon on Syfy this weekend. Pass the Klingon bloodwine, folks. It’s time to partaaaay!

Eating poop. Bon appétit.

As the media storm over David Petraeus’ sex scandal with biographer Paula Broadwell begins to subside, I find myself looking over all the blogs, YouTube videos, magazine articles, tweets, and gazillions of Facebook comments. So why get all riled up about this recent tawdry affair and its related biography? I mean, the fact that the Director of the CIA had (big air quotes) an affair is hardly novel. Get it? Novel … Biography…? (dead silence).

Sigh.

Part of it must be the sheer joy of spanking the monkey grin from (what little remains of) Broadwell’s reputation. I can’t say she doesn’t have it coming. Think about it: She’s great looking, has the bod of a Navy Seal supermodel (if there is such a thing), a toffee-nosed Harvard graduate, and (to top it all off) a New York Times bestselling author of a book she had ghostwritten for her. Jumping jealous Jehoshaphat, Batman! If you could have stepped into her shoes one day before the scandal broke—would you? Don’t lie! This was the kind of person that made every man, woman and child kowtow in respect: It was something we all dreamt about. Well, at least you did, I wager.

But as soon as the scandal broke, didn’t you want to just slug her? Oh, right. It’s not sporting to hit a lady. Well, didn’t you want to send her a nasty anonymous email? That’s perfectly acceptable, right?

Right?

But what about Petraeus? The same will not be said about him. Don’t get me wrong: things will be said, but he was at the top of his game, and has hordes of affluent (i.e., people who can make you disappear) supporters who will defend his reputation. In fact, given his status just before his book of revelation was, err, revealed, the ones most motivated to tar and feather him were his immediate family. With the news breaking just a week before thanksgiving, I’m sure they stuck in enough quills to make him look like Gobbler the Turkey. Though unlike that lucky bird, Petraeus was not pardoned by President Obama.

Maybe Gobbler and Petraeus could have switched places? Nah…

Anyway, if history is any indicator of the future, my money is on a quick comeback for Petraeus. No? Take President Clinton’s example. He’s in the same league of (cough, cough) extraordinary gentlemen, someone who needlessly screwed up his life. But look at him now. Other than making himself a top brand name, I see no long-term damage. Sadly, I predict for same jaunty future for our good General.

But the issue in the end is not infidelity, morality, honesty or even imbecilic career suicide. Nope. It’s about simple transparency. See, it’s like this. Young folks out there (you know, generation couch potato) don’t much value a person’s moral character. If you want to be promiscuous or squander relationships willy-nilly, go right ahead. They don’t care. In fact, they’ll jump right in and help you screw things up faster. Just one itsy-bitsy thing is required: you must share your exploits on the Internet. The whole shebang; the whole nine yards; the full metal jacket!  Uhm…you know what I mean. And if you can do that, well, no matter how bad your behavior is, the public will eventually forgive you for being human. Because in the end, you are just that: human.

That’s what our older generation of leaders don’t get (and, by the way, I think Broadwell’s Harvard groomed ego lets her see herself in that class). They want to be human, but portray themselves outwardly as Herculean gods, who don’t even poop like wee little mortals. What, you think you’re some kind of gift to mankind? Sorry, you two, but you’re not. And the public is going to make you eat your own poop over it.

Bon appétit!

Eat Fish And Die – Free this 4th of July

Eat Fish and Die on KindleIf you look closely, you will note that the title of this blog actually rhymes. Sad…isn’t it?

Well, even without poetic inculcations, you’ll be happy to note that my short story “Eat Fish And Die” will be free to download on Kindle during the 4th and 5th of July. I would have made it free on the 6th, 7th and 8th, but quite frankly, I expect you all to be so hung over that there’s really no point.

Eat Fish And Die is a humorous, military SF short story about the futuristic antics of an idiotic sergeant and his Battle Ready Android named Flipper.

If you haven’t figured it out yet: this is not a paranormal urban fantasy romance. Duh!

Happy 4th of July.

So Many Ways – A Study in Euphemisms

Writing a humorous novel has required me to study certain topics, which up until now never ranked high during my college education. Namely, I never studied the wide variety of euphemisms for the male sex organ. I needed just one for a particular line in my book, but a long list published on the internet caught my attention. Chockfull of familiar terms, I found all the basics: weenie, johnson, dipstick, rod, love stick, pocket rocket, shaft. Sure, you’ve encountered these in one form or another. And when I say encountered, I do mean in the literary sense. Though it could be that some of you are more than familiar in the non–

On second thought, we won’t go there.

Nonetheless, I was surprised to come across some that were unknown to me. For example,”Texas trout banger”? I’m can’t imagine how that came about, and I have a pretty good imagination, if I do say so myself. And what about “the purple-helmeted warrior of love”? Okay…I suppose that one makes some sense.

What started as a perfunctory reading turned into greater recognition of general euphemistic patterns. For the edification of all, I decided it was best to share my findings. No, no, don’t thank me all at once. It was no trouble at all.

