498. Special Thanks

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the many people who have supported this blog over the years. Before it ends next week, I want to thank them. Today’s post is basically TMTF’s end credits. Don’t expect a post-credits scene teasing a sequel, though!

All right, I guess we should start by playing some credits music. Fortunately, YouTube has us covered. For maximum effect, I recommend playing the following video while you read the rest of this post. UPBEAT GUITAR IS GO.

(If the video ends before you finish reading this post, you can find another great credits song here on YouTube.)

I want to start by thanking everyone who contributed guest posts to this blog. It would take too long to thank each of these writers individually, yet I’m grateful for every post they contributed.

These wonderful writers shared their own stories, ideas, and perspectives, making TMTF far more nuanced and interesting than it would have been if only I had written it. Iroh, a character from my all-time favorite show, once said, “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.”

They don’t come much wiser than Iroh.

Thank you, guest writers, for lending my blog your wisdom.

I would be remiss not to give a shout out to Jon Acuff and Wes Molebash. Although I no longer follow their work, they were early inspirations for this blog; TMTF probably wouldn’t exist without them. A guest post I wrote for Mr. Acuff gave TMTF an early boost, and Mr. Molebash created one of this blog’s banners, so that’s cool.

This is a fairly accurate representation of my workspace.

Thanks, Jon and Wes. Stay hip.

I owe a huge thank-you to Kevin McCreary, YouTuber extraordinaire, who collaborated with me on a freakin’ rap battle to celebrate TMTF’s two hundredth post. He went so far beyond my timid request for a backing track that it still kinda blows my mind, and while my rapping wasn’t great, his music and mixing were perfect.

You rock, Kevin. Thanks.

I must also thank my other YouTube collaborators, DRWolf001 and Crowne PrinceThese video makers are phenomenally creative, and also wolves.

Wolves. Seriously, I don’t make up this stuff.

In a video animated by Crowne Prince, DRWolf and I discussed my experiences blogging, and the good doctor offered some advice. It was a terrific privilege to work with this unlikely pair, and I consider our video a high point for this blog.

Thank you, DRWolf and Crown Prince. Stay creative!

I must give a shout out to a couple of fellow bloggers. Amy Green inspires me with her faith, honesty, compassion, and profound thoughtfulness. Thomas Mark Zuniga taught me a thing or two about the value of transparency and vulnerability over keeping up appearances. They both wrote excellent guest posts for my blog. Heck, Tom even dropped by my home during his EPIC QUEST around the country a while back.

If I am very lucky, I may someday have a beard as nice as Tom’s.

Amy and Tom, thanks for using your gifts so faithfully, and for lending them to my blog.

When I decided to resurrect my dream project, the Lance Eliot saga, I really wanted some concept art for the characters. Sabina Kipa created some excellent character sketches, and when I recently wrote that her skills were matched by her patience and positivity, I meant it.

I love these concept sketches.

Thanks again, Sabina. Keep up the great work!

Last year, a Methodist pastor who read my blog invited me to speak at his church. I embarked upon an epic journey to Wisconsin, drinking inordinate amounts of coffee, and even passing through the tenth circle of hell, which some people call Chicago. The Reverend Kevin Niebuhr turned out to be the manliest Methodist I’ve ever met, and also a kind, geeky gentleman.

It was a great privilege to visit Rev Kev and meet his church family.

Thanks for everything, Rev Kev. God bless you, and if you haven’t already seen the new Star Wars movie, you totally should.

Around the time I started this blog, I watched an Internet cartoon series called Fred the Monkey. I enjoyed these Homestar Runner-esque cartoons about a monkey and his eccentric roommates. It was a surprise when, years later, their creator agreed to write a guest post for my blog—and a staggering shock when he became one of the most supportive and encouraging readers I’ve ever had.

JK Riki did more for TMTF than almost anyone. He wrote guest posts, edited images, created original art, shared insights and encouragements in the comments, and was generally awesome. Honestly, I might have abandoned TMTF a long time ago if JK hadn’t come along to support it.

I’m not sure I trust JK’s monkey around any of mine, though.

I honestly can’t thank you enough, JK. God bless you.

I owe my family thanks for their support, and for not smacking me when I rambled about my blog. My younger brother, John, gets bonus points for letting me share his many wonderful mispronunciations.

Thanks, guys. Stay fabulous.

I want to give extra-special thanks to my dad, who supported TMTF since before I even started it. He created much of its original artwork, including one of its magnificent banners.

