Adam Turns into the Hulk and Rants about Black Friday

Caution: This blog post contains furious ranting. Sensitive readers, and readers averse to things being smashed, are advised not to continue.

It’s that time of year again. Today is the day I stay inside, bolt the door, drink tea, and reflect upon the injustices of the world. Of all these, one of the greatest is that Black Friday, America’s annual celebration of consumerism, takes place on the day after Thanksgiving.

Look, Black Friday has every right to exist. I may not like the event, but I don’t think it’s inherently bad. Black Friday is a great opportunity for businesses to make money, and an equally great opportunity for consumers to buy things cheaply. Everybody wins. There are few problems, except for the fact that Black Friday now eclipses the one day we set apart for being thankful.

Black Friday’s timing is the worst kind of irony. It’s infuriating. The whole thing… I mean… it’s so frustrating… it makes my stomach hurt…















Whoa, that was disorienting. Did I turn into the Hulk again? I blame the mutagenic effects of my wireless Internet connection—it may not be as dangerous as gamma radiation, but it sure does the trick. I suppose violent, unpredictable mutations are a cross we bloggers must bear. Well, I had better go put on a shirt.

This post was originally published on November 28, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

Jesus Christ and Admiral Ackbar

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.

~ Matthew 22:15

Meet Admiral Ackbar.

Admiral AckbarThe Admiral is a minor character from a Star Wars film. Although he presumably has a life beyond the few scenes in which he appears, he is remembered for one thing and one thing only.

He proclaims, with a glassy-eyed expression of dazed astonishment, “It’s a trap!”

Admiral Ackbar, the ever-useful trap detector, was absent in the days of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, the Lord was shrewd enough to detect a trap without the advice of Star Wars characters.

Quite a number of people disliked Jesus, you see. Two religious groups, the Pharisees and Sadducees, hated the way his teachings upset the balance of things. They wanted him gone—disgraced—dead. These religious groups resorted to all kinds of underhanded traps to bring down the controversial upstart called Jesus Christ.

I find it hilarious, and extremely impressive, how the Lord Jesus dodged every trap with bravado and brilliance.

The Pharisees watched Jesus closely on the Sabbath, the divinely-ordained day of rest, to see whether he would heal a crippled man and thereby dishonor the day by “working.” Jesus didn’t heal anyone secretly. He was way too cool for that. Instead, he had the crippled man stand up in front of everyone and healed him in the most public way possible, pointing out that doing good on the Sabbath is more important than merely following regulations. (See Luke 6:6-10.)

It happened again and again. Even without Admiral Ackbar’s insight, the Lord Jesus never fell for a trap.

The priests demanded to know who gave Jesus his authority. If he claimed it came from God, they could accuse him of blasphemy. If he gave some other answer, or simply refused to reply, they could claim his teachings carried no weight.

Jesus answered this trick question with one of his own: “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

The priests were baffled: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

They couldn’t answer his question, so Jesus declined to answer theirs. (See Matthew 21:23-27.)

“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” demanded the Pharisees. If he answered “Yes,” they could accuse him of being a sellout to the Roman authorities. If he answered “No,” they could get him into trouble with those authorities.

He pointed out that Roman coins came from Caesar in the first place and said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”—an answer with which neither Romans nor Jews could find fault. (See Matthew 22:15-22.)

The Sadducees added a trap of their own, but Jesus kept his cool.

If a woman is married more than once, they asked, whose wife will she be in the afterlife? By this question, the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in life after death) meant to discredit Jesus and his teachings.

Jesus’ answer? There is no marriage in the afterlife. Take that, Sadducees! (See Matthew 22:23-33.)

One trap stands out among the others. It was a matter of life or death. A woman had been caught in an affair. According to Old Testament laws, she deserved to die. However, in Jesus’ day, Jews couldn’t sentence anyone to death without consent from the Roman authorities. (This is why Jesus was taken to Pilate, a Roman official, to be condemned to be executed after the Jews had already declared him worthy of death.)

If Jesus said the woman should die, he would break Roman law. If he said the woman should live, he would break divine law. There was no way out. It was a trap even Admiral Ackbar could not avoid.