So without further delay, let’s begin:

Military — It may be too generous to say this, but I think there’s a possibility (a non-trivial one) that military types are responsible for a large number of these. There are many more than what’s listed here, but I do believe a broad spectrum is well represented:

Admiral Winky, bayonet, fun gun, Major Woody, man cannon, pink torpedo, Sergeant Stiffy, weapon of mass destruction, warhead

Animals Farm – Many of these are fairly easy to understand. Just a wee bit of imagination and most make sense in one form or another. However, not all are phallic symbols. Some are indeed quite cryptic, and I would beg anyone who understands “Texas trout banger” to come forward and explain it to me. That one is so bizarre, even Google shrugs with indifference:

Anaconda, beaver buster, bed snake, eel, hog leg, jellyfish, man’s best friend, nightcrawler, Texas trout banger, turtle

The Food Group – This is a quite popular grouping, and I’d guess it’s one of the oldest. You can just imagine dimwitted cavemen waving bananas around their groins while having a royal grunt fest. But with the invention of modern foods came the inevitable. What I found surprising was the use of fast food chains. It’s surprising how a whole new level of abstraction is reached within the minds of modern men (women too, I imagine):

Bacon bazooka, baloney pony, banana, beef stick, breakfast burrito, candy cane, corndog, cornstalk, doughnut holder, flesh Twinkie, Gummi worm, hot tamale, beanstalk, Captain Kielbasa, kosher pickle, lollipop, Jack In The Box, Panda Express, pig in a blanket, quarter pounder, rhubarb, Whopper (assume the Burger King Whopper), yogurt slinger

Fictional Characters – Here we see a sophisticated array of bizarre relations. I’m not sure every name makes complete sense. I take it some are based more on popularity than logic. Still, this list is quite fun to read, if not nostalgic in many ways.

Bilbo Baggins, Captain Hook, Captain Kirk, Curious George, Darth Vader, Donkey Kong, Fat Albert, Free Willy, Godzilla, Hercules, Mighty Joe Young, Mr. Magoo, Mighty Thor, Mini Me, Oliver Twist, Optimus Prime, Popeye, Prince Charming, Willy Wonka, Wookiee

I’m No Doctor But… – For some reason I find this group the most vile. It’s not that these terms aren’t funny, but their creation seems most likely attributed to snickering juvenile delinquents just having taken their 5th grade sex-ed class. If you find yourself laughing at these, please try to grow up by the time you finish reading this blog. I mean, if you’re an adult.

Cervix crusader, ovarian pool stick, pelvis thumb, placenta poker

All Hail The Chief – Nations are led by their leaders just like men are led by their manhood. What can I say? There must be an irresistible urge to compare one’s willy to the head of state. If hubris didn’t ensure such thinking, Richard Nixon made it a sure thing. Though, I believe Dick Cheney (yes, another major Dick) did help keep this tradition alive into the new millennium.

Mr. President, El Presidente, The Governor, His Majesty, The King, Peter the Great

Celebrities – Like fictional characters, I think this category is heavily influenced by temporal popularity. Still, there’s no denying the wondrous perfection with which some of these names fit the part.

Hairy Houdini, Magic Johnson, Monty’s Python, Mr. Rogers, Oh’Henry, Pink Floyd, Pope John Pole III, Tiny Elvis, Tiny Tim, Tom Jones

Anything Goes – This last category comes about from the sheer number that I encountered. At first I thought I might try to list all interesting combinations, but it soon became apparent that I should only offer the prefix, and then allow you — my esteemed readers with grace and good taste – to fill in the euphemisms that follow. My advice? Just use your imagination and see where it takes you.

Bald-headed —–, beef—–, big—–, Captain—–, little—–, love—–, one eye’d—–, mushroom-headed—–, purple-headed—–, trouser—–, Uncle—–, Mr. —–

Well, I hope you enjoyed the fruits (exclude the bananas this time) of my research. And if you got a laugh out of only a small part of this blog, then my work here is done. Just remember, it’s probably more fun to make up new euphemisms if you can. But if your creative juices are running low, pick from the smorgasbord available out there on the Internet. Without doubt, there’s something to suit all occasions and tastes.

Eat Fish And Die – Makeover

Eat Fish and Die on KindleIndie publishing offers writers fantastic benefits. Raking in millions of dollars by just– uhm, no that’s not what I wanted to say. Instant fame with just the touch of a– no no no, that’s not quite it either.

Sigh … let’s try this one:

The ability to experiment with the marketing aspects of eBooks as you bumble your way around the world of publishing. Yeah, that’s more like it.

Truth-schmooth, anyway, welcome to the rebirth of Eat Fish And Die, a humorous, military SF short story about the futuristic antics of an idiotic sergeant and his Battle Ready Android named Flipper. With a significant amount of marketing feedback (in a manner of speaking), Hotspur Publishing and I decided to try to reposition our product to better align itself with market demand. That’s business mumbo-jumbo for: hook more readers!

So what changes have we employed? First, I’m moving to a pen name. All my humor books will be written under the byline of S. Ron Mars. The thinking here is simple. Since my first novel has very little humor, there’s no compelling reason to associate all my books under one branded name. Sure, if fans just love me and my regular work, they’re probably going to find my humors stuff too. But for the casual reader, there is no strong reason to link the two genres. Some people might disagree, but I think there’s no harm doing this at my stage of development. My name (even a pen name) is like a brand, and as such, it should be on products that give readers certain expectations that the book they’re about to read is something like the last one.

In addition to a new pen name, Hotspur has redone the cover art to better emphasize the military aspect of this short story. My previous cover got across two things, humor and SF. Now all three aspects, mil, SF and humor are more equally on display. And because the title to some people may not appear humorous enough, we’ve added a warning label towards the bottom. It reads: this is not a paranormal urban fantasy romance. We put that there because its…er…well, not that kind of story. Duh!

Like I said, this is still a bit of experimentation. Would it be nice to do things perfectly the first time around? You betcha-butt! But you know? Even big publishers have made a few mistakes. Well, maybe more than just a few. So in the end, I figure it’s just fine if Hotspur Publishing can experiment and improve things as they grow.

After all, no one ever achieved perfection the first time out the shoot. At least, I never did :)