From the beginning, I considered this picture one of the best things about my blog. My opinion hasn’t changed.

Besides drawing pictures for this blog, my dad proofread many posts, gave feedback, and offered endless encouragements. If I could thank only one person, it would be he.

Thanks, Pa. You’re a Stout Fella.

I must reluctantly offer thanks to my typewriter monkeys, from whom I will soon part ways: Sophia, Socrates, Plato, Hera, Penelope, Aristotle, Apollo, Euripides, Icarus, Athena, Phoebe, and Aquila.

My monkeys caused a lot of trouble, started countless fires, and didn’t actually help much, but I guess TMTF wouldn’t exist without them, so that’s something.

Thanks for working on the blog, guys. I’ll almost feel bad firing you after TMTF ends next week. Almost.

From the beginning, my philosophy for this blog has been represented by the letters S.D.G. These initials stand for Soli Deo gloriato God alone be glory. Neither I nor this blog have always followed this philosophy, but it’s a good one, and I stand by it.

Thank you, Father, for TMTF.

Finally, I want to give a round of thanks to this blog’s readers—in other words, to you.

I owe special thanks to readers who commented on blog posts, “Liked” them, or shared them on social media. I appreciate every bit of support. I must also give special thanks to everyone who celebrated Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day over the years by, y’know, being nice to someone on the Internet. Thanks also to the generous readers who supported this blog’s charity fundraisers.

Writing this blog was quite a journey. I’m glad I didn’t make it alone.

Thanks for reading!

458. The Initial Stage of Writing: 5 Ways to Improve Your Skills

Today’s post was written by Alyssa Johnson, a blogger and freelance writer who stands by this credo: “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” You can find more from Alyssa here!

Guest post image

Firstly, it should be noted that strong writing skills come only from practice. Nobody is born as a great writer so it will take time to advance your skills in writing. We all have different reasons to start thinking about improving our writing skills. It can be related to your work or business, your classes in university or just your self-confidence.

Writing is an inseparable part of our lives! You can see this through your everyday doings: sending emails to friends or relatives, responding to official business letters, leaving notes on the mirror for a loved one or just writing papers for university classes.

So here are five simple and fun ways to become a well-skilled writer:

5. Your own space is your comfort zone

It’s easy to understand: the place where you write should be within your comfort zone! Just find it! And be sure that everyone you know has such a piece of paradise where she or he feels safe. For some people, it’s a quiet and clean spot, while others need music or a TV playing in the background. The first step is finding a cozy corner where you can put your thoughts on paper.

4. Find your muse

We all know that “Muse” is a specific source of admiration that inspires writers to create their masterpieces. Even the ancient Greeks told us the “Muse” could have different forms and definitions. The writer can find it in his daily life, in the world full of inspiration—cafes with dozens of people, trains coming and going every minute in the subway, and even reading a newsfeed on Instagram can bring a wonderful idea. You have to be prepared  to see all the small details around you. Don’t miss your own “Muse”!

3. Just pick a topic

You should start practicing every day to turn writing into a habit. It means that writing becomes natural and even something you look forward to. This gives a rise for such questions as “Where can I take a topic?” The answer you may know—write about things you do, things you hear or see, even about your cat’s favorite spot. You will never create exciting stories if you never try.

2. Your friend is your best editor

Why do we need friends? Of course, to have a look at our writing! Just kidding! Our friends are those who can sit for hours listening to mistakes we have made. Is it any different to put our thoughts on paper and give it to them to read? Having another set of eyes makes finding errors which you missed easier.

1. Online help

We live in the age of the Internet. Anytime, anywhere and anything you want you can find on the web, so it can be very useful for those who want to improve their writing. A lot of people use the Internet in search of information. Businessmen try to find samples of official email letters, students research college essays or even housewives share their recipes for apple pies on forums. For many writers, the biggest problem is grammar. So don’t be afraid to use online grammar tools to help you answer grammar questions when they come up!  Additionally, there are a lot of forums and blogs for writers where you can find a soul mate or real professional to discuss issues.

425. Stealing Ideas Is Wrong (so Borrow Them Instead)

Today’s post wound up on someone else’s blog. Hey, don’t give me that look. Bloggers sometimes misplace their posts. It happens. Don’t judge me.

My friend JK Riki wrote the book on creativity. (This isn’t just a figure of speech; he wrote a literal book on the subject.) He also writes a monthly newsletter with creative tips, and a personal blog on creativity.