Go ahead, said Jesus. Execute the woman according to Jewish law—but let someone who hasn’t sinned begin the execution.

With infinite calm, Jesus called their bluff. They could threaten to kill the woman—perhaps even watch her die—but not one of them could carry out the execution with a clean conscience. One by one, they slipped away. (See John 8:3-11.)

“Woman, where are they?” asked Jesus at last. “Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she replied, perhaps trembling in fear and awe.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” declared Jesus. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I find it fascinating that Jesus gave tricky answers only to trick questions. When a Pharisee finally asked him a fair question, Jesus’ answer was honest and straightforward.

What, asked the Pharisee, is the greatest commandment in God’s law?

Love God and love others, answered Jesus.

That, dear readers, is not a trap.

This post was originally published on May 29, 2013. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

Strange American Turkey Rituals

As much as I like the United States of America, I’m confused and disturbed by some of its customs. (The traditions in my homeland of Ecuador seemed so much simpler.) For example, Americans will celebrate a festival of ritualistic gluttony known as Thanksgiving in just a few days.

We at Typewriter Monkey Task Force pride ourselves on our anthropological researches. Although we generally reserve our investigations for important matters such as geek culture and cartoons for little girls, we’re expanding our vision to cover American holidays. Our research is completely authentic, and presented in a factual manner utterly devoid of humor, sarcasm, or silliness.*

As I recovered from last month’s sinister pumpkin rituals, I heard disquieting rumors of a November celebration for which Americans gather to disembowel turkeys and observe brutal bouts of gladiatorial violence. Halloween was odd, but Thanksgiving truly takes the cake… or the pie in this case.

Let’s start with the turkeys.

Turkey sacrifice

I’m guessing this is some kind of ritual sacrifice.

According to tradition, many American families prepare a turkey for the Thanksgiving festival. The bird is slaughtered and disemboweled. Then, in a macabre twist, its innards are replaced with a mixture of dried bread and spices. Thus desecrated, the turkey’s carcass is placed in an oven, cooked, and then served as part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

I can only speculate that the Thanksgiving turkey is a sacrifice offered as an act of thanksgiving for a good year, hence the name of the holiday. Note that the bird is not immolated as a burnt offering. It is eaten instead by participants in the Thanksgiving festival. I can only infer that the turkey’s ceremonial function is similar to the wave offering prescribed for ancient Israel in the earlier books Old Testament: an offering dedicated, but eaten instead of burned.

The sacrificial turkey is generally served with foods such as mashed potatoes, gravy, ham, corn, bread rolls, pies, and sauerkraut. (I presume sauerkraut is eaten because it has ceremonial significance; I can hardly imagine anyone actually liking the stuff.) Collectively, these foods are called Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving dinner is often devoured with reckless enthusiasm. This annual display of gluttony occurs so widely that it may be ritualistic. Worship has taken many forms in different epochs and cultures: singing, dancing, praying, meditating, offering sacrifices, making pilgrimages, giving alms, and even inflicting self-harm. Could overeating be a form of worship unique to the Thanksgiving festival? Of course, these are just speculations.

The final custom we will examine is that of football.

This display of unbridled savagery baffles me.

This so-called game, a demonstration of unbridled savagery, baffles me.

This athletic event is not to be confused with the sport of the same name, known as soccer to Americans. Having done a little research, I have concluded that American football is a gladiatorial competition in which armored men ram into each other on a field. Their goal is to take, by means of extreme force, an elliptical object that seems to be the eponymous football. This football is carried by hand, not propelled by foot, rendering the origin of its name an incomprehensible mystery.

We conclude that Thanksgiving is an appalling display of gluttony, violence, and unexplained rituals. However, in the interests of anthropological study, we intend to sample Thanksgiving dinner this year. For science.

*Nah, we’re just kidding.

This post was originally published on November 24, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

That Time I Held a Severed Human Arm

For those of my readers who are squeamish, queasy or any of those other funny adjectives, this may be a good post to skip. You have been warned.

