343. All the Internet Needs Is Love

This Wednesday, March 4, is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.

The Internet fascinates me. It’s a wonderful, dangerous place: a chiaroscuro mess of light and darkness. With its worldwide reach, teh internetz enables communication, creativity, cruelty, corruption, and the propagation of funny cat pictures. It offers invaluable services like email, social media, and online commerce, along with dangers like fraud, false advertising, malicious software, addictive porn, and trailers for Michael Bay’s movies.

One of the worst things about the Internet is that it can be really, really mean. People use it to scoff, scam, argue, insult, bully, rage, and slander. It has even created brand new forms of abuse like doxing and trolling.

Yes, the Internet can be awful. What can we do? Well, I have a suggestion.

Save the Internet!

So… who is with me?

(I should point out that my sign and its slogan have nothing to do with the recent ruling by the FCC to protect net neutrality—which is a fantastic idea, by the way. Nah, my sign is just a reminder than the Internet is a mess, and it needs saving in a way that goes far beyond net equality.)

The Internet has problems, but there’s hope. If I may echo the words of Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

All the Internet needs is love.

This Wednesday, March 4, is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day. This is the fourth time we’ve done this, so you may already know how it goes!

On Wednesday, send someone an encouraging message or email. Go to someone’s personal profile, account, channel, blog, or webpage and leave an uplifting comment. Find someone you appreciate—whether an artist, musician, blogger, friend, or total stranger—and let that person know he or she is appreciated!

Do something—anything—to show the Internet a little love. After all, the Internet is basically a community of people, and loving people is one of the best things we can do.

Amor vincit Interretium, dear reader: Love conquers the Internet. This Wednesday, March 4, please be nice to someone online and make the World Wide Web a better place.

Let’s save the Internet!

331. TMTF Strikes Back!

After a two-week hiatus, TMTF is back with new content! My typewriter monkeys and I have resumed… whatever it is we do around here. I don’t know.

Before I get carried away with new posts, there’s some stuff we need to discuss—mostly following up on last month’s charity fundraisers, and also asking an urgent question about hats. Prepare yourself, dear reader, for some Important Business Things. We’ll cover them one at a time. Here we go!

TMTF’s charity fundraisers were a success!

Because of your support, TMTF’s charity fundraisers last month were successful!

Charity logos

The Child’s Play fundraiser didn’t quite reach its goal, yet contributed a respectable $75 toward purchasing toys and video games for kids in hospitals. (I like to think that every cent of our donations was spent on Legend of Zelda games, but that’s just me.) While the Child’s Play fundraiser didn’t meet its goal, I’m thankful we were able to give as much as we did.

The Living Water International fundraiser, which is ongoing, surpassed its goal. Thanks to you, we’ve given $375 toward providing clean water to people in impoverished areas! That’s one hundred twenty-five percent of the fundraiser’s original goal, which is just bonkers.

When we started raising funds last month for charity, I honestly wasn’t sure we would meet our goals. You guys have amazed me. Thank you so much for making this possible. You are my heroes. Well done.

Bravo (GIF)The Living Water International fundraiser is still going strong!

Even though the clean water fundraiser was meant to be a Christmas project, it won’t end for another few weeks. (I didn’t have much flexibility in planning its duration.) For as long as it’s up and running, this blog’s rewards for donors will remain in effect, so feel free to give!

I’m still working on donor rewards, and I will get them to donors as soon as I can.

If you haven’t received your rewards for donating to one or both of TMTF’s fundraisers, I haven’t forgotten you! I’m still working on them, and I’ll send them your way as soon as I can.

By the way, there were a few anonymous donations. If you donated anonymously and would like to receive donor rewards, it’s not too late to contact me. I want to say thank you!

Should charity fundraisers become a Christmas tradition for this blog?

I don’t know. What do you think?

All right, enough talk about fundraising. Let’s discuss hats.

Top hats or fezzes?