JK's blog header

When I got an opportunity to write a post for JK’s blog, I wrote about J.R.R. Tolkien, because of course I did.

My latest post, “Stealing Ideas Is Wrong (so Borrow Them Instead),” can be read here!

402. Five Blessings of Being a Single Guy

So, um, I seem to have misplaced today’s blog post. Mea culpa.

Today’s post wound up on I’m Bringing Celibacy Back, a blog that belongs to my friend Robby Rasbaugh. (He’s a really cool dude, and has awesome hair.) I’m Bringing Celibacy Back is a funny, sassy, well-written series of commentaries on marriage, singleness, Christianity, culture, and underrated Disney couples.

My latest post, “Five Blessings of Being a Single Guy,” can be read here!

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!

382. TMTF’s Top Ten Worst Video Game Movies

Today’s post was written by Brittni Williams: writer, gamer, and movie aficionado. It is a truth universally acknowledged that video game movies suck, and Brittni was brave enough to review the worst ones ever made. For more musings from Brittni, find her on Twitter!

In the past decade or so, video games have increasingly cribbed from the world of film to deliver so-called “cinematic experiences” to gamers and non-gamers alike. This has brought us franchises like Half-Life, Call of Duty, Uncharted and The Last of Us, as well as films which called upon a wide range of auteur expertise, from Steven Spielberg to Michael Bay.

It’s a conundrum, then, why video game-based films have been largely unable to draw from the deep well of inspiration that inspired them in the first place. As anyone who harbors a passion for both can attest, it’s been a long and treacherous road of both critical and financial failures.

Following is a list of ten of the most impressively awful video game-movie adaptations: the cream of the crop of the worst of the worst.

[Editor’s note: The films on this list are not ranked numerically, as their sheer awfulness defies all attempts at neat categorization.]

Dead or Alive (2007)

Bad video game movies - Dead or AlivePerhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a game which derives most of its appeal from seductive female eye candy rather than a meaningful plot doesn’t translate very well to the big screen. Starring a roster of models-turned-actresses (Devon Aoki and Jamie Pressly both appeared on the runways of major designers in the early aughts) this movie is little more than a  middle-school boy’s fantasy brought to life. And it doesn’t help matters that DOA’s action scenes refuse to obey the laws of physics.

Double Dragon (1994)

Bad video game movies - Double DragonHere’s another video game film which put hardly any thought into its plot, which made a cinematic adaptation pointless. The movie, which is based very loosely on the game’s premise, is predictable and even somewhat racist. Alyssa Milano stars as the love interest of two brothers on the run from a gang of LA thugs hell-bent on recovering a lost talisman.

Hitman (2007)

Bad video game movies - HitmanOne would think that an action and adventure game with a fairly interesting story would work well condensed into a couple hours of film, but Hitman unfortunately couldn’t pull off this seemingly easy task—even with a worthwhile leading man, Timothy Olyphant, playing the Hitman. Of course, it didn’t help that the movie’s director, who seemed to have a true appreciation of the game, was pulled midway through production.

Street Fighter (2009)

Bad video game movies - Street FighterAnother fighting game. Another bizarrely bad plot. And cast. And directing. And just about everything. The worst part—among the many—is how seriously the movie takes itself despite being based on a game which doesn’t take its story seriously at all. Despite a few well-choreographed fight scenes, Street Fighter should have kept off the pavement and stuck around the arcade where it belongs.

Wing Commander (1999)

Bad video game movies - Wing CommanderMost failed adaptations suffer from the disconnect between the game’s creation and the movie’s—particularly the absence of the creator. Unfortunately for Wing Commander, it had no such excuse as it was the game’s creator himself who directed this financial and critical bomb, and turned futuristic space ships into flying hunks of junk.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

Bad video game movies - Mortal Kombat AnnihilationThe original Mortal Kombat just barely skated along the silliness/self-awareness line to be accepted into guilty pleasure territory. This sorry sequel unfortunately fell over the mark as it threw away what was good in the original and kept all the bad, the shallow acting (from Liu Kang in particular). In the end, you’re probably better off wasting your quarters trying to beat Tekken 2.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Bad video game movies - Resident Evil AfterlifeThe title is appropriate, considering the fact that this was just another sequel that disappointed fans of the previous adaptations. A film series that has surely overstayed its welcome on Earth (the franchise continues to live on via iTunes and various streaming services), this incarnation in particular lacked compelling action scenes, and of course offered little in the way of substantial storytelling. Dull and lifeless, here the afterlife brings no promise of redemption.