Long, long ago, when I was just a senior in high school, I took AP Biology, a college-level science course. It was fantastic. The other students and I were privileged to visit a cloud forest, travel to the Galápagos Islands, dissect fetal pigs and witness the dismemberment of a deceased human being.

Well, I suppose the removal of a single arm can hardly be called dismemberment, but I digress.

One fair morning I and the other students in AP Biology took a field trip to a local university. We were scheduled to meet a professor who would give us a guided tour of the human body using the university’s resident cadaver as a visual aid. (A cadaver is a corpse used for official purposes, such as police investigation or medical research.) The professor’s lecture would be a vital part of our scientific education, or so we were told by our teacher.

The plan was for us to enjoy Part One of the professor’s lecture in the morning, head back to school for our afternoon classes and return to the university the next day for Part Two.

We arrived at the university and filed into the laboratory to find the professor waiting for us. I don’t remember his name, so I’ll call him Dr. Frankenstein. A cadaver was stretched out on a slab. Dr. F’s assistant, whom I’ll call Igor, was bustling around the lab.

Dr. F had an interesting way of lecturing. The cadaver had been emptied of its organs; as in those Mummy movies, the organs were kept in jars. As Dr. F lectured, he took out the organs from their jars and put them back into the cadaver to show us where they belonged.

The lecture ended. Dr. F departed to teach a class, leaving Igor to put away the cadaver. As we watched, Igor removed the various organs from the cadaver and put them back in their jars. Then he detached the cadaver’s arm.

I was, I freely admit, a little shaken by this. Arms are usually attached more permanently. It was unnerving to see a cadaver disarmed—forgive the pun—so casually.

I was one of only two male students in my class. The other male student, whom I’ll call Socrates, was standing beside me when Igor pointed at him and asked, “Would you please help me put away the cadaver?”

Igor and Socrates hoisted the cadaver onto a stretcher, carried it into a back room and lifted it into its niche, leaving me to wipe the anxious perspiration from my brow and contemplate how close I’d come to the awful experience of carrying around a corpse.

The other students and I went back to school with our teacher. Next morning we returned to the university for the second part of the lecture. When we arrived, Dr. F was running late and Igor was still in the process of setting up the cadaver and its organ jars.

“Could you please help me get out the cadaver?” asked Igor, pointing at Socrates. I breathed a sigh of relief, only for Igor to add, “Oh, and could you reach into the niche and get the arm?”

The second request was very clearly directed at me. I had no choice but to reach into the niche (wearing gloves and a lab coat, of course) and retrieve the missing arm.

Alas, there is no photographic evidence of this event. I wish a photo could’ve been taken of me with the arm—one of those “Hey, look at this big fish I caught!” pictures—but the incident went unrecorded.

Dr. F arrived, gave the second part of the lecture and left. So did the other students and I, before Igor could request assistance from any of us.

I have many great memories from that AP Biology class. I’ve already written a post about one. Others I may post someday on this blog: That Time I Met a Wild Penguin and That Time I Saw a Hummingbird Wearing Go-Go Boots, to name but two.

However, of all the memories from AP Biology, That Time I Held a Severed Human Arm is one of my favorites. It’s certainly my favorite story to tell—as my longsuffering friends and relatives can testify.

This post was originally published on February 24, 2012. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

The Best History Lesson in the History of History

Never before has video game history been so awesome… or so darn catchy.

Fun Fact: Nintendo existed for nearly a century before it began producing video games. It dabbled in everything from card games to cab services before striking gold with franchises like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda in the eighties.

This post was originally published on September 18, 2013. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

Leviticus Is Really Bloody

Of all the books in the Old Testament, Leviticus has a reputation for being tedious. What nobody seems to remember is that it’s also really, really gory.

Rated M

The Holy Bible: Rated M for intense violence, blood and gore, and sexual content.

I’ve been revisiting Leviticus lately, and it’s a grim read. Among the dull regulations for religious rituals are rules for sacrifices, which involve slaughtering livestock, cutting them into pieces, burning them, and splattering their blood in all kinds of interesting and unexpected places.