Top hats vs. fezzes

Discuss.

I think that’s everything!

I guess those are all the Important Business Things we have to discuss for now. Thanks again, dear readers, for making last month’s charity events a success!

In conclusion, fezzes are less expensive, but top hats lend a certain dignity to any aspiring gentleman. They’re both pretty great.

323. TMTF Charity Fundraisers!

It’s official: Typewriter Monkey Task Force is raising money to provide clean water for people in impoverished areas and video games for kids in hospitals!

You probably have some questions. Let’s take them one at a time.

Why is TMTF holding fundraisers?

We’re raising support for two charity projects.

Charity logos

TMTF is supporting Living Water International in its efforts to provide clean water for people everywhere. We have two reasons for choosing a clean water project. First, clean water saves lives. Second, clean water is necessary for preparing coffee. As we enter the Christmas season, we want to make the world a better (and wetter) place by providing clean water (and hot coffee) for people in need!

We’re also raising money for Child’s Play to give video games, toys, and other goodies to kids in hospitals. Staying in a hospital isn’t much fun. We want to help change that.

Wait. Why is TMTF supporting two separate projects?

Living Water International is a Christian organization, and not all of this blog’s readers are Christians. We want to respect our readers by providing more than one opportunity to bless others this Christmas.

If I donate to one of these fundraisers, do I receive any benefits?

You sure do! We’ve created a Kickstarter-style set of rewards for donors. Check it out below!

Give $1 or more: Droplet Tier! / Pixel Tier!

Receive a public thank-you on this blog, and bask in the satisfaction of making the world a better place!

Give $5 or more: Trickle Tier! / 8-bit Tier!

Receive a personalized thank-you message, sent to the email address of your choice! All previous rewards are included.

Give $10 or more: Splash Tier! / Sprite Tier!

Receive a personalized thank-you card, sent to the mailing address of your choice! All previous rewards are included.

Give $20 or more: Wave Tier! / 16-bit Tier!

Receive a brief video in which I thank you personally! The video will be sent as an email attachment to the email address of your choice. All previous rewards are included.

Give $30 or more: Cascade Tier! / Polygon Tier!

Receive an original blog post, or an original poem, on any subject you choose! (Full disclosure: I am a mediocre poet.) You may feature this blog post or poem anywhere (or nowhere) on the Internet. (I retain the right to reject any subjects I deem inappropriate or unsuitable.) All previous rewards are included.

Give $50 or more: Tsunami Tier! / HD Tier!

Receive an original short story written to your personal specifications! You choose anything and everything: characters, setting, theme, plot, etc. You may feature this story anywhere (or nowhere) on the Internet. (I retain the right to reject any subjects I deem inappropriate or unsuitable.) All previous rewards are included.

I can’t guarantee the donation pages will track donor information, so send me a message via this blog’s Contact page after donating to make sure you get your rewards!

I guess that’s not such a bad deal. If I donate, when can I expect to receive my rewards?

You’ll get them as soon as I can get them to you. I’m afraid I can’t give any estimated dates.

Will TMTF somehow get money out of these fundraisers?

Nope, we shan’t receive a penny.

Do your fundraisers have a definitive goal?

Yes. The Living Water International fundraiser has a $300 goal, and the Child’s Play fundraiser has a $100 goal. These goals can absolutely be surpassed, and I hope we can work together to raise far more for these charities!

How long will these fundraisers last?

The Child’s Play fundraiser will be active for one month: December 2014. I had much less flexibility in planning the duration of the Living Water International fundraiser; it will stretch about three months, until the end of February 2015.

Why are you holding a fundraiser in the first place?

It started with the Advent Conspiracy. TMTF has highlighted this awesome initiative every December since the blog began.

Advent ConspiracyWe wanted to do more this year, so we polled readers a few weeks ago about the possibility of a fundraiser. Only a dozen people voted, but the response was positive enough that we decided to give this fundraising thing a try.