Silent Hill (2006)

Bad video game movies - Silent HillVideo games are often panned for their abysmally poor writing, so it’s rather strange that movie makers are unable to remedy that problem with the various talents at their disposal. Silent Hill is another adaptation that is utterly destroyed by a poor effort from screenwriters, suffering from both a baffling plot and cringe-worthy dialogue. The film might be an aesthetic achievement but it flounders in every other regard.

Tron Legacy (2010)

Bad video game movies - Tron LegacyThis adaptation offers stunning visual spectacles, but little else. The studio definitely got its money’s worth from the aesthetically-pleasing action scenes and remarkable depictions of new technology, but the lack of a real story and a compelling human element is probably why they didn’t make much of their money back. From start to finish, the sleek form swallows the shallow attempts at a compelling storyline.

BloodRayne (2005)

Bad video game movies - BloodrayneOf course, the worst of the worst of the worst was directed by Uwe Boll. The video game was actually well-regarded for its inventive story, so it’s a shame that movie magic and a decent cast couldn’t break free from the double curse of video game adaptations and Uwe Boll. Everything about this picture is painful.

Are video game films forever doomed to failure? Considering the fact that modern games are essentially cinematic experiences in and of themselves, the (growing) heap of filmic disasters only serves as further proof that the bridge from console to megaplex is perhaps one best avoided. Life-like is good enough, and there is simply no replacing the experience of role-player fantasy.

Zen and the Art of Baking Muffins

Today’s post was written by my dear dad. When he’s not being an awesome missionary or drawing pictures of monkeys, he spends a fair bit of time in the kitchen… on occasion, actually cooking. Following is a list of practical tips á la Steve Smith (of Red Green fame) compiled during my dad’s first attempt at baking zucchini muffins.

1. It’s always good to find a recipe that includes instructions as well as ingredients, unless you’re really good at culinary improvisation.

2. Whatever your temperament, stress can be avoided by removing the battery from the smoke detector before starting.

3. It saves time to search for ingredients where you’d least expect to find them first.

4. If, like myself, you hate washing muffin pans, use small cake pans instead. A muffin is a muffin, irrespective of size or shape.

5. They may look the same and share a first name, but baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable. Also, if you end up (through no fault of your own) dumping in a whole teaspoon instead of the requisite half, you can skim most of the baking soda (or powder, as the case may be) off the top of the mix with a teaspoon. This maneuver grows steadily more complicated in direct proportion to the amount of time it takes for you to notice your mistake.

6. Throw in some raisins. That way, if your muffins turn out really gooey, you can always pass them off as bread pudding.

7. Mixing the batter by hand (i.e. with your fingers) guarantees a smooth blend, saves wear-and-tear on kitchen utensils, and makes for less washing up later. Another small economy: After dealing with the zucchini, keep the vegetable grater handy. You can use it to scrape the finished product out of the pans at the end and save yourself the trouble of messing with a spatula.

8. If your kitchen, like mine, doesn’t boast hot running water and you happen to be boiling broccoli while you bake, drain the vegetable water into the mixing bowl with a little detergent (after removing the batter, of course) for effective pre-wash, grease-removing action.

9. Some gas ovens refuse to light unless you hold the control knob down for a bit. (Contentious old buzzards, what?) Apparently, this information can be found in the “manual,” whatever that is.

10. If your oven isn’t spacious, your pans may tilt. This transforms the contents into something akin to the windswept dunes of the Sahara Desert. Caught in time, however, a judicious readjustment will return your muffin batter to the smooth, flat Death Valley it was meant to be—a strictly topographical reference, naturally.

11. Dish towels double very nicely as hot-pads as long as (a) your wife is well out of range, (b) you can take second-degree burns like a man and (c) you’ve remembered to remove the smoke-alarm battery as per Step 2.

12. Muffins in the oven can bubble like the Ugbischú Tar Pits. How cool is that?

13. If the recipe neglects to elucidate upon the precise temperature of your oven or the exact baking time, dial the knob around to about eight o’clock and then shut the blighted thing down when the finish goes from glossy to matte—I refer to the muffins, of course, not the paint on the stove.

14. If you’re out of toothpicks, a sliver from the wicker basket in the laundry room works just as well… especially if you haven’t the foggiest idea what the point of sticking it in the muffins is anyway.