I often picture places of worship in the Old Testament as peaceful, churchlike sanctuaries smelling of incense, where immaculately-dressed priests walk quietly and speak in whispers.

Examining what Scripture actually says gives quite a different picture.

Livestock were killed for a wide variety of offerings, and the priests did at least some of the slaughtering. I sometimes think of Old Testament priests as pastors, but they seem more like butchers. Israel’s places of worship were likely deafening with the frantic bleats of dying animals, pervaded by the smell of burning meat, and speckled with dried blood.

Revisiting Leviticus, and reading the Bible generally, challenges my faith. Christian culture hardly ever mentions, let alone dwells upon, the nastier bits of the Bible—and dang, the Bible sure can be nasty. It’s nicer to think about the Sermon on the Mount, or the Christmas story, or the pleasanter Psalms.

We so often have preconceived ideas of what’s in the Bible without ever taking a look, or bothering to think about what we find.

Do any of the Sunday school teachers who put up cutesy pictures of Noah’s Ark remember that the Flood drowned nearly every person on earth? Do any of the people who share inspirational verses from Job recall how his life was shattered, his health was broken, and his children were crushed to death? Anybody?

Leviticus troubles me. Yes, I know that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” It costs something. In the end, forgiving us cost God everything in the death of Jesus Christ. I get that. All the same, I’m bothered by the thought of God commanding the incessant, daily slaughter of helpless animals as a form of worship.

These challenging chapters in Leviticus remind me that lot of things in Scripture trouble me, and some surprise me—and many give me unexpected comfort, peace, and hope. The Bible often refuses to match up to my expectations or the impressions some churches give of it.

The Bible is a book not to be judged by its cover, nor by incomplete impressions. Especially for those who call it God’s Word, the Bible is worth reading: even the tedious, boring, and bloody bits.

I suppose that includes Leviticus.

This post was originally published on September 22, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

Everything I Know about Creativity I Learned from The Legend of Zelda

Today’s post was written by Wes Molebash, blogger and cartoonist extraordinaire. Be sure to check out MOLEBASHED, his latest webcomic!

Like most people my age, I grew up playing the Legend of Zelda video game series. I loved every minute of those games, and Ocarina of Time played a defining role in my young adulthood.

Now I like to consider myself a “creative person.” What I mean by this is that I love to create art and I’m always scheming of my next “big” project. Ideas are cheap; art is work, and I’m absolutely in love with the creative process.

That being said, I realized the other day as I was toiling in my basement office that everything I know about creativity was learned from playing the Legend of Zelda video games.

For instance:

It doesn’t matter how small you are or what tools you are using

In several of the Zelda games, Link starts his journey as a little boy who wields a measly wooden sword and a Deku shield. A DEKU shield! No one is afraid of a Deku shield. But he doesn’t let this stop him. He goes straight into his first dungeon and defeats the baddie with his slingshot David-and-Goliath-style. The journey has begun. He’s received his first taste of victory, and he’s off to the next dungeon.

So what does this tell me about the creative process? Simple: It doesn’t matter how skilled you are or how big your platform is or how expensive your tools are, just create! Don’t be hindered by your limited experience or lack of resources. I know famous cartoonists who draw awesome cartoons on three-thousand-dollar computer tablets. I also know a lot of amateur cartoonists who draw awesome cartoons using Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils and Sharpie markers. Take the resources you have and use them to the best of your ability.

Every obstacle has a weak spot—exploit it!

The Legend of Zelda series has been around since the eighties and it continues to follow a familiar formula: go into dungeons, collect maps and compasses and special weapons, and fight seemingly indestructible beasts who all have a glaring Achilles heel. Does the beastie have one huge, rolling eyeball? It’s a safe bet that you’ll want to shoot some arrows into the beast’s ocular cavity. Does the baddie occasionally stop to roar for a prolonged period of time? I’d grab some bombs and make it rain inside that guy’s maw. No matter how big the monster is, his weak point is right there in front of you begging to be struck.