How can I support one or both of these fundraisers?

TMTF now has buttons (or widgets if you want to be technical) on the right-hand side of the homepage that will take you to specialized donation pages for these fundraisers. The Living Water International donation page can also be found here, and the Child’s Play page here.

Please consider giving clean water or video games this month, and spread the word! Happy Christmas!

316. Christmas… Fundraiser?!

Around the start of December every year, TMTF promotes the Advent Conspiracy: an annual project that provides safe, clean, drinkable water for people in poorer countries.

Advent Conspiracy

This year, we want to do a little more.

This December, TMTF might support the Advent Conspiracy (and one other charity project) by holding… what? What? But—what?! WHAT?!

That’s right, TMTF might hold a fundraiser for charity! Well, TMTF might set up a fundraising webpage for charity. I suppose there’s a difference. I’ve wanted to hold a fundraiser on TMTF for a year or two, but the prospect daunted me. At last, I’ve decided to give this fundraising thing a try.

(To clarify: Neither I nor my blog would receive any money from this fundraiser. One hundred percent of money given by donors would go to the charity of their choice.)

An amazing organization called Living Water International drills wells and provides safe water solutions all over the world. I would like to create a Living Water donation page in December representing this blog and its readers.

Working together, we could help save lives this Christmas!

Living Water is a Christian organization. As not all of my dear readers are Christians, I would like to include an alternative charity: Child’s Play. This awesome/geeky organization donates video games, toys, and other goodies to kids in hospitals. Child’s Play doesn’t seem to have individualized pages that track donations, but TMTF could easily link to the organization’s general donations page.

If TMTF puts even one Legend of Zelda game in the hands of a sick child, I will consider this blog’s entire existence justified.

Although fundraisers can accomplish great things, they’re often really boring. Worry not! TMTF is here to put the fun in fundraiser. I’d like to create a Kickstarter-style tier of rewards for donors. While I haven’t worked out all the details, the idea is to acknowledge donations with small benefits.

For example, donors who give a dollar receive a digital thank-you message. Donors who give five dollars also get a shout out on this blog. Donors who give ten dollars receive an actual thank-you card in the mail. Larger donations might receive benefits like guest posts for donors’ blogs or websites, personalized poems or very short stories, or inclusion in a raffle to win a copy of my book. I’m open to further suggestions for rewards.

What’s that? You’re wondering why—if I’m really so excited by the possibility of holding a charity fundraiser—I haven’t already decided to hold one?

Here’s the thing. A fundraiser can’t work with just one person… unless that person is Batman. I’m not Batman. I can plan a fundraiser, but I can’t fund the whole thing myself! It has to be a group effort, and I can’t hold a fundraiser without hoping readers will support it.

That said, I’ve created a poll to test the waters and figure out whether a TMTF charity fundraiser is feasible. The poll will last a week; I’ll post reminders on this blog and on Twitter over the next few days. If you ever glance at this blog, please take ten seconds to cast your vote. And please be honest. And vote only once. And spread the word!

A Blog Post with Many Exclamation Points!

Today is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day!

Go to someone’s Facebook profile, blog page, YouTube channel, deviantART page, Twitter profile or Tumblr account and leave a sincere, encouraging comment! Send someone an appreciative note, message or email! Find some other way to be nice to someone on the Internet!

Go quickly, before I run out of exclamation points! Let someone know he or she is appreciated! This is your mission!

That’s it, I’m out of exclamation points.

In seriousness, take a minute today to make the Internet awesome, and spread the word about Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.

In the meantime, I’ll order more exclamation points for this blog. I’m also short on the letters and K. I wonder why that is. I hardly ever use those letters. Oh, well.

Hey, here’s one last exclamation point. I’d better use it carefully.

Here goes: Go be nice to someone on the Internet!

251. Love Conquers Grumpy Cats

March 4 is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day. If you’ve never heard of this noble event, it may be because I totally made it up.