15. There are very few baking errors that can’t be effectively masked by the generous application of melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon before giving away your baked goods—or in the less fortunate cases, baked bads—to neighbors.

And remember that you’ll always have recourse to the admirable advice enshrined in the official motto of the Possum Lodge:


When all else fails play dead

This post was originally published on March 21, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on August 24, 2015!

379. Writing Tips from Gravity Falls

Today’s post was written by JK Riki: rogue writer, animator, and cool dude. For more great stuff from JK, check out his websites on creativity and animation, and find him on Twitter!

If you’re a regular reader here at TMTF, you know Mr. Stück is a big fan of the animated show Gravity Falls. His thoughts on the series are short and sweet, encouraging you to watch without mincing words. In case you need an extra push, though, today we’re going to take a longer look at what makes Gravity Falls so compelling (and some tips you might take away from the show).

Gravity Falls1. Gravity Falls knows where it’s going.

In an interview, GF creator Alex Hirsch talked about the process of creating the show. He explained, “We have a storyline. There is a broad storyline that we’ve come up with—a beginning, middle, and end.”

In today’s television, that is a rarity. Studios and networks are so keen to drag things out for as long as possible that they begin a story with mystery and intrigue, and have no clue where it will end up. If they do know where it might go, they put obstacles in the way for the sole purpose of extending the shelf-life of the series. If it gets renewed for an additional season, up pop more meaningless obstacles. If it does not, hopefully there was warning of the cancellation early enough to produce a reasonable final episode (but often not).

There needs to be a lot of wiggle room in writing. You can’t be so strict that you don’t allow characters to take things in new directions on a whim. That said, if you don’t have a vague idea where you’re headed, it can lead to a mess farther down the road.

2. Gravity Falls isn’t afraid to change.

Possibly because the show has a planned beginning, middle, and end, it isn’t afraid to change. The Simpsons, bless its heart, reverts to status ­quo at the end of almost every episode. Some episodes even make note of that fact for humor purposes. It’s not alone, either. A vast majority of shows have this sort of reset, especially in animation.

Gravity Falls bucks that trend by allowing progress to be made. Overarching mysteries unfold, and characters grow. One example of this (spoiler warning) is that the protagonist’s crush on a local girl actually plays out, instead of becoming a forced motif for the entire series. I was sad to see it go—I’m a sucker for secret crushes—but giving it closure improved the series.

Dipper and WendyIt’s important when writing a series to allow room for growth. It can be tricky, because some fans of early work will hate later stuff and pine (loudly) for “the good old days.” (This happens a lot in music with long-­running bands, too.) It’s still worth allowing for change to happen, because frankly that’s how life works, and you want there to be a foundation of truth in any creative work you do.

3. Gravity Falls is about characters.

In another interview, Mr. Hirsch mentioned, “Gravity Falls is a show about mysteries and magic, but first and foremost it’s a show about characters.”

The reason Gravity Falls is as charming as it is has very little to do with its marvelous story twists and hilarious jokes. It succeeds because the characters are true and compelling. They have soul and depth. They connect with each other, and the relationships feel solid and real.

Mabel and WaddlesIf you have one take­away from Gravity Falls as a creator, let it be this: Living, breathing, compelling characters will take you farther than any other writing device.

An audience will watch a compelling character do his laundry, but will quickly grow bored with a flat, one-note character even if they are piloting space ships in a fascinating alternate dimension. Do not skimp on knowing your characters; invest time in them, and you will be handsomely rewarded.

364. Why Guest Posts Are Awesome

Update: This blog is finished, and no longer accepts guest posts. Thanks all the same!

As a blogger, I love guest posts and collaborations with creative people. In fact, over the years, I’ve pestered a number of people either to write posts for me or else to let me write posts for them.

Why is this? Well, hypothetical reader, I’m glad you asked. I’m not sure I’ve ever explained my love of creative collaborations, so here are six reasons why guest posts are awesome.

Guest posts offer a refreshing variety of styles and views.

My blog is written with a particular style from a specific perspective, and it probably gets old. Guest writers bring their own unique views, styles, and stories. As wise Uncle Iroh reminds us, “It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If you take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.”


Uncle Iroh is an inexhaustible fount of wisdom. He also makes great tea.

Guest posts can explore subjects I can’t.

Following up on the first point, I must acknowledge that my experiences and expertise are limited. Guest writers offer more than just changes of view and style. They can discuss subjects about which I know nothing.