The same holds true with our creative obstacles. They seem impossible to topple, but—the fact is—they’re quite easy to destroy! If I had to guess, I’d say that 99% of our creative obstacles can be toppled by simply CREATING. Are you having a hard time motivating yourself? Get out your tools and create. Do you have some naysayers telling you that you suck at life? Tune them out and create. Are you swimming in a sea of rejection letters from agents and publishers? Take the critiques and criticism with a grain of salt and create.

It really is that simple. Once you get started it’ll be hard to stop. The weak spot of your obstacle is right there staring you in the face. Exploit it.

You’re going to get better

As I said above, when Link starts his journey he is just a little boy with a crappy sword and shield and three hearts in his life meter. However, as he continues his quest he gets better. He collects more weapons. He becomes more resilient. He ages. By the end of the game he’s got the Hyrule Shield, the Master Sword, some rad magic powers, a pair of flippers that help him swim and hold his breath under water, a bunch of sweet weapons in a bag that would be impossible to carry in the real world, and eighteen hearts in his life meter. He finally ends up at Ganon’s door and he’s ready to—as they say in the UFC—“bang.”

The same is true for your creative endeavors. The more you create, the better you’ll get. You’ll also acquire new tools and awesome advice from other creators. Most importantly, you’ll gain experience. No longer will you feel completely daunted by project proposals, pitches, and rejections. It’s all part of the process and you’ll get better and better at those things.

So wipe your brow, keep creating, and—when you need to take a break—dust off your N64, pop in Ocarina of Time, and wander around Hyrule Field for a spell.

What have you learned from video games? Let us know in the comments!

This post was originally published on November 18, 2011. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

The Ability to Pull Stuff from Nowhere

Art by iangoudelock on deviantART.

Art by iangoudelock on deviantART.

I’m sure you’ve seen it. As you watch a movie or play a video game, a character pulls out something from nowhere. Bugs Bunny and Wakko Warner reach behind their backs and bring out anvils or sledgehammers. Solid Snake and Link produce an endless assortment of gear and weapons from thin air. As Link demonstrates in the clever picture above, actually carrying around all that stuff is a physical impossibility.

The ability to pull stuff from nowhere is sometimes called the back pocket, a wry suggestion that the things characters pull from behind their backs were in their pants pockets the whole time. (This concept is particularly amusing in the case of characters that don’t wear pants.) In anime, the concept is called hammerspace. A comedic trope in Japanese animation is for characters to express anger by hitting something (or someone) with a large hammer produced from nowhere, making hammerspace the hypothetical place where all those hammers are kept.

The back pocket concept is usually played for comic effect in animation. Pinkie Pie, an exuberant character from a surprisingly awesome show about ponies, produces a wide assortment of items (including freaking cannons) from nowhere. Other characters know better than to question Pinkie’s defiance of physics.

In fact, when back pockets are used in any show or film, no one ever seems surprised.

In video games, back pockets are utilitarian rather than comedic in nature. The fact of the matter is that Link from the Legend of Zelda games needs his gear—all of it. Limiting his inventory would be a hindrance to the player, who would have to backtrack every time she needed something Link didn’t happen to be carrying at the moment. Constantly retrieving items, or plodding slowly under their weight, would be horribly annoying.

Thus Link carts around enormous shields and heavy explosives and iron-shod boots without any trouble. (Humorously enough, the iron boots only weigh down Link when he’s actually wearing them.) Solid Snake somehow sneaks through enemy territory burdened with cardboard boxes, sensor equipment and an entire arsenal of weapons (including massive rocket launchers). Every Final Fantasy character carries up to ninety-nine of every kind of weapon, armor and potion.

Where is all that stuff kept? Where does it come from?

Some questions, dear reader, are simply beyond answering.

This post was originally published on April 2, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

Communion Anxiety

Christians know all about Communion. Seriously, we’ve got it covered. Call it the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, whatever you like, we know our stuff. We partake of little crackers and juice from plastic cups that look like shot glasses. The pastor reads a few verses we’ve all heard before. “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” It’s all pretty familiar, right?

Then the pastor says, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”

Wait, what?

“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup,” continues the pastor. “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

Judgment? That sounds serious. I’d better see what the Bible says. That’s usually a good start.

