Back when people were first switching from archery to guns, they encountered the problem of gunshot noise for the first time. It was loud enough to cause hearing damage, and because earplugs hadn’t been invented yet they were forced to compensate for the hearing loss by genetically modifying each soldier to have an extra ear. We learned about this practice from Alexandre Dumas’ classic book The Three Musket Ears.
Data: Sir, I’m picking up a numeric value from the life form.
Picard: Is it less than zero?
Picard: Right, and is it?
Picard: That’s what I said.
Data: The number is not negative, sir.
Picard: So it might be negative?
Picard: Yes, could it be?
Data: There’s no way it’s negative sir.
Picard: So, is it positive?
Picard: You just said it wasn’t.
Data: It isn’t.
Picard: It isn’t what? Positive or negative?
Picard: You’re making zero sense.
Data: No, captain, I’m sensing zero.
I was recently going through some of my old papers, and I found the journal of a forty-niner. Forty-niners were the people who participated in the gold rush which began sometime in the mid-1800s. It’s been a while since I took a class on California history, but I still have the forty-niner journal we were supposed to write for homework. Since we were eighth-graders, not prospectors 150 years in the past, we had to make it up, but I think I did a good job showing what a week would have been like for a real historical forty-niner:
Went to diggings. Dug. Found a little dirt.
Found frogs today. Told shopkeeper they were gold. He gave me a thousand dollars for them.
Shopkeeper was mad at me for fooling him. To make him happy, I gave him more frogs.
Shopkeeper said he’d get me. I gave him more frogs. He settled down.
Shopkeeper became frog store owner. Sold frogs. Told people they were gold. He got rich. I told people that they were just frogs and I’d get their money back if they paid me. They did. I said “just kidding,” and took their money.
Today frogs turned into handsome princes. I sold them, telling people they were gold.
Today I invented a new recipe. I call it Pizza Jolokia. Here are the ingredients:
- 1 pizza
- 1 naga jolokia (a.k.a. ghost) pepper
- Cook the pizza. If you are a snazzy chef who knows how to cook things that don’t come in a box (the kind of chef who probably looks down on recipes with only two ingredients), you can do this part from scratch. If you are a normal person you can use a frozen pizza or get it from a restaurant. Just don’t put too much junk on it. By “junk,” I mean “things that aren’t usually found on a normal pepperoni and sausage pizza.” I used a pizza margherita. It was frozen but it came from a posh hippy store so it was extra quality-like.
- Chop up the pepper. Make the bits small enough so you can distribute them around the pizza. With ghost peppers, a little goes a long way, and many people would argue it goes quite a ways too far.
- Put the bits on the pizza in a relatively even distribution.
Note that steps 1 and 2 can be done concurrently, since you can chop the pepper while the oven is doing its thing.
Here’s a look behind the scenes at my attempt at writing a story that is not goofy. It may come as a shock to those who know me, but sometimes I am not quite able to attain a perfect state of solemn seriousness, and as a result you get the stuff on this blog, and not a Russian novel. But I did try to write a somewhat serious fantasy story a couple years ago. It was about a young thief named Alador in a medieval-ish fantasy city. In chapter 1, I think he did some sort of theft thing. Alador was also a university student, and as chapter two began he was waking up from a nap in the university library. I had a few false starts beginning that chapter, but just for fun I kept my failed attempts instead of erasing them.
Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw his DOOM!! It attacked him. He tried to fight back, but it was difficult to defend himself against such a generic foe. He couldn’t figure out if it was stabbing him or flinging him into a pit of acid. Doom could come in so many forms. This time, though, he realized, it wasn’t his doom after all. It was someone else’s DOOM!!! It went and doomed some other poor bloke. Alador went back to sleep. And awaited his fate… or did he?
Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw a strange-looking man looking at him. Looking at the strange-looking man who was looking like he was looking at Alador, Alador looked looky look look look.
Alador awoke as a shadow darkened his corner of the library. He looked up and saw a strange-looking man standing a few feet away. The figure was wrapped in shadows, and his features were so obscured that the only thing Alador could determine was that he was strange-looking.
Eventually I did finish the first paragraph. The second paragraph got off to a rocky start as well:
Alador was afraid the man was going to draw attention to him. He didn’t advertise the fact that he was a thief, since he only wanted clients, not guards, coming to his door. Or rather, he met them somewhere safe. Yes. Not at his house.
Do you know what photobombing is? If you have, do not read the rest of this paragraph unless you really want to. Photobombing is when someone uses stealth or surprise to get into a photo, contrary to the wishes of the photographer and photographees. In so doing, one manages to appear in photos that were not intended to have one in it.
“That’s nice,” you say (unless you were one of the people who skipped past the previous paragraph). “But what is tuckerbombing?”
Tuckerbombing is like photobombing, but for tuckerization instead of photos. Tuckerization is when an author puts someone’s name into something they are writing, as a character in the book. Sometimes authors will do this for friends or family, or give away the privilege as a reward for a charity or something. But what do you do when your favorite author doesn’t know you from Adam, and you are too cheap frugal to contribute enough to a necessary charity? Tuckerbombing!
But how do you tuckerbomb? Photobombing is easy; you just need to jump into the picture as the photographer takes it. Unfortunately, this method won’t work for tuckerbombing. Suppose Brandon Sanderson is typing away on the next book in the Stormlight Archive, and you want to be in it. Jumping in front of his laptop right as he types a sentence will not result in you being written in to the story. It may result in Brandon calling the police because you’re in his house though. I don’t recommend this method.