For example, I am an introvert, and I once wrote about it. It was impossible for me to explore extroversion, the opposite characteristic, but another blogger graciously shared her thoughts on it. Readers were able to explore both sides of the subject, even though I was qualified to discuss only one.

Guest posts work to the mutual advantage of bloggers.

When I write a post for another blog, not only do I reach a new audience, but I share that blog with my own audience via social media. This often works both ways. When I share guest posts, I introduce my readers to new writers, and those writers sometimes introduce my blog to their own readers. Guest posts are a kind of creative symbiosis.

Creative collaboration is symbiotic, like clownfish and anemones. Wait, this is a terrible metaphor. Never mind.

Creative collaboration is symbiotic, like clownfish and sea anemones. Wait, did I just compare blogging to clownfish? What is wrong with me?

Guest posts are posts I don’t have to write.

What’s not to like about that?

Guest posts are a privilege for me to write and share.

I’m honored that guest writers have considered this blog worth their time, effort, and creativity. In the same way, I’m honored that other bloggers have allowed my ramblings to invade their quiet corners of the Internet. Whether I write ’em or share ’em, I consider guest posts a privilege.

Guest posts strengthen a sense of community.

Neil Gaiman once observed that “writing is, like death, a lonely business.” Guest posts are a welcome respite from the solitary grind of blogging. They bring bloggers out of isolation and into a larger community of writers and readers.

If you ever feel like tossing a guest post in my general direction, or want a guest post for your own blog, please feel free to let me know!

356. princess rescuers r us

Today’s post was written by Matt Hill and originally published on Christian media website Hollywood Jesus. Matt brings something new to TMTF by discussing Ico (which I have not yet played) in free verse (which I never write). Matt is a musician, writer, and pop culture aficionado. You can read more of his free-verse pop-culture wanderings on Hollywood Jesus. (While you do that, I’ll think about playing Ico and its spiritual sequel, Shadow of the Colossus.)

me n my kids totally rescued a princess together yesterday . .
well, kind of . .

the princess was maybe not a real princess
and her name was yorda
and she was a character in this really great video game called *ico*
that originally came out for ps2 (and i played it then)
and then was re-released in hd for ps3 a while back (so i bought it recently)

and i suppose it wasn’t technically us who rescued her . .
it was our onscreen avatar named ico . .

and, if you want to be technical about it, my kids didn’t really
do any of the actual controlling of ico and so technically
didn’t rescue yorda themselves,
just through me – their real life avatar . .

and, technically, is yorda really rescued at the end of that game?

but, however, transition,
on a better/deeper/realer/more interesting level,
my kids and i *totally* completed that game together,
rescuing yorda together,
defeating the wicked queen together,
escaping the castle together,
walking that post-credits
serene and surreal
beach together at the
only to discover yorda had accompanied us even there (right?) . . . ….. .. . . .

they experienced what i did: the drama, the struggle, the tension, the
the resolution . .
they saw what i saw, thought through what i thought through,
asking questions, giving advice along the journey,
loving the adventure of it as i did (twice now) . .

by the end, they knew that escape was imminent (immanent?),
that the queen would soon have to get hers,
that when yorda speaks her final words (in another, untranslated language),
what she said probably meant “thank you” or “i love you,”
which, in my estimation, is right on . .
and good final thoughts to a game, or anything else . .

i made this experience with my kids happen because:
it teaches them creative thinking skills,
problem-solving skills,
how to understand and relate to characters in a story,
how narratives work,
justice and fair play and perseverance and courage and . . .

i made this experience happen because:
it’s an experience that we now share,
that we’ll now remember,
together . .

i made this experience happen because:
on a better/deeper/realer/more interesting level,
though i think/hope the above was that too,
a hero-rescuing-the-princess story,
is *the* story of this universe . .
the story of God becoming man to rescue
us princesses from the clutches
of that wicked queen
(you know the one) . .
the story that,
all other stories – princess rescuing ones and the rest –
echo and emulate and imitate

and now,
i’m hoping that somehow, someday,
the fact that
me n my kids
(princess rescuers r us)
are actually *in* that story *together*
—– – as you and i are too,
though not as intimately
(it’s happening right now! this is the story! . . you and i are in it! . .
but what do we do with it?! . . ) —— – — –
will be understood by them,
and acted upon by them in faith,
just as,
in faith,
we offed that wicked queen and rescued yorda from the castle together yesterday