Paul writes, “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

Fallen asleep? That doesn’t sound so bad—unless by fallen asleep Paul means died. That does sound bad. Paul’s going all Mafia on us. “Dat’s why many o’ youse is weak an’ sick, see? Some o’ youse is fallen asleep, if youse catch my drift.”

So we, um, fall asleep if we eat and drink judgment on ourselves? And we eat and drink judgment on ourselves by failing to discern the symbolism of Christ’s death in the crackers and Communion cups?

Well, there’s no need to panic. I’ll just partake of Communion in a manner worthy of the Lord. That’s not so hard. Christians do it every Sunday.

Is anyone else stressing out in church today? I mean, everyone looks calm and earnest, like it’s no big deal. Except for that guy who has fallen asleep. Really fallen asleep, I mean, not…you know…fallen asleep.

It’s better not to think about that. Okay. Do this in remembrance of me. Manner worthy of the Lord. I can do this. Ah! The pastor is telling us to partake of the bread! Wait, please! I’m not ready! I’m too young to die!

All right, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect. Slightly exaggerating. The Lord’s Supper is an amazing sacrament, a powerful reminder of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Communion isn’t really this nerve-wracking. Not quite.

What stresses you out in worship services? Let us know in the comments!

This post was originally published on August 24, 2012. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

400. The Five Stages of Blogging, and Other TMTF Trivia

TMTF will be taking a three-week break, during which it shall republish old posts on its usual schedule. The blog shall return with new content on November 30!

Today we celebrate four hundred posts on TMTF with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Five Stages of Blogging.

These describe the creative process experienced by people who write blogs. (They are unrelated to the Kübler-Ross model and its five stages of grief.) Of course, some bloggers may experience more than five stages. Some may experience fewer. The stages may vary from person to person. After all, every blogger is unique!

In writing posts for this blog, I have experienced five distinct stages. The easiest posts took only one or two, whereas the most difficult ones demanded all five.

In this extra-long and extra-special blog post, we’ll take a quick look at the Five Stages of Blogging. (This post took me through all of them.) Then I’ll share a few bits of TMTF trivia before concluding with grateful acknowledgements and a couple of announcements.

Here we go!

Blogging Stage One: Optimism

Blogging Stage 1, OptimismI enjoy thinking of ideas for new blog posts. It’s the effortless part of blogging: the deceptively easy warm-up to sitting down and, y’know, actually writing something.

Blogging Stage Two: Annoyance

Blogging Stage 2, AnnoyanceAt some point, I struggle to translate the exciting ideas in my head to words on a computer screen. Ideas are elusive. They don’t like to be pinned down. Sometimes, when written down, ideas change and grow in alarming ways. This is sometimes an amazing thing to see—except that by “sometimes” I mean “roughly 0.086% of the time.” It’s usually just annoying.

Blogging Stage Three: Frustration

Blogging Stage 3, FrustrationAt some point, annoyance escalates to frustration. I scowl at my laptop, mutter under my breath, brew another pot of coffee, and wish I had chosen a better hobby than blogging. I could have been a cyclist or amateur voice actor, after all. TMTF was an awful idea. At any rate, whatever post I’m trying to write is clearly a stinker. I should really just give it up.

Blogging Stage Four: Depression

Blogging Stage 4, DepressionFrustration darkens to depression, anguish, and bitter regret.

“I just… I just wanted to have a blog, y’know? I didn’t ask for this. This is impossible. I’ve put so much time and stuff, y’know, into this post, this one flipping post, man, and it’s a mess. It’s such a mess.

“Even if I fix it, and I’m not sure I can, it’ll take hours. Hours wasted, man, for one flipping blog post. Then I’ll write another post, and another post, and another flipping post. It never ends. Nothing new under the sun. It’s like that poem, y’know, about the mariner and the albatross. ‘Day after day, day after day, we stuck, no breath nor motion, as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.’ I’m stuck, man. This blog is my albatross.”

Then I stare into my empty coffee cup, crying on the inside.