You see, the Internet is not always a nice place. It’s often a dreary minefield of arguments, insults, swearwords, misspellings and pervy pictures. The Internet is a place for creepers, hackers, perverts, jerks and trolls to make hurtful statements, propagate harmful spam and post pornographic depictions of cartoon characters.

To be fair, the Internet can be fantastic. It has Facebook, Wikipedia, Netflix and Strong Bad Emails, not to mention wonderful pictures, videos, blogs, articles, discussions and recipes for baking pie. Some of the people on the Internet are intelligent, gracious and kind.

It’s just a shame so many aren’t.

For all the blessings of the miraculous, invisible network we call teh internetz, it has a lot of problems. It could use some nice people. Just ask Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat, the solemn arbiter of the Internet, has spoken from the depths of her wisdom and sagacity. Let’s not be grumpy about the Internet and its problems. It just needs a little kindness.

Tomorrow, March 4, is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day. Tomorrow, go to someone’s Facebook profile, blog page, YouTube channel, deviantART page, Twitter profile or Tumblr account and leave a sincere, encouraging comment. Find someone you appreciate—whether an artist, a musician, a blogger, a friend or a total stranger—and let that person know he or she is appreciated.

I’ll post a reminder tomorrow on this blog for the event. In your own creative, unique, wonderful way, do something to make the Internet a better, nicer, kinder place—and please spread the word!

“Amor vincit Interretium,” said the ancient philosophers, and they spoke truly: Love conquers the Internet. Tomorrow, let’s prove them right. Tomorrow, let’s conquer insults and arguments and cruel words.

Tomorrow, dear reader, let’s make the Internet awesome.

230. Advent Conspiracy Is Back!

It’s that time of year again.

Yes, stores are selling, television specials are showing, cynics are sneering and a handful of awesome, crazy people are conspiring to save lives.

I don’t like churchy videos, but this one made such an impression on me years ago that I’ve shared it every Christmas season since. Watch it. I’ll wait for you.

Here are the facts.

1. Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas every year.

2. Lack of clean water kills more people every day than almost anything else on Earth.

3. The estimated cost to make clean water available to everyone on Earth is about $20 billion—roughly 4.5% of how much Americans spend on Christmas every single year.

The Advent Conspiracy is a resolution to spend less on stuff and more on people. Of course, buying Christmas gifts isn’t wrong. (I definitely have some holiday shopping planned.) The purpose of the Advent Conspiracy isn’t to stop spending money, but to spend it meaningfully.

Advent Conspiracy

Let’s face it—thirsty people need clean water more than we need Christmas presents.

The Advent Conspiracy is dedicated to providing clean water, but its principles can be applied to other good causes. The hungry, homeless and brokenhearted need our money as much as the thirsty. Where we give doesn’t matter as much as whether we give.

This Christmas, we can rescue people from poverty, thirst and sickness. This Christmas, we can change the world—or we can buy more stuff.

Let’s change the world.

More information about the Advent Conspiracy can be found here.

Happy Christmas!

200. TMTF RAP BATTLE!

My typewriter monkeys have finally revealed their sinister plans for this blog’s two hundredth post. They’ve hired some guy called Ice Kream to humiliate me in a rap battle. I’m not sure what a rap battle is, but I know one thing.

This is my blog, and I will defend it!

I should have seen this coming. Oh, well. Live and learn.

I want to thank Kevin McCreary from The Ceiling Fan Podcast. I sent him an email asking to use a rap beat he’d written for his show; he replied by offering to write a brand-new beat and record guest lyrics for this rap battle. His generosity is amazing, and it has been an honor to work with him.

To hear more excellent music from Kevin and the Ceiling Fan crew, check out M’Kalister Park, a silly and wonderful album available on Amazon.com. I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve ever listened to Adventures in Odyssey.

Next, a word to my typewriter monkeys: If you ever do this again, I will donate you to the zoo. That is all.