Rather, you must subliminally lodge your name in the author’s subconscious, so they accidentally name a character after you. This is easier said than done, however. If you are rich, you could pay to run a commercial on Hulu or TV in which you say your name repeatedly, and hope the author watches it. But that is expensive, and will make everyone hate you. And some authors like Brandon Sanderson seem too busy to watch much television.
A slightly cheaper approach is to show up at a book signing with several hundred copies of the book. Make the author personalize each copy, so they have to write your name hundreds of times. This will get your name stuck in their head, and maybe your name will show up on an annoying yet financially beneficial character in their next book.
A better and cheaper approach is to go to conventions or signings with the author, and casually work your name into the conversation, repeatedly. Like if Brandon Sanderson asks the crowed if they have any questions, you can say something like this (we’ll assume your name is Bob Smith): “I, Bob Smith, enjoyed reading your novel which is called “Mistborn” (not “Bob Smith”) and which has many awesome characters, like Vin who is not named Bob Smith, and whose brother is also not named Bob Smith. I was wondering how Bob Smith, I mean you, came up with the idea for this character, and for not naming her Bob Smith. Also, what made you decide to make her an urchin, and not someone who makes the weights at the ends of pendulums, that is, a bobsmith?” It’s hard to think of any drawbacks to this method.
Finally, one other way to tuckerbomb is to repeatedly use the same author in all the examples in a blog post about tuckerbombing. This author’s pity respect for your determination will no doubt compel him to tuckerize you in his next book.
So here’s another guest post, this one a romance story by my other sister, Heather.
Once upon a time there was a very handsome centaur who lived in the dark forest. The forest was dark even during the day because the evil wizard cast a spell on the forest to make it dark. This meant that none of the vegetation could survive so the dark forest was actually a dark patch of dirt.
The handsome centaur was single. All his less handsome friends were married already, so his parents constantly suggested girls he could ask out. The handsome centaur always had excuses why he didn’t want to date people. One was too old. Another was too young. Another was too goofy-looking.
One day the handsome centaur was walking through the dark forest when he met a beautiful centauress. Which is like a centaur except female. She was very pretty and not too old. The handsome centaur fell in love immediately. He started blabbering and waving his arms about. His mind had disconnected because she was so beautiful. The beautiful centauress was grossed out and left. The handsome centaur never saw her again and he died heartbroken and alone which only goes to show that romance novels are hard to write.
This story of adventure is by my sister, Karen.
Iowa Smith looked at the chasm. It was very deep. He wished he hadn’t dropped his torch into it because the ancient Egyptian royal tomb was very dark. At least the mummies had glowing eyes.
“Wait,” he said to himself. “Mummies are dead and not generally luminescent.”
He realized that these mummies were cursed. “An evil wizard must have cursed them so their eyes glow. That must make it very difficult for them to see in the dark tomb.”
He asked the mummies very politely if they would light the way to the exit so he could find a good wizard to undo the glowing eyes spell. They agreed, and Iowa Smith soon found a good wizard and made the mummies’ eyes stop glowing. Then he went home.
One day, there was a knock at the door. Iowa Smith opened the door and found a mummy.
“We can’t see the tomb now because it is too dark,” it said.
“Well then,” said Iowa Smith, “I will help you find a way to see your tomb.”
Iowa Smith booked a flight to Egypt and arrived at the ancient tomb. He scrutinized the structure and tried to think of ways to make it lighter.
“You could remove some of the stone blocks from the roof to let sunlight in,” He said.
The mummies looked aghast. “This is an ancient Egyptian historical building! You can’t just take it apart!”
Suddenly, the evil wizard appeared. “You removed my evil spell!” he cried. “The mummies’ eyes aren’t glowing anymore! You will pay for this!”
“Gosh, are you really that upset?” asked Iowa Smith. “Perhaps you could put the spell back. But this time, maybe you could cast it on something besides their eyes. Their noses, for example. Then everyone would make Rudolph the red nosed reindeer jokes and make them feel bad. That would be very evil.”
“Hmmm, that is a good idea,” said the evil wizard. He cast his spell and made the mummies’ noses glow, then vanished in a puff of evil smoke.
The mummies could now see where they were going. They thanked Iowa Smith and paid for his airfare to go home. Everyone lived happily ever after. The end.
Seattle Joe sat in his office in downtown Seattle. He was a detective. A dame walked into his office.
“It’s an honor to meet a distinguished British person,” he said.
“I’m not that kind of dame,” she said. “This is a detective story.”
The dame had a point. He could see she was going to be trouble.
She said, “I have a job for you, Mr. Seattle.”
“I already have a job. I’m a detective.”
“I know, which is why I have a case for you.”
Joe didn’t like cases, but he knew they were expected of detectives, so he didn’t hesitate. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.
“It’s my husband,” said the dame. “He’s been stolen.”
Once upon a time there was a castle. The castle was happy and had a king and a queen and a princess and the people who served them and got ruled by them. It had lands round about, where it kept its peasants. It even kept some outlaws in its forest.
One day the people decided to move to the big city instead of living in a castle. The castle was upset that its people were abandoning it. It hatched a plan.
The night before everyone left, the castle snuck out of the land and found the big city. It stopped right outside the city and got some roller coasters so everyone would think it was a medieval-themed theme park.
Everyone in the city came out and had fun at the theme park. When the people from the castle arrived at the city, they decided to visit the new theme park. As soon as all the people from the castle were in the theme park, it said “Ha ha” and quickly ran home with all the people in it. They realized how cruel they had been to leave the castle and felt sorry for it. Also, now the castle totally had roller coasters now so they all agreed that if happily ever after was going to be lived, this was definitely the place to do it.