Blogging Stage Five: Talking to Plush Toys

Blogging Stage 5, Talking to Plush ToysI can’t afford counseling. Don’t judge me.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About TMTF (but Were Afraid to Ask)

Moving on, here are a few pieces of TMTF trivia in celebration of four hundred posts.

  • This blog was inspired by Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like. His blog used humor to say meaningful things about culture, religion, and side hugs. I wanted to do the same kind of thing as Acuff, but with less hugging and more coffee jokes. I also wanted to build an audience (or as the publishing biz calls it, a platform) for my novel. Although the novel bombed, TMTF has stuck around.
  • At first, I treated blogging the way I treated creative writing. I constantly fussed and tweaked and revised, going so far as to edit old posts long after their release. It took me time to realize that a blog isn’t really a work of art, but a journey. Blog posts are footsteps. They represent a writer’s changing experiences, moods, beliefs, and opinions. Instead of worrying about the past, a blogger should keep moving forward.
  • For every hundred posts on this blog—not counting Geeky Wednesdays and creative writing—I try to do something extra-special. The hundredth post coincided with the release of my ill-fated novel. For the two hundredth post, I collaborated with Kevin McCreary (video and podcast producer) on an EPIC RAP BATTLE. (I had never rapped before, and it was a learning experience.) The three hundredth post featured an original animation by Crowne Prince (self-described rogue animator and antagonist) in which I sought counseling from DRWolf (YouTube personality and literal wolf) for my blogging problems. (The good doctor was a much better counselor than any of my plush toys.) I had planned something more ambitious for today in celebration of four hundred posts, but as Robert Burns reminds us, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” (Translation: Stuff happens.)

I love collaborating with creative people!

  • The format of this blog has changed gradually over time. (I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive about it, actually.) In a recent experiment, I’ve put key points in bold type in an attempt to make this blog more accessible. The idea is to let readers skim through blog posts, reading only the bold text and getting abbreviated versions. I’m honestly not sure how well this is working, and I could really use some feedback. Does the bold text help? Is it annoying? Distracting? Let me know in the comments!
  • My jokes about typewriter monkeys, as well as the name Typewriter Monkey Task Force, began on September 10, 2010 in an email to my family. My monkeys quickly became a running joke. When I decided to start a blog, I settled on typewriter monkeys as a consistent motif. It’s nice to have someone to blame when things go wrong.
TMTF clean (paper)

My dad, God bless him, handles most of the original art for this blog—monkeys and all.

Grateful Acknowledgements and Obligatory Threats

Speaking of typewriter monkeys, I have a few words for my blogging assistants, who have just set fire to a corner of my desk. These words aren’t appropriate for this blog, however, so I’ll have to settle for threats: If you monkeys don’t start behaving and put out that fire right this instant, I will end your employment and donate you to the zoo. I mean it this time.

Besides my usual threats, I guess I owe my dirty dozen a reluctant thank-you. Here’s to you, Sophia, Socrates, Plato, Hera, Penelope, Aristotle, Apollo, Euripides, Icarus, Athena, Phoebe, and Aquila. Thanks for working on my blog. I love you guys. At any rate, I’m trying.

As always, I owe my readers many thanks for their support and encouragement. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, liking posts here or on Facebook, writing guest posts, taking part in Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day, and generally being wonderful. I appreciate every one of you.

You are awesomeSpecial thanks to my parents for their support over the years. My dad deserves an extra round of thanks for all the kind emails and monkey pictures. Thank you, old man. Special thanks also to JK Riki for being the most thoughtful and supportive reader in the history of people who read things. Seriously, JK, thank you.

As always, as I write about Disney villains, chain mail bikinis, and other nonsense, soli Deo gloria—to God be glory.

What Next?

TMTF will be taking a three-week break, during which I will republish old posts on its usual schedule. The blog shall return with new content on November 30!

In other news, TMTF will sponsor a Christmas fundraiser this December for charity! I’m still working on the details, but it will be very similar to last year’s fundraiser, with donor rewards and whatnot. I’m open to suggestions for rewards and fundraising, so feel free to share ideas via Twitter or the Contact page. I’ll release more information about the Christmas fundraiser at the end of this month.

We’ll be back!