I would like to thank my father for supporting this blog since before it began. His fantastic artwork, lavish encouragement and gentle criticism have been extremely helpful. Thanks, old man. You’re a Stout Fella.

I’m truly grateful to everyone else who has supported TMTF by writing guest posts, sharing artwork, leaving comments, celebrating Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day, following the blog, adding it to their blogrolls, linking to it via social media or simply reading it. I deeply appreciate every bit of support!

I guess I should give a shout out to my typewriter monkeys—Sophia, Socrates, Plato, Hera, Penelope, Aristotle, Apollo, Euripides, Icarus, Athena, Phoebe and Aquila—for occasionally helping out with this blog. Thanks, guys.

TMTF ain’t much, but soli Deo gloria all the same.

I’m not sure what lies ahead for this blog. Heck, I haven’t the slightest idea of what my own future holds.

As always, I’m comforted by these words from the old hymn: “Through many trials, toils and snares I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

I believe it, and I hope TMTF will be there to chronicle every serious, strange and silly thing along the way.

TMTF shall return on August 9, 2013. In the meantime, please feel free to check out my novel, past posts in the Archive or the fantasy novella I published as a serial on this blog.

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back!

Will Someone Please Remix Some Hymns?

This. We need more like this.

I’m amused and amazed by remix culture: the broad concept of a society that encourages reinterpreting or reimagining existing works of art.

This includes sophisticated literature like John Gardner’s Grendel and Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, which retell (and deconstruct) Beowulf and The Odyssey, respectively. Remix culture also applies to the endless slew of recent films and television programs that turn familiar stories into action flicks, comedies or romances: everything from action-packed retellings of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland to bizarre reinterpretations of fairy stories like “Hansel and Gretel” and “Red Riding Hood.”

By far my favorite aspect of remix culture is the music it produces. I’ve already extolled the creativity of the people who remix video game music, who can arrange a simple tune for everything from dance synths to Scottish bagpipes. People even remix music from cartoons like Gravity Falls and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

These remixes are not only creative and clever—they’re also legally available to download for free. The people who remix music often do so not for profit, but as a fun homage to the source material.

If melodies from cartoons and video games are getting rockin’ remixes, why aren’t hymns?

I love hymns. (Let’s not talk about contemporary worship music.) The old hymns are absolutely my favorite kind of music. Modern hymns like “In Christ Alone,” my all-time favorite song, are fantastic.

Why, why, why are these great hymns seldom reinterpreted with the same incredible creativity and brilliance as less important songs?

A few Christian artists do clever things with hymns, like Phil Keaggy in the video above. The band 2nd Chapter of Acts brought an eighties vibe to traditional worship music, and other artists occasionally record contemporary covers of old songs.

What I don’t see—and what I would love to see—is people getting creative with hymns, showing the same joyful abandon as the musicians remixing less important music. I want to hear smooth jazz arrangements of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and hard metal versions of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

(Do not, for heaven’s sake, rewrite any lyrics. Got that?)

A wise man once asked, “Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?”

I must add: Why should cartoons and video games get all the best remixes?

166. A Blog Post with Many Exclamation Points!

Today is Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day!

Go to someone’s Facebook profile, blog page, YouTube channel, deviantART page, Twitter profile or Tumblr account and leave a sincere, encouraging comment! Send someone an appreciative note, message or email! Find some other way to be nice to someone on the Internet!

Go quickly, before I run out of exclamation points! Let someone know he or she is appreciated! This is your mission!

That’s it, I’m out of exclamation points.

In seriousness, take a minute today to make the Internet awesome, and spread the word about Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.

In the meantime, I’ll order more exclamation points for this blog. I’m also short on the letters Q and K. I wonder why that is. I hardly ever use those letters. Oh, well.

Hey, here’s one last exclamation point. I’d better use it carefully.

Here goes: Go be nice to someone on the Internet!